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As a continuation of the Quality & Accountability (Q&A) Week 2021, the sixth virtual session, jointly hosted and organised by ADRRN’s Quality and Accountability (Q&A) Hub, Sphere, CHS Alliance, ACT Alliance, ALNAP and Community World Service Asia (CWSA), focused on exploring ways to ensure inclusion for efficient child safeguarding into programs, safeguarding efforts, communications and complaints handling.

“Defining who is a child in the humanitarian aid sector is critical. Any person under the age of 18 is classified as a child. Most organisations, regardless of local or cultural traditions, accept the international definition,” Ester Dross stated during the ‘Child Safeguarding’ webinar on May 24th, 2022.

What is child abuse?
What are the symptoms?
What are the consequences?

While raising these questions in the virtual event, Ester Dross said, “Child abuse includes physical, emotional/psychological and sexual abuse, neglect and negligent treatment, exploitation and violence in all forms. It is essential to have a clear definition in our policies and guidelines when addressing child safeguarding.” Ahmad Alaghawani, Safeguarding Officer at Islamic Relief in Jordan, joined the webinar as the guest speaker. More than ninety humanitarian and development practitioners, from Asia and Europe, participated in this 90-minute webinar bringing together a wide array of diverse expertise and knowledge on safeguarding to learn from.

Child Safeguarding vs Child Protection

“Organisational commitment to preventing and responding to abuse of children, by its own staff is referred to as child safeguarding. On the other hand, the mechanism by which an organisation seeks to fulfil children rights in their communities is referred to as child protection,” shared Ester.

All organisations that engage with or come into contact with children should have safeguarding policies and procedures in place. “Knowing the principles of child safeguarding guarantees that every child, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, colour, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation, has an equal right to be safe. Establishing and adhering to safeguarding principles ensures that children are safe and protected from any kind of harm.” Key principles highlighted in the webinar included:

  • Children having equal rights to protection from abuse and exploitation
  • Organisation obligated to taking reasonable measures to prevent harm
  • Appropriately using photos of children
  • Acquiring skills and specialised knowledge to adhere to safeguarding policies
  • Working for the best interest of children
  • Treating reports with confidentiality and seriousness
  • Ensuring partners’ responsibility to meet minimum standards

Safeguarding as a Key Responsibility

At Islamic Relief, we ensure that its staff, operations and programmes do not harm children, young people and people at risk and do not cause them to be at greater risk of harm from others” said Ahmad Alaghawani, “We have policies and guidelines on Child Safeguarding, People at Risk, PSEAH[1], Code of Conduct and Dignity at Work.”

The safeguarding, protection and wellbeing of those we serve have been a core area of Islamic Relief’s work over the past 34 years. In working with vulnerable children of all ages and abilities around the world, Islamic Relief takes seriously its responsibility to protect and safeguard children from all types of abuses.

The organisation has developed a complaint mechanism for children after conducting focal group discussions (FDG) with the staff who directly works with children to address the challenges they encountered while dealing with children. “Some key recommendations that came out from the FDGs included training of teachers on child behaviour and special care of Syrian children refugees, establishing a complaints and feedback mechanism specifically for children and sensitising children on what is right and wrong to create a safe space,” shared Ahmed.

The complaint mechanism for children focuses on raising awareness among teachers, families and children on child safeguarding and protection. Ahmed further added, “The staff at Islamic Relief has to attend a mandatory training on Safeguarding. We also have extensive IEC material which consists of information of different kinds of abuse and exploitation and steps that need to be taken by the communities and children at risk to address the vulnerable situations. Moreover, we conduct awareness sessions to sensitise communities and right holders on our complaint mechanism and ways to report SEAH.” Organisations of all types and sizes to implement rigorous policies, processes and tests to protect children from abuse. “That could mean training staff to understand appropriate language and behaviour. Encouraging teams to run background checks on new recruits. And helping families and communities to understand what they can do to support young people at risk. All organisations have a responsibility to protect children from harm and it is imperative we exercise our responsibility seriously and accountably,” concluded Ester.


[1] Prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment

When: June 1st 2022
What time: 10:00AM to 10:45AM (Pakistan Standard Time)
Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared with registered participants
Language: Mix
How long: 45 Minutes
Who it is for: NGOs interested in registration with the Social Welfare Department Punjab through E-portal
Format: Presentation followed by discussion
Speaker: Mr. Safdar Abbas, Deputy Director NGOs, Social Welfare Department, Punjab

Background

Civil Society Organizations in Pakistan, especially working at the grass-root level, sometime finds it difficult to navigate through regulatory framework due to lack of understanding to the government procedures and requirements. The regulatory information is at times complex and technical in nature. The need is to simplify the information, develop guidance notes for the documentations and advice on how to do follow-up on their application.

