Monitor the relevance, effectiveness and quality of the response to increase accountability to the people we serve
CRS Asia has developed a working definition of accountability:
An organization is accountable when it systematically balances and responds to the needs of all stakeholders when making decisions and ensures that these stakeholders, including the most marginalized and vulnerable people, play an active role in the decision-making processes that affect them. Accountability is reflected in an organization‘s systems and practices related to leadership and governance, two-way, transparent communication and feedback mechanisms with stakeholders and communities, and participatory program design, monitoring and evaluation.18
M&E plays a key role in maintaining two-way communication and feedback between project staff and community members, both those who receive and do not receive project support. In addition to monitoring satisfaction with the quality of the services or goods provided during the early response (see Check section under Standard 1), the M&E system for an emergency response should: 1. Assess satisfaction with the response in all evaluative processes; and 2. Establish a formal feedback mechanism to capture both positive and negative feedback and suggestions from community members.
Evaluative processes are generally useful in identifying recommendations for improving the next phase of the response or future responses, whereas feedback mechanisms allow project staff to address immediately any issues raised by the community during the ongoing response, such as cases of inappropriate targeting and selection or staff behavior. Feedback mechanisms often include hotline numbers, help desks, community forums and complaints boxes. A mixture of these methods is usually appropriate given that community members may have different preferences about how to give feedback. It is important that those who do not receive support have access to these methods because these community members are an important source of information about the transparency and effectiveness of a project‘s targeting criteria and selection process.
During ongoing monitoring, ask community members if they know how to give feedback. If some do not know how to give feedback, provide information to them directly and consider community-level measures to increase awareness about the feedback process. Check with community members who did not receive support after establishing feedback mechanisms to ensure that they are also aware of how to give feedback when needed.
In sensitizing community members to the feedback mechanisms, be sure to include specific instructions for providing feedback, assurance that feedback will remain anonymous, the importance of providing both positive and negative feedback, and the process and timeline by which the project team will respond to the feedback.
Respond to community feedback promptly to show that you value it. Discuss the feedback received and possible actions to address problems or complaints during regular community meetings. Responsiveness to community feedback is key to maintaining accountability and will help to sustain use of feedback mechanisms in the future.
Questions related to accountability should be included in monitoring tools (see Annex B for an example), all learning events (e.g., after-action reviews) and evaluations (midterm, final, and real-time evaluations). Each question presents an opportunity to ask the community, both those who do and do not receive support, about the appropriateness of the project‘s targeting and coverage, the relevance and effectiveness of the response, the level and type of community participation, and to collect additional overall feedback.
Real-time evaluations A real-time evaluation provides an opportunity to gather more in-depth information on the appropriateness, relevance, effectiveness, connectedness, sustainability, coverage and coordination of a response. The project team conducts a real-time evaluation six to eight weeks after an emergency response begins to provide an early check once implementation is well under way and systems are generally in place. They then incorporate findings into the current and subsequent phases of the response. Staff collects data for these evaluations primarily through FGDs, which allow the community, as appropriate, to provide feedback on the response to date. Acting on the recommendations resulting from the evaluation is another way to enhance beneficiary accountability. Refer to the CRS Guidance on Conducting Real- Time Evaluations in Emergencies19 for more information.