Accountability and Feedback Loops
CDA helps policy makers, practitioners, and organizations improve the quality, effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian, development and peacebuilding programs through better tools for joint analysis, participatory program design, feedback loops, listening and accountability mechanisms. CDA’s work on aid effectiveness, accountability and feedback loops began in 2005 with the launch of the Listening Project. The Listening Project facilitated 20 listening exercises around the world, listening to 6,000+ people on the receiving end of international aid between 2005-2009. CDA’s listening methodology featured open-ended conversations with people in recipient communities about their experiences with and analysis of the cumulative impacts of international aid efforts in their communities. This unique collaborative listening and learning effort engaged 130 international and local aid agencies and over 400 staff and volunteers, culminating in the publication of the book Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid (2012).
Lessons from the Listening Project and our Humanitarian Effectiveness research were integrated into policy discussions at several key aid effectiveness processes:
- Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (Busan, November 2011)
- UN OCHA Policy Forums (2014, 2015)
- World Humanitarian Summit (Istanbul, May 2016)
CDA continues applied research on effective feedback loops with a keen interest in feedback utilization in program adaptation. Our newest collaborative learning project focuses on successful and responsible INGO exits in support of locally-led development and peacebuilding. A core commitment in this research is to engage local civil society organizations, researchers and evaluators in the Global South to help us examine what a responsible and successful exit looks like to different stakeholders. CDA is a member of InterAction, ALNAP, Feedback Labs, American Evaluation Association, European Evaluation Society, Alliance for Peacebuilding and Bond Beneficiary Feedback Learning Group.
A Selection of Publications
Selection of Recent Collaborative Learning and Applied Research Engagements
|Search for Common Ground||Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium||A case study on peacebuilding feedback loops in Burundi.||Burundi||2017|
|International Rescue Committee (IRC)||State Department||Developed and led an action research component for IRC’s research into feedback utilization.||Uganda||2016-2017|
|BOND||BOND Members; DFID||Co-chaired DFID Program Partnership Learning Group (later Bond) on Beneficiary Feedback; facilitated learning; produced lessons summaries.||UK, Global||2015-2016|
|World Vision UK||DFID Inclusive Societies Department||Documented promising practices in accountability and feedback loops in World Vision’s programs.||Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Nepal||2015-2016|
|Catholic Relief Services||Feedback Labs||Research and development on improving feedback utilization in cacao farming project.||Haiti||2015-2016|
|World Vision UK||DFID||Served on the Steering Group for DFID-funded Beneficiary Feedback Mechanism Pilots, implemented by World Vision UK in 6 countries.||Global||2015-2016|
|Disaster Ready||ALNAP||Co-developed an e-learning course on effective feedback in humanitarian contexts.||Global||2015|
|Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance||Wrote a chapter for 2015 Humanitarian Accountability Report. Provided input into the CHS Standard.||Global||2015|
|UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)||Desk research and field visits on humanitarian effectiveness. Contributed to OCHA’s final report presented at the World Humanitarian Summit.||Myanmar, Ethiopia, Haiti, the Philippines and Congo DRC||2014-2015|
|ITAD; Development Initiatives||DFID||A research and evaluation consortium to evaluate DFID-commissioned beneficiary feedback pilots.||Ethiopia, Tanzania, Pakistan, India, Somaliand||2013-2014|
|ALNAP||German Ministry of Foreign Affairs; DFID||Conducted field research on effective feedback mechanisms. Produced guidance on designing and implementing humanitarian feedback mechanisms.||Sudan, Pakistan, Haiti, Global||2012-2014|
“CDA are, pretty much, the world experts in how feedback loops can work and the benefits to be gained in terms of programme quality”Yo Winder
Selection of Recent Advisory Service Engagements
Clients / Partners
|International Rescue Committee||Developed a client-responsiveness framework to guide program / project design, implementation and evaluation.||Global||2016|
|GOAL Ukraine||Provided training and technical assistance on conflict sensitivity and humanitarian feedback mechanisms.||Ukraine||2016|
|World Vision UK||Served as a learning partner for DFID-funded beneficiary feedback pilots in 6 countries. Facilitated learning events and contributed to practice notes.||Africa, UK||2015-2016|
|Norwegian Refugee Council||Developed agency-wide minimum standards and guidelines on establishing feedback and complaints mechanisms.||Global||2015|
|The World Humanitarian Summit||Produced a mapping of community engagement initiatives, a strategy and guidance to engage people in crisis-affected communities in the lead up to and at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.||Global||2015|
|Global Public Policy Institute||Peer reviewed research on monitoring and feedback in restricted contexts||Global||2015|
|ALNAP||Wrote the background paper and the final report for ALNAP 2014 annual meeting on engaging crisis-affected people in humanitarian response.||Global||2014|
|DFID||Responded to DFID Help Desk request on Beneficiary Feedback in Fragile and Conflict Affected States.||Global||2013|
|Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)||Provided input into the IASC Taskforce on Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) Operational Framework.||Global||2012-Ongoing|
|Oxfam International||Facilitated a listening exercise in Tamil Nadu with former Oxfam partner and recipient communities; produced a report.||India||2012|
|The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation||Desk research and report on feedback mechanisms in international assistance organizations.||Global||2011|
Ask the Experts
Thought Leaders in Learning Speaker Series: Time to Listen / CDA presented its research which aggregated the input of nearly 6,000 people in 20 aid receiving countries, as well as the reflections of aid workers themselves, on the effectiveness of international aid efforts as captured through CDA’s Listening Project at the USAID Learning Lab‘s Thought Leaders in Learning Speaking Seminar.
Frontiers for Development Cooperation / August 2014. Keynote speech by Prof. Robert Chambers at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2014 Development Cooperation Forum.
Are We Asking the Right Questions? / 2013. CDA discussed engaging local communities in collecting, analyzing and using evidence for needs assessment and impact evaluation. The talk was part of ALNAP’s “Local Knowledge and Evidence of Impact Meeting.”
Local Communities Say Aid is ‘Too Much, Too Fast’ / 2013. Mary B. Anderson, founder of CDA Collaborative Learning Projects and author of ‘Do No Harm’ and ‘Time to Listen’ speaks frankly about what aid recipients and local communities told her about humanitarian aid and asks “whose evidence counts?”
Seven-Minute Expert Talk on Humanitarian Affairs / 2014. Interview with Mary B. Anderson, CDA’s founder, author of “Do No Harm,” and co-author of “Time to Listen.” What beneficiaries really think of international aid; The “proceduralisation” of the aid system; The drawbacks of funding mechanisms and the responsibility of donors; Some proposals to disentangle the threads; and the role of quality and accountability initiatives. Part of The Sphere Project “Seven-minute Expert Talks on Humanitarian Affairs” series.
Thursday Talk, Closing the Loop: On-Going Research into Effective Feedback Practices / November 2014. Isabella Jean discussed her research into effective feedback practices. Including guidance on how to integrate listening and feedback mechanisms into existing organizational systems and how to use the feedback to steer program adaptation and implementation; and, evidence and guidance on lessons and practices around feedback for program and context monitoring in fragile and conflict affected states. Hosted by DM&E for Peace.
‘Rhetoric or Reality? Putting Affected People at the Centre of Humanitarian Action’ / October 2014. A publication launch and discussion of findings at Overseas Development Institute (ODI) London, UK.