Closing the loop: What makes feedback mechanisms effective?

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ALNAP and CDA Collaborative Learning Projects have finalised a research project looking at effectiveness of feedback mechanisms for crisis affected populations in humanitarian contexts and will present the related practitioners guidance on establishing and using feedback mechanisms effectively.

The aim of this action research was to document what works and why when establishing and using feedback mechanisms and to capture learning from field staff. Most importantly, the emphasis has been to include aid recipients’ voices into the research and reflect into the development of a guidance document for humanitarian practitioners.

But what are humanitarian feedback mechanisms and why is it important that they are effective?

Concrete examples of feedback mechanisms’ set up and functioning have been documented in Sudan (South Darfur), Pakistan and Haiti. The research proposed to define feedback mechanisms as a set of procedures and tools formally established and used to allow humanitarian aid recipients (and in some cases other crisis-affected populations) to provide information on their experience of a humanitarian agency or of the wider humanitarian system.

A feedback mechanism is seen as effective if, at minimum, it supports the collection, acknowledgement, analysis and response to the feedback received, thus forming a closed feedback loop. Where the feedback loop is left open, the mechanism is not fully effective.

Following from the discussions held at ALNAP's 29th Annual Meeting in Addia Ababa, we would like to continue the debate on what makes humanitarian feedback mechanisms work. This panel discussion is an opportunity to present and discuss the practitioners’ guidance covering this topic.


John Mitchell (Director, ALNAP)


· Francesca Bonino, Research Officer – Evaluation, Learning and Accountability, ALNAP

· Burcu Munyas Ghadially, Accountability Adviser, Save the Children UK

· Alex Jacobs, Director of Programme Quality, Plan International

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