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III. Training modules for training of trainers on participatory local development


The training modules are meant to cover gaps in existing training programmes that were identified by a broad-based training needs assessment among stakeholders. The focus is on two key Panchayati Raj institutions - the Gram Sabha including all registered voters at village level and the Sarpanch (head of the lowest elected tier of Panchayati Raj institutions - the Gram Panchayat). The main issues here are lack of participation of the rural poor and the lack of preparedness of local elected officials. Hence the need for training for good local governance.

Although tailored to the training needs of Panchayati Raj functionaries in India, the modules provide guidance on core issues in institutional capacity-building for local development planning, which are, to a large degree, similar in other developing countries within the region.


1. To equip trainers with the means to enhance the awareness and skills of panchayat functionaries, including women, in order to increase their confidence in their capabilities to address the core issues of day-to-day local governance. In many cases, the Sarpanch is a woman who is least prepared for her new role.

2. To familiarize trainers with participatory training tools and to assist them in acting as facilitators, offering alternatives/new methods to tackle problems/issues faced by elected panchayat functionaries.


The modules cover the different stages of participatory local governance ranging from social mobilization to participatory community monitoring and evaluation. An additional module explains the use of the different participatory training tools. Reference information and case studies/examples relevant to the training are also included in the annex.

1. Training module on participatory planning and management

Participatory planning

Participatory planning is a process by which a community undertakes to reach a given socio-economic goal by consciously diagnosing its problems and charting a course of action to resolve those problems. Experts are needed, but only as facilitators. Moreover, no one likes to participate in something which is not of his/her own creation. Plans prepared by outside experts, irrespective of their technical soundness, cannot inspire the people to participate in their implementation.

However, the training on participatory local planning and management of the three million newly elected local government Panchayati Raj officials, one-third of them women, is a major challenge. The handbook module on this topic is intended to be utilized by NIRD and State-level government and non-government agencies to build awareness of both government officials and grassroots representatives, elected to district, mandal and local village-level councils, including the village head, called the Sarpanch, who is often a woman.

Awareness building on principles of participatory planning

1. Development should be seen more as a change from the bottom up than from top down.

2. The development process should be managed as a natural organic process rather than according to plans, goals, objectives, targets and schedules, implying that goals and targets may change and, therefore, their timing should be tentative and flexible to make room for adaptation to local conditions.

3. Development programmes should aim to strengthen local organizations and not state and central government bureaucracies. New programmes should be chosen according to their ability to increase local development management capacity. Start with a few schemes to solve some immediate local problems to build local confidence and experience.

4. The development process is supported by local institutions with village panchayats, primary cooperatives, religious, youth, community-based users’ and self-help groups playing a lead role. It is more important to make sure that the development process is rooted in a strong local institution than ensuring that local institutions have a grasp of all the finer technical points. It is comparatively easy to arrange technical services from outside than to bring about social involvement and willing popular participation in the development process. Strong local institutions are necessary as support posts quite independently of whatever technical skills and other background they may have.

5. It follows from the above that the development process must be based primarily on confidence and learning rather than on experts and training. It is more important for the people who will take decisions at the local level to have full confidence of the people they represent, than to be trained experts. This also implies that technical staff of departments should work in tandem with local institutions rather than sit on judgement on the plans prepared by these institutions.

Simple is practical

The participatory planning process has implications for the working methods of a conventional local development planner. Current decentralized planning techniques often keep people out of the planning process, which severely limits their ability to deliver the intended results at local level and reinforces the centralizing tendencies in decision-making. The basic issue of whether people or planning techniques should be changed first, has not yet been answered.

As a facilitator of local change, the development planner will have to shed much of the planning jargon and simplify his planning techniques so that these are widely understood. In view of the training needs of the three million newly elected local decision-makers and the limited local expertise, there is an urgent need for training material on the introduction of simple local planning methodologies and techniques that can be used at the village level, with minimal need for external assistance.

How to initiate participatory planning

(i) Identify local needs, particularly of rural poor families

(ii) Collect basic data

(iii) Formation of working groups

(iv) Formulation of the objectives

(v) Deciding the strategy

(vi) Ensuring feasibility

(vii) Preparing the work plan

Project work plan format

Name of the activity

Name(s) of the persons responsible

Time schedule

Resources required (human, money, material)

Checking for acceptance, availability

When to start

When to complete

(viii) Preparing the budget

Budget format




Sources of funds

1st Year

2nd Year

3rd Year












Participatory planning
Operational steps

Steps in implementation of local development projects

1. Appointing a project coordinator

2. Setting up a project implementation and monitoring committee

This is made up of the project coordinator, representatives of the local community and a representative of the funding agency. Its role is to supervise implementation on a day-to-day basis and to work as a crisis management group.

