2. Workshop Agenda
1.What is Community Engagement
2.Why is Community Engagement
and Accountability important for
good quality Cash
3.Key considerations for successful
Community Engagement and
Accountability in Cash
4.Case studies from Malawi and
Zambia Red Cross Societies
4. 1. Better quality responses & impact
2. Increased trust and acceptance
3. Early detection of problems
4. Saves money
5. Increased community ownership
6. Improved staff satisfaction and retention
7. Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse by aid
8. Contributes to Do No Harm programming
9. Helps to manage expectations
What are the benefits of mainstreaming CEA?
6. Some common mistakes to be aware of in community
engagement and accountability
– FORGETTING TO
TELL PEOPLE WHO
WE ARE WHAT WE
ARE DOING THERE
AND DELAYS IN
– RELYING ON
OR NOT ACTED
9. 4 golden rules to
run an accountable
1. Find out how
2. Share information
regularly – especially
when there are delays
3. Explain and discuss
4. Have a feedback
system – and act on it
10. Where to get
help with CEA
• CEA HUB:
• CEA Guide & toolkit: www.ifrc.org/CEA
• CEA toolkit includes:
• Step-by-step guidance
• CEA in Cash tip sheet (available on the CEA
• Core Humanitarian Standards
• Sophie Everest, Snr CEA Adviser:
Hinweis der Redaktion
When the conditions are right, cash can be a more appropriate and effective approach than other, more traditional, forms of in-kind assistance. Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) can put more decision-making power in the hands of the communities we serve, helping people to overcome crisis with dignity.
This is the official Movement definition of CEA from the “Red Cross and Red Crescent Guide to Community Engagement and Accountability”
Note we used to call this Beneficiary Communications. We are now moving towards using the term CEA. This same term has also been officially adopted by ICRC and OCHA, so this alignment is a very positive development.
Official definition – key points from this are:
Approach AND activities – Make the point that while everyone is expected to master CEA as an approach to programming, specialist support may still be needed for specific CEA activities such as radio programming or using SMS systems. This is why CEA is at its best when it combines the skills of communications and programme staff.
Seeing and treating community as equal partners
Using communication and participatory techniques
MAIN REASONS – BUT KEY POINT IS THAT ACCOUNTABILITY TO COMMUNITIES BENEFITS COMMUNITIES AND IT BENEFITS US!
1. Leads to better, more effective programming
Asking and listening to people’s needs and opinions, and involving them in designing and delivering programmes, helps us to properly understand the situation and people’s priorities, which leads to more responsive, relevant and sustainable programmes. Asking whether people how they would prefer to receive cash e.g. through mobile money transfer, vouchers, or a mixture of both helps to ensure that cash programming is as relevant, useful and accessible as possible.
2. Improves acceptance and trust
Open and honest communication about who we are and what we are doing is a mark of respect and builds trust. It can help address rumours and prevent potential reputational and security risks, all of which enhances acceptance by communities. If we agree on the selection criteria with community representatives and we take the time to communicate the selection criteria to the wider community through trusted communication channels then people will understand the reasons why some people have been selected to receive cash and others have not. People will trust that we have made fair, impartial decisions about who is selected to receive the cash based on need alone and this will help to ensure that the Red Cross/Crescent is seen to be an organisation which acts on our principles.
3. Early detection of problems
Feedback and complaints provide us with valuable information we can use to improve our programmes and operations. These act as an early-warning system for implementation problems and cases of sexual exploitation, abuse and corruption, allowing us to address these quickly before they escalate. This is critical for cash programming to ensure that any fraudulent activity taking place either by our staff or by community representatives is identified quickly so that appropriate action can be taken. This also helps to prevent reputational damage.
4. Saves money
Local people are the most knowledgeable about their situation and have a right to be active partners in the development, relief and recovery of their communities. Drawing on that knowledge and expertise through participation and feedback means we are much more likely to deliver a good response first time around, and avoid making costly mistakes like giving the wrong items. For a cash distribution this is really important – when we tell people when and how cash will be distributed we save time on having to follow up all those who missed the first round.
5. Increased ownership and empowers people
People affected by crisis are not helpless victims. When we involve people in designing a response they are more likely to play an active role and feel ownership of the intervention – which supports communities to be active partners rather than passive recipients. When this happens there is a much greater chance some the aspects of the intervention will be sustained after we leave.
6. Improved staff satisfaction and retention
Staff and volunteers get much greater satisfaction from an operation which is working well and has the support and involvement of the community. Greater external accountability also helps encourage greater internal accountability from the organisation to its staff.