It is critical for all NGOs, small or large, to complete registration process with all the required documentation timely to enable them to implement projects in Pakistan.

To help overcome this, CWSA is providing practical assistance to local and national NGOs in Pakistan that require assistance with any of the processes and procedural requirements for application submission through e-portal, SWD-Punjab.

CWSA has established an “NGO Help Facility” for technical discussion, coaching, on-line information resources and virtual clinics to support NGOs intending to file their applications for registration. The help facility will also support organization in understanding the reporting requirements.

This service is facilitative and free of cost. CWSA will help to clarify application guidelines, support organizations to develop complete application documentation as per SWD requirements, and, guidance for any needed follow up. Activities offered by the NGO Help Facility will include the following:

  • Advisory sessions/ days for NGOs
  • Webinars on E-portal SWD- Punjab Process and Procedures
  • Provision of training and coaching to NGO representatives to support the development, revision and follow up of their application documentation

Disclaimer: Assistance provided through the NGO Help Facility is a pro bono service that offers technical support and brokers positive relationships. Engagement, in itself, does not guarantee that the client organization will be granted registration without having successfully completed all of SWDs’ required due diligence processes. CWSA mandate is to support the local NGOs in understanding the process and procedures for the registration through e-portal Punjab and ensure complete documentation to avoid unnecessary delays due to incomplete documentations.

Objectives of the webinar:

  • Documentation submission processes and procedures of registration e-portal Punjab, Pakistan
  • To understand the process and procedures for registration through e- portal Punjab

Interested in Participating? Register here for the Webinar!

Community World Service Asia is a Pakistani humanitarian and development organization addressing factors that divide people by promoting inclusiveness, shared values, diversity, and interdependence. It engages in the self-implementation of projects, cooperation through partners, and the provision of capacity building trainings and resources at the national, regional and global levels.

When: 24th May 2022
What time: 2.00 PM-3:00 PM (Pakistan Standard Time)
Where: Zoom – Link to be shared with registered participants.
For registration click here
Language: English
How long: 60 minutes
For: Safeguarding focal points, senior managers of national, international and regional NGOs and aid/development networks
Moderator and Trainer: Ester Dross

Background:

CWSA is a humanitarian and development organisation registered in Pakistan, addressing factors that divide people by promoting inclusiveness, shared values, diversity, and interdependence. CWSA is highly committed towards Accountability to Affected People and people centered aid. Over the last two years, we have offered different webinars, covering various aspects of safeguarding and aiming to raise more awareness on key aspects of accountability such as establishing efficient and transparent complaints systems and protection from and prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. Safeguarding is a key pillar to any accountability measures that organisations must integrate into their programmes and working cycle.

When people we work with or for, feel unsafe within their workspace or global environment, it leads to critical negative impacts on the quality of our work and the objectives we intend to reach. It is therefore important that we are more aware and increase our efforts for a better understanding of the issues at hand.

This webinar is part of a series of 6 one-hour webinars, covering safeguarding, key policies and minimum requirements, complaints systems, complaints handling and managing investigations and communication. The last webinar will explore questions related to child safeguarding.

We have so far spoken generally about safeguarding and how three organisations set up their safeguarding framework, followed by an interactive session where participants explored the key policies and guidelines they need to have in place in terms of safeguarding. During our third session, we tried to understand what we need to ensure in order to set up robust complaints systems and allow all stakeholders to have a voice and report any concern they have when benefitting from activities of or working with our organisations. During our latest sessions, we spoke about understanding fair and independent investigation processes and how to ensure inclusive and thorough communication with regards to safeguarding, complaints handling and investigations.

Objectives:

The last webinar of this series will explore questions related to child safeguarding including:

  • What is important to ensure inclusion for efficient child safeguarding into programs, safeguarding efforts, communications and complaints handling?
  • How can we contextualize our communication with regards to safeguarding to include children as our audiences?
  • What do we need to communicate to whom around complaints handling and outcomes of an investigation?

