Quality and Accountability
Quality and Accountability Hub

This short film marks the release of the CHS Alliance’s upcoming flagship report, the Humanitarian Accountability Report (HAR) 2020. Providing an evidence-based overview of accountability in the sector, the HAR 2020 will report on the current state of adherence to the CHS and what progress has been made meeting its Nine Commitments. Using information and data gathered from more than 90 aid organisations that have undertaken CHS verification, the report will uncover the Commitments which are being best met and where more efforts are most needed.

The HAR 2020 launches on 6 October 2020, 15:30 CEST, which is also the first day of the virtual Global CHS Exchange.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted global humanitarian and development programming. It has severely affected aid organisations’ capacity to execute field activities and track project implementation, challenges and progress.  Inaccessibility to project locations and restricted direct physical contact with communities represent significant challenges to conventional M&E operations.

Understanding community’s situation – their needs, values and problems – is essential for aid organisations to respond effectively. COVID-19 and the ‘lockdown’ restrictions imposed in response, have led to some program operations being suspended or discontinued and in this case it is critical to consider the impact of these closures on the communities. Other programs that have continued amid the pandemic, adopting new methods and modalities for implementation and it is important to understand how new way of programming are meeting communities’ needs.

The pandemic has pushed us all to reassess and prioritise the types of evidence and data we need to inform programmes and adapt Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) strategies to the new environment. To share experiences and best practices and facilitate a productive discussion on monitoring and evaluation during the pandemic, Community World Service Asia and INTRAC jointly hosted a webinar on remote monitoring in the context of COVID-19 on August 11.

Dan James, Principal Consultant and Thematic Lead at INTRAC moderated the session and was joined by speakers Dylan Diggs, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, The State Department’s Democracy (DRL), M. Said Alhudzari Bin Ibrahim, General Manager – Programme Operations, MERCY Malaysia, Jonah S. Nobleza, Program Manager, Market Development and Financial Innovations for Agriculture at ICCO Regional Office Southeast Asia & Pacific, Michael Kendagor, Coordinator Emergency Response and DRR at Church World Service and Aung Phyo Thant, MEAL Coordinator with FinChurch Aid.

For those of us working in the humanitarian and development sector, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the measures taken by our respective governments to combat the virus, have created unique challenges for programs and their functioning. The session focused particularly on how the pandemic has affected monitoring and how to effectively monitor program when access to communities and people who we are working with is restricted.

What has and has not changed with COVID-19?

There are three broad areas where challenges and changes can take place as a result of COVID-19. These include:

  1. Organisations’ ability to access communities restricted
  2. Organisations ability to carry out programmes in usual way
  3. Community needs and situation

“The lockdown measure, social distancing, the variety of interventions governments and local authorities have to make actually means that our access to communities for monitoring purposes can be limited or cut off completely in some cases, or curtailed in different ways. These restrictions, lead to changes in program delivery,” shared Dan, “The virus has also changed the needs and situations at community level. Thus, there is real need to have up-to-date information on how the situation is changing and how the communities’ needs are shifting.”

Have monitoring needs changed as a result of COVID-19?

We asked participants in a quick poll to share their top monitoring priority during the pandemic. While measuring predicted results is still a top priority (often for accountability purposes), understanding negative/unanticipated impacts on communities and questioning what else can be done to support communities are more important during the pandemic than during normal times.

There are however, some things that have not changed: the need for basic information about project and programme delivery, donor requirements for accountability data about programmes and organisational capacity for programming and M&E.

Dan reminded participants that we must “work with what we have” in terms of capacities, resources, relationships and structures as the pandemic has not given the global aid community the time to prepare and develop ideal strategies to combat the situation.

Best Practices of Remote Monitoring in the COVID-19 Context 

Working through volunteers using a HUB based approach – Mercy Malaysia

“The traditional approach where our M&E staff travelled to target areas to monitor was no longer an option due to the inter-state travelling ban. Mercy Malaysia established a complete separate COVID-19 Operations Hub whose functions included planning, verification, procurement, data consolidation and reporting,” shared M. Said.

The model Mercy Malaysia adopted for the Remote Monitoring of their project consist of the following steps.

Most of the operations of the Hub were based in Kuala Lumpur, but Mercy Malaysia handled the responses of all fourteen states of Malaysia.

Using Mobile-based Technology for Engaging Communities – ICCO

“As soon as COVID-19 induced restrictions were enforced, consortium members in Myanmar developed a business continuity plan to mitigate the risks of further delays in implementation.  We decided to customize a remote, mobile – based, methodology to conduct interviews and collect data from our target groups and beneficiaries, shared Jonah.

Digital Cash Transfer to Prevent the spread of COVID-19 – Church World Service (Africa)

As another example, Church World Service (Africa) shifted their approach to response and monitoring towards digital and virtual platforms when Kenya was affected by multiple natural disasters, conflict and eventually COVID-19. Digital cash transfer was utilized using the M-Pesa platform in partnership with the bank and mobile service provider (Safaricom).

Michael shared that CWS now has a database of program participants in the various locations which are acquired through identification and profiling. This is done through kobo tool kit that enables real time processing of data. Once cash transfer has been undertaken, the monitoring and evaluation team of the organisation conducts a post distribution assessment to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the response as well as its impact in the lives and livelihoods of the target beneficiaries.

Keeping the Hope Alive – Fin Church Aid

“As a result of COVID-19, children were forced to stay at home as schools were shut down amid coronavirus. In Fin Church Aid, we wanted to learn the psychological well-being of children, staying at home. To assess this situation, we conducted assessments using the online data tools, which allowed us to reach to respondents without in-person contact during this pandemic. We conducted assessments via Kobo Toolbox[1]  and mobile phones,” shared Aung.

