Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Community Audit: A Journey into History of the Community


Community audit is not a new concept. Threre are different forms of social audits that are practised in social sector. Public hearing, scheme audit are examples of social audits. They are largely used in community monitoring programs. Their objectives are to create transparency and accountability in the system. They also motivates the community to take ownership of the development activities going on in their area. Here we are going to talk about community audit with the reference to community history. That is to say, audit of the community itself in the context of its historical activities/ occupations.

Necessity of this type of audit:

Today, when we talk about development activities in developing countries such as India, we see that there are a lot of support schemes (called as affirmative action) which are aimed at providing the vulnerable communities with necessary facilities, concessions, benefits and opportunities. There are a great deal of such schemes and programs which are aimed at helping the poor, the disadvantaged. In this context, now a days, there is growing perception that this kinds of ready-made facilities are making these communities lazy or inactive. It is human tendency, if the things are made readily available; we are likely to become lazy; which is actually happening in many developed countries due to increased mechanisation. In order to locate this, the method of community audit is useful. Moreover, it is not just the audit of this community. But it aims at finding answers of the questions such as what did the generations of this communityactually do to solve their problems in the history- say last 200 or so years. In which way they tried to solve their problems, in which ways they were successful, can these measures be used today? These questions can be answered with the help of such community history audit.

Nature and Process:

Like social audit; or audit of an organization; this kind of audit would talk about the community as a whole and its major occupations, activities, lifestyle trends and patterns. As we can specify about individual life span; eg. during the age of 6 to 22, he studied, then he did 5 jobs till the age of 38 when he established his company etc. This audit would identify such areas in the community's life over the period of around 200-300 years.

In India, we have age- old problems such as open defecation, poverty and lack of employment. Through such audits we can locate the community's effort for addressing these problems. This can be done in collective meeting of community members necessarily with the young and old age persons. Such a group can recall the historical information about such initatives from the community. Sociologists and ethnologists can help for such discussions.

Benefits of this kind of audit:
1. It would bring into light the efforts of the community for solving its problems.
2. It would stimulate the community for solving their problems on their own; as in many canses this audit would reveal idleness on the part of the community to take initiatives.
3. It would answer the great question "What we had done in the past" which the coming generation is supposed to ask all the time.
4. As an introspection; it would provide a lot of insights and learning for the members through the collective reflection.


Thus community history audit can be a good tool to motivate the community for an active role in solving its problems rather than ready-made spoon feeding.

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