7. Prevents sexual exploitation and abuse
Good accountability systems like a well functioning feedback and complaints system or regular open conversations with communities means we are much more likely to be told about issues of sexual exploitation and abuse – because the community trust us enough to share this sensitive information and have faith we’ll do something about it. This in itself is a deterrent.
8. Contributes to ‘do no harm’ programming
There is always a risk that our presence and activities can have negative unintended consequences on a community. Good community engagement helps us achieve a solid understanding of the local environment and the role we play, both actual and perceived, whether we operate in a context with high levels of social instability, violence and conflict, or within more stable and predictable settings.
9. Helps to manage communities’ expectations
Dialogue with communities is essential in order to anticipate their needs, understand their circumstances and priorities and manage their expectations in relation to what they can expect from the National Society and who is eligible for support.
It’s important to note that CEA is an approach to programming, as much as a set of tools. It needs to be integrated into the programme cycle to make sure we are systematically communicating with beneficiaries to a high quality throughout our programmes. If we can build this in, measure it and deliver it, we will be meeting many of the standards of accountability to beneficiaries.
Steps throughout the programme cycle are…
Consult with communities even before we turn up with a formal assessment – explain who we are, our fundamental principles, what the project aims to achieve and how communities can ask questions to the Red Cross/Crescent after we leave.
Ask communities what they need to know and how they would like to receive information – asking what communication channels people prefer to use to share and receive information from the Red Cross/Crescent ensures that we use those channels throughout the programme and maximises the number of people in the community who know who we are, understand how we have selected recipients, know when the cash distribution will take place and how much money recipients will receive, and know that they have access to trusted channels to raise complaints and ask questions.
Involve them in planning programmes i.e. when and where cash distributions will take place or how to ensure that vulnerable community members can access cash safely and securely
Make sure CEA activities and approaches are part of plans, budgets and monitoring forms
Remember to keep providing information to communities throughout the programme and not just at the beginning – using the communications channels they told us they prefer
Have a feedback system in place and act on community feedback
Keep checking if people feel listened to and respected – this will be the basis of any community programme. Also do they receive the information we provide and critically – do they understand it?
Make sure community opinions are a key part of the evaluation
Share learning with colleagues and act on it – don’t repeat the same mistakes again and again
These are some of the common mistakes we make when working with communities – these mistakes were collected following FGDs with communities in Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, South Sudan and Rwanda.
1. Poor communication is the number 1 mistake we make and actually is the root cause of most of the other mistakes we discuss!
Commonly people in FGDs can recite health or DRR messages shared by the Red Cross – showing we are good at sensitization. This information is usually very much appreciated and people say they act on it and share it with others
However, a common message across FGDs held in Madagascar, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda is that communities are not receiving information from the Red Cross on what the Red Cross is doing, who they are, challenges in implementation, principles etc
They all said they would like more of this information
2. Raising expectations and breaking promises
Carrying out overly large assessments when there is not enough aid items or cash to help everyone.
An example from URCS: During many assessment processes it is common that every household is visited and has their details collected. This raises expectations amongst the community that because they have given their details they will be receiving something. When the URCS uses the assessment data to determine who is the most vulnerable, they go back and distribute and those who gave information but don’t receive any assistance are frustrated and confused as to why they aren’t being supported or why they were asked for information in the first place. This is compounded by the fact the volunteers don’t always know what the assessment they are carrying out is for and so can’t give clear information to communities. Volunteers were clearly also very frustrated by this situation. It is therefore essential that volunteers and the community are given enough information about the purpose of the assessment and what the data will be used for before the assessment starts, so it is made clear that participating in the assessment does not mean automatic qualification of assistance. It is also important to check first whether there is secondary data that can be used to inform the selection criteria rather than launching a full household assessment.
Not explaining problems or delays in implementation
Example from Madagascar: Funding delays meant a well which was started was not completed. No explanation was given to the community about why the well was stopped. Time passed and CRM did not visit the community. The community assumed CRM had broken its promise, as this was the experience with other NGOs and lost trust in the organisation. The impact of this on the rest of the project outcomes was profound. Anger in the community meant that the community volunteers were too embarrassed to do sensitization activities. Community members who had been prepared to build their own toilets lost the motivation because CRM didn’t come back. When CRM took the time to explain the reason for the delay the community were very understanding and thanked CRM for the explanation…showing that dealing with these kind of issues is not so difficult
- Not being clear about the exit strategy
Example from Somaliland: Unclear how long the cash transfer program can run due to a lack of funding. Initially the program was planned for 2 months, but people automatically expect more months because neighbouring communities have received long-term cash support from other NGOs. Rumours going around about the length of the program and about the transfer amount (lower than expected).
