Complaint mechanism takes root in IDP communities

The boxes were designed to solicit feedback on World Vision’s food distributions and Social Community Centres and reflect World Vision’s desire to be accountable to the people it seeks to assist. Yet the concept was alien and there was also a growing sense of mistrust in these communities toward humanitarian agencies.

“What we found in our focus group discussions is that people don’t believe that something will change, that something will happen [after lodging a complaint],” said Nelly Revazishvili, World Vision’s Community Help Desk Officer. “They told us that 10 different people from 10 different organisations come knocking on their doors every day and they aren’t clear about what they [the organisations] are doing.”

World Vision held 16 focus group discussions at the end of last year with a total of 250 beneficiaries, representing 10% of their respective communities. Discussions centred on CRM, gauging the communities’ willingness to participate in the process, as well as to better understand their basic needs.

In order to reach more members of the communities World Vision distributed leaflets in December [2009] during food distributions. Staff took time to point out key information in the brochure, particularly the process of CRM.

The last step of reinvigorating CRM was to place boxes on poles throughout the communities painted in bright orange so people could see where these boxes were and would be reminded that if they so choose, they know where to lodge complaints about the work WVG is doing, or anything else about their situation.

Twelve additional boxes were placed in settlements where World Vision delivers food, now taking in two regions in Georgia. Placed on poles and painted in bright orange, they are a very visual reminder that there is a way to share complaints about the work of World Vision or other issues impacting life in the settlements.

More than 100 complaints have been lodged since the new approaches to CRM were introduced, showing more of an involvement from earlier months. And, when complaints fall outside of World Vision’s programming, staff share the information with other agencies involved in helping vulnerable people affected by the conflict, through semi-monthly coordination meetings. The goal is to create a more established referral system to try and address as many problems as possible.

“Surprisingly, though, we have been able to address some problems that have fallen outside the projects we’re implementing,” shared the Community Helpdesk Officer.

In three settlements in Gori, World Vision received 24 complaints that the people living there were lacking hygiene supplies. The settlements mostly housed extremely vulnerable populations of elderly and people with disabilities. Though World Vision hadn’t distributed hygiene kits in more than a year, World Vision staff put together 216 hygiene kits with supplies for a month and distributed them in mid-December.

And the concept of Community Response is spreading even further. This year World Vision responded to requests to give wool hats to 100 children in Georgia’s only state-run and state-funded inclusive kindergarten for children with disabilities in Tbilisi.

World Vision’s longer term plan is to expand CRM beyond asking the community for feedback on its food distributions and Social Community Centres to take in all of its programming country-wide.