Who can benefit from this study?
No beneficiaries specified
Organisation responsible for case study:
Name: Uwajibikaji Pamoja
Org. type: Non-Profit
Uwajibikaji Pamoja – A citizens complaint plaform
Main Project Location: Nairobi
Project country/countries: Kenya
Project dates: 2014 –
Last updated: 23 March 2022
Brief overview of the Case Study
Uwajibijaki Pamoja (Accountability Together) is an integrated complaints referral mechanism operated by Transparency International Kenya in collaboration of more than 40 service providers including government and development aid agencies. The platform enables citizens to lodge complaints about gaps in access to a range of services provided by the government and humanitarian agencies, through a toll-free SMS, line, email, and walk-ins from where the complaint is then referred to the relevant provider.
The challenge or problem
The main challenge in humanitarian operations is the lack of accountability mechanisms for people affected by disasters. There are no systems available in place to hold governments and humanitarian agencies accountable for services provided by them to citizens.
The solution that was implemented
Uwajibikaji Pamoja enables members of the public to submit complaints or feedback concerning aid and service delivery through three channels: a toll-free SMS line, a web-based portal, or by filling out paper forms. People with no access to a cell phone or internet, or who cannot read or write, can visit the nearest office of a participating organisation to lodge their complaints. The system routes the complaints to the relevant organisation. Uwajibikaji Pamoja brings these partners together with citizen groups in public forums, to discuss how the system works, the complaints and issues that have been raised, and what is happening in response. Every time action is taken on a complaint, it is logged into the integrated system and the complainant gets a notification by whichever method they choose.
What results were achieved?
The idea for the project emerged from TI-Kenya’s experience in the 2011 drought response in Kenya. A study we undertook in 2012 analysed the response to the 2011 drought, particularly in relation to food aid. The study shed a light on “critical flaws in the food assistance chain” and included recommendations “to specific sector players to enhance integrity, accountability and effectiveness of food assistance programming”. It found that there was a lot of support coming from different humanitarian organisations, but that beneficiaries of food aid did not have a clear, transparent or effective way to share their feedback on the gaps in aid delivery. (Extracted from Making All Voice Count)
Providing three channels allowed a variety of people to make complaints.
County governments have only existed since 2013, and the project correctly identified the need for government capacity-building to try and bring people on board.
The project looks at the transparency of NGOs as well as government.
Uptake of the SMS route to complaints has been low, especially among women: not everyone is able to navigate this technology.
Even though the organisations that signed up as partners said they were willing to respond, there has a gap between this willingness and their actual response.
There was uneven buy-in from government, with those who were enthusiastic not necessarily those who were responsible for responding. Many government actors perceived the process as additional work for them, rather than as assistance in their work.
The bureaucratic structure of some NGOs meant that complaints were not passed on within the organisation once they had been received at the field office level.
Lessons and recommendations
This initiative was not just about setting up a system and a process, but about the capacity and willingness of the agencies to respond. To be more successful in ensuring responses, it has to engage through a multitude of pressure points.
‘Joining up the dots’ in the accountability ecosystem involves not just mapping organisations, but thinking about their internal power structures and how this influences their capacity to respond.
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