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WWF Namibia Grievance Process


This Grievance process document covers WWF Namibia’s in-country work, particularly for our two major programme areas – Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and Wildlife Crime. In both programmes, WWF works primarily through implementing partners (i.e., providing grants and / or technical advice to partners who render technical support services).  Our technical support to our partners reaches 86 conservancies to varying degrees, across the country, including 42 in the northwest part of the country and 21 in the northeast part of the country. The Wildlife Crime programme also works at both the national level and at the field level and is also aimed at strengthening institutional capacity and coordination among all stakeholders contributing to wildlife crime prevention. 
WWF has been operational in the Namibia landscape since 1993 and because our focus has been on CBNRM, we have a long, well entrenched partnership engagement process that promotes community empowerment and trust. Over the years we have shown strong empathy with communities, sensitive to their needs, aware of the importance of open, transparent communication, and facilitating their ability to secure rights and opportunities in the conservation arena across the Namibian landscape. Ensuring the programme’s continuing success will therefore require the careful management of an array of concerns, interests, priorities, and expectations.
In line with best practice, WWF Namibia has developed this grievance mechanism to ensure that members of communities affected by our project(s) activities within country are able to freely channel their concerns, issues or claims through a complaint process. WWF Namibia works within the limits of the Namibian government national legislation. Furthermore, WWF Namibia is legally associated with WWF-US and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism.
Any person or group[1] who is affected by project activities has a right to raise a grievance and the project proponent has the responsibility to respond within a reasonable time period. In practice, the processes and structures of any grievance mechanism will form part of an ongoing community engagement strategy, with regular communication and feedback between project staff and community members[2].

Box 1. Definitions used
A grievance is an issue, concern, problem, or claim (perceived or actual) that an individual or community group wants relevant duty bearers to address and resolve.
Grievance Focal Point is a dedicate staff member at WWF Namibia office designated to manage the grievance mechanism. 
Grievant refers to a person who submits a grievance for resolution through a grievance procedure and especially for arbitration. 
A programme-level grievance mechanism is a process for programme proponents to receive, review and address affected communities’ and individual concerns and complaints arising from the implementation of project activities.
Guiding Principles
The development of the grievance mechanism is based upon a set of principles (see Box 2) and will be reviewed and updated in consultation with stakeholders. It is essential that community members understand and have confidence in the grievance mechanism.
WWF takes all grievances seriously and is committed to providing responses and resolving all grievances and conflicts in a timely manner. More complex grievances may require more time to resolve, but the process will be initiated and the steps to be taken will be communicated to the grievant.
Preventative mechanisms for avoiding the incidence of grievances arising in the first place, or addressing them in real time at the lowest level, are a key component in the learning and adapting part of the programme. This includes, for example, continuous dialogue and periodic meetings with stakeholders at all levels of engagement (from elected government representatives, local communities, local authorities, and partner organisations). Such meetings aim to facilitate communication, ensure consultation and transparency, and reduce the potential for misunderstanding and grievances.
Box 2. Guiding principles for the handling of grievances

The following guiding principles apply:
  • Trust
    • Grievances will be acknowledged and handled in a prompt and efficient manner.
    • Confidentiality related to the grievant will be maintained.
  • Transparency
    • The process of lodging and handling grievances will be made clear to all project participants, especially what constitutes a grievance, right to raise grievances, methods for raising grievances, how complaints are handled and responded too and timeframes.
  • Accessibility
    • Verbal, written and anonymous complaints will be accepted via phone call, written message or in person.
    • Available to all stakeholders regardless of location within the programme area, language, socioeconomic position, gender, age, and literacy level.
  • Fairness and impartiality
    • Grievances will be treated respectfully whether it is felt the complaint is justified or not.
    • Grievances will be treated in an objective manner, with both process and outcomes considered equally important.
  • Accountability
    • A grievance will be handled by the WWF Namibia office designate responsible for the activity (inclusive of transboundary activities) in question.
    • A grievance against WWF Namibia, should be understood as against WWF as an organisation and thus addressed in a collective and coordinated manner.
  • Continuous learning
    • Lessons learned and how addressed will be shared to improve WWF’s accountability and responsibility for its actions.


