Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Putting the ‘customers’ first

Beneficiary communication is a very important part of our work here in Indonesia with communities affected by the Tsunami. I would like to give an example of the outstanding programme run by the Irish Red Cross.

Irish Red Cross held an ‘Information Day’ to target students and their parents, and beneficiaries of secondary education cash assistance programme (SECAP) to regularly remind them of the importance of the programme and the programme's procedures.

In April last year, a group representing the community of Aceh Barat district in Banda Aceh province, traveled to Banda Aceh to meet and convey to BRR (Government Department responsible for Tsunami) their disappointment in a programme. The demonstration continued for a few days until the Irish Red Cross offered to facilitate a session via radio, giving the community and BRR an opportunity to find solutions. The discussion led to a commitment by BRR to pursue the matter with a higher authority, which culminated in a satisfactory to the beneficiaries.

The is one example of the Irish Red Cross’ efforts in improving beneficiary communication. It is the only partner national society with a programme specifically addressing beneficiary communication; community outreach. One of the activities in this programme is a radio session which broadcasts on-air live discussions, bi-weekly dramas and daily public service announcement on various topics.

The topics aired in the radio session are determined by the Irish Red Cross team based on the questions raised via email, mobile text messages and telephone calls from the community. For example, if many community members asked questions on land titles, the Irish Red Cross team will set up a radio session with this topic and invite guest speakers from government institutions and/or non-governmental organizations. This will provide an opportunity for the community members to raise their questions directly to the relevant parties. In some cases, when the issue has not been solved, the Irish Red Cross team will facilitate an off-air meeting between the community members and relevant entities, such as above.

Red Cross Youth in Banda Aceh march to campaign on climate change.

The community responds to the radio sessions with enthusiasm; the calls and text messages both on-air and off-air has increased since this programme was first launched in November 2006. In its first month, the team received 11 calls and 38 text messages from 49 clients, whereas in July this year, 3,530 clients have conveyed their messages via numerous text messages, phone calls, email, letters to dedicated post office box, Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) staff/volunteer and even fax.

Radio broadcasting is only one of many tools used by the International Federation in beneficiary communication. Communication to beneficiaries is an integral part in many projects implemented by the Red Cross and Red Crescent. In the transitional shelter programme, the International Federation and its implementing partners brought local communities together and informed them on the nature of the programme and its implementation. Furthermore, the communities were involved in the construction of the shelters and even supervision of the construction processes. This involvement has created a sense of ownership towards the programme and the shelters, as demonstrated by their active participation in the rebuilding and maintenance of their new homes. Similarly, in the water and sanitation projects of the International Federation, communities are involved in the planning and implementation process, creating an environment supportive to the programme and its sustainability


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