With the overall aim of establishing a resource hub and strengthening quality and accountability in the humanitarian sector in Pakistan, an Accountability Learning and Working Group (ALWG) was established. Originally initiated in 2010 by CWS-P/A as a forum for HAP members in Pakistan to meet, it was formalized into ALWG and its scope widened to include other quality and accountability initiatives such as Sphere.
Taking into consideration the need for more coordination as expressed by various aid agencies operational at both national and local levels, the objectives of the forum include:
- To promote and support the institutionalization process of quality and accountability specific standards, principles, guidelines, and practices at organizational levels for participating agencies.
- To collect case studies on good practices and challenges during the above mentioned institutionalization process.
- To enable learning and sharing information on key strategies and policies affecting the humanitarian response and development activities vis-à-vis quality and accountability in Pakistan.
Furthermore, a Steering Committee (SC) comprising of representatives from six agencies work to ensure: monthly meetings; promote and develop collective use of internet based resources, tools, and case studies; encourage higher levels of accountability to intended beneficiaries and transparency in humanitarian management; and coordinate efforts at UN led meetings to highlight quality and accountability.
CWS-P/A chaired the meeting which was held in early June. One of the major points addressed by CWS-P/A was that the ALWG should be involved in the translation of the new edition of the Sphere Handbook for its editing and proof reading while working to make it more user-friendly. Also, CWS-P/A’s Deputy Director, Allan Calma, shared his views on the promising signs for quality and accountability – a number of organizations have now either created Q&A units or Q&A officers. He emphasized that although we face challenges in the field in conducting needs assessments during emergencies, there are other Q&A components which organizations can comply with such as ensuring packages and mode of delivery are as per standards. Moreover, he mentioned that especially under the early recovery stage, organizations should start applying Q&A standards even at the assessment stage so this can serve as the indicators for monitoring and evaluation rather than trying to integrate Q&A later on. In addition, Calma stressed that accountability principles should be upheld during emergency, recovery, and non-emergency periods.
All in all, the many lessons learned from previous emergencies since 2005 have indicated that it is advantageous for agencies to work together on how to make humanitarian interventions more accountable to beneficiaries. The next meeting of the forum will be held in mid-July and as per its role will continue to meet at least once a month for discussion and information sharing.