3. Staff training

This is needed to reorient project planning staff for the jobs to be performed.

4. Transparency

5. Anticipating obstacles

The project coordinator should be aware of likely difficulties, be able to anticipate obstacles and take preventive action. Advance action is needed to ensure timely availability of workers, especially technical people. Plans should be ready to deal with any contingency.

6. Timely release of funds


This is important for timely and proper project implementation. Monitoring provides feedback so that necessary adjustments can be made in the work plan and budget. Therefore, monitoring schedules are often based on the project work plan. It is essentially a tool that helps both project-implementing and funding agencies.

1. Monitoring parameters

These are already specified in the work plan. Monitoring reports must be reviewed by the project implementation committee, focusing on information about delays - the extent and implications, needed corrective action and the person or agency responsible for it. This not only points out the source of the fault but also protects project management from blame for the delay.

An honest assessment of the implications of delay, under or over-utilization of funds, leads to timely corrective action. It also helps in building a reasonable case for additional funds in case the delay is caused by the late release of funds and results in escalation of project costs.

Periodic monitoring format

Name of activity

Due on

Actual on

On time

Implications of delay

Action required

By whom

2. Integrity

Contributed by B. P. Maithani, Professor and Head (CIBT), National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, India.

2. Training module on social mobilization

Social mobilization enhances participation of rural poor in local governance

Social mobilization is the cornerstone of participatory approaches in rural development and poverty alleviation programmes. It is a powerful instrument in decentralization policies and programmes aimed at strengthening human and institutional resources development at local level. Social mobilization strengthens participation of rural poor in local decision-making, improves their access to social and production services and efficiency in the use of locally available financial resources, and enhances opportunities for asset-building by the poorest of the poor.

Role of Gram Sabha and public information in social mobilization

The Constitution’s 73rd Amendment has made the village council, the Gram Sabha, into a very powerful tool of social mobilization. Many types of neighbourhood groups, health and literacy programmes, Mahila Mandals (village women's groups) and the mass media - newspapers, radio and TV - also play a vital role in social mobilization at the community level. Social mobilization of rural poor at community level will be successful if directly linked with issues affecting their livelihoods. For successful social mobilization of the rural poor, there is a need for improved access to public information on local development issues directly linked with their livelihood interests. An effective way of doing this is by facilitating free access to public information on local development programmes and activities, which has been a critical factor in the success of Panchayati Raj in the States of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

Examples of successful social mobilization

Total sanitation programme in Avanur Gram Panchayat, Kerala, India

This example of successful mobilization of the entire community by a gram panchayat to meet a basic need has been widely recognized. It has brought national honour and a cash prize of Rs 1.2 million to the panchayat. In 1996, a survey held by the Avanur Gram Panchayat in Kerala State found that over 2 000 of Avanur's 5 000 households were too poor to afford basic sanitation facilities. The Gram Panchayat President convened a series of awareness-building meetings for all families below the poverty line.

As an outcome of these meetings it was agreed that the Gram Panchayat would provide all these families building material for a sanitation unit, with the condition that each beneficiary family would complete 20 percent of the work on its own. The meetings focused on awareness-building of women as main beneficiaries. Much to the surprise of all, the campaign was successfully completed within three months. The Gram Panchayat spent only 20 percent of allocated resources because 80 percent of the work was done by the beneficiary families themselves. In this way, a total of about Rs 12 million in assets could be mobilized for the poorest families.

Total housing scheme in Avanur Gram Panchyat, Kerala State, India

The Avanur Gram Panchayat used the cash award of Rs 1.2 million to start a Total Housing Scheme for families below the poverty line. This led to 500 houses being built during 1997-2000. The Gram Panchayat gave each family an amount of Rs 20 000 in three stages, as a grant. The beneficiary families contributed their own labour and material worth Rs 30 000 for each unit. The scheme created assets worth more than Rs 25 million.

The Gram Panchayat has also successfully implemented a drinking water scheme and neighbourhood units in Avanur, and was declared the 'Best Panchayat' in Kerala for its innovative work.

The Janmabhoomi programme in Andhra Pradesh: a learning model for capacity-building for participatory local development planning

Janmabhoomi was inspired by South Korea's Saemaul Undong programme and launched in January 1997 as a mass mobilization effort to involve people in rural development planning and decision making through PRIs in Andhra Pradesh.

It aims to take the administration closer to the people, make it more responsive to their felt needs and to promote transparency and accountability in public affairs. It is also directed against the caste system. It has specific programmes for disadvantaged groups like women, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes and people with disabilities to integrate them into the mainstream of development.

