Public audits in all five Local Road User Committees (LRUCs) were carried out between 27 April and 29 April 2021 in Mugu and Humla. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, only project staff and group leaders of Road Building Groups (RBGs) and Special Road Building Groups (SRBGs) attended the public audits held in Bamagairigaun, Panidhara, Rughamasta, Luma Gurudev and Dudedaha LRUCs.
Despite the pandemic and the lockdown, wage distribution by the project staff to workers in 2020/21 was carried out with the support of local officials, but no public audits were conducted due to safety concerns. In late April the project was able to hold its first public audits for the previous year’s payments, as well as the first payment of the current year (March 2020 -March 2021). Payments and public audits all followed the project’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The overall purpose of the public audits was to discuss and give feedback between beneficiaries, stakeholders and the project team on the design, delivery, quality of service and verification of payments received by RBGs/SRBGs and expenditures made by LRUCs. These meetings were also useful to increase the sense of ownership amongst beneficiaries and stakeholders. The participants were given sufficient time to raise any issues, misunderstandings, concerns, and queries they might have and the project field team helped to clear up all the issues and queries raised during the meeting. The public audit meeting with beneficiaries and stakeholders also helped to understand, analyse, and improve the social and ethical approach of the programme.