Internews Humanitarian Information Services Learning Collection
Publication Date

This Listening Groups Module contains the collective knowledge of the Internews South Sudan team gained over three years’ experience managing more than 700 Listening Groups across the country. This resource forms part of the Internews Humanitarian Information Services (HIS) Learning Collection, which communicates key lessons, best practices, and programmatic methodologies used by Internews’ humanitarian teams around the world (see Related Summaries below for other guides in this series).

Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in late 2013, Internews has been working in the country to serve the information needs of the population through a series of activities. These include the production and dissemination of news and information services; the distribution of wind-up solar powered radio sets, and setting up listening groups.

As explained in the guide, “[W]ithin the international development and humanitarian sectors, there has been a growing call for better Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP), Communicating with Communities (CwC), and using feedback and “real-time” Monitoring and Evaluation to improve programming and outcomes for affected populations…Through the use of Listening Groups in South Sudan, Internews’ Humanitarian Information Services (HIS) programs have found a platform for putting these principles into practice. Listening Groups meet regularly to listen to audio programming, review awareness campaigns, discuss issues and challenges facing their communities, and provide valuable feedback to the HIS and to humanitarian agencies. HIS teams analyze feedback from the Listening Groups to better understand evolving information needs, adapt HIS programs, and deliver feedback to relevant humanitarian agencies regarding their programs and services. The Groups have become a valuable tool for two-way conversations with communities, promoting accountability within the humanitarian sector, and continually adapting and improving programs.

These Listening Groups are more than just a series of focus groups sessions held over time. Through participation in the groups, members build a relationship and trust between each other, the HIS, and with humanitarian organizations in the area. The groups cultivate a sense of community ownership, engagement, and participation, which is not only critical to efficient and effective program delivery but promotes a sense of resilience in the midst of a crisis.”

The three parts of the Module give readers a holistic understanding of Listening Group projects in South Sudan, and what the Internews HIS team has learned over three years of implementation. The resource contains the following three parts:

Part I. Context - describes the information and media landscape in South Sudan, and the value of Listening Groups as a tool for communicating with communities, accountability, and adaptive programming.

Part II. Case Study - discusses the implementation of Listening Groups to gather feedback on HIS programs in Juba and Malakal, as well as the Listening Groups organized in Abyei to support Internews’ news and information project in the area. The case studies also cover challenges and lessons learned in order to offer recommendations for future Listening Group activities.

Part III. How To Guide - provides a step-by-step methodology for establishing, facilitating, and monitoring a Listening Group in any location. It also includes a description of the feedback collection process.

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Internews website on September 19 2017.