Janmabhoomi has activated the Gram Sabha, which is convened every three months and presided over by the Sarpanch, the Mandal president, the ward member and government officials.

Janmabhoomi objectives/methodology



Institutional arrangements

Rural development activities under Janmabhoomi

  • Verification of data on below poverty line (BPL) families.

  • Formation of SHGs in 36 543 habitations, with 13 269 habitations still to be covered.

  • Finalization of rural artisan survey information for the Artisan Action Plan.

  • Entry point activities in watershed and joint forest management areas, as part of a 10-year Wasteland Development Action Plan.

  • A total of 13 903 water-harvesting structures worth Rs.430 million completed as against a target of 20 312 structures.

  • More than 24 000 irrigation works, bringing 512 000 hectares under irrigation.

  • Women mobilized to set up micro-enterprises.

Impact of the Janmabhoomi decentralization experiment in local development planning

The programme has so far completed 13 rounds of participatory decision-making in local development. The most important impact has been to generate public awareness, galvanize the administrative machinery and open up access of rural poor to local governance. Janmabhoomi has also developed a strong community spirit among the people and improved transparency in administration.

Participation of rural poor in social mobilization programs as part of decentralization in Nepal

In Nepal, a citizens’ charter has been prepared and district development councils (DDCs) organized under the Local Self Government Act (LSGA) with subject-wise sections (for e.g. on agriculture & livestock), each equipped with computers and accessories. Job descriptions of the section have been prepared and staff trained in different areas to become more professional. Institutional reviews to identify DDC capacity gaps have been initiated and an internal communication system established.

Local development fund (LDF) bylaws have been approved and the LDF made operational from July 2002. The LDF has developed pro-poor policies with at least 50 percent credit capital earmarked for the poorest of the poor. The repayment period and credit activities are defined according to the local poverty profile and first priority for seed grant utilization is given to the poorest of the poor.

District development plans are published annually and all village development committees have prepared and published five-year plans. There are regular meetings, interaction and coordination and initiation of different development activities with line agencies, I/NGOs and private sector. Development activities, income and expenditure are published regularly in district bulletins. Internal revenue increased from NRs3 328 882 in 1997 to NRs12 281 500 in 2001. External resources are mobilized from various international donor agencies.

Decentralization programmes in Nepal emphasize social mobilization as an instrument for the more efficient allocation of local resources.As an example, community organizations in the country’s Kavre district identified the poorest of the poor on the basis of consensus, which facilitated their participation in village development programmes.

For example, the local women's group built a community centre without outside help. They organized weekly meetings for members of their group, who contributed only five rupees each, every week. Yet, this enabled the women’s group to mobilize NRs 48 000 and invest NRs 85 000. This example was followed by village men, who established 34 men’s groups, which met every Saturday, with each member contributing NRs 15. These local women’s and men’s groups were able to save and invest their capital for the construction of a bridge near the centre of the village at a total cost of NRs 140 000, which is a sizeable contribution from the local poor.

The core elements in the strategy for social mobilization and capital formation among the poorest in the Kavre District, are self-governance; institutional development of community organizations (COs); social capital development; skill and enterprise development; micro-finance activities; and infrastructure support. Local capacity has also been developed and strengthened by human resource development, strategic management, organization structure and culture financial and information management.

The guiding principles are sustainability, a participatory approach, gender equity, good governance, decentralization and human rights.

Contributed by K. P. Mukundan, President of Avanur Gram Panchayat, Kerala, India.

3. Training module on enhancing women’s participation

Main objectives of the training module for women local council members

1. To explain the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to newly elected women panchayat members.

2. To make women local council representatives aware of laws protecting women’s rights.

3. To make women council members aware of their roles and responsibilities in local development.

4. To enhance participation of women members in development planning within panchayats.

5. To develop women’s leadership and communication skills for enhancing social mobilization.

6. To make them find ways and means to interface with other layers of local self-governance within the State and claim the panchayat's entitlements.

7. To familiarize them with rural/women/child development programmes to reduce poverty

8. To empower them to identify and break cultural barriers and improve their social-economic condition.

The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act strengthens women’s participation in local development planning

Capacity-building of women in participatory local development planning

Systematic awareness-building and training is needed for enhancing rural women's capacity to take up their new responsibilities as local legislators and decision-makers under Panchayati Raj.

The local government bureaucracy is also in urgent need of sensitization to women’s problems and issues linked to gender bias in local development planning. The panel responsible for formulating the training agenda should include elected women representatives besides local development personnel.

