Helping to uphold values, a story of accountability in DR CongoAs a protection-focused, humanitarian organisation, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) consistently seeks to improve its accountability towards its beneficiaries and people of concern.
In order to receive community feedback and suggestions, but also to address potential complaints and concerns adequately, DRC is working towards building a more robust complaint mechanism in Eastern DR Congo.
Among the tools that have been rolled out since 2018 to strengthen DRC’s dialogue with communities and accountability is a free-of-charge hotline, developed with the support of the OAK Foundation. Jalali, DRC’s Code of Conduct and Core Humanitarian Standards Specialist, is one of the staff answering the hotline. "We receive an average of 30 calls a week. 90 percent are requests for information about our organisation, our programmes. This helps to build trust with communities.”
During the first half of 2020, 401 calls were made to the hotline. Most callers aimed to get more information on programmes, flag up emerging needs or signal delays in distributions or payments. During this time, three calls reported a potential violation of DRC’s Code of Conduct and were immediately referred to the reporting system to be addressed appropriately.
In addition to the hotline, community members are encouraged to provide feedback on the programmes and assistance that they receive – may it be positive or negative – through suggestion boxes, email, and direct feedback sessions with staff members. As the size of DRC’s accountability team grows, these direct sessions are set to increase in the coming months.
Trust and accountability play a key role in communities’ acceptance of DRC’s projects, and therefore in their impact. By being transparent and open to criticism, but also by responding to the feedback timely and adequately, DRC aims to reinforce the trust of beneficiaries and ensure that its programmes do no harm. With this in mind, DRC intends to train more staff to boost its investigative capacity and support Jalali’s team in the implementation of its Code of Conduct and of the Core Humanitarian Standards.
Maintaining accountability with beneficiaries is an ongoing process, and DRC will continue to work to improve its systems and ensure beneficiaries, partners, and staff understand the Code of Conduct, as well as how to leave feedback in a confidential manner when needed. To do this, DRC is working to provide more regular training for beneficiaries and partners on our Code of Conduct, ensuring that they are aware of the standards of behaviour expected from DRC staff. DRC is also expanding its communications around accountability, with new posters and materials to explain the Code of Conduct and reporting mechanism in simple terms. Overall, we aim to ensure a two-way dialogue with beneficiaries is maintained even in remote settings, and will continue to work to provide humanitarian assistance in a dignified manner for vulnerable persons in DR Congo.
“I really love my job. My greatest satisfaction is that I am helping to uphold DRC's values, and humanitarian values.” – Jalali