A social audit is a public accountability tool used by communities and civil society organisations to evaluate service delivery with the aim of uncovering whether public expenditure matches up with service delivery outcomes experienced by communities. The methodology facilitates public participation in the monitoring of government service delivery and expenditure by ensuring that communities themselves study government documents and compare them to experiences through data collection.

Since 2013, communities in low income townships across South Africa, supported by civil society organisations, have conducted social audits in sanitation, refuse collection, school infrastructure, water provision, housing and more recently in mining-affected communities. This work culminated in the formal establishment of the Social Audit Network in 2016, which supports the development of social audits across the country and serves as the coordinating body for training and capacity-building.

This short film tells the story of the service delivery challenges that face poor communities daily and the evolution of this methodology. It also explores the experiences of these communities and civil society organisations as they have sought to use social audits to participate in and improve governance.

Watch it below.