Accountability, quality, and performance are very important considerations in humanitarian response. NGOs have been at the forefront of many quality and accountability initiatives, such as: The Sphere Project, Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP), www.hapinternational.org and the Emergency Capacity Building Project Good Enough Guide, www.ecbproject.org
Numerous quality and accountability initiatives exist. See Cragg, L. (2012)Mapping Exercise on Quality & Accountability Initiatives, Joint Standards Initiative: http://pool.fruitycms.com/humanitarianstandards/AS-Mapping-Exercise-Report-from-Liza-Cragg-website.pdf
In recent years, the introduction of the Humanitarian Reform process (2005) and the Transformative Agenda (2011) have put quality, accountability, and performance higher on the agenda of UN and humanitarian agencies, particularly through the IASC.
Specific initiatives include:
- Communications with Affected Communities (CDAC) Network :www.cdacnetwork.org https://www.cdacollaborative.org/sdm_downloads/do-no-harm-and-peacebuilding-five-lessons/
For NGOs to promote greater performance and accountability in the humanitarian system, these same principles need to be demonstrated in the management of their coordination mechanisms. Translating the key principles of the 2010 HAP Standard in Accountability and Management into internal processes of NGO coordination bodies is critical in the following four areas:
Governance Structures and Decision-Making Processes
- How do the governance structures promote and enable accountability?
- What do the terms of reference say about accountability?
- Have the decision-making processes and management systems been designed to promote appropriate inclusiveness and voice?
- How will the NGO coordination body actively support and promote accountability amongst its members?
- What agenda will it pursue and what service will it offer?
Feedback and Complaints
- How will stakeholders provide feedback and how will complaints be handled?
Evaluation (further discussed here)
- How will the NGO coordination body be evaluated (both on-going and periodic)?
Possible Ways that NGO Coordination Bodies can Promote Accountability
Promoting an accountable humanitarian response
1. Assisting in the identification of accountability gaps at system, agency, and community levels and advocacy to address gaps
2. Ensuring adequate information and communication with affected populations
3. Ensuring feedback and complaints mechanisms are integrated into coordination structures, including clusters, particularly at field level
4. Facilitating the enrolment, organisation, and implementation of accountability-related trainings, e.g., Sphere, HAP
5. Making accountability materials and tools available and facilitating discussions on adapting these tools to local contexts
· Communication with Disaster-Affected Communities (CDAC) in Haiti (2010)
· Accountability and Learning Working Group in Haiti (2010) and Myanmar (2008)
· Accountability indicators in the monitoring of the overall response, Myanmar 2008, Philippines 2014
· NGO Forum Steering Committee who addresses any gaps in cluster performance to the relevant UN agency in South Sudan (2010)
· NGOs hosting and facilitating the work of People in Aid, Sphere, and HAP in Haiti (2010) and Myanmar (2008)
Ensuring Accountable NGO Practice
1. Developing NGO Codes of Conduct specific to a given emergency (building on existing Codes)
2. Developing means for enforcing the Code of Conduct (Ombudsperson)
3. Criteria for membership
4. NGO registrars/registration
5. NGO accreditation
6. Peer-reviews and participation in monitoring and evaluation
7. Making public evaluations and learning exercise particularly through websites and other free media
· NGO Codes of Conduct in Iraq, Afghanistan, occupied Palestinian Territories with emphasis on neutrality and advocating for non-armed escorts to distinguish NGOs from military and not-for-profit status to distinguish NGOs from government contractors
· InterAction’s Haiti Accountability Report (2010)
· Peer review (local and international NGO) in Real Time Evaluations (Save the Children and CARE in Myanmar)
· Development of good ‘partnership’ guidelines for INGO/LNGO relations in Myanmar (2008)