In late May 2013, CWS-P/A conducted a three-day training on the HAP 2010 standard based on a request from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) in Afghanistan for its staff members and local partners, followed by a two-day assessment against the HAP benchmarks. The activities support NCA’s overall global objectives as its headquarters in Norway is a certified member of HAP. As a country office, NCA in Afghanistan aims to ensure its full compliance to HAP and eventually seek HAP certification.
Twenty-six participants attended the training which aimed to build their capacity on the importance and application of the HAP 2010 standard in the context of Afghanistan, thus, enhancing NCA’s and its implementing partners’ overall capacity to ensure accountability. Two of the participating organizations are mutual implementing partners of NCA and CWS-P/A, which also benefited from other CWS-P/A organized quality and accountability trainings during June 2013.
During the workshop, the participants learned about HAP’s six benchmarks and received the opportunity to reflect through self-assessment and identifying actions points for areas requiring improvement. Major points which came up during the exercises were the need to develop a contextualized accountability framework and the placement of complaints response mechanism. Suggestions included developing a pilot complaints response mechanism with willing partners based on the local context and providing related training.
Following the training, CWS-P/A conducted a two-day assessment against the HAP requirements for NCA, which helped identify compliance in relation to the HAP standard. The assessment consisted of meeting with NCA’s staff and partners, visiting field areas to obtain in-depth knowledge, and a debriefing session. A report, which contained existing mechanisms, areas requiring attention, and suggested actions, was later shared with NCA for consideration of strengthening quality and accountability in their work.
In 2011, CWS-P/A previously worked with NCA in Lao PDR to conduct similar activities with its staff working in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand. This commitment and collaboration between CWS-P/A and NCA will continue as the two organizations develop ways to enhance the capacities of staff, strengthen organizational standards, and build the capacity of mutual implementing partners with respect to quality and accountability.
CWS-P/A conducts the first training in Afghanistan on Using Sphere Minimum Standards in Project Cycle
In collaboration with ACBAR, CWS-P/A organized and facilitated a workshop on using Sphere minimum standards during the project cycle for twenty-one participants from local and international NGOs, UN agencies, and ACBAR. The three-day event covered key aspects of the Sphere Project including its philosophy, approach, and how to apply the minimum standards during all phases of the project cycle.
The Sphere office in Geneva recently developed a pilot tool, Sphere for Assessments, which was used during the training to support linking the Sphere handbook and its use during assessments. CWS-P/A compiled and shared feedback on the pilot document with the Sphere office in Geneva.
During the training, participants strongly recommended more training to further promote quality and accountability in Afghanistan, among government institutions and humanitarian agencies. Based on this need identified by the participants, CWS-P/A conducted an assessment among selected organizations. Toward the end of August 2013, CWS-P/A will announce another training that will focus on contextualized and specialized needs.
Some of the participants also took interest and action toward developing quality and accountability within their organizations by organizing and conducting sessions. In this regard, CWS-P/A provided contextualized materials and advice.
Building the Capacity of Implementing Partners
CWS-P/A is committed to building the capacities of its implementing partners, and during June 2013, two trainings were designed and conducted for its implementing partners in Kabul and Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The topic, humanitarian accountability and quality management standard, helped the partner organizations develop a greater understanding of the importance and relevance of quality and accountability standards to their work.
Examples of the partners’ existing quality and accountability systems were discussed and consideration of how to further improve them was made. Additional examples from CWS-P/A’s quality and accountability systems were shared, where interest led to linking the participants with other CWS-P/A staff for further information and support. CWS-P/A’s 360 degree performance appraisal mechanism was of particular interest so participants were connected with the Kabul office’s human resource representative. Another key area where additional interest was shown is complaints response mechanism; therefore, CWS-P/A offered further assistance and will follow-up on action plans. Most significantly, at the end of the workshop the participants submitted three-month action plans on how they will transfer their learning into practice.
CWS-P/A will continue to work with its partners to further build their capacities and provide technical support as required.
Mainstreaming Quality and Accountability at CWS-P/A’s Jalalabad Office
Eight months after the initial mainstreaming quality and accountability orientation, field visits, and technical support for the CWS-P/A offices in Afghanistan, the organization organized refresher training for its staff in Jalalabad. Eighteen staff members came prepared to discuss their previously developed action plans, current good practices, challenges, and areas for improvement with regard to quality and accountability. In addition to the training, discussions with individual departments also helped to strengthen the understanding of the roles various staff members and departments have in the overall compliance to CWS-P/A’s organizational commitments, policies, and practices related to quality and accountability. The most significant outcome from the current activities was the emphasis placed on improving the complaints response mechanism. This was one area where need for improvement was identified by the staff. Using supporting examples and experiences from Pakistan, the team was able to identify and plan for making the complaints response mechanism more effective in Afghanistan.