Common Feedback Mechanism (CFM)

The ETC establishes effective two-way communication systems that facilitate dialogue between local communities and assistance providers.

Table of contents


Purpose: The ETC establishes effective two-way communication systems that facilitate dialogue between local communities and assistance providers. Through these communication systems, affected populations can interact with humanitarians in a coordinated manner and ensure their voices are heard by the relevant organisation. Humanitarians in turn gain insight into people’s needs and make better-informed programming decisions and facilitates collective accountability to affected populations while consolidating limited resources that are currently only available to certain humanitarian organizations individually.

Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) is an essential part of all Humanitarian Response Plans (HRP). A common feedback mechanism is one way to improve collective accountability and to involve those affected by a crisis in the decision-making process.

Customer segment: Humanitarian organisations, National and Local Authorities, Affected Populations.

Description: The Common Feedback Mechanism (CFM) is a service, such as a call centre, that the ETC provides to local communities and humanitarian partners by allowing affected populations to obtain information on humanitarian assistance programmes, submit their feedback and get referrals to the humanitarian organizations that are best-suited to handle their issue(s).

CFM Solutions

While there is flexibility in how a CFM is setup, with the most appropriate choice of technology being made at the time, this following is an example of what has been used in the past.

Short Code: While not essential, best practice is to get a ‘short code’ a four-digit number that can be requested from the Ministry of Telecommunications in each country.

CRM software: The ETC currently uses WFP corporate tool “SugarCRM” as its customer resource management software, although not limited to this.

Call Centre: As part of a CFM, the ETC can establish a call centre with operators. The timing and location of a call centre depends upon requirements and resources.

Case Study: Libya

Project: Since the fall of the government in 2011, Libya has continued to struggle with armed conflict and ongoing violence, leaving an estimated 900,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance. In 2019, the Emergency Telecommunications Sector (ETS) led a communication needs assessment that revealed while 97% of respondents have access to phones, 54% do not have sufficient information about humanitarian assistance.

With the support of the the Government of Luxembourg, the ETS is bridging this gap by establishing Tawasul (“communication” in Arabic) a Common Feedback Mechanism (CFM) in the form of a single, toll-free, country-wide hotline number that affected populations can call to obtain information on humanitarian assistance programs; submit their feedback; and get referrals to the humanitarian organizations that are best-suited to handle their needs. In turn, the CFM helps humanitarians work more efficiently towards meeting those needs.

Through partnerships with 6 UN agencies and 5 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the CFM particularly aims to assist women, children, Internally Displaced People (IDPs), migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and digitally illiterate individuals. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the ETS-managed call centre now has a dual purpose as it is acting as a nationwide COVID-19 information channel, as requested by the Libyan Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Trained operators and volunteer doctors provide information, raise awareness of the virus and review symptoms using NCDC guidelines and refer potential cases to the NCDC. To date, over 8,000 calls have been answered and over 400 potential COVID-19 cases referred to the NCDC.

Dates: 16 February 2020 – Present 

Case Study: Central African Republic

Project: Armed conflict, systemic violence and widespread displacement have impacted communities in the Central African Republic (CAR) since the protection crisis erupted in 2013, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safety.

In 2019, the ETC assessed the communication and technology needs of internally displaced people (IDP) in three sites across CAR. The assessment found that affected communities do not have adequate access to lifesaving information on the humanitarian assistance available to them. To address this, the ETC designed three key initiatives to improve people’s access to vital information through key communication tools.

Hosted by the Central African Red Cross, the Information and Learning Hub in Bangassou will empower affected communities to develop digital skills and help them to connect with humanitarians. 

In partnership with 25 NGOs and eight UN agencies, a Common Feedback Mechanism (CFM) in Bria – and other IDP sites across CAR – will enable affected communities to contact humanitarians to explain their needs and to request assistance. In turn, the CFM will help humanitarians work more efficiently towards meeting those needs.

In collaboration with INTERSOS, designated phone booths in Bria’s IDP camp will enable affected populations – particularly women – to communicate with their families and to contact humanitarian helplines free-of-charge.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the ETC has supported the country’s Ministry of Health to set up a toll-free COVID-19 helpline. This will combat misinformation surrounding the pandemic, encourage early detection of the virus and ultimately improve the safety of communities. The ETC is also repurposing and expanding the designated phone booths initiative to enable those who lack access to personal phones to contact the COVID-19 helpline.

Dates: 1 June 2019 – Present

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