US State Departments Democracy Rights and Labor Division

Dylan Diggs, from US State Departments Democracy Rights and Labor division shared thoughts about working with donors on adapting M&E. DRL provides M&E assistance to grantees throughout the life cycle of the program.

“Even before COVID-19, we have had a flexible approach to M&E. We believe that our implementers know best. This doesn’t mean that we expect everyone to be an M&E expert. But, we do believe that M&E can be done by qualified internal evaluators and program staff that are interested in using M&E principles for logical program design and evaluation,” said Dylan.

Dylan highlighted four important considerations to adapting M&E during the current pandemic.

Assess Plans & Approaches: Encourage organizations to rethink M&E plans and review anticipated results

Adjust your M&E approaches and methods: Update your M&E to the new environment while reviewing indicators and consulting beneficiaries on contingency plans

Adapt Your Operations: Communications Methods are changing by adopting digital methods, phone interviews and monitoring with photographic and video evidence

Do No Harm: This comes in play in digital protection and in-person approaches including use of Personal Protective Equipment and maintaining social distancing

Participants’ Thoughts

Towards the end of the webinar, participants raised questions regarding verification being applied by different entities. M. Said responded,

Yes we do. Besides verification through other than the requesting party, we do have a local government agency, in Malaysia’s case the Welfare Department, who has data on vulnerable communities as well. However, they are not the only source of information for us.”

Another participant queried on how to monitor the progress or activities in remote settings where there is no access to any kind of communication modes. M. Said answered,

“Simplify the process and empower the local community to participate in monitoring. It is essential to know that programmes are more effective with community involvement.”

Participants highlighted data as the most frequently term used during sessions. They questioned if there is a healthy tension between data and people, in terms of their current contextual realities. Dan answered by saying,

“Definitely – our view is that monitoring needs to prioritise people. There is a need to review – perhaps from scratch – the kinds of data we are looking for to ensure monitoring activities are both low risk and have benefits for people.”

A total of 73% of the webinar participants found learning practical methods for remote monitoring as the most interesting discussion point. However, they raised questions on How organisations can ensure fair and unbiased remote assessments with only identified community members interviewed rather than a random selection?  To this, the facilitators responded,

“We collaborated with communities and local organizations actively to ensure that assessment is not biased. In addition, we involved religious leaders who tend to be influential people within communities but that did not restrict us from communicating with the communities directly. It is essential to involve local NGOs as they have direct interaction with the communities and therefore they are able to assist effectively and identify affected populations who are in dire need of assistance.”


[1] KoBoToolbox is a free toolkit for collecting and managing data in challenging environments and is the most widely-used tool in humanitarian emergencies.

2020Wed19Aug11:00 AM1:00 PMFeaturedE-Training: Performance Management and Staff Well-Being in a Remote Management Context11:00 AM - 1:00 PM Theme:Quality and Accountability,COVID-19Type:TrainingRegister here

 

  • Are NPOs in your country unable to register with ease?
  • Is your NPO perceived as being risky for terror financing?
  • Are your day-to-day operations hampered?
  • Are your bank transfers delayed or blocked?

These questions were raised to an expert panel at Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) and Human Security Collective’s (HSC) a webinar on June 25th that focused on highlighting the challenges, good practices and policy response to new money laundering and terrorist financing threats and vulnerabilities arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

Karen Janjua, Deputy Regional Director, CWSA & ACT Alliance Board member, and Lia van Broekhoven, Co-founder and Executive Director of Human Security Collective, The Hague, facilitated and presented at the 90 minutes webinar.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was originally setup to tackle financial crime, especially money laundering in the late 80s. However, after the tragic event of 9/11, it took on the anti-terror financing role and took it on in a big way. The connections between the criminality on a broader scale and terrorism came much more to the forefront and started being highlighted by both law enforcement and financial institutions.

FATF sets the international standards in preventing, eliminating and responding to money laundering and terror finance, both within countries and across borders. It has created 40 technical and 11 effectiveness standards that countries are expected to adhere to. While these global standards or recommendations are meant to both thwart and discourage criminals and terrorists, the intergovernmental FATF body also holds countries accountable for ensuring that they are implemented.

“When a country is assessed and it is not meeting all the standards, many consider the government as not a reliable member of the international community. Consequently, the FATF urges the country to work on improving itself and complying with the standards accordingly,” Karen informed participants.

FATF & NGOs – In what ways can NGOs be abused?

“A terrorist organisation can impersonate a good Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and act as legitimate entities. Moreover, they could also infiltrate a reputable NGO and exploit their financial systems. The funds can be hidden to utilize them later as parking lots,” expressed Karen,


“If you are adopting best practices in your accounting, finances and procurement tasks, you are less likely to face any criminal activity, whether it be embezzlement or terror finance.”

Outcome 10 of the FATF Standard is coupled with Recommendation 8 of the FATF’s 40 recommendations. Recommendation number 8 pertains specifically to nonprofit organisations (NPOs). The revised Recommendation now states that:

  • Countries should review the adequacy of laws and regulations that relate to non-profit organisations which the country has identified as being vulnerable to terrorist financing abuse. Countries should apply focused and proportionate measures, in line with the risk-based approach, to such non-profit organisations to protect them from terrorist financing abuse, including:
  1. by terrorist organisations posing as legitimate entities;
  2. by exploiting legitimate entities as conduits for terrorist financing, including for the purpose of escaping asset-freezing measures; and
  3. by concealing or obscuring the clandestine diversion of funds intended for legitimate purposes to terrorist organisations.

