|Period||July 2013 – September 2013|
|Consultants||Florence Ndwiga (Lead) and Richard Orengo|
The five year project was implemented in April 2007 to March 2012. HelpAge International was one of the partners implementing the Government of Kenya led and DFID-financed project. In phase I, the Social Protection Rights Component of the project was implemented by HelpAgein the four counties. The role of HelpAge in the project was to:
- Design a Charter of Programme Rights
- Complaints and Grievances system
- Implement an outreach programme and provide a “programme Complaints Adjudication and Referral” function
- Work closely with secretariat to operate and effectively link with the HSNP Management Information System (MIS) to ensure that the MIS includes the registration, enrolment and case management information and dispute adjudication, tracking of referral and resolution of complaints so as to enable the smooth monitoring of project progress.
The project was directly implemented at the local county level by the following partner agencies in the other Counties; Pastoralist Integrated Support Programme (PISP) in Marsabit, District Pastoralist Association (DPA) in Wajir and Rural Agency for Community Development and Assistance (RACIDA) and Horn of Africa Women Empowerment Network Kenyan Agency (HAWENKA)in Mandera.
The learning documentation was conducted in July/August 2013 by an external team of evaluators from Evidence Frontiers. The learning took place in all the four counties and applied participatory methods. The data for the learning documentation was largely qualitative with very minimal quantitative data from secondary literature review. Data collection was done through Key Informant Interviews (KII) and Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with purposively selected respondents. The respondents for the data collection were purposively sampled in the four project counties. In Marsabit and Turkana, FGDs and KIIs were held with beneficiaries, Rights Committees, project staffs, provincial administration representatives, community leaders and Equity paying agents. Due to security reasons, a remote assessment approach was employed for Wajir and Mandera. This mainly included the use of Skype and phone calls. Data quality measures were
Effectiveness and Efficiency of the grievance handling mechanism: Complaints recorded were classified into seven main categories; non-inclusion complaints, card related complaints, non-payment related complaints, complaints related to secondary recipients, complaints related to paying agents, complaints related to payment days and slow case resolution. The complaints recorded at the partner level were further categorized into three; HSNP vs wider rights complaints, Individual vs community/group complaints and complaints as per the age of complainant (18 to 55 years vs 55 plus years).Overall, most of the complaints received related to HSNP, were individual and mostly affected the elderly. Complaints response took a certain procedure, from the complainant to the RC to SPR component and then to other project components. The procedure was adhered to in all counties except Marsabit where beneficiaries reported directly to HelpAge or to other project components. It took an average of two months to respond to complaints such as non-inclusion and those related to second recipients; whereas other complaints took more than two months; some were unresolved as at the time of the study. The FGDs and KII with beneficiaries, implementing partners and provincial administration revealed efficiency in resolving the above mentioned cases as handled directly by the RCs. However, cases that were beyond the resolution of the RCs and involved the intervention of HelpAge International were reportedly delayed. In all the four Counties, Complaints and Grievances were recorded in a Complaints logbook at RC level. It was also reported that in some instances, RCs reported complaints to the partners by word of mouth. This became a learning point as verbal reporting of complaints was not effective. In such instances, there were no records and according to the responders, this brought an issue around recording and follow-up. The RCs were not recording the C&G in the Complaints logbook due to illiteracy on some part and also due to lack of commitment. Lack of commitment was reported to be caused lack of facilitation to communicate to the person with the complaint’s logbook.
Effectiveness of the Management Information System (MIS); the review recorded lack of a structured project monitoring and evaluation framework at project implementation level. This meant that most of the information and data collected about the project were complaints and not project management information that can be used for project quality and effectiveness. In its initial stages, the project lacked a unified electronic MIS that would be used for project quality and effective tracking and monitoring of the complaints and grievances. Most of the available information was recorded by the leaders of the Rights committees in the complaint logging book. At times this could lead to lack of recording of all the received complaints and loss in cases where the complaints were not recorded in the Complaints logging books. Project staff in all Counties used the complaints logging book to record complaints but they didn’t have a unified system of collating the information hence ended up filing the logging books as reference. This meant that the information could not be collated and analyzed in a systematic way. Due to lack of the MIS, information collected from the beneficiaries was stored and there was no way of even tracking progress of complaints forwarded and monitoring feedback to the beneficiaries. The information collected during the project implementation was purely complaints that were not consistently recorded for project quality and there was evidently lack of proper way of tracking progress in implementation of the project. The MIS is reported to have been introduced in the final year of the project with its end users not trained on the system which made it difficult to adopt it. However, at the national level – HelpAge office, data clerks were recruited to input the available Complaints and Grievance data into the electronic system. It was reported that there is need to introduce the MIS in the initial stages of the project, mainly in the first year. The MIS should be able to generate both pre-determined and ad hoc reports. It is also recommended that the system end users to be trained in advance so as to familiarize themselves with the system. HelpAge should create a framework for documenting lessons learnt from the project.
Participation of the rights committee in Complaints and Grievance handling: The RCs selection process was found to have factored cross cutting issues such as gender, disability and age (older people-55 years and above) and young (18 to 54 years)).The criteria was well adhered to in all the Counties. Although there were cases of dormant RCs due to lack of motivation (lack of a token of appreciation especially for non-beneficiary RCs) no cases of dropouts were reported across the counties. The RCs encountered challenges including lack of identification documents, lack of cooperation from beneficiaries and at times government officials, implementing partners and the Equity paying agents. The slow response to complaints from HelpAge and local partner put the RCs at conflict with beneficiaries. This was the case especially when the feedback required was out of the RCs capacities.
Appropriateness of the approach used: Despite the transparency and success in the targeting criteria used, it was observed that each had its own setbacks. The targeting criteria used were not pegged to vulnerability hence questioning its appropriateness in ensuring inclusion. The provincial administration felt that their involvement was limited to recruitment only. The RCs approach was well appreciated by the community members given that they were selected from their own villages which ensured closeness to the beneficiaries thus understanding of issues that affected them. However, the issues of illiteracy among RCs need to be considered in subsequent phases. There is need to select literate community members and facilitate them with frequent capacity building. Beneficiaries expressed the need to increase the cash amount due to increased cost of living and need to update the payment mode to direct deposit of the funds into beneficiary bank accounts and use on mobile money transfer services among the beneficiaries who had access to mobile phones. There were concerns around the distance to the paying agents where most of the beneficiaries felt that the agents were few and they had to walk for long distances to receive their payment. They suggested for payments to be delivered to the villages as it was done in the first months of implementation or increase the number of paying agents. The review observed lack of transparency and accountability between the RCs and the project implementers. RCs said that although some complaints reported were resolved, with a few pending, the implementers completely failed on informing the RCs of the status of the complaints. Neither was there feedback on the steps taken to resolve the complaints that were successfully resolved.
Key lessons learnt and best practice: It took long to respond to most of the grievances by project beneficiaries. Most of the grievance were technical and could not be handled by the RCs at the community level. From the interviews, it emerged that the grievances were not handled effectively and not in good time as referred in the Complaints Response Mechanism by the duty bearer. There is need to incorporate a follow up phase for the needy cases that might have been left out of registration while they were out of their Counties during registration. There was also need to involve more stakeholders in the project for continuity. On the mode of payment, the use of local community members as paying agents widened the range of financial service providers within the Counties which is an opportunity for the development of the private sector. However, the current payment arrangement can be improved to include direct deposit of the funds into beneficiary bank accounts and use on mobile money transfer services among the beneficiaries who had access to mobile phones to reduce grievance around missed and delayed payments. Community payments for those who cannot have bank account or mobile phones was also advocated for.
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