Moderator & Presenter:

Ester Dross—Independent Consultant

Ms. Dross is an indépendant consultant with over 25 years of expérience, specializing in accountability, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, gender and child protection.
Ms. Dross has had an extensive exposure to humanitarian certification systems and accountability to affected populations while working with HAP International as their Complaints Handling and Investigation Advisor, later as their Certification Manager. She has been closely involved in the Building Safer Organisations Project since 2005, dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse of beneficiaries, particularly focusing on gender and child protection. Over the last 6 years and since working as an independent consultant, Ester has been leading a pilot project for FAO on accountability and gender mainstreaming in emergencies and working with numerous NGOs including ACT Alliance members, supporting and training their staff on gender issues, child

Tuesday 10 May 2022

9:00 – 10:30 UTC / 11:00 – 12:30 CEST

Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW)

The diverse needs of individuals and communities must be fully understood, recognised and addressed in order for the humanitarian community to provide meaningful protection and equitable access to dignified humanitarian aid to all vulnerable individuals and communities in need. Addressing the challenge of inclusion by holistically incorporating diverse individuals and communities, regardless of gender or age, people with particular protection needs, persons living with disabilities and/or people who are subject to exclusion and marginalisation in complex operational environments – is absolutely essential.

Humanity & Inclusion, INTERSOS, UNHCR and Women’s Refugee Commission invite you to a round-table discussion on the importance of inclusion in protection work.

The session will explore opportunities and challenges, as well as ways of strengthening inclusion in humanitarian action, drawing from experience from humanitarian programmes around the world, including protection monitoring and other protection activities. Furthermore, the round-table discussion will launch the new INTERSOS report – Protection Monitoring Lessons Learned report, a fulfilment of INTERSOS pledge made at the Global Refugee Forum (GRF). The report can be accessed here.

Moderator

Ms. Manisha Thomas, Geneva Representative, Women’s Refugee Commission

Panelists

Mr. Gregory Garras, Senior Protection Coordinator, Division of International Protection, UNHCR
Ms. Eleonora Sceusa, Global Senior Protection Advisor, INTERSOS
Ms. Ulrike Last, Global Inclusive Humanitarian Action Specialist

The meeting will be in the hybrid format:

Participation in person:

Plénière C meeting room, Centre International de Conférences (CICG), Rue de Varembé 17, 1202 Geneva

For participants planning to connect remotely, the connection details will be provided a few days before the meeting.

Kindly RSVP your participation to miro.modrusan@intersos.org by 8 May 2022, indicating whether attending in person or remotely.

CHS Revision Launch: What should the future Commitments to people affected by crisis be?

The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) was launched in December 2014 after an extensive consultation period involving hundreds of humanitarian actors from across the globe. It sets out Nine Commitments that organisations have made to people affected by crisis, and helps organisations improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance they provide.
Since its launch the CHS has been applied by a large number of organisations, which has led to considerable learning of the strengths and weaknesses of the current version. Also, during these six years, the world has changed, and the aid sector has continued to grapple with its colonial history and inequal power dynamics. It is now time to make sure we have a core standard that continue to push the agency of people affected by crises and ensures every person is treated safely, respectfully and with dignity.

These launch sessions will gather representatives from a wide range of actors in the humanitarian sector (including CHS Steering Committee members, CHS copyright holders, CHS application supporters, donors, national and international actors) and from people affected by crisis, to take stock of the experience with the application of the CHS so far and learn about it future.

Join us to launch the CHS revision process by contributing to the CHS application experience gathering and learn about the revision process (governance, objectives, timeline, process, and opportunities to contribute).

We look forward to seeing you at the session and contribute to setting up the future commitments to people affected by crisis.

Background

This launch event will be held as blended event combining an in-personand online participation. We will first provide a short explanation of thedevelopment of the CHS and the rationale for launching the revision process.This will be followed by a moderated “coffee table” discussion betweendifferent users and supporters of the CHS, focusing on the powerfulcontribution of standards to meaningful people-centered humanitarian work.

Agenda

11:00Welcome
11:05Opening remarks
11:15Brief introduction to the CHS revision (why, who, how)
11: 30Coffee table chat:
– The role of the CHS for Inclusion at community and country level:
– The donor perspective: tbd
– A regional perspective: CWS Asia
12:10Q&A, discussion
12:25Wrap up the discussion. Short consultation survey for those who are interested
12: 30Close

Speakers

The CHS Revision Launch event will feature an engaging discussion with two representatives from National NGOs who work with the CHS on a daily basis.

Ayesha Hassan is Associate Regional Director at Community World Service Asia (CWSA)

She focuses on campaigning and project implementation on Gender, Human Rights, Quality and Accountability, Livelihood(including food security with focus on DRR), Education, and Democratization. She is trained on Quality and Accountability standards such as the CHS, Do NoHarm Approach, Sphere etc. She has been working in the development sector since1997 and has a keen interest in youth-led projects. Ayesha has a good understanding of socio political and economic issues in the region. Gender, women empowerment and working with youth is her passion and forte.

Rehema Kajungu

Session facilitators: The session is being facilitated by the Co-Managers of the CHS Revision Process.

