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Stakeholder Engagement Guide

for the Implementation of CICs in new communities

Introduction

Humanitarian organizations and foundations that have grasped the importance of actively developing and sustaining relationships with communities and other stakeholders throughout the life of their project, and not simply during the initial feasibility and assessment phase, are reaping the benefits of improved risk management and better outcomes on the ground. As approaches to consultation and disclosure change from a short term means of meeting regulatory and donor requirements, to a longer-term, more strategic channel for relationship-building, risk mitigation, and new business identification, new approaches and forms of engagement are evolving.

This document serves as a best practice guide for implementing agencies on how to effectively engage stakeholders in the community. The guide aims to provide the reader with the good practice “essentials” for managing stakeholder relationships in a dynamic context, where unexpected events can and do occur, and facts on the ground change.

Stakeholder engagement is a continuous process between the Implementing agency and those potentially benefiting from the Implementation of Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs).

This process will span through the entire timeline of the project.

The focus of this handbook is on Stakeholder groups “external” to the core operation of the business, such as affected communities, local government authorities, non-governmental and other civil society organizations, local institutions and other interested or affected parties.

We have not addressed engagement with suppliers, contractors, distributors, or customers, because interaction with these parties is a core business function and subject to national regulations and/or established policies and procedures. The handbook is divided into two parts. Part One contains the key concepts and principles of stakeholder engagement, the practices that are known to work, and the tools to support the delivery of effective stakeholder engagement. Part Two shows how these principles, practices, and tools fit with the different phases of the project cycle, from initial concept, through program design and operations, to Implementation and/or Exit Strategy. Each of these phases presents different environmental and social risks and opportunities for the project and, as such, different practices in stakeholder engagement need to be employed and integrated into management systems at each stage.

Please note

This guide is meant as a handbook for best practices. It is essential that implementing agencies design and implement their own strategies determined by the specific geographical location in line with their specific needs and requirements. For this reason, readers are encouraged to be selective in determining which approaches and actions make the most sense in their particular context.

Key points in Stakeholder Engagement

Build Rapport

Relationship building takes time and so does gaining trust in a community. Following friendly visits to relevant stakeholders,with official introductions can help the Implementing agency build relationships based on trust and mutual respect and understanding. The initial field visits should mainly be for information gathering purposes. The visiting agents can assess culture, business activities, climatic conditions etc. This is usually best done with the help of a community leader or CIC champion. By building strong rapport with them in the beginning and engaging them in the project design, they will feel ownership of the project and that their views are important.

Engagement needs to happen at the preparedness phase

Taking a proactive approach means fighting the instinct to delay consultation because it is still early days and you don’t have all the answers yet or are worried about raising expectations. The reality, most likely, is that people’s expectations are already raised in some form or other, and that speculation about the project and the Implementing agency is beginning to circulate. Early engagement provides a valuable opportunity to influence public perception and set a positive tone with stakeholders early on. Be clear upfront that there are still many uncertainties and unknowns, and use early interactions with stakeholders as a predictor of potential issues and risks, and to help generate ideas and alternative solutions on early design questions. Don’t wait until there is a problem to engage. In the high-pressure context of getting a project up and running, interacting with stakeholders when there doesn’t seem to be any urgent need to do so can be viewed as a low priority and not a particularly good use of scarce time and resources. However, if a conflict or crisis does arise, the absence of established relationships and channels of communication puts the project at an immediate disadvantage in trying to manage the situation. First, communities and their representatives are much less likely to give an Implementing Agency they don’t know (and have not had regular contact with) the benefit of the doubt. Second, trying to initiate contact with affected stakeholders when the agency is in a reactive, defensive or crisis management mode is less than ideal, and can create lasting negative perceptions that are difficult for the agency to later overcome. Furthermore, reaching out to third parties such as local government officials or NGOs for assistance as allies or intermediaries only after a problem occurs may be more difficult due to perceived reputational risks of being associated with the agency. Engaging with stakeholders from the start – as part of your core strategy – enables a proactive cultivation of relationships that can serve as “capital” during challenging times.

Begin with the end in mind

Establishing and maintaining good relationships requires a long time-horizon. Implementing agencies who take this view tend to make different types of decisions. They invest in hiring and training community liaison staff and see the value of consistently following through on their commitments to stakeholders. They invest in translating information about their project into local languages and dialects and formats that make sense to the local population and do so on an ongoing basis. They make the effort to personalize relationships through informal and social interactions, and work through their employees to build links to local communities. They take grievances seriously and deal with them in a reliable and timely manner. They listen more and learn from the community. Their senior managers stay involved with stakeholder activities and integrate this function into their Implementation plans. Importantly, Implementing agencies that focus on lasting relationships think in terms of the bigger picture and do not allow short-term interests (such as negotiating the lowest possible compensation rates) to jeopardize their broader social license to operate in the area.

