Quality and Accountability
Quality and Accountability Hub

When: May 7, 2020

What time: 2:00 PM (PST)

Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared

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 COVID-19 response

Format: Panel Discussion

Purpose: Leaders from the sector will share their experience on how their respective organisations navigate the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on their staff, organisation and most importantly on the people they work for and with.


When faced with a crisis, most leaders are forced to think and behave in ways that feel unfamiliar. What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviors and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting and help them look ahead. Crisis has a way of revealing, course-correcting and recalibrating what leadership really means. This webinar will explore such behaviors and accompanying mindsets that can help leaders navigate the coronavirus pandemic and future crises.

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.

The humanitarian community continues to respond to the needs from the COVID-19 pandemic while sustaining on-going humanitarian operations and life-saving programs, which is essential to avoid further loss of lives and suffering. In the face of various risks, challenges and uncertainty, many humanitarian leaders are rightly concerned about how their organizations and the sector will be affected.

Organizations around the world may be in different phases of the pandemic, dealing with the crisis in its own way, given that the impacts vary by geography and sector.

Community World Service Asia is pleased to host a series of learning and experience sharing events in Asia, particularly focusing on the steps taken by organisations to blunt 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.

If you wish to participate register here: Leading through the Covid-19 Pandemic 



Ms. Tanya WoodCore Humanitarian Standard Alliance, Director, Switzerland

Ms. Wood is the Executive Director of the CHS Alliance, a network of more than 150 organization making aid work better for people, through application of the Core Humanitarian Standard. She brings more than 20 years management and leadership experience in the international humanitarian sector, predominantly in international membership organizations.


Ms. Deepmala Mahla Care, Regional Director for Asia

Ms. Mahla has worked for two decades designing and implementing humanitarian and development programs in Middle East, Africa to Asia. She is a strong humanitarian voice influencing actively for better of most vulnerable communities and protection of aid workers; with distinct expertise in advocacy and communications.


Ms. Ayesha SalmaPakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Group Head of Quality Assurance, Research and Design

Ms. Salma has over fifteen years of experience in international development during which she has successfully overseen a range of programs in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. She comes with a wealth of experience in Program Quality Assurance, Innovation, Strategy, Organizational Development and Communications. She is passionate about leveraging people’s talents to build high performing teams.



Ms. Uma NarayananIndependent Consultant

Ms. Narayanan specializes in human resources, organizational development and accountability in the humanitarian sector. She has a background in International Organizational and Systems Development and worked as an Organization Development and Human Resources practitioner in Southeast Asia and South Asia. She is committed to quality and accountability and is a Sphere and Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) trainer and advisor.

Booklet Q&A for PCM 2020 Arabic Version
Size: 3 MB
Version: 2020


Basic Information:

When: April 28th, 2020

What time: 11AM (GMT +5) – 2 hours

Where: Online link to the webinar will be shared with registered participants via email

Language: English

How long: 120 minutes

Who is it for: Human Resource Practitioners working with I/NGOs, donors and UN agencies involved in COVID -19 response

Event description:

These are difficult times for individuals and organizations alike. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt across countries, societies and cultures as well as in the workplace. The world as we know it might never be the same again and the rapid changes taking place will be long-lasting for years to come.

The dynamic nature of the situation presents organizations with difficult decisions which need to be assessed and changed even by the hour. We have to learn new ways of working with and managing teams. This requires building positive intent and trust among the people we work with. We have to help our teams and staff understand that if they can do great work in offices, they can also do great work staying at home. The key is to adapt and act in the rapidly changing world.

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 ACT Alliance, the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance and a Sphere regional partner.

Commitment 8 of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) on staff competency states that communities and people affected by crisis must receive the assistance they require from competent and well-managed staff and volunteers. How is this possible when most organizations have adopted remote working and management of their staff?

This interactive webinar will help explore;

  • Challenges encountered in remote management; and
  • The role of HR in facilitating an effective remote management process

The webinar will seek to highlight effective and successful HR practices on remote hiring, evaluating remote teams and promoting a desired culture in a remote environment. Participants joining this webinar should be prepared to actively contribute to the discussions and conversations in this webinar.

Register here if you wish to participate: Registration – HR in Remote Management


Ms. Uma Narayanan, specializes in human resources, organizational development and accountability for medium to large-scale organizations in the humanitarian sector. Ms. Narayanan has a background in International Organizational and Systems Development and worked as an Organization Development and Human Resources practitioner mostly in Southeast Asia and South Asia, for more than a decade. In her OD capacity, she has carried out numerous assignments on program reviews, evaluations and organizational assessments.

Ms. Narayanan is committed to quality and accountability and is a Sphere and Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) trainer and advisor. She also assists organizations in conducting HR related and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) related investigations. As an accredited associate executive coach, she has added coaching of middle and senior management as part of her portfolio.

As more countries become affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to keep in mind vulnerable groups and those already affected by other humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and climate change that place them in acutely hazardous situations.