The training of women panchayat members should be based on their own local experiences and elicit their involvement in preparing a framework that will enable them to analyse and understand their roles and responsibilities in accordance with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment.

Design of a training programme for women village council members and Sarpanch

Broad contents of the training module for women local council members



Communication skills

Stress management

Gender sensitization

Training needs assessment of women council members

A quick appraisal of the trainees before the start of the training will help the trainer in designing the training programme. This can be done by: i) obtaining a brief bio-data of the participants and ii) SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. Since the training is for elected women members at all three PRI levels and for officials dealing with PRIs, it will not be difficult to obtain their personal particulars.

Who are the women trainers/trainees?

What are the requirements for women trainers?

Examples of capacity-building programmes for elected women council members

Karnataka: use of satellite broadcasting, computers and promotion of social safety nets for women

The experimental programme launched by the Government of Karnataka was the second of its kind in the country. It used one-way video and two-way audio satellite broadcasting technology developed by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) to beam programmes to 17 districts of Karnataka. The Department of Women and Child Welfare beamed programmes for elected women gram panchaya representatives. It is possible to organize video-conferencing among women panchayat members in villages, taluks and districts, and with anybody anywhere in the country.

In the Bellandur village Gram Panchayat, 30 km from the Karnataka State capital Bangalore, women panchayat members can access administrative data for five villages with the click of a computer mouse such as size of family land holdings, taxes due from them and the number of beneficiaries under various housing and employment schemes. The status of applications for power and water connections can also be seen on the two computers at the Panchayat office.

Set up in 1977, the Women’s Welfare Society, Belgaum, has been working to assist women in distress and children from poor families. Over the years, it has expanded its work in Belgaum city and to nearby rural areas like Hidkal, Hunnur and Aralikatti.

Sangathi, a family counselling centre started by the Society in 1993 in Belgaum, has helped settle matrimonial disputes amicably in some 900 families. Women in distress can get immediate assistance from Santwana, a 24-hour help-line. The Society has also established a short stay home at Hidkal in Hukkeri taluk for women and girls in distress, which offers food and accommodation free of cost. It also provides vocational training, like tailoring. Two printing press units in Belgaum and another in Hidkal, teach women composing, printing and book binding, to start their own ventures. The Society runs seven creches for children of working women.

Its Urban Family Welfare Centre at Vadagaon in Belgaum, provides health check-up and family planning services to the people. The Society is also providing education to slum children and has organized campaigns on AIDS awareness.

Project expenses are met from public donations and assistance from organizations like the Central Social Welfare Board, the Department of Women and Child Development, the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, the Karnataka State Women Development Corporation and Nehru Yuva Kendra. The society has about 700 staff. Its efforts won the Society the 1996 State Award and the Rani Kittur Chennamma Award in 1999.

Kerala: exchange programme for women council members

The Centre for Rural Management in Kerala State and the Institute of Social Sciences, Southern Regional Centre, Bangalore, organized an exchange programme for women panchayat members in the two states. It enabled Panchayati Raj functionaries to understand and gain first-hand experience of panchayat functioning in states other than their own. Stressing the vital role of training and education in preparing effective and dynamic women panchayat leaders, the field visits also developed bonding with counterparts in other states, adding to their self-confidence. Unlike formal training programmes, exchange programmes are more responsive to specific local training needs.

Andhra Pradesh: women’s group enterprise development

Bindu Mahila Sangham of Srirangam village in Nizamabad mandal saved Rs.17 000, got a revolving fund of Rs. 25 000 and 80 000 from the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD). Anjaana Mahila Sangham and Sai Mahila Sangham make ready-made garments. Rudramma Mahila Sangham of Yedapally village makes leaf plates and earns at least Rs.10 000 in two months.

The groups use a marketing network set up with the help of the Mandal Development Officers. Similarly, Arvind Mahila Sangham was able to sell 200 000 rupees worth of soft toys at the annual industrial exhibition held in Hyderabad. Arvind Mahila Sangham of Dharmavarm village also successfully marketed their goods at the bazaar arranged by the state government.

The Baba Mahila Sangham of the Lambda’s is an interesting case. Located in Ausali Thanda, a hamlet of around 40 houses, two SHG groups made Bnjara garments and assorted ornaments made from German silver.

Nepal: women’s group enterprise development in Kushadevei village, Kavera District

The female community organization (FCO) in Kushadevei village, Kavera district of Nepal is a classic example for the study of social mobilization. The Kushadevei FCO initiated individual economic enterprises as well as collective, village enterprise development schemes. The self-rule adopted by the FCO is the backbone of their achievement.

At least eighty percent of the members actively participate in the meetings conducted regularly at settlement level. Each member regularly saves the amount decided by the CO. The manager takes decision on the basis of consensus on the agenda presented in the meetings.