Although many countries have pursued initiatives to counter terrorism funding by multilateral legislative structures such as the FATF, steps such as the Recommendation 8 have had unexpected implications for non-profit organisations (NPOs). The strong requirement to control the sector as a whole for greater efficiency and accountability has contributed to the following:

  • increasing surveillance and state regulation
  • for obtaining and sharing financial services for growth and humanitarian relief, human rights and development work
  • the creation of onerous and restrictive laws, rules and regulations for the sector
  • the cutting-back, in general, of the field of civil society, with Recommendation 8 improving the instruments already in use by the government, such as counter-terrorism laws and regulations, to overregulate civil society

Pakistan Outreach by NPOs to government – the Role of CWSA

As a nationally registered NGO, with over 50 years of experience and presence in the region, CWSA felt the need to do something to respond to these issues. An approach that included adoption of various advocacy activities, conducting awareness and participatory training sessions was developed and implemented by CWSA. In addition, as an organisation they garnered support from international stakeholders and partners to learn from best experiences.

CWSA advocated with government officials, parliamentarians and the diplomatic community. Lobbying activities were organised with the European Union and detailed lobby meeting were held with British Parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), to advocate for technical assistance for Pakistan to better deal with the issues of terror financing and money laundering.

The trainings have helped national bureaucrats, particularly from the provincial Social Welfare Department and Counter Terrorism Department, responsible for implementing new regulations in provinces, to better manage the NGOs for which they are responsible.

“We also participated in international events and subsequently got involved in collective action in conducting awareness sessions among NGOs throughout 2018 and 2019,” narrated Karen.

COVID-19 and FATF

The global pandemic, along with all its other adverse implications on human life,  has also led to an increase in crimes, including fraud, cybercrime, misdirection or exploitation of government funds or international financial assistance, which is creating new sources of proceeds for illicit actors.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on June 22nd outlined concerns and challenges linked to the pandemic’s effect on financial crime in a guidance paper summarising recommendations and other input from member-states and law enforcement agencies all over the world. COVID-19, they said, has created new sources of income for illicit actors, including the misappropriation of funds intended for pandemic-related financial assistance.

Lia van Broekhoven shared a statement released by the FATF at the start of the pandemic, which says: This global public health emergency has highlighted the vital work of charities and non-profit organizations (NPOs) to combat COVID-19 and its effects. The FATF has long recognized the vital importance of NPOs in providing crucial charitable services around the world, as well as the difficulties in providing that assistance to those in need. The FATF has worked closely with NPOs over the years to refine the FATF Standards to provide flexibility to ensure that charitable donations and activity can proceed expeditiously through legitimate and transparent channels and without disruption.

It is important to recognize that FATF Standards do not require that all NPOs be considered high-risk and that most NPOs carry little or no TF risk. The aim of the FATF Standards is not to prevent all financial transactions with jurisdictions where there may be high ML/TF risks, but rather to ensure these are done through legitimate and transparent channels and money reaches its legitimate intended recipient. National authorities and financial institutions should apply a risk-based approach to ensure that legitimate NPO activity is not unnecessarily delayed, disrupted or discouraged. FATF encourages countries to work with relevant NPOs to ensure that much needed aid is getting to its intended recipients in a transparent manner.

However, what do we see happening in reality?

COVID 19 exacerbates already existing challenges stemming from the interpretation by governments and banks of the FATF standards.

“We have been discussing various instances that have occurred since the offset of the COVID pandemic. In one case, 90% of the bank transfers especially to Syria of an international humanitarian organization were blocked by banks. The banks mentioned that the FATF standards and US and UN sanctions were the reason they were the victims of risk aversion to transferring money to countries like Syria and others that the bank considered to be high risk. We also see that donors want NPOs to vet against Counter terrorist lists and perform “Know Your Client” due diligence (KYC) on beneficiaries which would be in total contravention of humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality, partiality and humanity,” narrated Lia.

How can we as humanitarian practitioners, work together, to make good use of the FATF statement?

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    Engagement: Continuous engagement is key. This applies to both NPOs as well as to governments and FATF Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs). NPOs should engage with relevant government departments and the financial intelligence unit. It is useful for all if there is an NPO umbrella body or coalition working on the issue
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    Coalition & Dissemination: At the national level, coalitions should consider existing regulations and legislation relevant to FATF standards. It may further examine self-regulatory measures and the effectiveness of risk-setting and financing abuses for NGOs
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    Risk Assessment & Outreach: FATF puts a lot of emphasis on risk assessment conducted by relevant governments in collaboration with the sectors that fall under the standards of the FATF. The government needs to monitor how the evaluators come in and how they have done a risk assessment of the NGO sector. Ideally, the government needs to reach out to the NGO sector in order to conduct the risk assessment
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    Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue: NGOs can organise multi-stakeholder dialogue in the country in collaboration with Ministry of Finance, who is the regulator of the banking and financial institutions, Banking associations, Ministry of Justice and Financial Intelligence Units in the country
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    Multilateral Advocacy: Global NGO members are engaged and are very much present in multilateral advocacy. We have four seats for NGOs on the Private Sector Consultative Forum, a platform to discuss the issues we as NGOs are facing because of the FATF standards and how they are implemented across the world
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    Awareness Raising: It is essential to engage in raising awareness among NPOs on the drivers behind AML/CFT[1] regulations, on compliance requirements and on advocacy strategies. The Global NPO Coalition offers guidance, best practice examples, engagement strategies from its official webpage

Useful Resources:


[1] Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism

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Facilitated by Karen Janjua and Lia van Broekhoven

When: June 25, 2020
What time: 2:00 PM Pakistan Standard Time
Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared
Language: English
How long: 90 minutes
Format: Presentation & Discussion
Who is it for: Humanitarian and development practitioners who wish to learn more about the impact of counter-terror regulations and policies on their operating environment; including, their capacities to respond to COVID-19?