At every stage of the implementation process, the end must be in our periphery. The aim of the CICs is to have little to no external interference. Our goal is to ensure that the communities in the end do not need us at all. Having a clear exit strategy mapped out in the beginning will ensure that capacity building is taking place to enable and empower the community to thrive independently.

Community Owned Programming

Implementing agencies need to be prepared for the fact that they are entering into a pre-existing yet dynamic context, with established histories and cultures, and often complex political, social, and economic relations between groups that can be thrown into flux by the advent of a project and the development process that accompanies it. In other words, stakeholder relations can become politicized and complicated, and can lead to or exacerbate conflicts and other unanticipated outcomes. There is no easy formula for addressing these challenges, except to try to manage the process proactively and by adapting some of the established good practice approaches and principles described in this handbook to fit your own local context.

By having relationships with local leaders, agencies can have a guide to the local cultures, politics, religion and customs and can ensure that the program is respectful and sensitive to it.

Part One: Principles in Stakeholder Engagement

This section presents a series of definitions, concepts and good practice principles for stakeholder engagement that are generally applicable across the range of project activities. Later, Part Two takes a closer look at how these specific practices and approaches may be most helpful during different phases of a project.

Who are stakeholders?

Stakeholders are persons or groups who are directly or indirectly affected by a project, as well as those who may have interests in a project and/or the ability to influence its outcome, either positively or negatively. Stakeholders may include locally affected communities or individuals and their formal and informal representatives, national or local government authorities, politicians, religious leaders, civil society organizations and groups with special interests, the academic community, or other businesses.

The “stake” that each of these different individuals or groups has in a project or investment will vary. There are those with great influence over the project and others active in the local community. There are also stakeholders who, because of their knowledge or stature, can contribute positively to the project, for example, by acting as mediator when disputes arise.

Effective Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement encompasses a range of activities and processes that the Implementing Agency must participate in for the term of the project. They can be divided into the 8 steps shown below

  1. Stakeholder Identification and Analysis
  2. Information Disclosure
  3. Stakeholder Consultation
  4. Negotiation and Partnerships
  5. Grievance Management
  6. Stakeholder Involvement in Project Monitoring
  7. Reporting to Stakeholders
  8. Management Functions

1.Stakeholder Identification and Analysis

Ensure that the right stakeholders are engaged in the project design process and that their concerns, contributions and questions are addressed effectively. Their needs should be identified and analyzed so as to have them onboard with the intervention.

2. Information Disclosure

Communicate information to stakeholders in ways that are meaningful and accessible in the early stages of the decision making process. Stakeholders should have privy to information about the implementation, timeline, performance etc. This communication process should continue throughout the project life cycle. Good practice involves taking steps to increase transparency and accountability as a means of promoting understanding about your project and engendering public trust.

3. Stakeholder Consultation

Invest time in identifying and prioritizing stakeholders and assessing their needs and concerns. This should happen at the grassroots level and should be an inclusive process (PWDs, women and other marginalized stakeholders)

4. Negotiation and Partnerships

For controversial issues, enter into amicable negotiations that satisfy the interest of all parties. Add value to impact mitigation or project benefits by forming strategic partnerships. These can be formed with local businesses or vendors or local governmental bodies e.g. local flour mill

5. Grievance Management

Create safe and accessible mechanisms to enable complaint management throughout the project lifecycle. The use of local mediators e.g. local chiefs for conflict resolution is also a plus.

6. Stakeholder involvement in Project Monitoring

By ensuring the above mechanisms are secure and effective, the community will be able to actively participate in project monitoring and management, giving them a sense of ownership to the intervention.

7. Reporting to stakeholders

Report meaningful information back to the stakeholders on environmental, social and economic performance. This can be done through reports, pictures, videos and articles presented to relevant stakeholders. Not only will this show them the direct impact, it will also make them feel like a relevant part of the project.

8. Management Functions

Build and maintain sufficient capacity in the Implementing agency to manage processes of stakeholder engagement, track commitments and deliver reports.

Part Two: Best Practices and Approaches

This part will dive into the industry best standards based on evidence.

Program Design

The key to this stage is early engagement and risk identification. Consultation with stakeholders at the program design stage should therefore be highly selective and targeted.Engaging stakeholder groups early in relation to these strategic decisions and alternatives can help to avoid project opposition and other reputational risks, expensive re-design, and compensation payments. It can also increase the chances that local stakeholders will align with you around the value proposition of the project. Moreover, early engagement may provide valuable opportunities to align the employment, training, infrastructure, and service demands of the project with the related plans and priorities of government agencies and local communities.

BEST PRACTICES

  1. Refer to any past stakeholder information and consultation.
  2. Disclose and consult selectively in the very early stages.
  3. Disclose information on alternatives and design or location options.
  4. Where possible, engage with government during strategic planning.
  5. Review adequacy of any existing grievance procedures.
  6. Review potential legal, regulatory, and lender requirements for stakeholder engagement.
  7. Ensure that any project risk analysis includes stakeholder issues.
  8. For complex projects, consider forming a stakeholders’ planning forum.