The CO keeps account of the savings and investment, which are examined at every meeting. Members put forward suggestions on development initiatives and improving their settlement, which are subject to intense discussion during the meetings. The CO members have jointly undertaken some activities for the community through their own resources without any external support.

Examples of women panchayat leaders as effective local development managers

A large number of women grassroots leaders across India are disproving the perception in a section of the media that women panchayat representatives are merely proxies for their male relatives who do not take active interest in the affairs of their panchayats. The following examples demonstrate that women can run panchayats successfully:

1. Struggle against corruption

2. Efficient use of resources

3. Resolving disputes

4. Fighting alcoholism

Source: Bharat Dogra, ‘Women justify reservation policy in Panchayats' (Panchayati Raj Update: 2001)

Contributed by K. Subha, Institute of Social Sciences, Bangalore, India & M. Sarumathy, Assistant Professor, Centre for Panchayati Raj, National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, India.

4. Training module on social audit

Basis of social audit

Social audit as a term was used as far back as the 1950s. There has been a flurry of activity and interest in the last seven to eight years in India and neighboring countries. Voluntary development organizations are also actively concerned.

Social audit is based on the principle that democratic local governance should be carried out, as far as possible, with the consent and understanding of all concerned. It is thus a process and not an event.

What is a social audit?

A social audit is a way of measuring, understanding, reporting and ultimately improving an organization’s social and ethical performance. A social audit helps to narrow gaps between vision/goal and reality, between efficiency and effectiveness. It is a technique to understand, measure, verify, report on and to improve the social performance of the organization.

Social auditing creates an impact upon governance. It values the voice of stakeholders, including marginalized/poor groups whose voices are rarely heard. Social auditing is taken up for the purpose of enhancing local governance, particularly for strengthening accountability and transparency in local bodies.

The key difference between development and social audit is that a social audit focuses on the neglected issue of social impacts, while a development audit has a broader focus including environment and economic issues, such as the efficiency of a project or programme.

Objectives of social audit

1. Assessing the physical and financial gaps between needs and resources available for local development.

2. Creating awareness among beneficiaries and providers of local social and productive services.

3. Increasing efficacy and effectiveness of local development programmes.

4. Scrutiny of various policy decisions, keeping in view stakeholder interests and priorities, particularly of rural poor.

5. Estimation of the opportunity cost for stakeholders of not getting timely access to public services.

Advantages of social audit

To be effective, the social auditor must have the right to:

- seek clarifications from the implementing agency about any decision-making, activity, scheme, income and expenditure incurred by the agency;

- consider and scrutinize existing schemes and local activities of the agency; and

- access registers and documents relating to all development activities undertaken by the implementing agency or by any other government department.

This requires transparency in the decision-making and activities of the implementing agencies. In a way, social audit includes measures for enhancing transparency by enforcing the right to information in the planning and implementation of local development activities.

Public documents for social audit

(i) All budget allocations, beneficiary lists, muster rolls, bills, vouchers, accounts, etc. must be available for public scrutiny.

(ii) All applications for licenses/permits and certificates issued by local self-government institutions must have a serial number. Registers indicating date of application and date of clearance in each case should be available for reference by any applicant. If possible, copies should be publicly displayed.

(iii) Public assessment of tax, exemptions, grants, etc., to ensure there are no complaints of undue preferential treatment.

Several states have declared all Gram Panchayat plan documents related to beneficiary selection, budget cost estimates, etc. to be public documents. A daily notice to be posted at the site of all development works, lists names of workers, wages paid, cost and quantities of material, transport charges, etc.

However, social audit arrangements have mostly been ineffective because there is no legal provision for punitive action. States should enact legislation to facilitate social audit by the Gram Sabha.

Appropriate institutional level for social audit

The most appropriate institutional level for social audit is the Gram Sabha, which has been given 'watchdog' powers and responsibilities by the Panchayati Raj Acts in most States to supervise and monitor the functioning of panchayat elected representatives and government functionaries, and examine the annual statement of accounts and audit reports. These are implied powers indirectly empowering Gram Sabhas to carry out social audits in addition to other functions. Members of the Gram Sabha and the village panchayat, intermediate panchayat and district panchayat through their representatives, can raise issues of social concern and public interest and demand an explanation.

Right to information for Gram Sabha members

Some States have already passed Right to Information Acts. Notwithstanding some weaknesses, the Acts have opened the way for transparency in administration from the State to the panchayat level.

The Right to Information Acts specify the modalities for obtaining information and provide penalties or failing to furnish or supplying false information. The Acts facilitate social legislation such as on minimum wages and gender rights and, more importantly, pave the way for public debate on government development projects.

