PH Trail Complaint and Response Mechanism
Palestinian Heritage Trail (PH Trail) works in implementing development projects and activities in the local communities that the Palestinian Heritage Trail trail passes through. As PH TRAIL work and trail is expanding, we are committed to enhance and improve the quality of our work and the services provided by our partners and other stakeholders. Therefore, it is important that we develop and implement a complaint mechanism to acquire the local communities satisfaction and to handle any complaints that may raise about our work in the field. Adapting a complaint mechanism will:
- Contribute to the improvement of PH TRAIL’s quality of work by providing information about the experiences of the communities and the beneficiaries.
- Restore trust and confidence between PH TRAIL and all related stakeholders.
- Identify areas of weakness that need improvement.
- Enable poor decisions to be adjusted quickly and efficiently.
- Promote a culture of transparency and accountability.
- Prevent complaints from escalating to a situation that can be resource-intensive and lead to adverse outcomes.
- Increase ownership of localities to the trail.
- Encourage better involvement of the communities on trail development, management, and maintenance.
Why do we Manage Complaints?
- It is about Accountability: People we work with have the right to complain about certain situations and receive a response for decisions or actions that affect them. Handling complaints is an opportunity to show communities that our activities are accountable to them.
- Good complaints management is an integral part of quality programming and provides advantages for PH TRAIL, staff and in particular the communities that we work with.
- Every agency that works with people receives complaints and feedback. The fact that cannot be avoided. It has to be managed and seen as a positive way to improve.
Elements of PH TRAIL complaints System:
- Visibility and access mechanisms and strategies are put in place to provide beneficiary stakeholders with readily available information on where and how to complain, how the complaints will be managed as well as reasonable assistance to make a complaint by staff.
- Responsiveness mechanisms and strategies are in place to ensure staff know the complaint system and how it works, complaints were responded to in a ”timely manner”, time frames were used and complaints monitored and participants advised of progress.
- Assessment and Action complaints are assessed and actions taken based on fairness and objectivity.
- Feedback is provided to complainants on time regarding outcomes and as well as review mechanisms and internally within PH TRAIL.
- Monitoring Effectiveness of the community complaints and feedback system is done every three years by PH TRAIL complaints focal point.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is a grieves made when a stakeholder believes that PH TRAIL has failed to meet a commitment. That commitment can be related to a program plan, beneficiary criteria, activity schedule, standard technical performance, organizational value, and legal requirement or staff misconduct.
Who can submit a complaint?
Any PH TRAIL stakeholder including founders, partners, employees, stakeholders that are directly or indirectly benefiting from our projects, i.e. local communities include guides, homestays, and women centers, as well as landowners and PH TRAIL’s Staff.
A Complaints Vs a Feedback :
It is very much up to the stakeholder to decide if he/she wants to provide feedback or raise a complaint, using the complaint system.
A complaint is a formal expression of dissatisfaction or discontent, and/or misconduct, about someone or something where it requires a formal response from PH TRAIL as described in the procedures below.
A feedback is any positive or negative informal statement of opinion about someone or something. It is an opinion shared for information or as part of the ongoing dialogue with partners, Hikers, or other stakeholders on project activities – but not with the intention of lodging a complaint. Feedback does not require the use of the procedures below and PH TRAIL doesn’t need to reply formally.
Types of Complaints (Operational and sensitive):
An operational complaint is a complaint about the implementation and quality of the projects implemented and administrated by PH TRAIL team and office.
A sensitive complaint is typically a complaint about corruption, sexual exploitation, or another gross violation of PH TRAIL staff code of conduct.
This system is designed to handle both operational and sensitive complaints. It ensures that all information about sensitive complaints are handled confidentially by a committee. A series of steps are identified to receive and follow up any complaint.
All complaints must be reported by the “complaint personnel” to the Executive Director. Both are assigned to open all received complaints: emails, letters, SMS, what’s app… etc. Depending on the type of complaint, the Executive Director will call for a committee meeting.
For operational complaints: PH TRAIL decided on a committee that consists of at least three members, if needed the General Director will be called to join the committee.
Operational complaints committee members: the Executive Director; 1 Project Manager (depending if the complaint has to do with his/her project) and I personnel from the finance office.
Sensitive complaints committee members: the Executive Director and 2 Board members.
How to Submit a Complaint?
The Complaint Format can be submitted in one of the following methods :.
