Against the backdrop of challenges like dwindling funds and risk-averse cultures, Loop's role in bridging gaps and fostering communication continues to build evidence. From humanitarian crises to development contexts, Loop's impact sheds light on its nuanced applications and the evolving nature of accountability in the sector.
How did organisations used Loop in 2023?
775 organisations were registered on Loop at the end of 2023. The majority come from the Philippines and Indonesia, followed by Zambia, Somalia (68) and Poland (56) and Ukraine (22).
We also have organisations signed up to the Loop platform from: Albania, Rmania, Switzerland, Ireland, Ethiopia, Australia, Kenya, Germany, Norway, South Africa, India, Netherlands and Kenya,
From November, we asked people to register their interest in Loop becoming operational in a new country to learn on an ongoing basis where there is greatest interest. We will leave this survey open as a live learning about demand and interest, it can be found here.
By the end December, when it had been open for 6 weeks we had received 36 requests from National Civil Society Organisations to have / host Loop in: Cameroon (13), Kenya (7) , Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo, India, Bahamas, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria Pakistan, South Africa, and Vietnam.
17 of these organisations said that IVRR (Voice) was needed and all had noted requiring 2 or more languages.
We see feedback coming in from the six focus countries but also through the web link from a number of other countries.
Figure 8: Where Loop was used in 2023
2023 has been a year of divergence. Strong demand from communities juxtaposed with a low response from organisations. This dynamic has been further compounded by constraints in available funding.
This experience can be seen as a symptom of the wider sector issues playing out on a small, new initiative. Issues, identified in the wider sector, include:
Funds across the sector are shrinking and organisations are holding onto what funds they have closely, reinforcing siloed project specific solutions.
An increased pressure on trying to protect existing ODA spend due to national pressures for accountability of tax payers money, results in zero tolerance approaches for reports of SEA and corruption. This in turn drives risk averse organisational cultures which necessitates systems which can control all data in relation to negative reporting internally among a few individuals.
Innovation is funded for short periods of time with few grants supporting the longer term uptake and roll out which is necessary for culture and systems change to reach sustainability and or scale.
Inclusion is valued but not at the expense of efficiencies of project implementation, due to cost and time implications.
Due to a widely accepted culture of coordination and collaboration being critical, decision making and wider buy-in and uptake is often by consensus and thus real ‘disruption’ or rapid change is minimised.
Even though there is a strong discourse of localisation (in its many definitions), power and decision making sits overwhelmingly with a few key actors, especially in Humanitarian Response.
There is a clear call and wide acceptance of the need for accountability to affected populations, including the raising of affected communities' voices. Putting the rhetoric into action is necessarily taking a non linear, complex and slow process to build into a reality. Different countries have different forces and politics at play and this takes time to work its way through.
That change takes time and costs money, both at an organisational and sector wide level.
And finally, Loop as a tool is involved in the narrative of Accountability which covers an increasingly wide landscape of issues, from fiduciary risk management and Post Distribution Aid Diversion, to Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment and broader Abuse and Exploitation through to Inclusion, localisation/ local ownership/ local decision making and Civic Engagement and Social Accountability. This can also include the huge area of technology and where this intersects with the above in humanitarian and development discourse. It takes a lot of time, effort and specialist skills to be represented, following and somehow engaging in the plethora of relevant spaces and opportunities.
Nonetheless, based on the experiences in the six countries to date, we are starting to see a different model for the use of Loop in Humanitarian vs Development contexts.
Loop in Humanitarian Crisis
We see that the level of interest in Loop, by various actors, differs depending on the challenges of the context which need addressing. For example, in Somalia there is a strong push from donors about Post Distribution Aid Diversion (PDAD) and a recognition that there is not sufficient reporting of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Harassment by Aid workers, considering the risk factors present in the crisis. With limited funding to fill the level of need and the risk of donors pulling out, due to evidenced high levels of diversion, Loop is being considered by donors and some organisations to help them to address fiduciary risk, including PDAD.
In Somalia, Loop has been proven to safely get direct reports about SEA, GBV, beneficiary list manipulation, Aid diversion, middle men, onward selling of Aid etc. The anonymity and non operational nature, as well as the accessibility of feeding back, seems to help address some of the trust deficit of Humanitarian actors across Somalia.
However, in Poland or Ukraine these same drivers have not yet been present. There is interest in Loop also going to the DRC and / or Sudan where similar dynamics and access issues open up the need for increased remote solutions.
Loop needs to continue to build trust with humanitarian actors to show our added value. Loop must maintain the careful balance of being a tool to safely pass on sensitive reporting to the appropriate actor directly, and not be seen as a whistleblower. In contrast, Loop is in fact a tool to help organisations to hear about things before a whistleblower needs to go elsewhere. It helps actors to get around various barriers to people reporting or getting the right information to the right specialist to respond in a safe and timely way.
We also have evidence that survivors will report SEA and GBV to Loop when they do not feel safe to do so through other existing mechanisms. Finally we have evidence that excluded communities can and will report to a third party to report their experiences. We hope to expand on this in collaboration with organisations and communities further in 2024.
In Somalia the multiple languages, remote nature and the ability to feedback by Voice without having to own your own phone, be literate or have internet access increases access considerably.
We see an untapped potential in the space of cash and vouchers which could also add to complex humanitarian contexts, through remote post distribution monitoring (PDM) as standard practice for all cash and voucher payments. We hope to test and learn about how to best reach communities and integrate data into standard cash PDM reports.
Loop is also watching as wider discussions about the Grand Bargain 2.0 and the next iteration and measurement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are debated. We hope that the Flagship programs will pilot the use of Loop in the Philippines to integrate existing, locally owned and sustainable solutions to the country's approaches.
Loop in a Development Context
In contrast, in development contexts, or countries where there is a cycle of rapid onset disasters, we see an interest in how Loop can support culture change and systems change, from actors who are engaged in discussions about decolonisation, localisation, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) etc. We see civil society based organisations (CBOs) and national NGOs, as well as philanthropic networks, exploring how Loop might contribute to the new normal they want to build.
Can Loop help them reach due diligence requirements more easily?
Can Loop help them get in real time data about changes in communities needs?
Can Loop help them to hear from people about culturally sensitive issues such as access or inclusion?
Will Loop be able to support information sharing and multidirectional early warning systems?
As a principle, we commit to being available as a free Community Based Feedback mechanism for CSOs and national NGOs, so that feedback and ongoing engagement with communities is not dependent on a donor budget line or ongoing project which is funded.
We are engaged in discussions with actors such as the Shift the Power network and Philanthropists, The Movement for Community Led Development (MCLD), Survivor and Community led Response (SCLR), The Local Coalition Accelerator, the START Network etc. We hope to have practical joint projects to explore and build evidence about how to successfully mainstream Loop across their existing practices and approaches over time.
So far, we have learnt that change takes time, local actors have a lot of great ideas and influence within a specific community but finances are tight and staff are stretched across various deliverables and budget lines. While those we discuss with, believe that Loop will reduce cost over time, they need the resources to systematically integrate and mainstream Loop across all teams and staff including all monitoring and evaluation processes, safeguarding reporting policies, etc. We have yet to unlock longer term investment in such a mainstreaming exercise across a network of actors in any one country, and without that Loop will not be able to get to scale.
We also see interest in Loop being complementary to international actors, or intermediaries in learning about their partnership models. Local or national partners sometimes fear sharing their experiences about partnership with upstream donor organisations due to a fear of that funding and partnership being negatively impacted. Using Loop to anonymously report in to the relevant focal point or the CEO could help to open up that channel of information until trust has been built for it to happen directly.