Accountability seminar report Dec09- new by ashrafp





            8     D e c e m b e r       2 0 0 9

  H o r n       o f   A f r i c a   C o n s o r t i u m

      N A I R O B I .          K E N Y A

Kindly see Annex 1

Agenda :

1. Arrival and registration
2. Welcome, introduction and opening remarks
3. Presentation: Why is accountability essential in Humanitarian Operations, brief overview of
    the HAP standards for Accountability
4. Presentation: Complaints Handling in Complex emergencies- the DRC Experience
5. Presentation- Implementing Policies into Practical Accountability Action, the Oxfam
    experience in chronic Emergencies
6. Presentation: Encouraging Accountability and CRMs while Working through Partners
7. Presentation: Making Accountability and CRMs a Priority in Conflict Areas
8. Presentation: Complaints and Response Mechanisms: A Pathway to Accountability
9. Final Q& A clarifications on day‟s presentations
10. Way forward/action planning
11. Closing remarks

1. Welcome/ Introduction

The ECB project Coordinator began by welcoming participants to the seminar and thanked
everyone for taking time to attend the workshop.

1.0 Brief Introduction to the ECB Project – Chele De Gruccio (ECB Coordinator)

The Emergency Capacity Building (ECB) project was launched in 2005 to improve the speed,
quality and effectiveness of the disaster and emergency response work within the humanitarian
community. With disasters and humanitarian emergencies increasing in magnitude and
complexity, seven (7) agencies i.e. - CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, International
Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam GB, Save the Children and World Vision
International- came together to collectively discuss the most persistent challenges in
humanitarian aid delivery.

The Horn of Africa Consortium is led by ECB member World Vision and managed by the Inter
Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Disaster Preparedness for East and Central Africa.

The ECB Horn of Africa Consortium Engagement Plan (CEP) specifically highlights
Accountability and Impact Measurement as one of its three priority thematic areas of focus.

The Key Principles of ECB include:-

    1) Staff Capacity- Humanitarian response will be faster and high quality due to enhanced
       staff competencies i.e. skills, knowledge and attitudes, organizational structures /
       systems, policies and collaboration and experience sharing among consortium members,
       working through the IAWG Training & Capacity Building Group (TCBG).

    2) Accountability and Impact Measurement- Disaster affected communities in the Horn of
       Africa will be empowered and entitled to design, influence, monitor and assess
       humanitarian interventions.

    3) Disaster Risk Reduction- Empowered, resilient communities are able to assess and
       manage risk and recover from shocks; ECB member agencies engaged in dialogue and
       advocacy with government ministries regarding national policy framework with effective
       links to local government implementation; awareness at all levels; breaking the cycle /
       change paradigm of chronic emergencies by using DRR lens to bridge humanitarian and
       development programming through the IAWG DRR sub working group and the DFID
       funded ACCRA project.

The ECB project has prioritised Accountability in its CEP through Objective 2:. All agencies
have a mechanism of collecting and analyzing feedback from communities affected by
emergencies, apply ECB framework by sharing existing practices within countries, consult with
beneficiary communities in order to identify most appropriate means to gather feedback and
joint inter-agency sessions to engage in dialogue regarding how feedback has been actioned.

For more information on the ECB project kindly visit the project website:
or contact Chele at:

1.1 Introduction to the IAWG Accountability and Quality Assurance Sub Working
    Group- Nick Wasunna (Chair)

The Accountability and Quality Assurance sub working group falls under the Training and
Capacity Building Group (TCBG), one of the 10 thematic groups of the IAWG.

The sub group aims to chart and implement a forward-thinking agenda to collaboratively work
with agencies in the region to improve their quality, field collaboration and coordination, ability
to measure impact and accountability to affected populations and communities. This is done
with the informed collaboration of external stakeholders, and draws on existing Quality and
Accountability initiatives (Sphere, HAP-I, ALNAP and People in Aid).

This ECB sponsored seminar has therefore been organised by the Horn of Africa consortium,
in partnership with the Accountability sub working group. The Sub group hopes to promote
trainings for the different agencies operating in the region, with a focus on TOTs (Training of
Trainers) in order to encourage more local expertise and resources here in East and Central

Why are we focusing on Accountability? It is becoming increasingly recognized that
accountability in humanitarian operations is important because:-

    •   There are varying levels of trust amongst the NGOs operating in the region.
    •   There are only a limited access of resources, and with so many NGO agencies now all
        in competition for funding.
    •   There is a clear need for tangible demonstration of humanitarian impact (how is it
        changing people?)

Key principles :

   •   Accountability is essential from both internal and external perspectives.
   •   Participation-engaging those they seek to assist at all levels.
   •   Transparency and good governance.
   •   Learning and knowledge management - reviewing evaluations and how they are used in
       future implementation.
   •   Independence from political and economic influence.
   •   Promotion of equity and respect of people‟s dignity
   •   How to share issues and lessons learned from activities being undertaken

1.2 Introduction to the Inter Agency Working Group (IAWG) –
Mohammed Khaled (Chairperson)

The Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Disaster Preparedness provides a forum for
regional organisations - international NGOs, the Red Cross and UN Agencies - to enhance
information exchange and regional coordination in order to respond to emergencies in a timely
and efficient manner. The main objectives of the group include:

       •   To enhance information-sharing and coordination between organisations in disaster
           preparedness and emergency response.
       •   To increase understanding of the roles and capacities of partner organisations and
           maintain regular contact between them.
       •   To support the exchange of technical information, examples of best practice and the
           strengthening of preparedness and response capacity.

