Mobile feedback agents from the collective AAP service in CAR collect feedback from IDPs in Zemio, Haut-Mbomou prefecture. (UNOCHA/A.Hotin)

Humanitarian organizations are committed to being accountable to the millions they assist globally. This commitment, known as accountability to affected populations (AAP), is critical in ensuring that aid reaches those who need it most. Community feedback mechanisms (CFMs) are effective tools to strengthen AAP, as they enable people to seek information, share opinions, lodge complaints, and report incidents like sexual exploitation, fraud, and discrimination.

Over the past five years, the humanitarian community in the Central African Republic (CAR) has implemented CFMs to significantly advance AAP. However, these mechanisms are effective only when a substantial number of humanitarian organizations participate and respond to the feedback. To enable this, OCHA’s Centre for Humanitarian Data collaborated with the AAP Working Group (AAP WG) in CAR to develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) for a new, common response-wide CFM.

SOPs may seem technical or dull, but as demonstrated in CAR, they are essential to ensuring that humanitarian organizations participate in collective approaches to AAP, and that people in crisis are not ignored.


Since 2019, humanitarian organizations in CAR have established around 1,000 CFMs. Despite this, people still do not feel heard.

A multisector needs assessment (MSNA) conducted in 2023 found that only 27 percent of aid recipients knew how to submit complaints or feedback to aid providers. Several reasons could account for this low percentage. One reason is a lack of trust in CFMs due to unresponsiveness – only 24 percent of people who submitted a complaint received a response. Another reason is that many CFMs did not align with community preferences for face-to-face communication.

Coordination among humanitarian partners also posed challenges. Before funding a project, donors require the presence of a CFM. Organizations often choose to create a new CFM rather than join a collective one, but the continuity of individually funded CFMs is jeopardized when the project or funding ends. It also means one organization could have multiple disconnected CFMs.

Referrals between organizations are also difficult. Few organizations have data-sharing agreements. Without such agreements, organizations do not know how to refer information requests and feedback to another organization in a way that protects people’s data.


Zemio, Haut-Mbomou prefecture, Central African Republic, 2024. Mobile feedback agents from the collective AAP service in CAR collect feedback from IDPs. (UNOCHA/A.Hotin)

To respond to these challenges, the AAP WG decided to pilot CFMs that allowed communities to provide face-to-face feedback, and that ensured humanitarian partners received and responded to the feedback.

In 2021, the AAP WG and UNICEF piloted an Information and Feedback Centre in IDP camps, utilizing a digital platform that enabled feedback agents to collect face-to-face feedback and forward it to the relevant organization, who could quickly respond through the platform. The agents then forward that response to the person who submitted the feedback. The digital platform contains all the information on a need-to-know basis – the type of information determines who has access.

In 2022, the World Food Programme piloted a mobile version of the digital platform to reach remote and marginalized groups. In 2023, close to 7,500 comments and complaints were collected via the platform, with a response rate of 78 percent.

The pilots were successful, but two obstacles remained: the high cost of rolling out the digital platform and the need for more humanitarian organizations to use it. In late 2023, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) provided US$500,000 to establish a community-owned and led collective CFM in three major humanitarian hubs, and the CAR Humanitarian Fund contributed $350,000 to support the deployment of eight mobile feedback teams. The United Kingdom also provided funding to ensure the CFM was sustainable.

However, success would depend on a quorum of humanitarian organizations using the CFM. For help with this, the AAP WG turned to the Centre for Humanitarian Data.

OCHA – Mobile feedback agents from the collective AAP service in CAR hold a community meeting to collect feedback from community members in Bria, Hautte-Kotto prefecture. UNOCHA

The Centre knew the answer was an Inter-agency Feedback Data Management Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The SOP’s objective was to create a common understanding, language and process on the common response-wide CFM in CAR. The SOP created classifications for types of information. Timelines were articulated to guide response times. The SOP also detailed how information would be analyzed for trends and provided to inform strategic and response-wide decision making.

In late March 2024, the CAR Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) adopted the SOP. Over 50 humanitarian organizations – a third of whom are national NGOs – nominated a focal point to be integrated into the common response-wide CFM, making it the country’s largest CFM. More organizations are expected to join in the coming months.


Common response-wide CFMs that use a shared platform are an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve a genuine feedback loop between people in crisis and aid providers. People can easily communicate with the assurance they will receive a response and their privacy will be protected. Organizations know how to classify and share information, without fear of breaching people’s trust. And donors avoid financing dozens of parallel CFMs that are costly to deploy and maintain, with limited impact.

SOPs make common response-wide CFMs possible.

SOPs enable organizations to share data responsibly by creating a common language, classification system and clear workflow process.

SOPs help generate knowledge and political will. Instead of informal agreements or ad hoc arrangements between individual organizations, SOPs are endorsed by the HCT. This strengthens the buy-in and commitment of senior-level leadership on collective AAP.

PK3 IDP Site, Bria, Central African Republic, 2021. One of many water collection sites at PK3. Humanitarian partners ensure that people have access to safe and clean drinking water, which is provided through a centralized system. The PK3 IDP site in Bria is the largest site in CAR, with some 40,000 IDPs living there. (UNOCHA/Anita Cadonau)

Commitment by senior-level decision-makers to ensure community feedback leads to course correction for the whole response is key. In CAR, the HCT is already making steps in this direction; it will regularly review the analysis and trends of community feedback from the common response and develop action points.

Finally, SOPs create goodwill and buy-in among the humanitarian community for common data-sharing management policies beyond CFMs. In CAR, the HCT have agreed to develop a national information sharing protocol (ISP) that will guide the sharing of all humanitarian information and data in CAR. The Centre will support its development.

The Centre was proud to support the humanitarian community in CAR in ensuring people’s views and feedback are heard, responded to and used to guide the response. The Centre will support the adoption of more common response-wide CFMs in other humanitarian contexts, including Burkina Faso and Mali.

Read the full story: From Feedback to Action: Enabling a Collective Response.

Find more information on accountability to affected people and the Centre’s Data Responsibility workstream.

For more information on the AAP Working Group in CAR, please contact Franklin Moliba-Sese (