- Inside the Guide
- What is...
- Why and how to use The Good Enough Guide
- 1. Involve people at every stage
- 2. Profile the people affected by the emergency
- 3. Identify the changes people want to see
- 4. Track changes and make feedback a two-way process
- 5. Use feedback to improve project impact
- 6. Tools
- Tool 1: How to introduce your agency: a need-to-know checklist
- Tool 2: How accountable are you? Checking public information
- Tool 3: How to involve people throughout the project
- Tool 4: How to profile the affected community and assess initial needs
- Tool 5: How to conduct an individual interview
- Tool 6: How to conduct a focus group
- Tool 7: How to decide whether to do a survey
- Tool 8: How to assess child-protection needs
- Tool 9: How to observe
- Tool 10: How to start using indicators
- Tool 11: How to hold a lessons-learned meeting
- Tool 12: How to set up a complaints and response mechanism
- Tool 13: How to give a verbal report
- Tool 14: How to say goodbye
- 7. Other accountability initiatives
- 8. Sources, further information, and abbreviations
- Thank you
ECB Project on TwitterThe Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods 48hr assessment tool is now available in #Bahasa #Indonesia: http://t.co/Ij4HZCDcys 4 hours ago
The Good Enough Guide
Tool 12: How to set up a complaints and response mechanism
Feedback can be positive or negative: complaints mean that things may have gone wrong. Receiving complaints and responding to them is central to accountability, impact, and learning.
Tell people how to complain and that it is their right to do so.
- Use staff and notice boards to give information about complaints processes
- Be clear about the types of complaint you can and can’t deal with
- Know your agency’s procedures on abuse or exploitation of beneficiaries
- Explain details of the appeals process
Make access to the complaints process as easy and safe as possible. Consider:
- How will beneficiaries in remote locations be able to make complaints?
- Can complaints be received verbally or only in writing?
- Is it possible to file a complaint on behalf of somebody else (owing to their illiteracy, fears for their personal safety, inability to travel, etc.)?
Describe how complaints will be handled.
- Develop a standard complaints form
- Give the complainant a receipt, preferably a copy of their signed form
- Enable an investigation to be tracked and keep statistics on complaints and responses
- Keep complaint files confidential. Ensure discussion about the complaint cannot be traced back to the individual complainant
- Know your agency’s procedures for dealing with complaints against staff
Give beneficiaries a response to their complaint.
- Make sure each complainant receives a response and appropriate action
- Be consistent: ensure similar complaints receive a similar response
- Maintain oversight of complaints processes and have an appeals process
Learning from complaints and mistakes.
- Collect statistics and track any trends
- Feed learning into decision-making and project activities
A complaints and response mechanism in action
Medair responded to the Kashmir earthquake in October 2005 with emergency shelter and non-food items. The team soon realised it needed a mechanism to address constant queries and complaints. One hour a day was dedicated to dealing with complaints at the main project base. This was the only time Medair would receive complaints.
A complainant could speak to the Administrator or Office Manager. If possible, complaints were resolved informally. Otherwise, office staff completed a complaints form and passed this to an Assessment Team in the field. Complaints about staff members were investigated by the Project Manager at each base.
Most complaints came from earthquake survivors who had not received a shelter. They also came from people outside Medair’s own project area. In those cases Medair lobbied the responsible agency. Sometimes, if nothing happened, Medair provided help itself. If a complaint investigated by an Assessment Team was upheld, the beneficiary received assistance, depending on Medair’s resources.
A spreadsheet recorded the numbers of complaints from each
village, and how many complaints had been dealt with. This enabled project staff to assess progress and to integrate complaints into project planning.
By the end of the emergency phase, Medair had dealt with approximately 1600 complaints, 70 per cent of all those it had received. Not all complaints could be investigated because by March 2006 Medair had used up its project funds. Checking more households would raise false expectations. Also, five months after the earthquake, most homes had been rehabilitated. Of the complaints investigated 18 per cent were upheld. Complaints about staff led to dismissal for three who had given preferential treatment to their tribal or family members.
The complaints mechanism saved Medair teams significant time in field and office and in identifying gaps in coverage. By using this mechanism Medair helped 290 families whose needs would otherwise have been overlooked.
Medair was new to Pakistan and the complaints and response mechanism helped compensate for limited local knowledge. By the end of the project, communities would contact Medair about any discrepancy they saw in its distributions, confident that the agency would take appropriate action.
From written communication with Robert Schofield and John Primrose, Medair (adapted).