Communication and accountability: lessons from practice

11 March 2014
16:00 - 17:30, GMT +3

Panel chair: Rachel Houghton, The CDAC Network

  1. The Relationship between Communication and Accountability, and Implications for Community Engagement

    Presenter: Rita Maingi, Regional Communication with Communities Coordinator, UNOCHA (East Africa)

    Communicating with communities (CwC) is an emerging field of humanitarian response that helps to meet the information and communication needs of people affected by crisis. CwC is based on the principle that information and communication are critical forms of aid without which disaster survivors cannot access services, engage with aid providers and make the best decisions for themselves and their communities; neither can they hold aid agencies to account.

    An important component of CwC is the aspiration to shift power from aid providers to aid recipients, and to facilitate recipients’ own action through more effective engagement. CwC and accountability are inextricably linked. A key aspect of accountability – for some, the other side of the communication coin; for others, a part of what communication supports – is listening to affected communities and adapting the international response based on their inputs.

    Accountability commitments also include being transparent about international response efforts, engaging affected people in programme design and encouraging community participation in monitoring and evaluation processes. This presentation considered how the humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda in the Philippines is rewriting the way accountability and CwC actors are working together, and what this means for community engagement. For the first time, communication specialists are working alongside an IASC Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) advisor to support agencies in ensuring they are accountable to communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

    The session focused on key learning emerging from the response to the Typhoon. It considered what this can teach us about the role of communication in helping agencies to foster community engagement and thereby be more accountable to the people they serve. It also evidenced to what degree the joint CwC / AAP response enabled greater community engagement, the challenges faced and examples of good practice that can be drawn from the experience.
  2. Understanding Communication Channels and How Best to Engage Affected People

    Presenter: Ian Noble, Director, East and Central Africa, Internews Network

    In order for humanitarian agencies to be accountable to the people they serve, aid agencies and others need to understand how to effectively engage with, and foster the engagement of, people affected by crisis. This engagement is in part dependent upon understanding the information and communication ecosystems within which they operate, for example, which channels of communication are preferred by affected populations and what kinds of information communities require in what formats.

    Internews Network has extensive experience in carrying out information and communication needs assessments in disaster settings in order to understand the best way of communicating with and engaging affected populations. The organisation also supports local media and trains local journalists to help bridge the gap between disaster-affected communities and humanitarian agencies through training journalists in humanitarian
    reporting skills. These journalists are subsequently able to produce content for local broadcast and provide an important voice for their community.

    This presentation draws on Internews’ Humanitarian Information Service (HIS) to support refugee engagement in the Dadaab refugee camp. It considers challenges and examples of good practice, including the challenges experienced by a media development organisation in engaging with traditional humanitarian responders and the implications of this for community engagement.

  3. Accountability: a “cross cutting theme” or the “the way we do business”? World Vision’s experience from Typhoon Haiyan

    Presenter: Madara Hettiarachchi, World Vision International

    In this presentation, World Vision (WV) outlined how, during the response to Typhoon Haiyan, accountability was pushed from being seen as a cross-cutting issue to fundamentally underlying the entire WVi response. It focused on two areas in particular: 1. How accountability was integrated into WV programmes and operations from day one 2. How
    ‘CwC’, particularly engaging communities through radio broadcasting, was mainstreamed into how WV works with disaster affected populations.

    Within three days of Typhoon Haiyan making landfall, WV had deployed assessment teams. The assessments included questions about whether affected communities were receiving sufficient information about the aid effort and available services, as well as their preferred methods of communication. These questions were asked in order to ensure WV communicated with communities through their preferred and most trusted channels and engaged communities in project design. Information provision and complaints/feedback mechanisms were also put in place from the very first food and NFI distributions.

    Furthermore the M&E tools utilised during the response, particularly the post-distribution monitoring tool, captured feedback regarding community satisfaction levels in terms of information needs and access, as well as complaints and feedback. This information was
    not only fundamental to operational accountability and targeted at direct beneficiaries, but was also used to support humanitarian radio broadcasting to engage communities and ensure they understood what was happening across the wider aid effort. This presentation includes video footage from communities giving feedback on WV’s accountability and communication efforts at different stages of the response.

  4. Q&A