The Inter-Agency Common Feedback Project, referred to as the Common Feedback Project (CFP), is an innovative community engagement project, initiated during the response to the Nepal Earthquake 2015. It is funded by UK Aid, and is based in the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, enabling a strategic connection with humanitarian response and recovery.
The CFP is designed to help the humanitarian and recovery community understand the perceptions of affected people relating to services, people’s sense of agency, outcomes and the quality of relations between aid providers and the affected population. It is a common service to humanitarian partners to collect, aggregate, analyses and elevate feedback from disaster affected communities through a variety of sources, including:
• Community perception surveys
• Focus group discussions
• Aggregation of feedback 3W from partner organizations
The objective of the CFP is to ensure that the voices of affected people systematically feed into humanitarian response and recovery, to contribute to a more effective and responsive recovery effort. It provides support to the entire UN Country Team and HCT, including all clusters and organizations, government, donors, development partners, as well as civil society and other actors, in order to help them understand the issues of affected communities in real time, and consequently adapt policies and programmes to strengthen the effectiveness of recovery work to the specific circumstances and concerns of communities, as well as improve communications with affected people.
The project’s model has since been incorporated into Emergency Response Preparedness planning endorsed by the national government and UN system. In addition, as a response to the historic flooding across Nepal in summer 2017, CFP was able to expand its work into the flood affected districts, thanks to the continued generosity of UK Aid. Also in 2017, the project received a small grant from the UN Development Group to pilot its innovative approach to systematic community engagement in the least developed regions of Nepal on key development priorities. As such, the CFP’s mandate has expanded, now encompassing the entire humanitarian development cycle: response, recovery, development and preparedness.
The CFP is one of the first projects of its kind. Its mandate closely aligns with the future direction of the humanitarian system, particularly the Grand Bargain as it is directly related to the participant revolution.
For more information on the perceptions of earthquake and flood affected communities, please refer to previous reports from the Common Feedback Project found at the following webpage: http://cfp.org.np/reports/
The broad objectives of the earthquake housing reconstruction and recovery programme are to get earthquake affected people into safer houses with increased resilience to future disasters. In this survey round, the Common Feedback Project (CFP) received some very promising signals from affected households that for a large number of people, the reconstruction and recovery is working as intended.
Around this idea of enhanced resilience CFP regularly asks respondents “do you feel your family’s ability to cope with a new disaster is improved, or diminished?” In August 2018 63 percent of respondents said they felt their ability to cope with a new disaster was at least somewhat improved, since before the earthquake.
It is extremely encouraging for the overall recovery and reconstruction programme to get this feedback from affected communities.
However, where attention needs to be focused now is on the 34 percent who feel their coping capacity has diminished since before the earthquake. For that 34 percent who feel more vulnerable than before the earthquake, it is because they are not living in a safe shelter (56%), they have no savings (51%), they are burdened by heavy debt (39%) and their livelihood options are reduced (37%).
For these people, there is a significant risk that the one size fits all approach of the reconstruction process, with all its pressure and tight deadlines, is actually having the opposite of its intended effect, by making them worse off than they were before the earthquake.
Debt is a major problem for the majority of these people, and even those who feel they are recovering. The issue of harmful loans comes up consistently across the report, in all areas:
Taking a loan in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is the extremely high interest rates households are being charged.
Without access to announced subsidy loans, and under the threat of a looming reconstruction deadline, the majority of households have been forced to borrow from informal sources, such as neighbours, family and community groups, at interest rates averaging 24 percent, and as high as 36 percent and above in many cases. This situation could easily create a cycle of debt that becomes generational, and is extremely difficult to break.