Feasibility studies

The most intense period of planned stakeholder engagement will likely take place during the project feasibility studies.The essential elements of stakeholder engagement at the time of project feasibility are:

• Forward planning the engagement as one would any complex activity, with a schedule and sufficient staff with the right capabilities

• Focusing principal efforts on those stakeholders most affected by the project, whether because of proximity or vulnerability to change

• Demonstrating that people’s opinions and ideas are receiving serious consideration, whether by “designing-out” identified risks, “designing-in” additional local economic or social benefits, or incorporating the views of stakeholders in testing the feasibility of various design and risk management options

BEST PRACTICES

  1. Systematically identify project stakeholders and their interests \ Review regulatory and financing requirements for stakeholder engagement on projects.
  2. Involve stakeholders in the “scoping” phase of feasibility studies.
  3. Seek input from stakeholders on how they wish to be consulted.
  4. Prepare a stakeholder engagement plan commensurate with project impacts.
  5. Provide information ahead of consultations on environmental and social impacts.
  6. Use consultation to enhance mitigation and agree compensation and benefits.
  7. Maintain involvement with government-led consultation.
  8. Gauge the level of stakeholder support for your project.
  9. Facilitate access to community liaison staff.
  10. Report changes in the evolving project design to stakeholders on a regular basis.
  11. Document the process and results of consultation.

Operations

Engagement with external stakeholders should be considered an integral component of operations management, whether this be day-to-day operational activities, periodic programs, or in emergency situations. Depending on the nature and scale of the project, stakeholder engagement may be relevant to the performance of a range of departments and functions within the company and should be integrated into existing systems, including health and safety, environmental management, procurement and contractor management, logistics management, site or plant inspections and audits, external communications, security considerations, and project risk management.

BEST PRACTICES

  1. Periodically review and update your stakeholder information.
  2. Consider ways to assess stakeholder perceptions.
  3. Continue to disclose, consult, and report to stakeholders as needed.
  4. Ensure integration of ongoing stakeholder commitments into operations management systems.
  5. Communicate emergency preparedness and response plans on a regular basis.
  6. Keep your grievance mechanism operational.
  7. Consider establishing a participatory or third-party monitoring program.
  8. For controversial projects, consider establishing an independent monitoring panel.

Example Stakeholder List

Before research in the community can be carried out, there is an essential need to engage the local government and essential stakeholders in the discussion about CICs.

In the example of Kenya, a village chief and DCC must always be alerted during the initial phase of Implementation.This is to be done before any community engagement can take place. This is to protect the community from fraudsters and ensure due diligence is done to protect the beneficiaries. Note that having a local Trainer of Trainers on board that knows the relevant authorities, customs and languages is wonderful to work with and assist in any meetings.

A brief introduction is given to relevant persons after an official letter is sent out to their offices asking for an audience (see below).

This list below are people who should be engaged during the preparedness phase, communities respond better to new interventions when the following people are on board:

  1. Village chief
  2. Village administrators
  3. Village Elders
  4. District County Commissioner
  5. Local religious leaders
  6. Community leaders
  7. Area MPs
  8. Governors
  9. Local businesses owners
  10. Local Industries
  11. Local Trade unions
  12. Suppliers and vendors
  13. Other Humanitarian Organizations
  14. County Government
  15. Chairpersons of local community groups
  16. Local activists
  17. Civil society groups
  18. Community Based Organizations
  19. Faith Based Organizations
  20. Women’s Representative

Vulnerable groups in the community should be identified with the help of local stakeholders. This group is necessary for CVA and other humanitarian programs.

Sample letter to local government stakeholder

From: Official Implementer Address

To: Local Government Office Position,

Location

DD-MM-YYYY

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Re: Community Inclusion Currencies

This Implementing Agency, with the assistance of county governments and other local stakeholders such as, Mosques, Churches, community chamas, schools, and individuals alike are working to create healthy and sustainable communities in the face of hard economic conditions.

Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs) can be described as vouchers created by local groups and organizations that can be used to support vulnerable households in communities. During times of crisis it helps communities support each other and maintain continued trade regardless of whether or not an individual can access local currency.

In general, the CIC program aims to empower communities to take on the responsibility for their own financial well-being and economic growth. The purpose of the training is to help communities understand the benefits and obligations of being part of the network. For instance, Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs) are a means to launch community projects, jump-start or bolster local economies, boost financial inclusion and to foster independence and sustainability of vulnerable communities.

CICs are easy to use and open to everyone as a means of offering their support to the local community by providing their goods and services for barter trade. To enroll you simply dial 38496# on your phone line.

It is in this regard that we write to your esteemed office requesting for a time to meet and ultimately authorization to continue with the implementation of community inclusion currency within District and its environs.

Thank you and we look forward to your support.

Kind regards,

Name

Program Officer

Implementing Organization


Last update: 2022-02-01
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