A score care is a form of social audit, which is used by communities to reflect on progress made in achieving MDGs and eradicating poverty. The action was piloted in Kieni and Gem constituency with a special focus on goal number three; gender equality and women empowerment. Several lessons were learnt.
First, there was awareness creation. In Kieni for example, most of those who took part conceded that they had not heard about MDGs. It was particularly saddening to here of local leaders who had not heard about MDGs and whose community programs are in no way informed by the pursuit of the millennium goals. The communities in the area were found to have a misconception of and a negative attitude towards gender equality.
Secondly, the action provided a space for the rights holders- the citizens, to dialogue with the duty holders- the leaders. For, example, a female head teachers used the space to freely engage the local Teachers Service Commission Officer on issues of corruption, dominance of godfathers and policies that kept women away from school headship. Unlike the private schools in the area, the public schools have very few female heads despite women forming the bulk of the teaching staff.
The land squatters engaged the government officers for corruption that denied women family heads from land ownership during the resettlement of forest squatters.
Third, the action accorded the communities and opportunity to reflect on and analyze the problems facing them. In one instance for example, human action was blamed for deforestation that had resulted in pro-longed droughts leading to food shortage.
Fourth, the action showed that in the millennium districts-Siaya, where the government has scaled up MDGs advocacy with heavy involvement of CSOs, the level of awareness is much higher than in the non-millennium district. One good lesson learnt in Gem was a CDF-CSOs partnership where the CDF caters for building costs while CSOs provide for running costs that would otherwise be ineligible costs in CDF. Joint programming was found to build synergy and was found to be driven by the fact that both CDF and the CSOs in the area are driven by MDGs based planning.
Finally, the score proved useful in harnessing community volunteerism towards MDGs. After listening first hand testimonials of people’s experiences with poverty, community members moved in to ease the pain of those living in poverty. These stories were aired in radio and TV stations thus raising the profile of the MDGs campaign.
With only seven years to 2015- the year by which MDGs should be achieved, all indications are that Kenya will not achieve the goals. There is need now more than ever for community mobilization to accelerate achievement of MDGs. Twelve months of piloting the score card has proved that the social audit is a powerful tool of teasing out and creating awareness on MDGs and the real needs of the communities. Nether-the-less, there is still need to harness community volunteerism, harmonize stakeholders interventions, promote an active/engaged citizenly and ensure an effective governance in order to scale up the war against poverty. towards this end, EfLI will, in this second phase of the score card, seek to leverage awareness into action through advocacy.