To ensure that the response to counter COVID-19 is inclusive and people-centered, the Sphere Handbook and Core Humanitarian Standards initiatives have issued guidance on the minimum response all crisis-affected people have the right to expect. The guides highlight the processes and minimum requirements that need to be established for affected populations to survive and recover with dignity.

As Sphere and Q&A Hub’s[1] regional focal point in Asia, Community World Service Asia (CWSA) has launched a program delivering a series of national and regional webinars introducing these tools to humanitarian organizations and aid practitioners providing relief to vulnerable communities in the COVID-19 crisis.

A second session of the regional webinar on Q&A Response in COVID-19 took place today with participation from aid workers from eleven countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia, United States of America, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, United Kingdom, Nepal and Australia.

Uma Narayanan facilitated the session and highlighted fundamental principles from Sphere and Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS) that focused on peoples’ right to live with dignity, right to protection and the right to receive assistance during the crisis. These principals are crucial to a successful, holistic intervention and to ensure accountability to affected populations. In reference to the current crisis, the right to death with dignity was emphasized upon as infected individuals are dying every day without seeing their family members due to quarantine and visiting restrictions. Participants were reminded that people who are infected or those who even die from the virus should be treated with dignity.

Today’s hour-long session discussed relevant standards and guidance on emergency response from the Sphere handbook’s WASH and Health chapters. Participants were familiarized with CHS on Quality and Accountability as an essential tool that defines the humanitarian sector’s core commitments to affected people. The CHS guidelines encourage humanitarian actors to apply a principled and people-centered approach while responding to and managing COVID-19 programs.

The global scale of the crisis in terms of public health and its social and economic impacts is universally recognized. The crisis not only imposes limitations on travel and movement but has highlighted how these restrictions could potentially impact the quality and accessibility of health care and support that people are entitled to. Discussions in the webinar reiterated the need for a response that is free of any discrimination, ensuring that all affected are treated with dignity and respect, given equal and appropriate health assistance where needed.

Guidance notes and tools from the Sphere Handbook’s Health chapter were shared with participants of today’s webinar to ensure that their organizations’ health service delivery, healthcare workforce and provision of essential health products are efficient and in line with international standards.  Information from the chapter providing guidance on ways to prevent communicable diseases and strengthen organizational surveillance and reporting system for early outbreak detections and the early response was also shared.

The subject of staff mental health and psychological well-being while responding to COVID-19 was highlighted by participants in the webinar. Employees earning low salaries and facing challenges that result in economic distress were raised as major concerns by managers and organizations. Women and children were also identified as those segments of communities that were gravely affected by the crisis in terms of domestic violence, abuse and increased unpaid labor. To counter the many adverse impacts, some governments such as in Malaysia have launched various counseling channels for citizens to address such issues and challenges for people under lockdown. NGOs working primarily on gender-based violence were also cited as examples that are engaged in these interventions to provide maximum support to people in need.

A need to increase the quality and frequency of awareness-raising on COVID-19 among more marginalized communities was highlighted today.  Uma stressed upon the holistic approach incorporated in the standards which aim at addressing the on-going needs of the wider population through key messages while advocating and coordinating during such crisis. Participants shared several challenges faced by communities in this crisis. For example, one participant shared that some farmers in the Philippines and India are witnessing the destruction of their harvests before their eyes while people residing in close-by areas are starving due to lack of food. A participant from Zambia also shared similar challenges. In the case of Zambia, a practical example was shared of how standards such as CHS were used for lobbying with the government to continue the agricultural sector while still adhering to the restrictions imposed by the government. A position paper was produced in this regard which was accepted by the local authorities. Such good practices of using standards will be compiled by CWSA and shared with the webinar attendees.

During the webinar, participants also underscored the importance of risk-mitigation and striking a balance between the do no harm approach and addressing valuable community feedback.

Community World Service Asia is planning to conduct future webinars where agencies and organizations will be given a platform to share best practices and experiences on addressing challenges that are faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We can only grow in our good practices if we share the best practices as widely as possible. The Sphere and CHS standards exist for us to use it in various responses and for me, advocacy and lobbying are key factors through which we can contribute and play a prominent role in responding to COVID-19, directly and indirectly, 

concluded Uma.

[1] Asian Disaster Risk Reduction Network (ADRRN)’s Quality & Accountability Hub

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to sudden changes in the world. Restrictions at various levels has affected the humanitarian sector to operate for an undefined period. As in any humanitarian response, there is a need to continuously uphold accountability to the affected populations. The Sphere Secretariat and the CHS Alliance recently released guidelines on how the Sphere Handbook and the CHS can help guide humanitarian practitioners in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Community World Service Asia (CWSA) organized a webinar on 9th April 2020 to introduce these tools and its use, particularly in the context of Asia.

The webinar was mainly participated by CWSA’s regular partners in Pakistan and in the region. Almost hundred staff from NGOs, INGOs and local organizations from Asia, Europe, Middle East, America and Australia attended the webinar who had a background in programme, support functions as well as senior management roles.