Speakers: Karen Janjua, Community World Service Asia (CWSA); Lia van Broekhoven, Human Security Collective (HSC)

Purpose:

As a non-profit organization (NPO), explore the impacts of Terror Finance regulations at national and international levels:

  • Is your NGO unable to register with ease?
  • Is your NGO perceived as being “at risk” of being used as a conduit for terrorism financing?
  • Are your day-to-day operations hampered?
  • Are your bank transfers delayed or blocked?

This webinar will help explore:

  • The drivers behind some of the issues you might be facing, which stem from the counter-terrorism and the architecture which countries have constructed countering the financing of terrorism (CFT)
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its standards on anti-money-laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT)
  • The impact of the FATF standards on NPOs, including the unintended consequences
  • How to mitigate the unintended consequences and advocate for a proportional, effective and risk-based approach which does not impede charitable activity in any way (based on country case studies and examples)
  • How the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the already challenging situation

Background

Community World Service Asia and Human Security Collective (HSC) are jointly hosting this webinar on FATF and COVID-19 on June 25th, 2020.

National and international efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, including the policies and regulations formulated at the supra-national level, have had negative consequences on the operational environment of civil society organizations worldwide.  A one-size-fits-all approach to regulations, instead of a risk-based and proportionate implementation of the rules has resulted in humanitarian and development activity being hampered via administrative and financial channels. The Global Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) Coalition on the FATF, of which HSC is co-chair and CWSA a member, has been working for many years on revising the standards and on their effective implementation.

This webinar will outline the standards and detail their impacts, chief among which is the financial exclusion of NPOs. It will then discuss the advocacy that led to important changes in the standards, as well as the ongoing engagements at both international and national levels on issues such as Risk Assessments of the NPO sector and financial inclusion. Country case studies will further illustrate these engagement strategies.

The webinar will aim to deepen an understanding of the structural nature of the drivers of some of the shrinking civic space issues that NPOs face as well as provide engagement and advocacy avenues that are working to alleviate the negative regulatory impacts, going forward. Given that the COVID-19 crisis is only exacerbating some of these challenges, and at a time when humanitarian need is at its peak, it is important to leverage this understanding into mitigating action.

This 90-minute webinar will also be an opportunity to learn from participants on whether they recognize some of the issues outlined and to share best practice, engagement and advocacy strategies tailored for their contexts.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organization, registered in Pakistan, head-quartered in Karachi and implementing initiatives throughout Asia. CWSA is a member of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance and a Sphere regional partner.

Human Security Collective (HSC) is a foundation based in The Hague working on issues of development, security and the involvement of citizens in their communities and societies. We believe that the idea of Human Security with its focus on people, relationships and human rights provides an organizing frame for action. Based on the elements of trust-creation, local ownership, empowerment and collective action, we facilitate conversation between civil society, policy shapers and other actors to promote alternative approaches to current security practice.

Applicants will be informed by 20th June 2020 about their confirmation status. Up to 200 participants will be accommodated on a first come first serve basis. We would appreciate anyone willing to share some best practices on the topic under discussion.

Moderator & Facilitator:

Deputy Regional Director at CWSA and a Board member of ACT Alliance

Karen Janjua

Karen is a Deputy Regional Director at CWSA and a Board member of ACT Alliance.   She has worked extensively with civil society organizations, International organizations and governments across the globe on post-crisis recovery, governance, human rights and democratization. Since 2017, she has focused on civil society sustainability; particularly, engagement with government entities and NGOs in Pakistan to build awareness around the unintended consequences of CFT/AML regulations.

Speaker

Co-founder and Executive Director of Human Security Collective

Lia van Broekhoven

Lia is the co-founder and Executive Director of Human Security Collective based in The Hague. She is co-chair of a Global Coalition of Nonprofit organization that engages with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global standard-setter on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Measures to ensure that governments apply the FATF standards adequately and proportionally in relation to terrorism financing risks to avoid negative impacts on civil society.

Photo Credit : DFID – UK

This is a real opportunity to discuss localisation. For many years, local actors have been the first respondents and it is very important in this current pandemic that we now focus on what the key role of local actors is? What have they contributed? How do we go forward from here?

Smruti Patel, Founder and Co-Director of The Global Mentoring Initiatives in Switzerland raised these questions while moderating the webinar on ‘Localisation during COVID-19’ on June 2. Jointly hosted and organised by Community World Service Asia and the Alliance for Empowering Partnerships (A4EP), the 90-minute webinar provided participants a platform to exchange and discuss experiences on how localisation is progressing in the different regions, the challenges it has encountered so far and the way forward to effectively implement it.

Dr. Marie-Noëlle AbiYaghi, Director Lebanon Support, Beirut and Naomi Tulay-Solanke, Founder Executive Director, Community Health Initiative (CHI), Liberia, joined Smruti Patel as speakers in the webinar.

Participants from across the world shared best practices on how they have taken into account the current crisis, including collaborating and advocating for localisation on a national, regional and international level. Forty percent of the participants represented local and national organizations.

A Unique Challenging Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has become the greatest public health issue of our times and is defining the global health crisis today. In comparison to the loss of life and the destruction to millions of families, economic harm from the crisis is now substantial and far-reaching.

The COVID-19 Crisis Response and the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) offer incentives to drive momentum on the Grand Bargain commitments and address structural inequities. State and regional civil society organisations have a vital position to play and have been at the center of the response to COVID-19.

We have seen unparalleled support from local organisations, including the response to delivering awareness to their neighbourhoods, supplying food and hygiene kits along with addressing certain core needs. They were at the forefront of the first response. Some have brought these initiatives to their own sponsorship through collecting funds by community members, residents and joint activities, said Smruti.

Regarding constraints on movement and mobility, local and national humanitarian actors are on the forefront of the COVID-19 response, working in places where the risks are highest. Through this response, there has been a significant shift of operational burden to local and national players, in comparison to the normal ‘upsurge’ of international workers in reaction to the crisis. These discussions aimed to capture the views of local and national NGOs and the recommendations from the discussions will contribute to the GHRP revision progress, which takes place after every six weeks.

