This assessment report on community engagement and accountability (CEA) provides an analysis of refugees and host community information needs, access to and preference in using communication channels, community structure, social cohesion and behaviour, preferred mechanism to raise concerns or share feedback and staff and volunteers’ capacities of the community centres under the TRCS Community Based Migration Programme. The Community Centres provide information on registration and services, protection-related prevention activities, psychosocial support, vocational training and livelihood activities, social and harmonisation activities, language courses and health and hygiene activities.
The assessment was conducted in six locations of five cities: Hatay, Izmir, Istanbul (Bagcilar and Sultanbeyli), Ankara and Adana. It comprised of individual surveys and focus group discussions (FGDs) with targeted communities and FGDs with Community Centre staff and volunteers. The assessment used KOBO toolbox, which is a free open-source tool for mobile data collection. The assessment targeted refugees and host communities, beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the Community Centre.
The individual survey targeted 70 individuals per location, totalling 420 individuals in six locations. There were 258 female (61%) and 162 male (39%) respondents in the survey in total. 290 (70% of the) survey respondents were refugees from Syria, and 8 (1% of the) respondents belonged to other nationalities: Iraq, Morocco, Algeria and Moldova. Remaining 122 individuals were Turkish community members.
Three FGDs with refugees (women, men and children) were conducted separately in each location targeting 10 persons in each group discussion and totalling 18 FGDs. Six FGDs were conducted with local men, women and children in Adana and Sultanbeyli,
Istanbul. The assessment was conducted between 16 April to 17 May 2018, for 4-5 days in each location.
The findings of the assessment highlight the importance of engaging with local communities in addition to the refugees and ensuring the participation of both throughout the programme cycle. Communities’ level of awareness and interaction with the TRCS Community Centre emphasises that there is room for improvement for TRCS to better communicate with communities about the services through various channels. The information needs of both local community and refugees include behavioural and protection issues, legal rights, employment and education and TRCS programmes. Around half of the respondents prefer to receive information through meeting individually or collectively at Community Centre. Other channels accessible and preferred include mobile phones, meetings at home and social media.
Around 23% of the respondents claim there are rumours within local and refugee community, which relate to cash programmes and government support to refugees, deportation, employment, travel permits and education. Rumours against refugees are often generalized by the locals creating negative perception. Although such negative perceptions among local communities are changing gradually as they interact with refugees at the centre, both local and refugee communities stress the need for developing a systematic rumour tracking mechanism to provide communities with true information.
There is not a formal community structure among the refugees in most of the areas to take collective decisions. This is largely due to their scattered living patterns.
Refugees meet or connect with each other through social media and mobile phones.
Improving the effectiveness of the advisory committee and formation of a youth club at each centre will enable communities to interact better, build relationships and be well connected. Such community structures will support community mobilisation and ensure harmony within the society. Assessment findings show local communities and refugees rate relationships with each other differently, in different cities. Overall there is need to improve the relationship among these community members through social cohesion work, given the cultural difference and language barriers.
With prevalence of child marriage and child labour, delivering key messages through appropriate channels and conducting community dialogues are key to promoting positive behaviour. The assessment shows the engagement of other stakeholders such as Imam and Muhtar are vital in the programme to ensure information sharing but also to create a platform for communities to voice their concerns to the local authority.
Peer bullying at school creates tension among refugee and local community children.
Peer bullying is one reason why children do not want to go to school. Similar to the advisory committee, a youth club at each centre, comprising children from both local and refugee community, can provide a forum to share information about the TRCS services and raise issues affecting them. The youth club can collaborate with schools to organize anti-discrimination seminars, social activities and anti-bullying campaigns for children, parents and teachers.
Finally, communities’ preferred mechanism to share complaints or feedback with TRCS include meeting its staff individually at the centre or at home, meeting collectively with others at the centre, telephone and complaints box. With no formal feedback mechanism currently, there is lack of record of community’s feedback and how they are responded by TRCS, to guide programme decisions. Hence an effective complaints response mechanism needs to be set up in all the centres.
During the FGD with refugee children in Ankara, the participation of girls was limited due to cultural issues. There have been challenges in organising FGDs with local men, as few were engaged with Community Centre work.