  1. Eligibility: Who can make a complaint?
Any community, group, or person who believes it is or may be negatively affected by WWF Namibia’s failure to follow its Social Policies and Safeguards in the design or implementation of a WWF Namibia project activity that is implemented by WWF Namibia or one of its partners is considered an “Affected Party”.  Any Affected Party may file a complaint. Representatives filing a complaint on behalf of an Affected Party must provide concrete evidence of authority to represent them.
Given that this project complaints resolution process is oriented towards direct dialogue and engagement among all parties in the spirit of joint resolution of grievances, anonymous complaints are discouraged, though confidentiality will be upheld as agreed. There is a risk that confidentiality may limit efforts to resolve complaints, and complainants will be informed if confidentiality is impeding the process.
  1. WWF Network’s Environmental and Social Safeguards and Policies
  2. Lodging a grievance that is related to WWF Namibia project activities
Grievances against activities undertaken in Namibia can be lodged through the following channels:
  1. Grievance Filing Process
Each grievance lodged should include, to the best extent possible, the following information:
  • Complainant’s name and contact information.
  • If not filed directly by the complainant, proof that those representing the affected people have authority to do so.
  • The specific project or program of concern including the location.
  • The harm that is or may be resulting from the complaint.
  • The relevant WWF social policy provision (if known).
  • Any other relevant information or documents (e.g., date of event).
  • Any actions taken so far (if any) to resolve the problem, including contact with WWF.
  • Proposed solution.
  • Whether confidentiality is requested (stating the reason).
  1. Grievance Review Process
Step 1.  The WWF Namibia Project Complaints Team will assess the eligibility of the complaint and provide a response as to whether or not it is eligible, in accordance with the above requested information (10 business days after receiving the complaint).

Step 2.1.  If the complaint is eligible, the Project Complaints Team will come up with a plan and define a timeframe to investigate the complaint. The team will then communicate this information to the Affected Party (10 business days after Step 1 is finalized).

Step 2.2.  If the complaint is not eligible but does raise concerns, then the Project Complaint Team will refer the complaint to the right staff member or third party to follow up.

Step 3. The team will then investigate the matter, with additional technical support as needed, including support from the field partners. Based on the results, the team will then work with the affected parties to develop and implement an action plan and timeframe of steps required to resolve any issues identified.

Step 4. A summary of the complaint raised, actions taken, conclusions reached, follow up plan and timeframe for completion will be documented and communicated as agreed between the parties. WWF will facilitate support to further clarify, assess, and resolve issues raised as needed including, if appropriate, engaging input from outside experts.

The Grievance log and copies of all files and communications will be maintained by the WWF Namibia Grievance Focal Point. All grievances will be logged, acknowledged, handled, and closed as standard procedure.
  1. Handling and resolving a grievance
The Grievance Focal Point will be responsible for handling and resolving grievances, with the support from members of the WWF Namibia Complaint Team and the respective Programme/Project Leader.
  1. WWF Namibia Project Complaints Team Members
  1. Director, CBNRM Governance Programme
  2. Director, CBNRM and Business Programme
  3. Director, Wildlife Programme
  4. KAZA Programme Lead
  5. ESSF Coordinator
  1. Non-Retaliation
WWF Namibia strongly disapproves of and will not tolerate any form of retaliation against those who report complaints in good faith. Any WWF Namibia employee who engages in such retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. WWF Namibia will take all feasible actions to protect complainants against retaliation. Anyone who has made a report of suspicious conduct of a WWF Namibia employee and who subsequently believes he or she has been subjected to retaliation of any kind should immediately report it by the same channels as noted herein.  

[1] A group is considered to be 2 or more people, or could be an individual who is duly authorised by a group to act on their behalf. An individual could also be acting on his own behalf and interests.
[2] Fauna & Flora International (2014). Grievance Mechanisms. Lessons Learned from REDD+ and other conservation strategies. UK.