“As a movement we have no choice than being accountable to people.”

Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of Kenya Red Cross Society

Kenya Red Cross Society has published new independent research documenting their experience and lessons learned in mainstreaming accountability to communities across the organization over a two-year period. This process has included scaling up information sharing with communities, giving them a greater voice in designing projects and listening to and using their feedback to improve services.

The research shows that the integration of accountability to communities has had a tremendous impact on the way the Kenya Red Cross works with the communities it serves, including;

  1. Increased trust between Kenya Red Cross and communities: “I trust them because they keep coming and following up.”
  2. More appropriate programmes: “Because they ask for our input, the projects are stronger and now meet our needs.”
  3. Greater community ownership and project sustainability: “We can now continue the project even if KRCS goes away.

Carried out by CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, the detailed operational case study highlights the successes and challenges experienced by Kenya Red Cross and provides practical lessons for other National Societies and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) about factors that may help to mainstream accountability to communities.

“As a movement we have no choice than being accountable to people. We are there to serve and to work with the people in the communities. They are the ones that know what works and what does not”, Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of Kenya Red Cross Society, says.

“Accountability to communities is paramount for us. We have made sure it is integrated in our work at all levels, from the communities and all the way up to branches, regions and the national level.”

Within the process of mainstreaming accountability to communities, Kenya Red Cross Society has trained staff, volunteers and community members on accountability, launched country-wide complaints and feedback hotlines and added accountability to community requirements into staff job descriptions and appraisals.

“Accountability to communities has really made a big difference. We start with the community and end with them”, says Hassan Musa, Coast Regional Manager of Kenya Red Cross.

“If the community members are not satisfied, we will go back to the drawing board and act accordingly. That should be the only way to go.”

Key lessons learned in the report include the importance of leadership buy-in and support, the importance of allowing time, funding and space to test and adapt approaches and involving staff across the organization. These lessons and more will be discussed in detail at a public launch of the report on Friday 11 May at the Boma Hotel in Nairobi, from 10am. Read the full report here.

Kenya Red Cross will also take part in a global webinar called ‘Eliminating Barriers to Meaningful Participation in Humanitarian Response’ on Wednesday 23 May at 2pm (GMT), hosted by the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Network. Kenya Red Cross will be joined by International Rescue Committee and CDA Collaborative Learning Projects. Link to join the webinar http://cdacn.adobeconnect.com/webinar/ or register via Eventbrite.