Grievance redress

ID systems require grievance redress mechanisms and infrastructure (e.g. a customer care department) through which individuals can file complaints about any aspect of the identity lifecycle. Potential grievances might include:

  • Errors or misspellings in biographic information (e.g., name, address, etc.)

  • Inability to enroll in the ID system (e.g., due to biometrics, lack of supporting documents, etc.)

  • Frequent authentication failures (e.g., a high biometric FNMR)

  • Mistreatment by registration agents

  • Long waiting times for registration or authentication that create an undue burden

  • Credentials are not available within the pre-specified time period (e.g., long wait time for ID card)

  • Identity theft

  • Lack of accessibility and accommodations at enrollment centers

  • Unauthorized access or misuse of personal data

Grievance redress should be available through multiple channels, such as:

  • In person (at registration points or other service centers)

  • in writing

  • By phone or SMS

  • Online via websites, apps, email and social media

These channels should be supported by robust back-end systems to manage a call center and to keep track of grievances and the amount of time taken to resolve them. Service standards should be set and publicized to let people know how quickly their issue will be resolved and provide for measuring the effectiveness of the grievance redress mechanism. For this, significant budget needs to be set aside for properly staffing hotlines with enough operators and sufficient linguistic diversity, for procuring the necessary IT systems, etc.

Box 17. Examples of grievance redress mechanisms

To improve accountability to the beneficiaries of its in-kind and cash transfer programs, the World Food Program (WFP) uses call centers (phone lines) to field complaints and feedback and to conduct surveys. These centers are managed by professionally trained operators and include interactive voice response/recording (IVR) provides pre-recorded, interactive support for beneficiaries outside of working hours.

In Somalia, for example, the number for the call center is printed on the cards used for beneficiary identification and displayed on posters in places served by WFP. The number can be called for free from any of the mobile networks. To follow-up on the calls, WFP relies on a team of 70-80 field monitors who can visit the site where the issue was reported and help put appropriate corrective actions in place (field monitors do this in addition to their broader monitoring responsibilities).

WFP have emphasized that the real challenge is the follow-up, rather than encouraging reporting itself. They often also call the person reporting the issue back after some time to check whether it had adequately been addressed.

Source: Accountability to affected populations: Somalia Nutrition Cluster experiences and conversations with World Bank Staff.

Complaints that are unresolved through standard grievance redress mechanisms may be handled by an independent supervisory authority, often with the ultimate recourse of judicial review, as set out in the legal and regulatory framework. Potential remedies include compensation if an individual has suffered material damage from violation of privacy rights and protections. Practitioners should prepare a grievance redress plan that sets standards and—in the event that multiple actors (e.g., enrollment agents, ID authority, etc.) are involved—clearly delineates roles and responsibilities.