However, none of the Acts have defined the right to information to include inspection of works and documents, and the taking of notes and extracts. This is needed to make the social audit by the Gram Sabha more effective.

The Gram Sabha should have the mandate to: inspect all public documents related to budget allocations, list of beneficiaries, assistance under each scheme, muster rolls, bills, vouchers, accounts, etc., for scrutiny; examine annual statements of accounts and audit reports; discuss the report on the local administration of the preceding year; review local development for the year or any new activity programme; establish accountability of functionaries found guilty of violating established norms/rules; suggest measures for promoting transparency in identifying, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating relevant local development programmes; and ensure opportunity for rural poor to voice their concerns while participating in social audit meetings.

Social audit committees

Social audit can also be used for auditing the performance of all three PRI tiers with a social audit committee at each level. These committees should not be permanent, but can be set up depending on the nature of programmes/schemes to be audited.

Social audit committee members can be drawn from among programme stakeholders. It is advisable to use the services of retired functionaries of different organizations, teachers or persons of impeccable integrity living in the Zilla Panchayat/Block Panchayat/Gram Panchayat jurisdiction. Both facilitators and social audit committee members can be trained by social audit experts.

Steps in social audit in local bodies

1. Clarity of purpose and goal of the local elected body.

2. Identify stakeholders with a focus on their specific roles and duties. Social auditing aims to ensure a say for all stakeholders. It is particularly important that marginalized social groups, which are normally excluded, have a say on local development issues and activities and have their views on the actual performance of local elected bodies.

3. Definition of performance indicators which must be understood and accepted by all. Indicator data must be collected by stakeholders on a regular basis.

4. Regular meetings to review and discuss data/information on performance indicators.

5. Follow-up of social audit meeting with the panchayat body reviewing stakeholders' actions, activities and viewpoints, making commitments on changes and agreeing on future action as recommended by the stakeholders.

6. Establishment of a group of trusted local people including elderly people, teachers and others who are committed and independent, to be involved in the verification and to judge if the decisions based upon social audit have been implemented.

7. The findings of the social audit should be shared with all local stakeholders. This encourages transparency and accountability. A report of the social audit meeting should be distributed for Gram Panchayat auditing. In addition, key decisions should be written on walls and boards and communicated orally.

Key factors for successful social audit

How to enhance local capacities for social audit

Social development monitoring (SDM): a social audit process

SDM is a periodic observation activity by socially disadvantaged groups as local citizens who are project participants or target beneficiaries. It could also take the form of action intended to enhance participation, ensure inclusiveness, articulation of accountability, responsiveness and transparency by implementing agencies or local institutions, with a declared purpose of making an impact on their socio-economic status.


To sum up, the following proposals can be made to make social audit a regular and effective institution to promote the culture of transparency and accountability through the Gram Sabha.

1. States should enhance Gram Sabha powers to make them effective instruments of participatory decision-making and ensuring accountability of PRIs in local development planning.

2. An agency like the Ombudsman can be set up to look into complaints of local maladministration.

3. Development functionaries found guilty of violating established norms for local development planning should be punished.

4. It is important to ensure that rural poor are given due protection when they wish to stand up to speak against any misconduct.


Examples of social audit

1. Social audit in Jharnipalli Panchayat, Agaipur block, Bolangir district, Orissa

In October 2001, the gram sabha members of Jharnipalli Panchayat conducted a one-day social audit of development works carried out in the panchayat over the preceding three years. This audit took place with the active participation of many individuals and agencies, including block and district administration officials, MKSS [Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan], NCPRI [National Campaign for People’s Right to Information] and Action Aid India.

The audit found that:

2. Micro-development planning as part of social audit

A voluntary development organization Samarthan and PRIA (Society for Participatory Research in Asia) collaborated in a participatory micro-planning exercise with local officials, panchayat members, members of different castes, etc. The process was a way to bring resources to the local community and to increase its involvement in Gram Sabha meetings which took place four times a year.

This led to the identification of several goals. One was to construct a drain. Inspired by the participatory local planning process, the community contributed half the cost of the drain (Rs 50 000). Those who could not give money offered their labour. The rest of the money came from the district office and was mobilized by the Gram Panchayat and its pro-active woman president, the Sarpanch.

Every member of the Gram Sabha developed a sense of ownership of the project. The Gram Sabha monitors the work. Gram Panchayat representatives also hold regular ward-level meetings. The relationship between people and their local representatives developed quickly into one of mutual support.

