Source:Development Pathways Limited (2018)
The social audits in India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) are among the few examples of the use at scale of a collective social accountability mechanism in a national social protection programme. In their scope, and by the fact that they are legally required, the social audits in NREGS are unparalleled. This report reviews the existing literature on the NREGS social audits and draws out key lessons. The Indian context, with significant differences between states, provides a rich source of lessons of relevance to other countries aiming to strengthen implementation of social protection programmes through social accountability mechanisms. While most states have only implemented the social audits sporadically, or not at all, in Andhra Pradesh social audits have been institutionalised and implemented across the state. The effective implementation of the social audits in Andhra Pradesh can be attributed primarily to a strong Chief Minister who saw a political advantage in implementing the audits – highlighting the importance of high level political support. Following the conceptual framework of the research project on Social Accountability in Social Protection, the report looks at the key components of citizen and state action, mediated by the three levers of information, interface and civic mobilisation.