Creating an enabling environment for communities

Suggestion boxes are set up in public places where everyone can access them securely and round-the-clock

Kalaw Township, Shan State, & Pakokku Township, Magway Region

The Community Feedback and Response Mechanism (CFRM) initiative implemented in a total of 30 townships across the country provides various channels for communities in those townships to have a say in UNDP activities and to get relevant responses. The project was then extended to an additional 11 remote townships of Shan and Chin States. The mechanism allows those who are directly or indirectly impacted by the UNDP programmes to report their experiences, both positive and negative, in a manner that is safe, non-threatening and easily accessible.

One means of providing feedback through the initiative is the ‘suggestion box’ being installed in villages.  “The suggestion box is one of many ways made available to villagers in the UNDP-supported villages to provide feedback and suggestions that are related to UNDP activities,” said Daw Khin Mya Mya, township project manager of UNDP office in Shan State’s Kalaw Township which is one of 11 townships in the state where the initiative has been undertaken.

Highlights

  • The community feedback and response mechanism was established in 1473 villages in 30 townships across Myanmar
  • Nearly 2,000 communications with suggestions and feedback were received by July this year, of which nearly 33 percent represented the feedback asking for additional assistance from the UNDP
  • About 20 percent of total feedback expressed villagers’ gratitude for the support they have received
  • Nearly 40 percent of total suggestions and feedbacks were from women

The community chooses the location of the suggestion box in a village, with assistance from UNDP staff. In order to ensure privacy for those who wish to send suggestions or feedback letters, suggestion boxes are set up in public places where everyone can access them securely and round-the-clock. Posters explaining the types of feedback villagers can give are also placed near the suggestion boxes.

In addition to the suggestion boxes, villagers can communicate with the UNDP main office in Yangon or the township offices via regular mail, telephone and email.  Hotline numbers, mailing addresses and email addresses are also displayed prominently in a public place.

U Thin Khaing, programme analyst who is in charge of CFRM initiative, said the mechanism helps to understand the benefits and drawbacks of the UNDP programme and to get information that can be used to adjust its implementations to best meet the community needs.

U Htay Win, a villager from Kan Taw Village in Pakokku Township, who led his community to send suggestion letters to the UNDP offices in the township and Yangon, said the mechanism was quite beneficial as they could express their opinions and concerns anytime. Pakokku is one of four townships included in a 2011 pilot project for the feedback mechanism. “We are delighted that our concerns were addressed quite satisfactorily,” U Htay Win said. Because of the existence of the mechanism, community members could express their concerns on the performance of a village committee established with the support of the UNDP. The UNDP’s township feedback and response committee in Pakokku Township addressed their concerns. “Now there is no misunderstanding among us and we feel that we are more united and committed to work for our community,” U Htay Win said confidently.

U Khin Maung Oo, township project manager of project office in Pakokku Township said the initiative benefits not only to communities but also the staff who implement the UNDP’s development activities. “This initiative helps us to monitor our support more effectively. In addition, any problems or complaints can also be solved at an early stage.” he said. “We aim to resolve issues related to the feedback and suggestions made by beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries (including potential beneficiaries) in a just and efficient manner, ensuring they receive a resolution that is both appropriate and transparent,” U Thin Khaing said.

In order to implement the community feedback and response mechanism initiative efficiently training of trainers (ToT) workshops were organised in three phases for township project managers, technical specialists and township CFRM focal persons. The last training of trainers workshop was organised in July 2012 attracting more than 60 staff from townships and Yangon offices. Sensitisation sessions were also conducted for communities to understand processes and benefits of the initiative.

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