Aninia Nadig

Aninia’sbackground is in protection and forced migration issues, but she has a long involvement with quality and accountability standards in the sector. She was with Sphere for over 10 years in different roles and was part of the process the development of the CHS. She also played a lead role in two Sphere Handbookrevision processes and coordinated the Humanitarian Standards Partnership(HSP). working hard to ensure the CHS was included as one of the foundation texts for the revised Sphere standards and the HSP. More recently, she has worked as a senior HQAI auditor and a Sphere and CHS trainer, giving her insights on how to train and verify how organisations apply the CHS. SeeAninia’s LinkedIn profile for more on her background and experience. Aninia can be reached at anadig@chsalliance.org

Philip Tamminga

Philip has been involved in standards, quality assurance and accountability issues in the humanitarian and development sectors for over 25 years. He spent 10 years with the Red Cross Red Crescent movement, including senior positions in the IFRC. He also directed the annual Humanitarian Response Index (HRI) report for five years, assessing the role of donor governments in supporting effective and accountable humanitarian action. In 2012 he led the SCHR-sponsored consultation process to review standards and certification in the sector. The outcomes directly contributed to the development of the CHS and the establishment of the CHS Alliance and Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative(HQAI). For the past 7 years, he has been working as an independent consultant on quality and accountability issues for the Red Cross Red CrescentMovement, UNICEF, IRC, CDAC Network and the CHS Alliance amongst others. Philip can be reached at ptamminga@chsalliance.org

How do we convey our policies to the communities?
How do we give details about our investigation and complaint systems?
Who is informed on the decisions?

Ester Dross raised these questions while facilitating a webinar, titled ‘Communication & Safeguarding’, on March 1st, 2022. “Communication needs to be focused around our policies, what they say about the communities we serve, what protection measures it has and what we mean by PSEA and safeguarding. Moreover, it is not only important to have complaint systems but it is equally important for the systems to be known and transparent for communities using those systems. They need to know how it works, who receives the complaints and how they are responded to. It is through effective and clear communication that we create trust with the communities we serve,” said Ester.

As a continuation of the Quality & Accountability (Q&A) Week 2021, the fifth virtual session, jointly hosted and organised by ADRRN’s Quality and Accountability (Q&A) Hub, Sphere, CHS Alliance, ACT Alliance, ALNAP and Community World Service Asia (CWSA), was more focused on exploring ways to ensure inclusive and efficient communication around safeguarding, complaints handling and investigations.

Ester Dross was joined by Mandy Jones, Head of Safeguarding, OXFAM, Great Britain as a speaker in the session. Fifty humanitarian and development practitioners, from Asia and Europe, participated in this 90-minute webinar bringing together a wide array of diverse expertise and knowledge on safeguarding to learn from.

“We are focused on a survivor-centred approach and it underpins our safeguarding investigations. Safeguarding in Oxfam is a set of procedures, measure and practices, to ensure that Oxfam upholds its commitments, to prevent, respond to and protect individuals from harm, committed by Oxfam and/or any related personnel,” said Mandy.

Oxfam adopts a non-discriminatory approach for the survivor to have the full right to confidentiality, instead of exposure. “It is absolutely important for us to treat all the survivors in the same way. We also acknowledge their right to have comprehensive information for them to make their own informed decision and not be told what to do. The idea of dignity and self-determination, acknowledging that harm is being done to the survivor already, and attempting to restore power back in the hands of the survivor is crucial for the survivor-centred approach.”

We need to be able to respond to concerns with kindness, patience, honesty and compassion. It is crucial to know what survivor-centred services are available within your area, field offices and communities before dealing and engaging with survivors. Every one of us has an essential role on knowing what our responsibility is to uphold and contribute to the safeguarding culture. This will include raising awareness on safeguarding and how concerns are reported and who they are reported to. Safeguarding has to be an active agenda in your organisations,” reminded Mandy. 

While addressing a question on ways to communicate with youth under 18 years and children, Mandy responded, “We have to be aware, and must be clear on the messages we give out to the children. We should have an open discourse with them, providing them a forum to express their concerns in their own words. At Oxfam, we are very clear about child abuse and its elements such as child marriages, child labour and sexual harassment. We have to consider the access children have to be informed about the work we do, provide their feedback and what other opportunities are there for their voices to be heard.”

Participants inquired about how to avoid having misleading or fabricated claims through anonymous complaints, as well as how to determine their authenticity. “This brings us to focusing on the information we gain though investigation and witnesses after a complaint has been registered. There is an element of probability where we have to think about the likelihood of a concern happening based on the evidence gathered. Therefore, a comprehensive investigation is required to determine if the allegations are accurate or misleading. We have a significant duty when dealing with complaints, and we must preserve safeguarding by carrying out this responsibility to the best of our abilities,” Mandy explained.

