Alhasan Swairjo, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for Oxfam in the Gaza Strip, shares his experience receiving and managing feedback from vulnerable farmers using information communication technology to improve the quality of humanitarian projects.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to an Israeli-imposed land, sea and air blockade, impacting on all essential services. The blockade has crippled the economy, leaving more than half of the population living under the poverty line and 80 per cent reliant on international assistance to survive.
Farmers and the agriculture sector are particularly vulnerable. Restricted access to essential farming materials such as seeds and fertilisers, farming and irrigation tools, and water for irrigation, has seen farmers lose livelihoods and income, decreasing the food security of their entire families.
Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel (OPTI) provides continuous humanitarian support to affected farmers through Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihoods (EFSVL), and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) programs.
Funded by the European Commission (EC), Oxfam supports farmers to access water for irrigation by reusing treated waste water to irrigate 200 dunums of dry land in Rafah city in the south of the Gaza Strip, as well as providing irrigation tools and constructing water carrier lines.
The newly launched technology enabled farmers to easily express their concerns and provide feedback and has helped Oxfam improve accountability. Through launching our new mobile case management system, Oxfam’s Program Quality and Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning teams have direct communication channels with community members, allowing us to receive real time data and respond immediately to feedback.
Farmers who were not already participating in the project also use this feedback and complaint mechanism to voice their interest in the project. After conducting field visits to follow up on the inquiries, three out of the five farmers were considered eligible within the selection criteria and were included in the beneficiary list. All farmers were informed about the result of their complaints within two weeks of their submission.
Mr. Yousef, one of the newly added farmers said: “I raised my complaint, but I didn’t expect that it would be taken seriously. Oxfam has shown me that it respects its words and its standards.” Oxfam’s partner PARC (Palestinian Agriculture Relief Center) field staff helped me quickly submit a complaint and Oxfam communicated with me immediately.”
Mr. Mahmoud, one of the ineligible farmers, said: “at least I have been taken seriously and the project team clarified why I am not included, and I am satisfied.”
The new system saves time and effort to collect all the programme feedback in one place. And this is only the beginning. We now aim to ensure the system is accessed by all vulnerable groups in Gaza, including women and people with disabilities.
By having accessible feedback technology, Oxfam has improved accountability and transparency mechanisms which will contribute to improvements in intervention quality and build more trust for Oxfam’s reputation with partners and targeted communities.
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