Kilifi-area farmers support transparent public procurement
According to the report, an official from the Ministry of Education urged head teachers to procure cereals for the semester from one trader, who ended up supplying 40 out of 48 schools in the area. Realising this practice violated official procurement guidelines, which require an open tendering process, local traders and farmers reported the incident to the Ganze Education Officer, Omar Borura, who is now investigating the complaints.
The incident demonstrates how communities, armed with knowledge on public procurement, can effectively advocate for greater government accountability. Citizens of Kilifi county participated in a social audit on school feeding in August 2014 organized by SNV’s Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding (PG-HGSF). A school feeding social audit is a community forum for raising awareness of the Kenyan Home Grown School Meals (HGSM) programme and Kilifi is one of six counties where SNV has piloted social audits since 2013. Since funding for HGSM comes from taxpayers and is disbursed directly by the Kenyan Government, food procurement must follow national public procurement guidelines. In Kilifi, the audit fostered discussions about how correct procurement processes are open to community farmers and traders. Thus, when school feeding stakeholders learned about the education official’s unethical practice days later, they reported to the correct authorities.
Social audits not only create an environment where community members are free to share their concerns and thoughts, but can support better transparent practices overall. Reflecting on the recent developments in Kilifi county, PG-HGSF Governance Advisor Leah Njeri observed, “Our social accountability efforts are bearing fruit in addressing this sensitive but important issue.”