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A path forward for accountability

Date added

27 April 2021


The decisions and actions of humanitarian actors have a profound effect on people affected by crisis. But how are they able to hold humanitarian agencies to account for their actions? Affected people need an effective voice in the decision-making process in order to ensure accountable, contextualised and need-based responses. In this learning paper, we explore the opportunities and challenges of a Mechanism for Accountability to Affected Populations that was trialled by Start Fund Bangladesh in 2020.

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Key findings include:

  • Complaint Response Mechanisms (CRM) are ornamental without contextualisation and systemisation. CRMs are part of a larger process and cannot be activated on an ad hoc project basis, but should be embedded within organisational practice. To ensure a well-functioning CRM, dedicated staff and resources are necessary, and there needs to be the flexibility to adapt and contextualise CRMs to facilitate active participant engagement.
  • Understanding community information needs is central to adaptation of processes. If agencies cannot access the cultural context of communities such as language, taboos, beliefs, and literacy levels, they cannot adapt the processes for engagement. While local organisations are best placed to understand this context, a key step is often missing—how to adapt the processes for better engagement.

Download MAAP learning paper