Only filled official forms of complaint can be communicated with PH TRAIL (must be sealed if handed by hand in the office or to any team member) by:
- Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- PH Trail webpage, you can print FORM and fill it by hand and sign it if needed.
- Via post office to the following address (Al-Karameh Street, near Beit Sahour Municipality – Beit Sahour, Bethlehem)
- Hand it by hand to any PH Trail team member in the field.
- Hand it by hand to PH TRAIL office.
- PH Trail’s local authorities coordinators will have copies of the complaints form and can provide you with one.
- Call PH TRAIL landline no: +970-(0)2-2775045, ask for complaint personnel or Executive Director (excluding sensitive complaints)
Sensitive complaints will only be received sealed in writing or meeting with the Executive Director.
If any beneficiary/ complainant wish to forward a complaint directly to , he/she is free to submit a complaint through PH TRAIL’s website: www.phtrail.org/complaints
In the case of (7 – calling by phone ) :
- PH TRAIL complaint personnel will ask the complainant if s/he wishes to file a formal complaint or not, then assists the complainant in filing a complaint if s/he decides to proceed with it.
- Upon completion of the format, the person taking the information will read back verbatim/send an email/mail back to the complainant the information provided in the complaint to ensure that it precisely reflects the complaint of the complainant.
- When the complaint is properly filled in, the person who fills in the format will sign it and date it with an assertion that ”this information reflects what was communicated from the complainant party with no omissions or additions”.
- The complaint will then be sealed and passed on to the authorized staff as described above.
How do we handle received complaints:
To ensure confidentiality, only two from PH TRAIL (Executive Director and complaints personnel) are assigned until further notice to open the e-mail account/ box and answer the verbal complaints so that one or two of them can start the process of the complaint.
What to do when receiving a call complaint:
Listen or read carefully,
Emphasize with the person, and
Repeat your understanding of the situation as you wrote it down.
What NOT to do when receiving complaints:
Argue with the person,
Make assumptions without knowing the fact,
Make promises you can ’t keep, and
Ignore the problem
PH TRAIL guarantees that all complainant concerning PH TRAIL will be filed and met as a valid complaint, unless it is proven that the complaint is a false one and was meant to harm someone.
In rare cases, anonymous sensitive complaints about sexual exploitation or other major corruption/serious violation of the law, etc. cannot be investigated, unless proper documentation is available to make a proper follow-up and investigation. If the documentation is not sufficient, the complaint will be dismissed.
Steps on how to handle complaints :
- The complainant will receive an acknowledgment by email within 7-10 business days for all complaints received through our system.
- Confidentiality: Complaints classified as sensitive are handled with confidentiality. Only a very limited number of persons who need to know about the complaint, the General Director will be involved in the process when needed.
- Complaint Handling Committee: A complaint Handling Committee is activated based on needs, a Board member and any relevant project staff member can join the committee.
- Analysis/ Investigation: The committee analyses the complaints and decides on the type of complaint. Accordingly identify one or two persons to undertake further investigations. These persons will have the relevant professional and technical qualifications.
- Term of Reference: The committee will draw up a Terms of Reference (ToR) describing the rules and principles for the investigation. The principles for the investigation are based on confidentiality, objectivity, and strict reporting lines.
- Decision: The person who is in charge of the investigation will investigate under specific ToRs and report to the committee. The committee will decide the outcome of the complaint and inform the complainant about the outcome.
- Appeal: If the complainant does not accept the outcome of the complaint, s/he can appeal the outcome to the Appeals Committee in PH TRAIL. The Appeals Committee consists of The General Director of PH TRAIL and two board members.
Visibility and Access of PH TRAIL Complaints System to Partners:
- Introduce this mechanism to PH TRAIL’s team and Board.
- Produce a report with complaints received at the PH TRAIL office.
- Inform local communities about this mechanism through a small announcement using hard copy prints clarifying where to address a complaint, through the website and the social media.
Review and Evaluate the system:
- Review and evaluate the system every three years or when needed
- Review the complaints tracking system.
- Feedbacks from the field through field and monitoring visits.
Discuss the system with PH TRAIL’s board of directors
There will be two tracking systems one for Sensitive complaints (this will be a confidential system and only relevant staff will have access to it) and one for operational complaints. Both systems will have an overview on the date of receiving the complaint, the nature of the complaint, who is responsible of handling it, how was the complaint handled and what was the result of it.