Most staff will have experiences of meeting people who are not fully happy with the work or behavior of WOMEN INITIATIVE FOR SOCIETY EMPOWERNMENT (WISE) or partners in their community or region.
Most of this feedback or complaint is received informally e.g., people approach staff who are visiting the community, or visit WOMEN INITIATIVE FOR SOCIETY EMPOWERNMENT (WISE)’s office in search of assistance or resolution to their problems or grievances. Even when WOMEN INITIATIVE FOR SOCIETY EMPOWERNMENT (WISE) seeks feedback more formally during a participation or monitoring event, the responses received can often relate to a completely different topic. It is not unusual for staff monitoring a water and sanitation programme, for instance, to be approached about a food distribution programme taking place in the same community. It is also not unusual for staff of one agency to receive a complaint about another agency. Receiving feedback, suggestions and complaints about our work is normal, important and should be welcomed.
But what happens to these complaints? There are many positive examples of field staff immediately resolving issues whilst in the community, through conversation, sharing information or taking action on the spot. There are also many examples of more serious issues being conveyed back to the office and corrective action being taken. However, there are also many examples that show that staff, already overwhelmed with day-to-day emergency activities, find it difficult to manage the informal feedback and complaint they receive; complaints may not be prioritized, may be forgotten, or lost. A constant stream of visitors at the WOMEN INITIATIVE FOR SOCIETY EMPOWERNMENT (WISE) field office interrupts work and
can also add to the stress and frustrations of both staff and community members, who can be poorly dealt with or turned away. Tensions can arise when a complaint is received about a member of staff and it is not clear how this complaint will be dealt with and by whom.