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Our response to @UNReliefChief CGDev speech today

Geoffrey Kateregga

As the Governing Board member of Loop, I am heartened to hear the call of Mr Mark Lowcock to establish an independent commission for voices in crisis. Myself and the rest of the Loop team, agree with his assessment that “one of the biggest failings” of the system is that agencies “do not pay enough attention” to the voices of people caught up in crises. We also completely agree that, “If we hold such a mirror up to the system, humanitarian agencies collectively will see that we are simply not adequately listening and responding to what people say they want.” We believe that this type of leadership is what is required to really meet the Grand Bargain commitments on the Participation Revolution.

Over the last year we have dedicated our energy to set up a new charity with the sole objective of providing an independent, global, safe and accessible platform for customers of Aid to feedback and for anyone to easily and openly engage with and learn from them.  We are also developing a dashboard to analyse the unstructured community driven qualitative data into quantitative dashboards with filters for analysis of trends and emerging themes.

Mr Lowcock recommended an “independent commission for voices in crises” to hold the system to account and judge whether agencies have listened to those in need’. Jessica Alexander, from The New Humanitarian commented today in the HNPW session on Accountability that ‘we can be bolder in flicking the switch to accountability’. I would agree with that statement.  A Commission that could be ‘grading the quality of agencies’ work’ is another top-down approach that could result in perverse incentives and result in further silos. Phillippe Besson stated in his remarks at the same event that ‘we need peer pressure and genuine accountability’ and asked ‘whose voice counts?’.

While we agree that ‘transparency is the best route to shoring up confidence in the aid sector’ we would suggest that an open, collaborative and transparent approach, enabling organisations to better understand local contexts, learn and collectively have access to the resulting data would be most beneficial. This approach would help in establishing the kind of community owned culture we require for the participation revolution to take flight.  

The Loop platform does not just provide donors with ‘powerful levers of agency’, thus reinforcing the existing powers further. The data on Loop is open and available for all to engage with and analyse. Donors, local people, activists, survivors and committed organisations will have direct access to the same data in near real time, so that we can all learn more, build trust and be accountable to the voices of people in crisis.

We agree that ‘there has been limited “piecemeal” progress, owing to the lack of any incentive structure for aid agencies to respond’ and we hope that the provision of Loop as a global public good to enable feedback and broader engagement as well as safe anonymous reporting of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Fraud and Corruption could be a sizeable game changer and feed into and support all of the existing positive changes being developed in every corner of the humanitarian and development sector.

Surely a solution aimed at listening to local people should be coming from local people and open for them to have a voice in as well. We would be happy to talk with Mr Mark Lowcock in his final months to see how feedback gathered through Loop could make it to senior UN decision making tables, inform Humanitarian Response Plans and cluster meetings.

Surely a solution aimed at listening to local people should be coming from local people and open for them to have a voice in as well. We would be happy to talk with Mr Mark Lowcock in his final months and Mr Elihadj As Sy in his new post at the Kofi Annan Foundation, to see how feedback gathered through Loop could make it to senior UN decision making tables, inform Humanitarian Response Plans and cluster meetings.

Geoffrey Kateregga, President of the Loop Governing Board

For back ground information please see:

Geoffrey's Post.

Mr Lowcock's proposal.

The recording of the event.

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