The Listen Learn Act Project
A focus group discussion organised by the Listen Learn Act project in Makaisingh, Gorka District, Nepal in December 2015
© Nik Rilkoff

Enhanced Response Capacity through Evidence-Based Quality and Accountability Standards and Innovative Inclusion of Affected Populations

The project

DanChurchAid, Save the Children and Ground Truth Solutions (Keystone Accountability) have embarked on an exciting global quality and accountability project being piloted in four countries (Mali, Nepal, Ethiopia and the Syria response in Lebanon). With a serious commitment to quality and accountability for disaster-affected populations, and with ECHO’s support, the Listen Learn Act project also reinforces the roll-out of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS).

Listen Learn Act maintains a close partnership with the Sphere Project and the CHS Alliance while reaching out to the broader humanitarian community through established coordination and policy mechanisms at field and global levels. We will also establish and remain in communication with organisations undertaking similar initiatives, confirming mutual engagement and sharing of experiences throughout the action.

What’s the problem?

All too often, humanitarian actors don’t thoroughly consult with affected populations, nor do we give them much chance to offer their perspectives on the assistance they receive or the agencies that provide it. Initiatives for feedback with affected populations are often limited to complaints mechanisms, which are important, but do not in themselves fully mean accountable responses. We also conduct 'data extraction exercises' with beneficiaries but we often lack the necessary human resources to listen effectively to beneficiaries and manage our performance accordingly. Staff on the ground are overstretched, and there are gaps in organisations' capacities to handle and respond to feedback from affected populations. Finally, the humanitarian system itself lacks incentives for organisations to put in place effective feedback loops and manage performance based on evidence provided through beneficiary feedback. There is a need for convincing evidence about the effectiveness of feedback systems and a better understanding of the benefits they bring to humanitarian assistance.

What’s it all about?

Listen Learn Act brings an innovative “ground-truthing” survey tool to ask 300-400 disaster-affected people 5-10 questions developed around the CHS standards. Survey results will be analysed and discussed with communities and NGOs to “course correct” based on the feedback. We’ll re-survey at regular intervals,  and discuss and hopefully monitor changes in feedback.

Our specific objective is: Enhanced response capacity through the development, use and integration of an innovative and practical methodology for monitoring accountability to beneficiaries; training and awareness raising of humanitarian actors; and global dissemination of findings.

The project’s results are:

1)    Participating humanitarian organisations integrate beneficiary feedback systems to test and inform the roll out of Core Humanitarian Standards across different contexts and address shortcomings in their performance;

2)    Targeted humanitarian organisations have improved accountability and beneficiary feedback systems through blended learning approaches and share experiences through a community of practice; and

3)    Increased access and awareness of Core Humanitarian Standards and beneficiary feedback systems through dissemination of outputs and lessons learned from the action.

Some practical benefits for participating organisations include:

  • dotBetter quality data from affected people on performance and accountability, as well as an accompanied process to integrate that data and feedback into programming decisions.
  • dotImproved skills, knowledge, awareness and practices of effective communications and survey tools, potentially improving the quality of needs assessments and responses in future crises.
  • dotLess time spent monitoring and trying to understand feedback.
  • dotImproved accountability and beneficiary feedback systems through blended learning approaches and share experiences through a community of practice.

We are working with four organisations in each country (16 in total). They have all designed and field-tested feedback surveys with Ground Truth Solutions. Now, trained local data enumerators are surveying the affected communities and participating organisations receive real-time feedback from beneficiaries and guidance on data analysis and course correction.

We are taking a blended learning approach to the capacity building activities, to ensure sustainability and a larger outreach. The project includes a two-day training for 50 participants in each country (200 in total), so those not selected for the survey component will still have a chance to take part in the training and learn about the process, build relationships and create possibilities for experience sharing.

A major focus for the project is wider dissemination and learning about quality and accountability, so we’ll also be sharing our learning in an e-learning course, with modules available freely and accessible on demand from October 2016.
Through these channels, the project can also benefit those that cannot attend live trainings for financial, logistical or other reasons.

We are doing our best to ensure that organisations are supported as much as possible as they bring quality, accountability and the CHS fully into their work.

DanChurchAid, Save the Children and Ground Truth Solutions (Keystone Accountability) are grateful for ECHO’s support for this project.

More exciting updates, project information, and training materials are available online at ACTLearn

Find out more about The Sphere Project here, and the Core Humanitarian Standards here.

You can download our first learning report, Checking the Heartbeat of Humanitarian Assistance, by Andy Featherstone here (1.45 MB), and in French Contrôle du rythme cardiaque de l'aide humanitaire here (1.47 MB)

Our final learning report, Placing Accountability at the Heart of Humanitarian Assistance, by Andy Featherstone is available here (2.20 MB), and in French Placer la redevabilité au cœur de lassistance humanitaire here (2.96 MB)

To find out more about the project, or take part in the online course (launched on November 14, 2016), go to, create a user account and search for “Listen Learn Act”.

For further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Global Project Manager, Nik Rilkoff at who is based in DCA's humanitarian hub in Nairobi, Kenya


To find out more read a blog about this project by clicking here.


European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO)

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Save the Children

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Ground Truth Solutions

Ground Truth Solutions is a programme under Keystone Accountability.

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