Shfleto menyne

Peer-to-Peer among Social Audit teams

Facilitating Peer-to-Peer Exchange and Collaboration Among Social Audit Teams

Drilon Shala & Vlera Zymeri

Social Audits emerge as effective tools, ensuring transparency and active participation in overseeing public investments financed by the Municipal Performance Grant (MPG). Recently, DEMOS organized peer-to-peer activities, connecting former Social Audit teams from 2022 with newly established Social Audit teams in 2023.

Social Audit is an approach towards achieving social accountability, through a process of constructive engagement between communities, civil society, government agencies and private sector. It is an activity of the project for Decentralization and Municipal Support (DEMOS) which is co-financed by the European Union, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway and is implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Kosovo.

To promote greater accountability and transparency in fulfilling commitments to citizens, DEMOS in 2022 collaborated with the CiviKos Platform to monitor the implementation of projects funded by MPG in Peja, Lipjan, Kamenica, and Rahovec. This year, in partnership with BIRN Kosova, the Social Audit teams extended their monitoring in capital projects being implemented in Drenas, Viti, Kaçanik, Suhareka, and Elez Han, further reinforcing the drive for accountability and transparency in local governance and involvement of communities in decision making.

This unique undertaking encouraged compelling discussions; Peja as host municipality welcomed representatives from Suhareka and Elez Han. Simultaneously, Kamenica became the vibrant hub for dialogues bringing together representatives from Drenas, Vitia and Kaçanik municipalities.

The initiative embraced a series of thoroughly planned and executed activities, shaping a framework for enriched learning and experience sharing. At the core of this exchange were immersive workshops and joint field trips designed to facilitate interactive sessions.

Among the focused activities was the meeting point of the Social Audit team in Peja, tasked with monitoring the restoration of the biggest park in this municipality. They collaborated with the Hani i Elezit Team, responsible for overseeing the construction of a park in Hani i Elezit, and the Suhareka Team, dedicated to monitoring the development of hiking trails in rural areas in Suhareka.

Highlighting the significance of Social Audit teams in overseeing municipal investments, the mayor of Peja Municipality emphasized the novelty of such an initiative.

“Social Audit is a new experience for the municipality and also in regards of capital projects being monitored directly by citizens. As such, it is a new dimension and experience that we are collectively creating with our long-term partner, DEMOS, with whom we’ve collaborated the past 8 years”he added.

Eroll Grapci, a resident of Peja, emphasized the significance of being part of the Social Audit Team.“Being part of the Social Audit Team means embracing greater responsibility, knowing that our involvement directly impacts what’s good for us, our families, and the citizens of Peja in this case. We’ve made substantial findings as a group, though I still believe there’s room for us to work even better.

He acknowledged the importance of Peer-to-Peer sessions, further stating: “Participating in my first Peer-to-Peer exchange sessions, I see our contributions in sharing insights benefiting two other municipalities involved. It’s also a chance for us as the pioneering Social Audit team to gather ideas from other communities—an opportunity we hadn’t previously experienced

Deputy mayor Faton Jakupi of Kamenica highlighted the significance of collaboration with DEMOS, CSO’s and citizens. “Collaboration with DEMOS, other civil society organizations, and citizens by involving them in Social Audits is part of municipal transparency, for which we have also received grants. Our municipality has been part of the Social Audit for the ‘Water distribution for the villages of Hogosht and Lisockë’ project. Therefore, we welcome the findings made by the Social Audit team for this project and remain open to further collaborations.

DEMOS sees these initiatives as vital steps in highlighting how municipalities’ actions directly affect citizens. Our peer-to-peer activities have given us valuable insights, refining how we work with municipalities.

This has revealed key lessons emphasizing the importance of proactive communication and inclusivity when it comes to working with municipalities. Sharing information before Social Audits spurs better teamwork and readiness among municipalities and projects, setting the stage for successful collaborations.

DEMOS understands that involving people in various ways not only makes Social Audits more thorough but also strengthens the bond between citizens and municipalities. These lessons guide us toward a future where such activities are more impactful, inclusive, and effective. Additionally, citizen-municipality collaboration in Social Audits has proven crucial in various aspects: accessing documents, conducting meetings, on-site visits, and fostering genuine commitment to engaging citizens and guiding them seamlessly through the process.

As DEMOS wants to achieve a systemic change, this requires encouraging citizens to enter social dialogue, voice their demands and hold public officials and elected leaders accountable. This involvement is cruicial in fostering a more responsive and responsible governance system, ultimately driving meaningful transformation within our society.

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