While sharing her views around communicating safeguarding to the communities we serve, Samina Sardar, a participant, said, The people involved in exercising the safeguarding policies and agenda have to comfortable talking about PSEA. If a person is uncomfortable talking about it, he or she will be unable to effectively disseminate the messages and systems of complaint processes, and communities will be reluctant to share their concerns. Furthermore, in order to promote safeguarding and PSEA, the organisation and those working in it must have the same values.

In conclusion of the virtual learning event, Ester remarked, It is key that communities know the channels of communication. It is our responsibility to communicate all the channels of reporting transparently and through clear messages so that communities are aware about it and can use them effectively.”

Format: Webinar: Presentation &  Discussion
When: 1st March 2022
Time: 2.00 pm (PST)
Where: zoom – linked to be shared
Register: here
Language: English
Duration: 60 minutes
Presenter: Ms. Ester Dross
For: Safeguarding focal points, senior managers of national, international and regional NGOs and networks

Background:

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organisation registered in Pakistan, addressing factors that divide people by promoting inclusiveness, shared values, diversity, and interdépendance. CWSA is highly committed towards people centered aid and Accountability to Affected People. Over the last two years, we have offered different webinars, covering various aspects of safeguardbing and aiming to raise more awareness on key aspects of accountability, such as establishing efficient and transparent complaints systems and protection from and prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (PSEAH). Safeguarding is a key pillar to any accountability measures that organisations must integrate into their programmes and working cycle.

When people we work with or for, feel unsafe within their workspace or global environment, this has critical negative impacts on the quality of our work and the objectives we intend to reach. It is therefore important that we are more aware and increase our efforts for a better understanding of the issues at hand.

This webinar is part of a series of 6 virtual learning events, covering safeguarding, key policies and minimum requirements, Complaints systems, Complaints handling and Managing investigations and Communication. The last webinar will be dedicated to experience sharing and best practices. We have so far spoken generally about safeguarding and how three different organisations developed and set up their safeguarding framework, followed by an interactive session where participants explored the key policies and guidelines they need to have in place in terms of safeguarding. During our third webinar, we tried to understand what we need to ensure in order to set up robust complaints systems and allow all stakeholders to have a voice and report any concern they have when benefitting from activities of or working with our organisations.  The last time we met, we also talked about understanding fair and independent investigation processes, looking at them through three different perspectives; that of organisations, investigators and survivors.

Objectives:

At our fifth webinar, scheduled for the 1st March 2022, we want to try and better understand how we can ensure an inclusive and thorough communication with regards to safeguarding, complaints handling and investigations.

This webinar will explore:

  • The communication tools and platforms required  to ensure complete understanding of safeguarding and all related processes among affected communities
  • How we can contextualize this communication
  • What we need to communicate and to whom when it comes to complaints handling and outcomes of an investigation

Moderator & Presenter:

Ester Dross—Independent Consultant

Ms. Dross is an indépendant consultant with over 25 years of expérience, specializing in accountability, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, gender and child protection. Ms. Dross has had an extensive exposure to humanitarian certification systems and accountability to affected populations while working with HAP International as their Complaints Handling and Investigation Advisor, later as their Certification Manager. She has been closely involved in the Building Safer Organisations Project since 2005, dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse of bénéficiaires, particularly focusing on gender and child protection. Over the last 6 years and since working as an independent consultant, Ester has been leading a pilot projet for FAO on accountability and gender mainstreaming in emergencies and working with numerous NGOs including ACT Alliance members, supporting and training their staff on gender issues, child protection.

Follow the Learning Journey on Quality, Accountability and Safeguarding
Virtual Learning Session I: LEARN
Virtual Learning Session II: UPDATE
Virtual Learning Session III: PANEL

The fourth Virtual Learning Session, as part of the Learning Journey on Quality, Accountability and Safeguarding, was conducted on February 10, 2022. The session, designed and facilitated by Sylvie Robert, gave participants an opportunity to initiate bilateral work, through digging into concrete and focused aspects for improvement and upholding quality and accountability standards.  

What can be done practically and how?

“This session will focus on how we will design our improvement plans. Additional coaching support will be provided to those individuals or organisations who are willing to receive it. The coaching will aim at designing and/or refining the improvement plans of the concerned organisation and monitor its implementation. In the group activity today, you will discuss how you wish to do this, which mechanisms need to be adopted or improved and what actions and activities will take place,” shared Sylvie. The improvement plans will be shared with concerned management and organisations to ensure coherency through their implementation.