The session, led by Uma Narayanan, highlighted key CHS commitments that are relevant to a crisis response of this nature. It introduced and explained the Sphere and Coronavirus guidelines, outlining the fundamental principles and the relevant standards from the Sphere Handbook’s WASH and Health sections that are critical to a successful and holistic intervention.  In addition, the standard on mental health care was also emphasized.

Participants shared the need of such sessions as the implementation of precautionary measures is weak in the region and organizations need to sensitize communities following the Sphere Standards and Guidelines for effective response.  Other participants raised concerns in relation to engagements tools, psychological support, gender inclusion in the situation, remote monitoring and evaluation, safety and security of field staff and effective planning to be adopted in the current situation.

The virtual session also focused on familiarizing participants on the aspects of advocacy, contextualization and coordination. The webinar stressed on the needs of effective advocacy, contextualization of information and support required in the situation of COVID-19. To overcome challenging situations during the pandemic, participants were encouraged to increase coordination and collaborations with humanitarian and development organizations and networks in their respective countries and in the Asia region. This includes activating existing Accountability Learning Working Groups to focus on contextualization of CHS Standards and Sphere Standards to suit their respective country needs.

It is observed that there are a number of groups and individuals who have not been provided any help as yet. Organizations who do not have proper guidelines for response are unable to provide efficient and effective help and for this reason, sessions like these will be helpful to equip humanitarian organizations to respond effectively and fulfilling the needs,

said Syed Moazzam Ali, consultant on humanitarian action. Him, along with others, further echoed the economic challenges that the pandemic has resulted in the region.  Businesses are shutting down and people at large are suffering due to the scarce resources, which is a contributing factor to the need for psychosocial support.

Participants also highlighted the need to ensure inclusion of all members of society, especially senior citizens when planning psychological support projects or activities.  During discussions in the webinar, there was agreement on the community engagement approach for emergency response projects for the crisis and the need for compliance of all organizations on safety of field staff and provision of protective gear.  Effective use of technology as a key factor in reaching out to communities in remote areas was also emphasized.

Shama Mall, from CWSA, shared a dedicated page  developed for information sharing that provides links and resources developed by the various, global, health, development and humanitarian actors on COVID-19 on CWSA’s official website.

Having promoted Quality and Accountability (Q&A) during emergency response to the Pakistan Earthquake, TDPs[1] in Pakistan, South East Asia Tsunami, Nepal Earthquake, Typhoon Haiyan, Community World Service Asia is looking at ways to continue its own learning journey during this challenging time and promoting Q&A in the region by exploring different means to reach the target audience.

[1] Temporarily Dislocated persons

The Coronavirus is spreading globally. How can individuals, communities and humanitarian actors best respond to the COVID-19 outbreak? How can the Sphere Handbook guide our response? Let’s share lessons learned Sphere collates and disseminates emerging practice and evidence in the Coronavirus response.

Sphere معیار اور کورونا وائرس کے سلسلے میں کارروائی

دنیا بھر میں کورونا وائرس پھیل رہا ہے۔ افراد، کمیونیٹیز اور انسانی امداد دینے والے کارکن COVID-19 کی وبا پر بہترین ردِعمل کیسے دے سکتے ہیں؟ Sphere ہینڈ بُک کس طرح ہماری امدادی کارروائی کی راہنمائی کرتی ہے؟

Click here to download Coronavirus guidance English version

Click here to download Coronavirus guidance Urdu version

Humanitarian standards related to Quality and Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) have brought humanitarian actors one step forward in terms of principles and commitments towards the people they seek to assist. However, humanitarian field practitioners acknowledge confusion in the knowledge and the application of standards, and the sector recognizes the need for cultural and systemic changes to enhance Quality and AAP, including Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)

As we shift towards a collective inter-agency approach to Quality and AAP – including PSEA, with common frameworks and more systematic measurement and verification at national or response-levels, it needs to be integrated into programming cycles, at both inter-agency and organizational levels, through a people-centered lens. 

The Quality and Accountability for Project Cycle Management Booklet and training materials have been designed for field practitioners. Through these resources, we aim to enhance the quality and accountability of humanitarian and development programming to ensure the best interest of the communities we seek to assist.

The Booklet and the associated training materials will promote shared decision making at all phases of the programming cycles.

3 day Training on QA for PCM TRAINING PACKAGE Jan 2020
Size: 10.8 MB
Version: Jan 2020



Booklet Q&A for PCM 2020
Version: 2020


Sphere recently published a new resource that offers hands-on guidance to practitioners looking to consider environmental issues in their humanitarian programmes. The guide, called “thematic sheet”, is the first in a series that will discuss some of the core issues in humanitarian response and the Sphere Handbook’s relevance to them. 

To understand what a thematic sheet is and how it will be helpful to humanitarian practitioners, Sphere interviewed sustainability expert and Sphere Handbook co-author Amanda George.

Read more