Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

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Supporting field staff to capture (currently undocumented) informal feedback which is received face-to-face by creatively using ICTs to enable responsive and accountable uses of information.

Despite the existence of formal feedback and complaints systems such as helpdesks and hotlines, little has been done to capture what is potentially the most insightful information available to humanitarian actors: informal feedback shared by the affected population with technical teams during field visits. By focusing on how conversations held in the field can be appropriately and ethically captured, this initiative will lead to more representative understanding of community needs.

This project will focus on process change for staff and partners: by understanding the way humanitarian staff or partners use information and the mechanisms available to them, the solution will enable them to more efficiently capture and – essentially – respond to feedback received from the communities with whom they work.


Oxfam is looking for a way to capture qualitative feedback or complaints following a conversation in a way that avoids additional burden on field staff to write up reports. Following a process of appropriate tools selection, we will use existing ICT solutions including qualitative data capture and audio recording to encourage immediate capture of informal feedback. Once information is documented, it will be followed up by another staff member who has the role of compiling all feedback to ensure it is addressed.

Oxfam will develop a multi platform approach to explore complimentary ways in which the breadth of feedback from communities can be actively used to influence programming. Depending on the context, the proposal is not to abandon traditional hotlines, feedback desks or suggestion boxes, which have shown to work, rather this project would complement other initiatives as we imagine a scenario of capturing informal feedback alongside other comments.

What is innovative about this proposal is that complaints and feedback will be linked to mechanisms that will allow staff to follow the progress of response on the complaint, passing on to staff who handle this input to monitor the nature and status of complaints. The feedback loop is fundamental to an operational feedback mechanism so we will ask those reporting how they would like to be involved in future and follow the progress, ensuring to follow up through preferred mechanism


The new methodology, once tried and tested will be shared across Oxfam programmes and other Oxfam affiliates. Once it has been tested, it will be shared with the wider humanitarian sector through existing networks through write ups and webinars; and presentations will be delivered to share learning at humanitarian conferences.

Latest Updates

How to operationalise ‘closing the feedback loop’: where is the Solution?

13 Sept 2016

How to operationalise ‘closing the feedback loop’: where is the Solution?


Accountability: using technology whilst keeping it personal

18 Jan 2016

A study into complaints by Baños Smith revealed that ‘All participants said that they would prefer to talk to someone about their complaints.’


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