For fair and equitable administration of social protection programmes, GRS is considered as an important tool in many countries. The Government recognized that improvements in the administrative arrangements for the National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) will be critical to its success. Establishing good institutional arrangements for administering well-designed SSPs will also help lower leakages. NSSS identified key priority areas to address. One of these key priority areas, as mentioned in the NSSS is:
“Establishing an effective grievance redress system so that all citizens have recourse to appeal decisions on selection and can notify the competent authorities about instances of misconduct and failures in the delivery of the promised benefit.” – NSSS, CHAPTER 6, Implementation Arrangements for the National Social Security Strategy, page 74.
A workshop with GRS focal points involved in social protection implementation was held on 27 September 2018 and everyone agreed, piloting for assessment of redressal of social protection related grievances is required for effective redressal of social protection related grievances at grassroots level. In addition to written complaint, there is provision for hearing people’s complaints in person. The Cabinet Division has issued directives to all the field offices to reserve one weekday for hearing people’s complaints. In addition, there are few informal grievance redress mechanisms in place, such as, social media, phone call, and so on. The workshop identified, there is a lack of people’s awareness about these means of lodging complaints, especially when it comes to social protection related grievances. They also identified that there is a need to determine how effectively all these grievance redress mechanisms are functioning in order to ensure fair selection of beneficiaries and proper delivery of social protection benefits.
Against this backdrop, the Cabinet Division undertook a pilot initiative to test the effectiveness of different forms of grievance redress mechanisms present in the country, focusing on its readiness and effectiveness of redressing complaints related to social protection. The pilot initiative would apply interventions both at demand and supply side mainly focusing on creating mass awareness and capacity building respectively. SSPS Programme, as part of its supporting role in implementing a robust social security system and modernize the delivery system of social protection and enhance overall governance in this sector, provided support conducting the pilot.
Kurigram district was selected for the 3-month pilot because it is a poverty prone district and many social protection programmes have operations there. Additionally, e-filing system is integrated with all the offices that are under the scope of the pilot in Kurigram. The following offices were selected for the pilot initiative: Deputy Commissioner’s Office, Kurigram, Women Affairs Offices, Youth Development Department and Social Welfare Office.
The pilot initiative involved testing the effectiveness of all the existing grievance redress mechanisms present in the country and determine whether these existing grievance redress mechanisms can ensure fair selection of beneficiaries and proper delivery of social protection benefits. The modes of grievance submission were: 2nd generation Online GRS, Mobile App, Public Hearing, Hotline, Social Media, Complaint Box, Directly at Concerned Offices. It needs to be noted that the though the pilot utilized all the mechanisms for grievance redress, it would only address grievances related to social security, focusing on their readiness to redress complaints related to social protection.