In 2017, a research of Global Mentoring Initiatives with the START Network developed the seven dimensions of Localisation Framework by engaging local, national and international organisations in discussions highlighting the significant aspects to make localisation successful.

The framework takes a deeper and more critical view of localisation, assessing the quality (not just the quantity) of funding, partnerships and participation, capacity development, and the influence of local and national organisations. It seeks to promote granularity in the sector’s understanding of localisation, in order to foster a holistic approach to addressing it. Steps to make these dimensions a reality:

  • Maintain quality of partnerships and ensure equitability and respect
  • Promote accountability to affected populations and local actors and keeping them at the center is key
  • The quality of funding should be flexible and developed in collaboration with local actors
  • Capacity building activities should be aimed at sustaining the organisations and they should not be undermined by the way the international response takes place
  • It is essential that National & Local actors take leadership in coordination mechanisms to influence decision-making at a broader level
  • Active visibility of response of local actors can build strong trusts among communities
  • Local and national actors need to be present in international policy debates and discussions

The Implementation Gap

There has been a little change. Now we can have a pen discussion on localisation. We now have documents to hold INGOs on account. We have all set the pace,

reiterated Naomi Tulay-Solanke. In 2014, when the Ebola hit, local actors accelerated at a different level because of active advocacy and exerted the INGOs to practice equal partnership and invest more in localisation. Although Covid-19 imposed a focus on local interventions and a scale back to national borders, Localisation is yet to happen by design. Naomi says,

INGOs have recognised the importance of partnering with local actors now. That is a gain, compared to 2014, where we were considered as local contractors. However, there is room for improvement. This can only happen if we persistently engage in a constructive manner, taking everybody on board, holding them accountable on signed documents especially at community and national levels.

While a majority (33%) of the webinar participants cited “unequal power relationship in partnerships” as the main blockage for localization, speakers provided additional insights and nuance to the many aspects relevant to localisation from the perspective of actors from the Global South.

Although Covid-19 has imposed a focus on local interventions and a scale back to national borders, it was agreed in the discussions that Localisation is yet to happen by design. As Naomi Tulay-Solanke reiterated,

we need to be at the table when the project is being designed, and to be engaged in a constructive manner.

Global organisations including INGOs and donor agencies are on path with the local actors. They understand the local actors, their ideology. However, when it comes down to the national level, it is a different ball game.

There are more local actors like never before in the current COVID-19 response. As COVID-19 is a global crisis, it took a while for international organizations to come to Liberia. We have witnessed a different kind of partnership with the donor agencies. The employees of donor agencies are on the ground implementing the project activities and the local organisations are taken in loop to monitor, said Naomi.

The turning point, however in other disaster and conflict affected countries, such as Lebanon, is not the current global pandemic. It is an additional layer of a multidimensional crisis the Lebanese people have been witnessing since the beginning of 2020.

Information is a very powerful tool. As a driver of any issue, we want to advocate, we need to know what we are talking about in advance. The seven dimensions are insightful, as we need to break the challenges down into measurable features and take ownership of the narrative, expresses Marie-Noëlle AbiYaghi,

 

We need to frame the narrative of localisation as we are rooted in our communities. We know what they need and where the interventions need to be executed.

Marie-Noëlle AbiYaghi highlighted the necessity to take control of the narrative around localisation whether in its definition, in partnerships, in solidarity, and develop in practice alternative ways to implement localisation, and break out from dependency on the aid industry.

What is the meaning of partnership? Marie-Noëlle asked participants.

In our organisation we do not use the term partner. We firmly address our funders as donors, unless there is a shift in the power dynamics. We need to start using terms for their actual meaning.

The principle of mutual accountability is key. The concept of balanced and equitable partnerships needs to be promoted.

We are equally accountable to tax payers as we are to the project participants. Any discussions on trust and accountability that does not take into consideration this whole spectrum, misses the point. We must refuse our participation in these partial and biased discussions, said Marie-Noëlle.

Participant Reflections

Participants shared best practices and reflections from their experiences on the ground and at different levels of a humanitarian and development work.

There is a network of local actors who are playing a prominent role in the cause of this pandemic. We have set up a situational room which, among other objectives, aims to bridge the gap between the local population and higher authorities including the government, INGOs and the UN. This room seeks to address the concerns of communities and link or refer them through appropriate channels for them to be handled. Many of the partners, especially those working in the health sector, have considered the COVID-19 as a health crisis alone. We need to highlight that there is a lot more going on besides just the health aspect. We are talking about livelihoods, WASH, GBV and many other aspects affected as a result of this pandemic."
Fatima Imam, Founder Executive Director, Rehabilitation Empowerment and Better Health Initiative (REBHI), Nigeria

The primary issue that donors and UN actors raise is concern over financial risk and safeguarding risk as obstacles to increasing funding to local actors, given lockdowns/movement restrictions, which makes different kinds of monitoring/accountability more difficult. The irony of this is perhaps that it is local actors that have the best insights on how to address such risks given all the realities on the ground given how they are embedded in communities and understand these dynamics at local level."
Howard Mollett, Catholic International Development Charity, United Kingdom

Much has been published and transmitted to partners for localisation. However, it is our misfortune that local and international organisations do not recognize their obligations. We are not strengthening the humanitarian sector as a result. They need to consider the meaning and complexities of the nation in which the project is being applied. If we do not grasp this, both ends will not be able to fulfill their duties against the affected people."
Liaquat Ali, Executive Coordinator, Doaba Foundation, Pakistan

