BANGKOK — Information hubs, surveys, call centers, and anonymous ballot boxes have existed for years as ways for aid groups to communicate with and receive feedback from affected communities. Now, they’re being called into question — along with the strategies that presented them as catch-all communication solutions in the first place.
None of these mechanisms are obsolete, and each has had a role to play in the decades of progress on feedback and accountability in global aid work. As groups race to respond to the latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, it’s lessons from communication and engagement with communities in West Africa they take with them. In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees are currently bracing for cyclone season inside bamboo and tarpaulin shelters, communication alone can be life saving.