Toward transparency and Accountability From the Mechanism of Grievance Handling
The grievances received, handled and responded during NCDDP’s first cycle
NCDD project implements grievance redress mechanism since the end of 2013 in three-project township, Nanhsam (Northern Shan), Kanpetlet (Chin) and Kyunsu (Tanintharyi). First, the mechanism initiated with the information campaign in 385 villages. Then, the specific process and procedure of grievance receive; handle and response are explained to the communities through village meeting frequently. After that, every village has fixed the suggestion box and ready used envelope including grievance poster and pamphlet.
During the first year, project focused on community awareness and their trust on the NCDD’s grievance handling mechanism. The system has been utilized with “Effective, Accessible and Safe Process”. In practical, every grievance were tackled and replied to be inline with effective way. Fixing the suggestion box and complaint system in every villages is a meaningful way for accessibility. All grievances are handled and resolved confidentially in order to avoid the negative consequences to the one who complained.
In year one, up to end of September 2014, total 318 grievances have been received. Of those, 97% of grievances were resolved and responded to the respective complainant. However, 3%, (8 grievances) were unable to handle due to the lack of address and invalid reasons. About 89% of grievances are from the community people while 20% are voices of women.
About 76% of grievances were received through suggestion box while 12% were complained in person. Grievances were also made through village meeting and by hotline. Monthly grievances raised by channels are presented below.
Monthly grievance received by channel
It was found that the majority of grievances were raised during May and June which were the period of sub-project implementation. Two major grievances were raised. The first one was committee requested the advice to the township DRD office regarding sub-project implementation. The second one was villagers make complaint upon the process of sub-project implementation.
The achievement by utilizing grievance-handling mechanism
Grievance handling mechanism made several positive improvements in project activities, as discussed below –
- People gradually feel confident and freely raised their voices, demands, concerns and dissatisfaction.
- Increased transparency between community and project (still need to improve, eg-committee and villagers)
- Communities got chance to communicate directly to township & union level.
- The corruption cases were significantly reduced compare to the previous situation
- Able to access the issues that happen in some villages
- Communities empowerment improved in problem solving in their villages
- Communities are able to monitor the performance of committees and the quality of sub-projects
- Information point has been identified in every villages
Analysis of grievances received
NCDDP approach obligates to the community to lead and decide the process of sub-project selection, implementation, procurement and financial management. These practices are very new experience for almost all of them. Sometimes, the weakness of transparency creates unwanted misunderstand issues. Village Project Support committee did not clarify and share on the project updated activities, less cooperation among the committee members and weak in mobilizing the communities are the main causal of complaints.
In addition, some cases were the feedback on inappropriate procedure that was not suitable with local context while sometimes, community demanded on their requirements. The following are the proportion of grievances by category.
- Poor/Doubt performance of VPSC – 15% (no information sharing, no transparency, decide without inclusion, do not take Role & Responsibility, poor in management, poor in mobilization, budget discrepancy)
- More Funding – 8% (Based on village/pop size/sub-project, incomplete sub-project, no fair support to VT)
- Direct support to village – 4% (Difficult to withdraw money, want separate bookkeeper for each village)
- Request other sub-project – 7%
- Sub-project approval, design and quality of construction – 7% (Request township to monitor the sub-project quality, 1st priority sub-project was not approved, changed sub-project design, incomplete sub-project, delay)
- Livelihoods Support – 7% (both investment and technical support of Agriculture, livestock and small IGAs)
- Complex procedure, too many forms – 6% (Financial & procurement procedure, forms)
- Feedback upon Community Facilitator / Technical Facilitator – 5% (to frequently visit, to mobilize the community, not to change Community Facilitator before cycle end)
- Feedback upon training/ meeting – 5% (Frequent meeting, to inform meeting in advance, to finish meeting/ training in early time)
- Committee request daily wages – 5%
- Prefer cash/ budget delay/ one time withdrawal – 4 %
- Informational disclosure & grievance management – 3%
- To implement in suitable period – 3%
Handling the grievances
Grievances are handled by township and union level feedback committees. They discuss the case by referencing of operational manual and approaching to the sectorial expert (eg. finance, procurement, infrastructure, ect…) for relevant grievances. For the serious grievance, investigated team is formed, to inquire and review the reverent documents. Then, report back to the feedback committee. Finally, the results of handling are documented and replied to the complainants based on their desire.
Challenges and Lesson Learned
- People are more rely on letter when they made complaint.
- No proper hotline system in township and union level
- Grievance Handling System in VT level is not well functioning, but VPSC and communities are able to handle some complaints by themselves.
- Delay in receiving the grievance letter, as only CF can collect by the time of visit
- Some people feel reluctant to make grievance, as they worry that it might affect on the funding support to their village.
- Communities mostly issue their grievances to Township & Union level that can make quicker decisions
The following are the list of recommendations to reinforce the mechanism in second cycle.
- Community Facilitator should be trained in documentation of grievance case.
- To provide additional suggestion box for the required/ wider villages and in project town.
- To fix the proper hotline system in both Union and Township level.
- To determine the effective way to access the grievances from village to township office, letter to the office, to connect with ferry & fix suggestion box in jetty
- To strengthen the village grievance focal to improve in coordination with township office. To provide the transportation charges to village grievance focal to bring the grievance letter to township.
- To emphasize on transparency and communities accountability.
- To share the grievances of 1st cycle in the second cycle’s 1st orientation meeting. (Suggested by WB mission)