38 humanitarian and development practitioners from Asia, Africa and the Middle East participated in the 4th Virtual Learning Session ‘CLINIC’.

Establishing concrete strategies to put the Standards into ACTION!

Key Take-Aways

“It is critical to come up with practical measures to set the standards in countries facing comparable challenges to Syria, since there are technological challenges such as shortage of energy, internet access, telephone and other restricted resources.

Additionally, tangible ways to assist individuals on the ground living in restrictive environments must be identified, where the humanitarian mission may conflict with culture. Individuals’ personal status is affected by these contradictory conditions, necessitating psychological assistance.

Techniques for approaching at-risk populations, including children, youth, elderly, women, and other vulnerable groups, must be identified in order to encourage communities to share their concerns and risks without hesitancy. In addition, we must develop strategies to increase community trust in complaint processes relating to privacy and security of personal information, as well as educate personnel to respond efficiently and timely.

During project interventions, staff capacity needs to be built in conducting interviews, surveys, and evaluations. Integration and coordination with government agencies and local governments are also important. It is vital to raise awareness among senior management in organisations about the need of understanding these standards and their application tools as a logical aspect of the mission in achieving these standards at community and organisational level.”
P. J. from Syria

“The key priorities highlighted in the discussion included improvements to complaint processes, refined code of conduct, improved accessibility to work with the affected population, and increasing the capacities of both humanitarian staff and communities.

Organisation are constantly working to improve safeguarding and establish policies and guidelines that are based on the Core Humanitarian Standard. Furthermore, organisations are striving to enhance accountability to the affected population. However, staff and community competence on techniques and tools used to ensure quality, accountability, and safeguarding is crucial. These sessions provided valuable insights into the various contexts that exist throughout the regions, as well as expanded knowledge through the exchange of best practises and experiences.

A member in the group emphasised the need of improving the complaint system and improve its functionality for communities to access it openly and without hesitation. Moreover, policies and guidelines need to be established to cover all aspects of safeguarding including gender, diversity, protection, code of conduct and PSEA. These principles must also be communicated to communities in their native languages for communities to know what the organisation is obliged to do for them.”
N. Y. from Afghanistan

“We have prioritised the improvement in the complaint handling mechanisms. Having an effective complaint handling procedure in place ensures that your organisation is ready to overcome difficult situations, which benefits both the humanitarian practitioners and communities. It is also critical to have clear policies and procedures in place for complaint systems and how to use them effectively and efficiently.

Furthermore, our conversation led to prioritisation of the need to increase community capacity in using complaint mechanisms on the ground. To strengthen their voice and influence, communities must be aware of complaint procedures and accessibility options. This will promote community empowerment and involvement in programme decisions that directly impact them.

A well-written code of conduct clarifies an organisation’s mission, values and principles, linking them with the standards. It is equally important to revise the code of conduct reflecting the context and standards from time to time. The reviewed and amended code of conduct can then be provided to all staff and any additional training can be delivered for better understanding and implementation.”
J. P. from Korea

Follow our Twitter Handle @communitywsasia for Live Updates from this Learning Journey

Follow the Learning Journey on Quality, Accountability and Safeguarding
Update on Virtual Learning Session I: LEARN

Update on Virtual Learning Session II: UPDATE

As part of this Learning Journey on Quality, Accountability and Safeguarding, Sylvie Robert designed and facilitated a panel discussion on topics inter-connected with the quality and accountability Standards’ application through the project life.

This session combined highly committed panelists and field practitioners to exchange view and experiences on a wide range of key topics spanning the project life such as: The Do No Harm approach, building local capacities, empowerment, localisation and equitable partnerships, ethics and principles in emergencies, two-way communication mechanisms, community engagement, gender and empowerment and finally, Standards’ verifications options.

53 humanitarian and development practitioners from Asia, Africa and the Middle East participated in the 3rd Virtual Learning Session ‘PANEL’.

