Gathering and sharing feedback to improve the earthquake response in Nepal
By: Sara Rodriguez, Accountability Lab Resident in Nepal
Accountability Lab and Local Interventions Group started the Mobile Citizen Helpdesks (MCHDs) just under a year ago with very limited resources. Right after the first earthquake on April 26, 2015, we mobilized volunteers to provide earthquake-related information to victims and to close the feedback loop by connecting citizens needing assistance with different organizations who could provide relief. Today the MCHDs are a consolidated project that has reached over 60,000 citizens in 800 communities.We are now systematically documenting the progress and the challenges of the emergency relief and the recovery processes. At the same time, we are providing information to support survivors in efforts to advocate for their rights as citizens on issues related to post-earthquake entitlements. With an understanding of the real situation on the ground through our network of more than 84 frontline associates and volunteers, we are in a unique position to ensure aid is distributed fairly, with improved coordination between the public, the government and humanitarian agencies as the key.
This work now has four key components:
- Community Perceptions Surveys– in partnership with Local Interventions Group and UN OCHA- to listen to and channel the voices of earthquake victims to decision-makers.
- Open Mic– in conjunction with Internews- to track rumors and false perceptions on the ground to eliminate information gaps between the media, humanitarian agencies and citizens. By providing local media and outreach workers with facts, Open Mic aims to create a better understanding of the needs of the earthquake affected communities and to debunk rumors before they can do harm.
- Community meetings and radio programs to deliver earthquake related information in the affected districts.
- Follow the Money– in collaboration with the Government of Nepal- to track the flows of financial aid for recovery and reconstruction at the local level to minimize funding discrepancies.
All the data collected from the Mobile Citizen Helpdesks, the Community PerceptionSurveys and the Open Mic project is compiled in national and district specific monthly reports (in English and Nepali) that we send to humanitarian agencies and organizations working on earthquake relief in Nepal, and are also available to the public here.
To provide more accurate information for agencies working in different fields, we have also worked to develop focus reports on topics such as youth, gender and rural issues. Donors gather in “cluster meetings” (such as shelter, early recovery and education) to discuss the results and adapt their efforts accordingly.
Here are a few examples of how donors and government officials are using our community survey data to improve the relief process:
- CARE uses our information as an accountability tool to complement regular monitoring mechanisms.
- UN Women is undertook a quantitative and qualitative study to delve deeper into the issues raised through our September survey and learn how to better provide the necessary relief.
- DFID´s representatives in Gorkha instructed its partner I/NGOs that they should prioritize their work around the information provided in our reports.
- UNFPA reading our report highlighting the lack of information in communities and how people’s perceptions are not being heard. They responded by using some of their remaining funds to broadcast PSAs on the availability of health services to communities in their local languages.
- A strategy analyst at World Vision said that the findings and outcomes of the project are helping them be more accountable to the earthquake-affected people, and that it effectively reinforces their internal accountability mechanisms.
- The food security cluster saw in the Open Mic that there was a lack space for people to store their harvests in the Sindhupalchowk district.They responded by providing support to construct 2,000 grain storage units.
- The District Agriculture Development Office in Gorkha learned, through the Open Mic, how landslides from the earthquake and its aftershocks led to loss of crops. They responded by investigating the issue and providing compensation to farmers.
- The National Reconstruction Authority of the Government of Nepal used our Open Mic information to underpin their communication strategy and the issues it seeks to address.
The information we gather is also made accessible to local communities throughinfographics summary, and wide distribution across community radio stations, news articles, social media, and in-person community meetings. There is particular emphasis on disseminating the Open Mic reports to the communities that were surveyed in order to resolve pressing concerns and dispel harmful rumors in as timely a manner as possible. The Open Mic reports are published on a near-weekly basis and are aired directly on over a dozen radio stations in the 12 most-affected districts.
Citizens affected by the earthquake in Nepal are actively participating in thereconstruction process. The Government and humanitarian agencies need now, more than ever, to work together with these communities to address the needs of victims. We work to ensure that the feedback loop around the earthquake recovery strategy includes all the stakeholders needed to make the process fair and effective. This is the only way Nepal can use the tragedy as an opportunity for positive change.
On Monday, April 25th, the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Nepal, GlobalGiving is matching all donations 1:1 to our Mobile Citizen Helpdesks, here. Please donate what you can to help this important work continue.