Most of the localisation debate has been primarily centered on giving more. As local organisations, we think we should receive more and as international organisations, donors think they should give more. However, it is not about giving and taking, rather allowing our own space and not taking away what belongs to us. In the current pandemic, I see a prominent role of partnership between national and international organisations and a new way of working through the integration of technology. Sadly, I do not see much technological integration of such kind. Billions of people have been affected by the economic instability caused by COVID-19, particularly people working in the informal sector. This is the time to redesign our humanitarian development annexures to address the challenges of people working in this sector."
Sudhanshu S. Singh, Founder and CEO Humanitarian Aid International (HAI), International Coordinator A4EP, India

Localisation does not mean that locals have more control. This ensures that more services are disbursed to the impacted and at-risk regions and local actors take further intervention. Through localisation, humanitarian response is expected to not only become cost efficient but also more effective by enabling those who know the local context better to lead the process."
Regina “Nanette” Salvador-Antequisa, Founding Executive Director, Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits, Inc. (ECOWEB), Philippines

Facilitated by: José Jódar, The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)

When: June 17, 2020
What time: 2:00 PM Pakistan Standard Time
Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared
Language: English
How long: 75 minutes
Format: Presentation, discussion and sharing of Best Practices
Who is it for: Humanitarian and development practitioners requiring a better understanding of Cash and Voucher Assistance with a special focus in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Purpose: To ensure participants have a sound understanding of Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) as a modality response to different types of crises and emergencies with a special focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this webinar, participants will:

  • Understand CVA as a modality response to crises
  • Discuss how CVA will be adapted to COVID-19 response
  • Share best practices about CVA and COVID-19 response

Background

Community World Service Asia and the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) are jointly hosting this webinar on Cash and Voucher Assistance in response to COVID-19.

Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is being increasingly used as a response modality to different types of crises and in very diverse contexts. CVA is able to cover a wide range of needs contributing to restoring the dignity to people affected by crises. The COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting the global economy and will have a long-lasting impact, particularly on low-income countries and crisis contexts, if not mitigated in a timely and well-targeted manner.  CVA is seen by some as a safer option for providing rapid relief where conditions allow and is able to cover the needs of the various affected populations, adapting to remote management styles and better integrates with local systems. This webinar will focus on how delivery through cash can effectively meet needs and promote recovery at scale and within the timeline required to mitigate the worst impacts of this pandemic. Working with, and alongside social protection systems to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable people will also be discussed.

A specific focus will be laid on:

  • CVA fundamentals as a modality response to crisis
  • CVA and COVID-19 response- main considerations throughout the programme cycle
  • CVA and COVID-19 response- best practices and experiences from the field

This 75-minute webinar will also give participants an opportunity to share existing best practices and ask practical questions about CVA key debates and policies, practices, common standards and other issues.

Recommended reading & learning prior to the webinar:

https://www.calpnetwork.org/course/cash-and-voucher-assistance-cva-the-fundamentals/

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organization, registered in Pakistan, head-quartered in Karachi and implementing initiatives throughout Asia. CWSA is member of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance, a member of Sphere and their regional partner in Asia and also manages the ADRRN Quality & Accountability Hub in Asia.

The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) is a global partnership of humanitarian actors engaged in policy, practice and research within Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA). CaLP currently has over 80 members who collectively deliver the vast majority of CVA in humanitarian contexts worldwide. Our members include UN agencies, Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, local and international NGOs, donors and private sector organisations. CaLP believes that when appropriately incorporated into humanitarian response planning, CVA presents opportunities for effective and efficient programming to meet the needs of people and communities affected by crises. With the number, scale and complexity of humanitarian crises increasing, CaLP acts as a catalyst for positive transformation within the sector. Bringing organizations together to strengthen capacity, knowledge, coordination and policy for CVA.

If you wish to participate, kindly register here: Webinar Registration

Applicants will be informed by 12th June 2020 about their confirmation status. Up to 200 participants will be accommodated on a first come first serve basis. We would appreciate anyone willing to share some best practices on CVA, kindly indicate in the registration form and up to 4 participants will be selected to share their experiences.

Webinar Moderator & Facilitator:

José Jódar is the Senior Technical Officer at CaLP and joined them in July 2019 after more than 12 years of work experience in multi-sectoral emergencies, livelihoods/food security and Cash & Vouchers Assistance programs with different organizations (mainly Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID, Spanish Red Cross/International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Action Against Hunger) and in several contexts: Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and, lately, MENA region. José holds a PhD in International Cooperation and Development Studies (University of Murcia, Spain) and a Master’s degree in Africa Studies (major in African Politics) at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, London). He has a wide range of experience in CVA design and implementation, technical advisory, capacity building and both technical and institutional coordination.

Speakers:

Regina “Nanette” Salvador-Antequisa is the founding Executive Director of the Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits, Inc. (ECOWEB) in the Philippines and convenor of the Community Led Emergency Action Response Network (CLEARNet) in the Philippines that actively promotes survivor and community-led response (sclr) to crisis approach – a humanitarian-development-peace nexus advocacy in action. She has been involved with peace and development work for over 25 years and is engaged in local and national policy advocacy on the issues of disaster, poverty, conflict, environment and governance. Regina is currently the sectoral representative of the Victims of Disaster and Calamities sector to the government’s National Anti-Poverty Commission. She is actively involved in international advocacy on localization of humanitarian aid through her engagement with the global Alliance for Empowering Partnerships (A4EP), Charter4Change, Local to Global Protection and participation in the World Humanitarian Action Forum.

Sudhanshu S. Singh is a humanitarian and development professional with over 32 years of global experience in the sector. Sudhanshu is founder and CEO of Humanitarian Aid International (HAI) which aims to become the first Indian organisation, working globally with the Indian identity on poverty alleviation and disaster management. HAI is also currently hosting the international secretariat of Charter4Change.

