Learning From CRS’ Beneficiary Feedback Mechanism in the DRC
As part of its efforts to increase accountability to the people served through its projects, in 2016 CRS DRC put in place a nationwide, toll-free beneficiary feedback hotline through which participants could share their inputs, concerns and complaints on project activities. Initially trialed through five projects, the hotline has been a huge success in terms of the volume of feedback received, with 15,684 instances of feedback received by January 2018. Feedback from participants has led directly to changes in project implementation, to increased engagement with local authorities, and to a change in the way CRS approaches its projects. At the same time, the initiative has encountered a number of challenges, including the low participation of women in accessing the hotline, difficulties in processing the volume of calls received, and the additional time burden created for project staff. To address these problems, CRS set out to better understand how project participants were interacting with the hotline and other accountability mechanisms. Through a series of focus group discussions held in 2017, CRS DRC’s Accountability, Protection and Gender Focal Point engaged directly with project participants and staff in the field to gauge the use and impact of the hotline. The results of this analysis have impacts not just in terms of direct changes to program implementation, but more broadly for how CRS approaches working with project participants, and how we engage them in the conception and implementation of our projects.