Case Study: Sanitation Social Audits
The use of social audits to improve sanitation in South Africa’s informal settlements is an example of how we work with informal settlement residents as well as the intermediaries that support them. Social audits cultivate relationships between governments and communities that are mutually respectful, deeply democratic and address service delivery issues. Residents are trained to obtain budgets and other official documents to identify who is supposed to provide what services according to what terms. They then conduct on-the-ground research to document what is really happening. Based on this information they engage government in an informed and empowered manner.
In 2015, IBP and Planact began helping the Wattville informal settlement near Johannesburg conduct social audits to understand the terms governing the companies hired to provide and service toilets. First, the residents had to find and gain access to the documents that laid out the terms governing the companies hired to provide and service toilets. It was no easy task but with IBP’s strategy of “teaching by doing,” the IBP South Africa team worked with residents and Planact to obtain and scrutinize these documents.
The contract terms were then compared to actual implementation on the ground using three primary survey instruments developed by Planact:
- A questionnaire for all residents to assess their experience with the toilets
- A sheet to record observations after physically inspecting the toilets
- A questionnaire for contract employees hired to service the toilets
Planact’s many years of work resulted in close, productive relationships with the councillors elected to represent the various wards of the city. By demonstrating that it had the support of the councillors and the community, as well as familiarity with the contract, the team was able to enlist the support of the city’s Water and Sanitation Operations Division for audits in 14 settlements. As a result, the contract for sanitation in all 119 informal settlements in the City of Ekurhuleni was rewritten. If properly executed, the new contract will provide dramatically improved sanitation to more than 600,000 residents in 119 informal settlements.
Planact and informal settlement communities now have the skills and experience that will allow them to conduct productive social audits in other communities, and focus on other challenges, as well as be more effective in all phases of its service to constituents.