Sudhanshu has worked with several international organisations at the Asia-Pacific level, and has been involved in managing responses to almost all major disasters in the Asia-Pacific region since 2001. He has been closely engaged with Agenda for Humanity, Grand Bargain and Charter for Change and was member of the steering group of World Humanitarian Action Forum (WHAF). Sudhanshu is also one of the founders and the international coordinator for Alliance for Empowering Partnerships (A4EP).


When: June 11, 2020 
What time: 2:00 PM (Pakistan Standard Time)
Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared to registered participants
Language: English
How long: 90 minutes 
Who is it for: Humanitarian and development practitioners working in or with hard-to-reach areas, NGOs and INGOs involved in COVID19 response
Format: Panel Discussion – Multiple Speakers & Moderator
Speakers/Panelists: Ms. Qingrui Huang, Mr. Hafiz Amirrol and Ms. Dear NB SinandangModerator/Presenter: Mr. Takeshi Komino

Purpose 

COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges to the global humanitarian sector. Individuals, organizations as well as networks are all effected by this directly or indirectly.

There is a need to work together with governments, NGOs and other stakeholder to serve communities and complement the joint efforts in combating COVID-19.

Given the probability that the pandemic may last for an extended period, it is timely and imperative to discuss the behaviors, expertise and capacity both at individual and institutional level to facilitate humanitarian community in responding to the pandemic. The best possible way is to work together, build on the expertise of each other and jointly respond.

This webinar will bring together a panel of speakers with diverse backgrounds related to humanitarian and development affairs to discuss how the current COVID-19 experience impact the future of the humanitarian sector with reference to coordination. It will provide an opportunity to:

  • Explore coordination aspect in global and regional policy dialogue on humanitarian landscape in COVID-19 context (Global Humanitarian Response Plan, humanitarian financing, IASC guidelines on Localization)
  • Identify case studies on different aspects of coordination in COVID-19 preparedness and response activities from International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) and Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI). These include strategic plans, action plans, challenges and best practices.
  • Facilitate exchange between networks themselves for good practices and lessons learned with reference to coordination.

The webinar will further engage its audience (panelists and participants) to explore:

  • What are the emerging trends/good practices in the space of coordination among NGOs that would continue even beyond C19?
  • What are some Innovative ways to resolve coordination challenges during COVID-19?
  • How to ensure Monitoring, evaluation, accountability, data and information sharing during COVID-19?
  • What are the associated challenges in terms of Community Engagement and risk communication?
  • How is stretching capacity within NGOs/CSOs in dealing with COVID-19 response and natural disasters?
  • What are some of the opportunities emerged for NGOs due to COVID-19?
  • What will the localization look like during new normal situation?

Background

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time. In addition to the loss of lives and the disruption to millions of lives, the economic damage is already significant and far-reaching.

Community World Service Asia is pleased to host a series of learning and experience sharing events particularly focusing on the steps taken by organizations to minimize the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organization, registered in Pakistan, head-quartered in Karachi and implementing initiatives throughout Asia. CWSA is a member of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance and a Sphere regional partner.

International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) is a global network of non-governmental organizations whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice.

ICVA helps its members understand, engage and influence the humanitarian sector with a focus on Forced migration, Humanitarian coordination, Humanitarian financing, and Cross-cutting issues.

Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) is a network consists of 52 national and international NGOs from more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. With a strong footprint in the region, the network members are constantly engaged with local communities strengthening their ability to combat disasters, providing humanitarian aid like food, water, shelter and health care, protecting critical facilities like schools and hospitals, creating awareness, advocating for policy changes and improving the capacity of community based organizations.

Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI) is a network of faith based humanitarian and development organizations, committed to build a mutual understanding between Humanitarian actors especially NGOs, across differences background, to campaign norms and humanitarian standard principles throughout dialogs, and developing partnership in any level.

This 90-minute webinar will also be an opportunity for sharing best practices and develop understanding from the work of networks and organizations actively involved in the region.

Register here: Webinar on Humanitarian Coordination During COVID-19

Speakers/Panelists:

MS. Qingrui Huang Qingrui is Acting Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific at ICVA, a global network of NGOs whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice. She has over 15 years’ experience in technical advisory and program management with both UN agencies and NGOs in the areas of humanitarian and development in Asia, particularly in China, Myanmar and Thailand. In her current role, Qingrui closely works with ICVA members, NGOs and NGO networks, and humanitarian partners such as UN agencies and donors to ensure the humanitarian actions in Asia and the Pacific are more coordinated, accountable and inclusive.

Mr. Hafiz AMIRROL Hafiz is the network coordinator for Asia Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRNN), a network of 52 civil society organizations across Asia that focuses on disaster risk reduction, and disaster response and preparedness. Hafiz is also Head of Strategic Planning and Building Resilient Communities at MERCY Malaysia. Hafiz is an urban designer and also a lecturer/researcher in the field of architecture, urbanism and city planning.

 

Ms. Dear NB Sinandang Dear is Communication and Partnership Manager of Humanitarian Forum Indonesia, a forum of faith-based organizations in Indonesia that was established in 2008. She has over 10 years’ experience in project management, capacity building programs, network management, and coordination and partnership with humanitarian key actors in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster management in Indonesia. In her current role, Dear closely works with HFI members, and humanitarian partners such as UN agencies, Red Cross, NGOs/INGOs, private sector, academia, donors, and regional to global networks.

Moderator / Presenter:

Mr. Takeshi Komino – Secretary General, Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) Takeshi currently serves as General Secretary of CWS Japan and a member of Executive Committee of Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) as Secretary General. He also serves as Co-chairperson of Japan Platform, and joint secretariat of Japan CSO Coalition for DRR (JCC-DRR), as well as the chairperson of Japan Quality and Accountability Network (JQAN).