Applying ethics & principles in emergencies:
Codes of Conduct, Complaints and Feedback Mechanisms, including PSEAH

“The humanitarian movement is a universal movement with a lot of disparity and diversity. To meet the challenges faced by local actors on the ground, organisations must adopt a simple, up-to-date, communicative code of conduct based on universal principles. Furthermore, organisations must have a mechanism in place to ensure that the code of conduct is followed at all levels. There must be complaints procedures in place for this to happen. The method for collecting complaints must be responsive, transparent, protective, independent and impartial.”
Philippe Dureau, Dorcas

Localisation and equitable partnerships through the Nexus: Can we avoid sub-contracting only?
“Localisation should not be generalised; we need to be very context specific and understand the challenges and successes that the local actors are reaching every day. In addition, localisation is not only limited to the emergency context, but also applies during the humanitarian and the longer term, through the ‘Nexus’. Moreover, localisation is a shared responsibility between the local actors and the donor agencies. Therefore, it is important for both parties to build strong and meaningful partnerships, be active in collective advocacy and promote unified coalition.”
Eman Ismail, ICVA MENA

Do No Harm & Do Some Good: The importance of context analysis from upfront!
“Commitment 3 of CHS says Humanitarian response strengthens local capacities and avoids negative effects. Do No Harm is about unintended negative effects of our work on community and conflict dynamics. It is also about how we approach the people we work with in terms of respect, fairness, accountability and transparency. It is crucial to know the dynamics of the communities and region we are working in, and other context details. It can be difficult to get this kind of information but we need to look beyond the needs assessments that we are doing. We need to know much more about the environment, who else is living there and who are the different stakeholders involved. Staff and partners are often good sources of information.”
Corita Corbijn, ZOA

Capacity Building and Learning – Strategies
“In order for capacity building and learning initiatives to make a difference, both at institutional and individual level, we need to provide a space for discussion and have the right balance between knowledge, skills, and attitude. The CHS is a learning journey, for organisations involved, whether international or national, as well as for the CHS Alliance. We need to nurture mutual learning space, and tend toward longer learning journeys, linking theory and practice. We see great opportunity and value into this learning series involving Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and this is certainly one we can all learn from.”
Geneviève Cyvoct, CHS Alliance

The CHS verification scheme: Dreaming of a joint self-assessment led locally?
“The CHS verification is a way forward on how we can put the standards into practice. The verification is a structured and systematic process that determines how closely an organisation’s work adheres to the CHS. The verification method ensures that processes, rules, and policies are in place at the organisational level, guaranteeing that interventions are of high quality and accountable. It also ensures that such policies are followed in projects and activities on the ground. Finally, it verifies that quality and accountability measures are included in collaborative practises and tools.”
Bonaventure Sokpoh, CHS Alliance

Invaluable community engagement!
“In principle everyone agrees to involve and engage communities in the humanitarian work but when it comes to practice each context brings us new challenges. We can perform better if we know & benefit from existing tools & contextualise them based on the situation.  For example, the CHS Commitment 4 that relates to community engagement puts focus on meaningful participation. It’s requirements can guide us to function responsibly. On top of this, humanitarian practitioners must prioritise the safety & dignity of communities participating in the interventions. Staff should be considerate of what, when & how to communicate with communities. We, at ACT Alliance, are CHS certified, and each audit brings us a new perspective from communities to further improve. The CHS verification is an independent process that allows organisations to know how communities feel about our work.”
Rizwan Iqbal, ACT Alliance

Gender, empowerment and inclusion: A critical aspect to all stages of our work!
“Gender is cross-cutting humanitarian quality and accountability aspects. It is essential for improvements in humanity and accountability and many of us in the development sector are working diligently to ensure that it is fully integrated. Women’s empowerment is directly linked to inclusion and participation. Women’s participation in humanitarian programmes has been prioritised, and community mechanisms have been reinforced to ensure women’s participation. It is critical to guarantee that men and women participate in formal and informal decision-making on equal footing.”
Palwashay Arbab, Community World Service Asia

ASKs: ‘Do these considerations apply in your working context? What are limitations and opportunities? What could be concrete actions for improvement?’

“In order to apply the Quality and Accountability Standards, we need to have a collective approach. In the Syrian context, increased coordination between humanitarian actors on the ground is imperative. Furthermore, a uniform reporting system is required so that greater emphasis may be placed on the impact that must be reported rather than the report’s structure. In addition, assistance is needed in mapping target regions so that responses and interventions can be more efficient and effective.”
F. K. E. from Syria

“Donors’ requirements can be overwhelming for organisations, especially for individuals who are unfamiliar with the language and concepts of accountability to affected communities. The funding framework for humanitarian efforts at the local level must be considered. In addition, integrations must be structured so that the focal person managing complaints is clear on the needs, time, and nature of the work.”
T. S. from Pakistan

“The language and the context of the Quality and Accountability Standards have to be simple in text and meaning, in order for communities to understand and relate to them easily. A group member mentioned that one of the methods to solve this challenge was to hold theatre performances in the communities based on different chapters of the Sphere Handbook 2018. As a result, the communities were able to comprehend the handbook’s criteria and connect to them in their own context. Language can be misinterpreted in the Syrian setting. We need to figure out how to get the right message to the right individuals in a practical way. In addition, in the communities with whom we work, there is apprehension about filing complaints. People are concerned with breach of confidentiality, insecurity, or a complaint not reaching to the qualified people. We have enhanced our campaigns to raise awareness on complaint methods, but there is still more work to be done in this area.”
D. J. from Syria

