On the 6 February 2018 a side event to the Humanitarian Networks Partnership Week explored ‘people at the centre’ and looked at what makes response-wide community engagement hard and what steps should be taken to make it happen faster and more effectively. The event kicked off with opening remarks from Rudolf Müller, Director of OCHA in Geneva and Kate Halff, Executive Secretary of the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response and co-chair of the Grand Bargain Participation Revolution Workstream. They pointed out that the latest progress report from the Grand Bargain showed that community participation and the so-called Participation Revolution is lagging behind other commitments. Though overall progress in this commitment is lagging, there are exciting initiatives that are blazing the way for others to learn from.
Speaking to the Nepal Inter-agency Common Feedback Project, Bronwyn Russel, the Projects Manager based at Nepal Resident Coordinators Office recalled a feedback mechanism that was established in the aftermath of the April 2015 Nepal earthquake, with the funding support from DFID. It was conceptualised as a common service to the entire humanitarian community, which would collect and aggregate feedback from earthquake affected communities through multiple channels, in the immediate response period, and feed into the Humanitarian Country Team and Inter Cluster Coordination Group to inform response decision making.
In the spring of 2015, it was the first time such a concept had been put into practice. No one knew, at that point, just how far the concept would go. Now, nearing its third year of operation, the Common Feedback Project (CFP) has proven that systematically engaging communities works, in the relief, recovery and even development and preparedness phases of work. In February 2016, as relief and winterisation support was winding down, and earthquake recovery and reconstruction programmes were beginning, the CFP successfully transitioned its approach into the recovery phase, securing an additional two-year mandate from DFID. This set the project up well to respond quickly, and expand once again into the humanitarian space, during the August 2017 South Asian flooding.
Today it sees ownership of this collective accountability model among humanitarian and development partners, as well as the government of Nepal, as the voice of affected people is integrated into recovery plans and strategies. Additionally, in 2017 the CFP got an opportunity to test its model in a development context, when it received an innovation fund from the UN Development Group to complete a community perception survey focused on the priorities and ambitions of communities in some of the least developed areas of Nepal around the four pillars of the UN Development Assistance Framework (2018-2022) to help guide programme planning in these areas. The project looks forward to continuing to ensure the voices of affected communities are present at the decision-making table, and also to support similar initiatives in other countries through it learning.
Find out more on the Common Feedback Project through the flyer below or on its website.