One of the lessons learned of the 2005 earthquake was the need to deliver effective and accountable disaster response. To achieve this organizations require better accountability planning followed by the execution of training and exercises to validate both. Since 2005, there has been tremendous progress made in Pakistan in terms of accountability to affected populations. This is evidenced in the increasing attention of many INGOs and national organizations to operate complaints and response mechanisms, by an increase in beneficiary-focused evaluations and the desire to uphold the moral commitment organizations make to those they assist in times of disaster. However, all these activities are often implemented once the disaster strikes.
Accountability in this context means much more than the financial reporting requirements those organizations have to their donors; instead, it focuses on the responsibility of organizations to implement transparent and professional programs and projects. In fact, through the Accountability Learning Working Group (ALWG), based in Islamabad, many NGOs are working together to address their commitments to accountability. This prepares them for disasters as they share knowledge and experience of implementing international quality and accountability standards, such as the HAP Standard in Accountability and Quality Management and the Sphere Project’s Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response.
CWS –Pakistan/Afghanistan is one such organization that believes accountability to affected populations must be featured in all its activities, including emergency preparedness. CWS-P/A has been providing assistance to all organizations working in Pakistan and Afghanistan through the provision of expert training and technical support on quality and accountability. We have learnt that through sharing our experiences and expertise, we have best achieved our commitments to international standards as a component of emergency preparedness as well as during emergency phases.
Both HAP and Sphere standards establish baselines for which organizations can assess their programs and monitor their progress against accountability goals so as to ensure that program participants are provided relevant information in a timely manner. Community members are informed of their rights to complain for poor services and that they have access to decision-making when it comes to what types of projects are being provided, how they will be implemented, and in assisting to identify the most vulnerable in their communities are not forgotten.
To get accountability “right”, organizations must plan ahead of the disaster. This means we must incorporate accountability into our emergency preparedness activities if we wish to deliver effective and efficient services in the midst of a disaster.
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