3. SDM of schools for 'rehabilitated' child workers, Jamtara district, Jharkhand State, India

In 1995, the non-governmental Child Labour Elimination Society (CLES) initiated a project to set up 40 Vidyalayas (schools) in three blocks with a high incidence of child labour in Jamtara district. The funds for the project were provided by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India.

To supervise the schools, three-tier committees were formed at the district, block and panchayat/village levels, with the district-level committee having the Deputy Commissioner as its ex-officio chairperson. At the block level, the circle officer (CO) is the nodal officer entrusted with the responsibility for smooth functioning of the schools. The committee at the panchayat and village level includes members who were active during the mass literacy campaigns in the district. However, most committees at the lowest level are either defunct and not functional or not properly constituted. Visibly, this particular weakness has resulted in the diminution of an important forum of citizen interaction, reflection and action.

Programme activities

1. A series of block and village level meetings with parents were followed by meetings with local civil society groups/activists and schoolteachers and generated a lot of optimism. Some parents showed keen interest in monitoring the school.

2. Parents formed a committee of five to eight members, decided on indicators and modalities of monitoring and the role and responsibilities of monitors. Committee membership was kept small to ensure easy consensus and spontaneity. Women showed remarkable interest and had a strong presence on the committee.

3. After much argument and discussion, the parents finally decided on three indicators for the purpose of monitoring, viz. - the presence or absence of two teachers; serving of midday meals to the children; and routine health checks for children by the local health department.

4. The committee was entrusted with the task of monitoring the first two indicators four to five days a month and the health check, once a month, usually on the last working day of each month. It was also agreed to devise a suitable format to record data, keeping in view the limited ability of parents in recording detailed observations. Data was to be recorded on simply designed but ingenious worksheets with suitable pictures/drawings depicting the three broad indicators.

5. An important aspect of the indicator development exercise was the clarity in the minds of parents about the larger objectives of the monitoring i.e. to ensure responsiveness, efficiency and accountability in teachers, doctors and block level government officials. Parents who were initially concerned that monitoring would be seen by other stakeholders as 'encroaching on their territory', gradually began to realize that building an atmosphere of trust holds the key to realizing their long-term objective.

6. The very process of engaging themselves in monitoring the working of the schools not only helped build confidence in the parents, but also imparted the necessary basic skills of negotiating with government officials. Committee members met the medical officer and circle officer armed with reliable data from their monitoring and apprised them of the working of the schools along with their concerns and suggestions. They also held regular discussions with the teachers on school functioning to understand their perspective and problems and suggest remedial measures. The schoolteachers extended complete support to the parents based on a shared perception that the future of the school lies in working closely with other stakeholders.


The parents met the circle officer and apprised him of their findings, concerns and suggestions for improved school functioning, such as slackness on the part of doctors in conducting routine health checks, difficulties in the running of one school due to a vacant teacher's post, need for roof construction/repair in another school and sports equipment for all schools. The district official accepted some of the demands. This and other such meetings helped citizens to understand the way government business is conducted and the skills of negotiating with officials.

Contributed by K. B. Srivastava, former Professor and Head, Centre for Panchayati Raj, National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, India & Chandan Datta, PRIA, New Delhi.

5. Training module on participatory local resources management

Types of local resources

Resources are natural, physical, human and financial. The participatory management of natural resources by local government institutions (LGIs) and development of human resources are very important for local social and economic development.

1. Natural and physical resources

The rights of LGIs over natural resources vary from State to State, while there are also variations among different PRI levels. It is, therefore, essential to make the LGI functionaries aware of the existing status of the natural resources and their responsibilities within their jurisdiction.

LGI responsibilities related to land include among others:

LGI role in promoting agricultural production/marketing

LGI Production functions

LGI Marketing functions

  • Increase of agricultural production
  • Training of farmers
  • Extension and field demonstrations
  • Seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, mini-kit supply
  • Improved methods of cultivation
  • Horticultural nurseries
  • Plant protection measures
  • Promote agricultural Haat (markets)
  • Establishment of grain stores
  • Agricultural fairs and exhibitions
  • Processing and preservation of fruits and vegetables

Examples of successful LGI implementation of agricultural development activities including extension can be presented to enable local elected leaders and officials to understand the important role of LGIs in this field of local development planning.

Land improvement and soil conservation

Local government institutions are, among others, also responsible for planning and implementing land improvement and soil conservation measures. Local capacity-building programmes are needed on: i) soil-erosion and river control; ii) land improvement; iii) construction of check dams; iv) soil conservation on a watershed basis; and v) soil conservation as field trials and dry farming technology

Land reforms

The panchayats in West Bengal State of India are leading the way in local-managed land reforms which provide land to the landless and rural poor. In several village panchayat areas in Haryana State of India, landless cattle owners have been provided with rights to cut the grass in common lands to feed their cattle.

