According to the recent 2022 State of the Humanitarian System (SOHS) report, only a third of aid recipients surveyed reported that they could complain about services, that aid groups communicated well, or that aid met their most important needs. Aid recipients in Yemen, DRC, Venezuela and Lebanon described responses to their feedback in despairing terms and refugees in Lebanon renamed a joint UN hotline as a ‘coldline’. There are many challenges in setting up and safely running national feedback mechanisms. In addition, they need to be resourced, prioritised and adapted to the local context.
The report found that ultimately, failures to consistently ‘close the feedback loop’: ie: answering questions, explaining decisions, listening to local voices and having a safe place to report, is widening the trust deficit and capacity for Aid organisations to respond. This undermines the relationship between aid recipients and humanitarian agencies. Aid recipients stated that they were frustrated with the sense of 'powerlessness' generated by the lack of follow-up and transparency on how feedback or complaints were actioned.
At Talk to Loop, we understand that closing the feedback loop can be perceived as a complex issue, especially if it is addressed at an organisation by organisation level, let alone a project by project level based on approved budget lines. We believe that feedback and safe reporting is an essential ingredient for effective and safe Humanitarian response. If a complimentary, independent, safe mechanism that is locally owned and permanent is available as an additional option, it can help to increase the impact of Aid, shift power and influence, as well as keep people safer and reduce costs.
We therefore support the call by Humanitarian to Humanitarian to:
- Reduce bureaucratic impediments for engaging with crisis affected people and community organisations.
- Shift power, decision making, funding and other resources to local and national organisations and community responders who know best and will carry on when attention shifts elsewhere