Feedback and the Art of Active Listening

As Strong as their Spirits

Monitoring visits with trainees in an IOM skills development programme in Rwanda’s Ngororero District revealed that many were going for long stretches of time without food. Acting on this feedback, the mission added a health and nutrition component to ensure trainees are well-nourished and able to focus on learning new trades.

Washing away Taboos

In 2016, the Marshall Islands suffered one of its worst-ever droughts— devastating communities and livelihoods across the Pacific Island nation. It was only when IOM and partners organized traditional women-only social gatherings did they learn of the drought’s impact on women’s health and hygiene and design a culturally-appropriate response.

Stay safe to Return safe

At a camp for displaced people in northern Iraq, residents drew attention to safety hazards through varied communications channels they had at their disposal. Their comments and concerns spawned an IOM safety awareness campaign and other measures aimed at improving safety and saving lives.

Preparing for a new life

Adapting to a new culture and country can be very difficult, but in Portugal, IOM resettlement staff were particularly concerned about the high level of confusion and fear that resettled refugees were experiencing after arrival. Through interviews and focus group discussions, they learned that the pre-departure orientations they had organized were not painting a realistic picture of life in Portugal for newly arrived refugees, and sought to fix that.

Training from the Heart

In an effort to make host communities more aware of the needs of vulnerable migrant populations in Tanzania, IOM conducts workshops for community members. But feedback from participants showed that key messages were not being absorbed and skills were not being applied. IOM decided to change the approach by changing the messenger.

Comfort comes with Communication

Survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) are all too often reluctant to talk about their experiences and find help. In Bangladesh, IOM is reaching out to vulnerable communities at displacement sites, and ensuring that trained and trusted female counselors are available for women who are ready to seek assistance.

Tailoring Reintegration

Regardless of how long they have been away, migrants returning home often face various challenges in rebuilding their lives, particularly those who have been victims of trafficking, have medical concerns or are single parents with limited resources. Based on participant feedback, IOM Hungary has adapted its reintegration programme to address the unique needs of vulnerable returnees.

New Pathways to Success

For years, IOM Venezuela has helped facilitate the participation of students from migrant families in the Model United Nations conference. Based on feedback and requests, the mission is now helping young migrants tap other programmes that they might otherwise have difficulty accessing.

Putting Communities in the Driver's Seat

In a small farming town in Vungu District, a newly-built schoolhouse has come to mean much more than expanded learning opportunities for local children. For proud adults in the town, it is the tangible result of what happens when they come together to tackle problems and drive positive change in their community.

Hope after Being Heard

For far too many survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, access to care, support and services has been difficult. Based on feedback and suggestions from civil society organizations, IOM Bosnia and Herzegovina sought to tackle the problem by bringing together survivors and their political representatives.

Texting Returnees

Transportation assistance is a key component of IOM return and reintegration programmes for migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin. Relaying travel details can sometimes be challenging, but recent feedback from migrants in the Netherlands has led to communication improvements and fewer missed flights.

Greenhouse of Dreams

In the Shinda Kartli region of Georgia, an IOM Social Enterprise Programme that works to foster the social integration and employment prospects of vulnerable migrants and locals has adapted its approach after feedback from innovative and motivated participants.


Collecting feedback from communities where IOM works and using it to improve the design and implementation of IOM projects is vital to providing effective services to vulnerable people and ensuring their voices and needs are at the centre of the organization`s work. Active listening, as the name suggests, is a communication technique requiring that the listener concentrate, understand, and act upon the feedback being received. Download the publication here