3. Targeting is unfair or unclear
Mistake – poor and not transparent targeting
Example from Somaliland & South Sudan – only relying on community leaders for targeting. Risk of elite capture. No means of verification (such as: publishing community list publicly or organizing a community meeting or going door-to-door).
Not explaining who we are helping and why…it can appear arbitrary to people, especially in situations where everyone is vulnerable
Also: we often only engage with our direct beneficiaries, not with other community members.
Community don’t trust us
Damages our reputation as impartial – can come across as corrupt or nepotism
Can ‘do harm’ in the community by exacerbating tensions or frictions and put people at risk
How to avoid?
Do-no-harm: be aware of local power structures and social dynamics and how that will impact on targeting processes
Use verification measures / triangulate the information we get from community members – example from Rwanda where whole community has the chance to verify if the right people have been selected
Make sure an explain selection criteria and processes for choosing people – be transparent, post lists of those selected and allow time for people to ask questions, provide feedback or challenge your decisions
Prevent rumours from spreading
The most common channels for collecting feedback are usually informal, such as community meetings, through volunteers and community committees. The risk with more informal channels is that there is not always an internal system in place for logging and analysing feedback meaning it might not be acted upon or responded to. This may also mean trends in feedback are not captured and so opportunities to rectify recurring problems or issues with the programme are missed. This is why we have created the qualitative feedback toolkit and have been conducting a series of workshops over the past few months to work with NS to integrate these tools in to their work.
Uganda: People did report feeling that URCS listens to them, but that URCS does not respond or act on feedback or complaints they share with them. This lack of response to community feedback came out strongly in all FGDs. Some participants in Bidibidi almost reported that NGOs come and take feedback but then nothing happens, and the community gets no feedback, so people now feel like there is no point complaining.
South Sudan: Almost half of survey participants (44%) said SSRC responds to their feedback or complaints.
Basline: 2% say they always use feedback, complaints and monitoring data to make improvements – 51% say rarely or never
Baseline: ANS, PNS and IFRC are least satisfied with their capacity to collect and use community feedback to guide programmes or operations (63% poor or in need of improvement).
Ground Truth, a humanitarian research and feedback organisation, carried out research in Kenya in June 2018 to map out the experience of people receiving cash. This included speaking to refugees in camps and in Nairobi and with people affected by drought. This is one of the findings from the survey. The full report shows just how confusing the cash experience can be for some people – many of whom don’t have access to the help and information they need to properly and safely access their cash.
Evidence suggests we often fall short when it comes to sharing information, listening and offering opportunities to communities to participate
PINK TABLE SOMALIA = Research by SAVEresearch.net from a report called “Listening to communities in insecure environments - LESSONS FROM COMMUNITY FEEDBACK MECHANISMS IN AFGHANISTAN, SOMALIA AND SYRIA”
UKRAINE AND SYRIANS - In preparation for the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), the WHS secretariat commissioned Ipsos to conduct community consultations with crisis-affected communities in multiple focus countries. The countries chosen for the consultations were Afghanistan, Guinea, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine, representing a diverse range of geographic regions, humanitarian contexts, and actors. See full reports at…https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org/bitcache/069aa44b39f84506ac6e6712fd2ce4fccde2cf9b?vid=579670&disposition=inline&op=view
These are the four golden rules to ensure your cash programme has a good level of accountability to communities.
Include questions in your assessment on where people get information from and which channels they prefer – including how they would feel most comfortable sharing complaints, including about sensitive issues
Keep sharing information throughout the programme – plan for this in your activity plan and budget. Understand when you need to share information, how and who will do it. Do not just assume it will happen!
Make sure people understand the targeting process – including non-beneficiaries too. Give people a chance to ask questions and check they have definitely understood what you are telling them
Set up a feedback system early and ACT on it. Plan in advance what you will do with feedback and complaints and how you will address it as a team.
There isn’t time here to go into how to do CEA in this short session – but there is a manual and tools on the IFRC website with much more info.
The main place to go is the CEA Hub: www.communityengagementhub.org. This site includes a huge range of materials and templates from CEA programmes around the world. An example of some of the resources you can find there includes:
template plans and training materials for radio shows on a range of topics from malaria prevention, through to first aid, to disaster risk reduction
materials for running a mobile cinema show, including the running order for shows, questions to ask the audience, and forms to use for monitoring
detailed guides and manuals from other organizations on everything from accountability to communicating in emergencies
Training materials, workshop agendas and online courses
sample posters and graphics.