Water and irrigation

Ensuring equitable water use by all stakeholders is an important LGI function.

LGI functions related to ensuring access to water for domestic and farm use

Drinking water

Minor irrigation, water management and
watershed development

  • Prepare drinking water projects
  • Construct, maintain and repair
    wells, ponds, and taps
  • Preserve water sources
  • Prevent and control water pollution
  • Maintain rural water supply schemes
  • Rural sanitation programmes
  • Piped water supply
  • Prepare and implement projects of minor
    irrigation, dams, canals, water channel,
    water bank, etc.
  • Generate and distribute electricity
  • Implement community irrigation works
  • Water management
  • Watershed development
  • Ferries
  • Waterways
  • Groundwater resources development

Regulation of cropping pattern/irrigation water use by Gram Sabha

The Gram Sabha in a village in Madhya Pradesh State, where the main source of farm irrigation was a 12.5 ha lake, decided that since the water level had gone below 40 percent of capacity, certain water-intensive crops could not be cultivated during the current year. It was decided (a) not to supply water to individual farmers with a view to conserve the water for cattle during summer and (b) to stop issuing no-objection certificates needed by the State Electricity Board for providing individual electricity connections to pump water from the lake.

LGI functions related to forest resources

Besides meeting the domestic energy needs of the rural poor from fuel plantations, afforestation on barren land, together with integrated wasteland development can provide cattle-grazing facilities. Minor forest produce programmes can generate additional income for marginalized communities.

LGI functions related to physical assets and local infrastructure


2. Human resources

LGI responsibilities related to basic education

The LGI’s responsibilities cover provision of access to primary and secondary education, technical and vocational training, adult and non-formal education, libraries, etc. Training of LGI members needs to take into account all these aspects. Education committee members must be trained to evaluate the performance of teachers on various counts such as attendance, involvement in extra-curricular activities and the attention paid by them to students with special needs. They may be trained to deal in the right way with teachers in view of past complaints of disrespect shown to teachers by elected LGI representatives.

LGI responsibilities related to non-formal education

LGI responsibilities related to formal education

Promotion (usually assigned to lowest LGI tier)


Recruitment (usually by higher LGI tiers)

Establishment of schools

Public health and family welfare

LGI responsibilities for providing services for health and family welfare

LGI responsibilities for family welfare

3. Mobilization of local financial resources

Why is mobilization of local financial resources needed?

Resource analysis table format

Name of the resource













Financial resources available to LGIs

Local government taxes

Local government charges



Others (rent, fees, fines, etc)

  • House tax
  • Land tax
  • Water tax
  • Profession tax
  • Entertainment tax
  • Vehicle tax
  • Pilgrim tax
  • Rent tax
  • Advertisement tax
  • Business tax
  • Natural resource use tax
  • Sanitation service charge
  • Tourist charge
  • Entry charges for gardens, parking lots, etc
  • Market/license registration fees
  • Recommendation/local development fees

There will be five training sessions on resource management covering each type of local resource. Efforts to tap such resources, the difficulties faced, limitations imposed by higher government levels and the possibility of raising finance from untapped sources are among the issues that need to be highlighted in each session. The session on taxes needs to concentrate on efforts to rationalize LGI taxes, disputes and their settlement mechanisms, methods of tax collection, efficiency in tax collection, etc. The tax-paying capacity of the poor should be kept in mind while levying tax on their houses. It should also be realized that waiving the house tax would deprive them of their sense of belonging to and participation in the local development activities by the LGIs.

The session on grants from higher levels of government should distinguish between types of grants:

i) those made with specific conditions, such as grants for maintenance of school buildings and common property resources like tanks, irrigation canals, etc.; and

ii) matching grants where part of the expenditure has to be provided by the LGI itself from its own resources.

Income from local sales

The LGIs can raise local financial resources from sales of common property resources found within their jurisdiction, such as sand along rivers and canals, stones, soil, wood carried by rivers, animal carcasses, etc. However, over-exploitation must be avoided. It is also important to ensure that the rural poor have access to these common resources, which are vital for their livelihoods.

Training on local financial resources management for LGIs

  • Taxes and tax procedures

  • By-laws relating to the taxes

  • All sources of revenue other than taxes

  • Methods of raising the above

  • Write off, remission of tax and other charges

  • Auditing and accounting

  • Withdrawal and payments

  • Maintenance of cash book, control of expenditure, audit objection and replies.

Contributed by V. Venkatakrishnan, Institute of Rural Management, Anand, India.

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