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HUMAN RIGHTS APPROACH

Social audit of Mombasa' Covid-19 funds underway

Audit assesses levels of service provision as opposed to exploring probity in use of funds; it began with collection of views

In Summary

• Recent reports indicate Mombasa is one of the counties that is again reporting an increase in number of infections after flattening the Covid-19 curve for several weeks.

• If these reports are anything to go by, it means the county is likely to face a second wave of Covid-19 and as a result should prepare for it.

Governor Joho, flanked by senior county and national government officials, at an isolation ward at Coast General Hospital.
AUDIT COVID FUNDS: Governor Joho, flanked by senior county and national government officials, at an isolation ward at Coast General Hospital.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Over the last one month, HAKI Africa has been working to audit Mombasa’s Covid-19 funds through the kind support of Amkeni Wakenya and the UNDP.

The audit is meant to assess levels of service provision as opposed to doing the financial probity of the utilised funds. This follows the public outcry on the use of Covid-19 funds nationally and in counties.

As part of its efforts to ensure transparency in the use of public funds, HAKI Africa approached the county government of Mombasa to undertake a social audit on the use of Covid-19 funds.  

 

The social audit process adopts a human rights-based approach to ensure full participation of all stakeholders.

The process engages the county and local communities by bringing them to work together and follow up with beneficiaries and service providers in assessing the efficacy of the services provided, and the use of the funds.

After several meetings with key Health department officials, including county executive Hazel Koitaba, an agreement was reached to conduct the audit using the scorecard method in two key health institutions — the TUM isolation centre and the Coast General Hospital.

The process of the audit was discussed and agreed by various stakeholders and was to involve various stages, including identifying social auditors from the six sub-counties; collecting and collating data using questionnaires and key informant interviews; developing indicators; scoring and dissemination of the final report.

A total of 30 individuals were identified comprising five from each of the six sub-counties. The identified individuals, mostly young people, were trained on social accountability.

The audit began with a collection of views from different service users-beneficiaries from various villages in the county through focus group discussions.

This was to help in generating issues, positive and negative, on the two health facilities.

Target community members included women, youth and persons living with disabilities. At least four focus group discussions were undertaken in each of the sub-counties, reaching over 350 residents. From the focus group discussions, key information was collected and is being assessed.

Besides the focus group discussions in the communities, the social auditors also reached out to health service providers to get their input on the services they offered to treat Covid-19 at their health facilities.

 

At least nine executive and health officials of different levels were interviewed from the sub-counties.

They included Deputy Governor Dr William Kingi and Public Health chief officer, Pauline Odinga. Other health officers spoke with the auditors in confidence and also shared vital information that will form part of the substantive report.

Key issues have so far emerged and will be shared with stakeholders for their input before finalisation of the exercise. They include positive and negative attributes on the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is expected that at the completion of the exercise, communities will be in a position to sit down with the Health department and agree on an action plan to address the underlying issues and better manage the pandemic in the county.

The process will ensure county and communities understand each other’s challenges and are in a position to work together for the health of the common man.

Recent reports indicate Mombasa is one of the counties that is again reporting an increase in the number of infections after flattening the curve for several weeks.

If these reports are anything to go by, it means the county is likely to face a second wave of Covid-19 and as a result should prepare for it.

The best way to do so is to learn from past experience and ensure mistakes are not repeated.

The social audit exercise being conducted by HAKI Africa will be a learning point for the county health officials and the community on how best to manage future pandemics.

It is only by auditing public processes that resources be managed efficiently for the benefit of all.

The writer is the Executive director, Haki-Africa