Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel is trialling the use of a mobile tool to collect, manage and respond to feedback. Nahed Natsheh outlines the benefits of using this technology.
Using information communication technology (ICT) for data collection is not new to Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel (OPTI), but we have never before used it to collect and manage feedback and complaints. We used to collect feedback sporadically and inconsistently using hotlines, suggestion boxes and face to face sessions and the data was not saved into a central database where it could be analysed holistically.
Our team recognised the need for a more systematic way of collecting feedback. So, we were excited to try the mobile case management system, which is part of the Your Word Counts project funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund. This system supports field teams to collect 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 country team worked together to design the feedback system. Monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning staff, programme staff, partners and civil society organisations, all 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 by all the stakeholders. Participants in the workshops included programme 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 the data needed.
Using the mobile survey for data collection was designed to complement the existing feedback and complaint communication channels and tools, not to replace them… we had to find ways of harmonising the surveys and questionsThe most challenging aspect of designing the mechanism was the multifaceted context within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the difficulty of finding ways to standardise data collection. Using the mobile survey for data collection was designed to complement the existing feedback and complaint communication channels and tools, not to replace them. As such, we 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 nature and context of our projects in Gaza compared to those in the West Bank meant that we needed to tailor the surveys and approaches for each area, which added an additional challenge.
Currently the system is being tested to ensure that everything is functioning properly and is in line with programme needs. At the same time, we are developing a communication plan to be paired with the feedback and complaints mechanism. The plan is crucial for raising beneficiaries’ awareness of the benefits of providing feedback, 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 our outreach to beneficiaries. By communicating with them directly through different activities, we need to make sure we address their questions and 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. In turn this will enable Oxfam and our partners to respond more efficiently and effectively to beneficiaries’ needs.Read more about our approach to using ICT in programme