 


Photo Credit: AP

Since the spread of COVID-19, as many individuals and organizations around the world are operating remotely the risk of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) cases, as well as fraud and corruption is more likely to increase than to decrease. In a time when such threats are on a rise, the humanitarian and development community must be vigilant and prepared to ensure that affected people are protected and that they remain at the centre of our work.

To remind humanitarian practitioners on how to effectively practice and ensure community protection against sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, Community World Service Asia and Act Church of Sweden jointly hosted a webinar on ‘Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse during COVID-19 Response.’

Speaking about PSEA[1], Ester Dross, lead facilitator and moderator of the webinar, shared a brief history of SEA and what we need to change, to implement effective PSEA policies and processes,

In 2001, a study commissioned by Save the Children highlighted high levels of sexual exploitation and abuse happening in refugee camps in West Africa. Exchange for sex against food or other vital services did not only happen amongst refugees themselves, but also from humanitarian workers to refugees. Since, many other studies had similar findings. As a result, most of organizations today have Code of Conducts or separate policies including protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. Policy violations unfortunately continue to come to light, underlining the need of continuing focusing on PSEA and work on improved implementation of these policies.

Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender, and it can occur between people of the same or different gender. The webinar highlighted the three types of misconducts; Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Gender Based Violence.

Power imbalance always lies at the root of the various forms of sexual misconduct. This disparity is heightened while employed and residing in tough situations, where conflict, catastrophe, hardship or even a pandemic has forced the most disadvantaged people towards much greater inequities, with higher threats and lesser control.

More than 250 humanitarian and development practitioners took part in this 90-minute discussion-based webinar that shared a wide array of diverse expertise and knowledge from all over the world. Panelists, Sylvie Robert, PSEA Coordinator, Ethiopia, Maria Kjersem, PSEA Network Co-Chair, UN Women, Ethiopia, Seng Aung Sein Myint, National PSEA Coordinator for the PSEA Network, Myanmar, Jules L. Frost, Head of Programmes & Partnerships, CHS Alliance, Geneva and Elisa Cappelletti, PSEA Network Coordinator, Bangladesh joined the session to share best practices on the topic under discussion. Considering the current COVID-19 crisis, the panelists shared best practices on effective inclusion, information sharing, recruitments and trainings on prevention and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Identifying Gaps to improve Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

In terms of improvement, the two major area where progress is most required are identified as awareness on policies and rights and the need for efficient and robust complaints systems. Both are linked not only to meaningful participation and effective information sharing, but also to senior management commitment to implement policies and take disciplinary measures if needed.

To resolve gaps in these areas, organizations need to ensure that they remind populations of their rights, their entitlements, what to anticipate from organizations operating in the neighborhood, what laws are relevant and what actions to anticipate from workers while employed remotely and know what constraints are in effect,

said Ester,

We need to continue to promote involvement by the communities to ensure that behavioral rules in our policies are well understood and that our CRM[2] is still relevant, or to consider alternative ways to address feedback, contribute to community understanding of anticipated activities and what to do if there are severe concerns.

What is different today? What key issues and challenges can we identify during the current crisis?

Participants in the webinar discussed the main obstacles they face in relation to implementation of PSEA in the continuing pandemic.

  • Existing taboos prevent communities from disclosing sexual exploitation to others, which becomes a major challenge in identifying actual cases
  • Inadequate budgets to include capacity development around PSEA and strengthening complaints mechanisms and procedures with implementing partners
  • Lack of awareness and accessibility, as well as deep rooted cultural practices hinder prevention of SEA
  • Failure to apply current PSEA policies on the ground. Many policies and procedures are in effect but field workers are not yet aware of them
  • Maintaining confidentiality when working and investigating remotely
  • Increased risk of violation of data protection as more information is communicated through unprotected channels
  • Increased use of technology also for receiving sensitive complaints – exclusion of people with no access to technology or low technological knowledge

Ensuring adequate information sharing and participation from communities, and receiving and investigating complaints has currently become a global challenge.

We need to be vigilant and prepared!

Think creatively! We will not be able to address all our problems, but we can curtail the present scenario by resolving some of the issues. Ester highlighted some key practices that global humanitarian community can strongly work together on to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse, violence and harassment.

  1. Policies: Most of us have made strong public commitments to policies on PSEA. It is important to reiterate those public commitments, remind staff and communities what we want to implement and how.
  2. Inclusion: Inequalities and vulnerabilities have become even more exacerbated. A commitment to inclusion of a wide set of different voices will significantly and positively influence long-term objectives and changes for the communities we work with.
  3. Participation and Information: As already underlined before, communication and participation have always been key. Communities must continue to have a voice for them to make choices through meaningful participation, even in times of rapid responsiveness and restricted access.
  4. Awareness Raising and Training: To be successful in raising awareness and improving participation, communication and inclusion, a specific focal point for prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA focal point) working with staff and communities and identifying specific risks related to sexual exploitation and abuse in regards to the COVID-19 response should be designated for each program, country and region. These can be first line responders, medical staff, protection officers and others.

Key Takeaways:

  • I found the webinar to be very informative with practical examples of ensuring that PSEA is not forgotten about in times of restricted access but instead rethink alternative ways to inform beneficiaries and receive complaints.” Tracy Robinson
  • “The current crisis motivates us to link up and openly share experiences and challenges on PSEA. This is an opportunity!” Sylvie Robert
  • “Assessment is a vital practice through which we can ask what you need as a community to address your complaints on PSEAH – The concept of ‘nothing about us without us’ applied.” Axel Schmidt
  • “GBV inside the communities is extremely important but needs to be tackled differently from SEA as we do not have a direct influence on the community members. So, this is more about advocacy but obviously needs to come into account in terms of our programming.” Ester Dross
  • “The different modalities shared in the session will be helpful to identify contextual initiatives on PSEA.” Mausumi Sharmin

[1]Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
[2]Complaints Response Mechanism

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