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Follow the Learning Journey on Quality, Accountability and Safeguarding
Update on Virtual Learning Session I: LEARN

The second session of this Learning Journey on Quality, Accountability and Safeguarding, facilitated by Sylvie Robert, included a panel discussion which was joined by Wassila Mansouri, from Sphere and Bonaventure Sokpoh, from the CHS Alliance to share the basics, few updates and best practices of applying quality and accountability standards such as the Sphere standards, the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) and the Humanitarian Standards Partnership (HSP).

Sylvie introduced the session saying, “Today, we will update each other on how various initiatives can be taken at the field level to enhance quality and accountability through increased community engagement. It will be interesting to have an update from the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), Sphere Standards and the Humanitarian Standards Partnership and gather views on how we are – or could – practically apply these in the best possible way.”

40 humanitarian and development practitioners from Asia and the Middle East participated in the half-day Virtual Learning Session ‘UPDATE’.

Bringing the Core Humanitarian Standard & Sphere Standards Closer to People We Serve

While discussing the content of the Core Humanitarian Standard, Bonaventure shared, “The Standard places people affected by crisis at the centre of humanitarian action, and it sets out nine Commitments that organisations and individuals involved in humanitarian response can use to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance they provide. The CHS has been built upon a bottom-up approach that contributes to harmonising and strengthening the coherence of humanitarian actions. We should apply the CHS not only to improve the organisation’s accountability to people affected by disaster, conflict or poverty but also to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the organisation’s work.”

Referring to the Sphere Standards, Wassila said, Sphere has always put people at the centre of humanitarian action, recognizing that their active engagement is essential to ensure assistance meets people’s needs and supports them in their recovery. There is stronger wording throughout the Sphere Handbook 2018 that recommends working with affected people at all stages of the response instead of simply consulting them.”

Applying CHS to local contexts. Relevant Commitment and Key Actions:

“All the commitments are applicable in the context of the Syrian community and the organisations working on ground in Syria. However, our discussion identified Commitment 8[1] as most relevant as achieving this commitment will lead to fulfilling the other commitments. Consequently, one of the key actions to assign funds to strengthen the role and build capacity of individuals involved in MEAL[2] as their efficient involvement in the implementation of the standards will allow organisation to efficiently work towards achieving the standards and ensure quality, accountability & safeguarding. In addition, opportunities such as sessions, seminars and virtual events should be conducted where organisations can share experiences and best practice to increase learning.” B. S. from Syria

“We have seen that many organisations in Afghanistan are developing and enforcing policies and guidelines adhering to the Core Humanitarian and Sphere Standards. Organisations have mainstreamed the standards in their Code of Conducts and Safeguarding & Protection Policies. The mainstreaming of the standards in the project planning and designing have empowered communities and increased their participation in the interventions,” Dr. Naqibullah D. from Afghanistan

“Continuous awareness raising is mandatory for humanitarian aid workers, especially individuals working directly with the communities. Actions should be taken to make the standards available in local languages so that the communities can understand and relate to the commitments effectively.” Samreen Qaimi from Pakistan

Engaging communities while applying Sphere and the Humanitarian Standard Partnership (HSP)

“Local structures formed in the communities such as Steering and Village committees allows increased community engagement and ownership. Some organisations in India are conducting Community Accountability Assessment to assess, design, implement, monitor and evaluate community engagement and accountability activities in support of programmes and operations, especially under the themes of safeguarding and PSEAH.” Tooba Siddique from Pakistan

“Communication with the communities is key. It gives an open channel for communities and relevant stakeholders to convey the needs and ways to address the needs. Focal Group Discussions, awareness sessions, capacity building workshops and direct interviews are some few channels, which allows communities to learn about the process and relevant details of the planned intervention. Volunteers from the communities is another effective way to ensure community engagement in project interventions.” D. J. from Syria

“Communities should be motivated to be part of the impact that the projects aim to achieve. Motivation can be built through capacity building opportunities and their involvement in decision-making processes. Engaging in project interventions provides community members with the opportunity to become active members of their community and has a lasting, positive impact on society at large. It also helps communities develop civic and social responsibility skills and become more aware of what their community needs.” Fawzia J. from Afghanistan

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  1. Communities and people affected by crisis receive the assistance they require from competent and well-managed staff and volunteers.
  2. Monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning (MEAL)

 

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