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Nahed Natsheh, Program Quality Coordinator in Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel (OPTI), shares the experience of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank humanitarian programme in implementing the use of technology for the collection, management of and response to feedback received from the people Oxfam supports.

Using Information Communication Technology (ICT) for data collection is not new to us in OPTI, but we have never before used it to collect and manage feedback and complaints. To date, feedback and complaints were collected sporadically and inconsistently using hotlines, suggestion boxes and face to face feedback sessions. This data was not documented into a centrally aggregated database where it could be analysed holistically. The country team recognised the need for a more systematic way for collecting feedback, and were excited to try the mobile case management system, which is part of the Your Word Counts project funded by Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund. This system supports field teams in collecting feedback using a simple mobile phone survey form. It refers the data to the relevant technical teams for follow up where needed and aggregates feedback data from hotlines, suggestion boxes and face to face conversations.

Following training on accountability, feedback mechanisms and responsible data, the team worked together to design the feedback system. MEAL staff, programme staff, partners and civil society organisations participated in identifying focal points and building the surveys. Separate workshops were held in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to ensure the validity of the surveys and ownership of the mechanism to all the stakeholders. Participants in the workshops included program managers, project
staff, field staff, and volunteers. The wide range of participants was crucial for developing a well-rounded and holistic mechanism that would capture all data needed.

The most challenging aspect of designing the mechanism was the multifaceted context within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and finding ways to standardise data collection. Using ICTs for data collection was designed to complement the existing feedback and complaint communication channels and tools, not to replace them. As such, we also had to find ways of harmonising the surveys and questions to maintain consistency and to be able to aggregate all collected data within the same database. The very different projects and contexts between Gaza and the West Bank required tailoring a different survey and approach for each area, adding an additional challenge.

Currently we are in the testing period of the system to ensure that everything is functioning properly and is in line with programme needs. On the other hand, we are also developing a communication plan to be paired with the feedback and complaints mechanism. The plan is crucial for raising beneficiaries’ awareness on how it would help them, and to show all possible ways they can share their feedback and complaints. The main considerations with this are the sensitivities and reservations beneficiaries may associate with lodging their complaints, so awareness about the mechanism will be done over an extended period. Oxfam and our partners in the field will continuously expand outreach to beneficiaries. By communicating with them directly through different activities, we need to make sure we address their questions, concerns and, over time, build their trust in the mechanism.

The feedback and complaints mechanism will be officially launched in May. We truly believe that this approach will provide us with the holistic overview we need to consistently integrate beneficiaries’ suggestions and feedback into project design, planning and implementation. This approach will also enable Oxfam and partners to respond efficiently and effectively to beneficiaries’ needs.

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