The IAWG has several innovative and dynamic initiatives planned for the coming year, and
encourages greater participation from humanitarian actors operating in the region. Agencies in
attendance at this seminar were therefore invited to attend upcoming meetings and sub working
groups and engage in activities planned for 2010.

For more info on IAWG you can visit the website at

To be included in their mailing lists or receive notices of upcoming events, contact the IAWG
Administrator at

2. Why Accountability is Essential in Humanitarian Operations –
(Killen Otieno, World Vision International, Seminar Facilitator)

      Through the provision of essential services, humanitarians find themselves exercising
       control and power over vulnerable people.
      Through the provision of these essential services, there arises a circumstantial imbalance
       of power between humanitarians as givers and communities as receivers of aid –
       whereby in most cases, the receiver is rarely consulted to determine the type of
       assistance needed or whether it is appropriate or not.

      Humanitarian Accountability therefore tries to counter-balance this imbalance by giving
       decision rights back to the communities.
      Accountability assists by bringing back power to the community so that they have a say
       in the assistance given to them by humanitarian organizations.
      Humanitarian accountability has been given higher priority and attention over the years,
       and now most agencies and stakeholders in humanitarian operations demand the
       inclusion of accountability measures in their programming

2.1 Purpose of accountability

  Accountability is becoming more widely recognised as an imperative component of
 humanitarian operations. Since the launch of HAP standards, a number of humanitarian
 agencies have embraced humanitarian accountability and are endeavouring to improve their
 efforts in this regard. Examples of accountability initiatives undertaken include:

           •   Development of Accountability Frameworks
           •   Promoting and/or Implementing Information Sharing
           •   Establishment of Complaints and Response Mechanisms.
           •   Developing tools and conducting staff training and sensitization on accountability

 Certain agencies have made accountability a foremost priority and have made reasonably
 advanced progress, while others have more recently acknowledged the need for strengthened
 accountability measures and are just now putting it on their agenda. However, there are
 definite successes in this field which can be used collectively amongst humanitarian
 organizations to learn and improve our efforts.

 This forum therefore presents a platform for ECB and IAWG members:-

           •   To share our experiences and challenges.
           •   To learn with peer agencies and exchange best practices.

2.2 Objectives of the ECB Accountability Seminar

   1. Develop a comprehensive understanding of the importance and integral nature of
      accountability systems and mechanisms for humanitarian operations.
   2. Benefit from presentations of various experiences, successes, challenges and future plans
      in humanitarian standards and accountability.
   3. Share field operation tools designed to implement humanitarian accountability, including
      Complaints and Response Mechanism (CRM) systems.
   4. Achieve a common understanding of key aspects and tips for successful implementation
      of CRM systems.
   5. Network with other humanitarian agencies and strengthen coordination.
   6. Agree on future key focus areas that address humanitarian standards.

2.3 Brief overview of the HAP Standards for Accountability

Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International (HAP) was established in 2003 as the
humanitarian sector's first international self-regulatory body. Members of HAP are committed to
meeting the highest standards of accountability and quality management. HAP certifies members
that comply with the HAP Standard in Humanitarian Accountability and Quality Management,

providing assurance to disaster survivors, staff, volunteers, host authorities and donors that the
agency will deliver the best humanitarian service possible in each situation.The HAP 2007
Standard in Humanitarian Accountability and Quality Management offers a means to help relief
agencies measure, validate and improve their humanitarian activities a basic minimum
requirement for agencies engaged in humanitarian action.

The HAP principles of accountability include:
   • Commitment to humanitarian standards and rights.
   • Setting standards and building capacity.
   • Communication, participation in programmes.
   • Monitoring and reporting on compliance.
   • Addressing complaints.
   • Implementing partners.

What is the difference between Sphere Standards and HAP?

    •   The SPHERE project includes technical standards on minimum requirements for service
        delivery in various sectors (Food Aid and Food Security, Wat/San, etc) while HAP is a
        quality management standard.
    •   SPHERE attempts to provide a standard benchmark for humanitarian indicators which
        agencies can strive to achieve in delivery of services. HAP has subsequently developed
        standards that monitors implementation, and offers a system of independent auditing.
        It puts quality management and accountability as top priorities and ensures
        beneficiaries are included in the design, delivery and monitoring of humanitarian

The HAP standard has six (6) bench marks (refer to the HAP Standards and Guidance which can
be found on the HAP website:

Benchmark 1: The agency shall establish a humanitarian quality management system.
Communities need to know organizations and what they do and stand for. Introduction to the
community is very important, as well as sharing of reports and progress updates.

Bench mark 2:The agency shall make the following information publicly available to intended
beneficiaries, disaster- affected communities, agency, staff and other specified stakeholders: a.)
organizational background i.e. who are you and what your project is about, b) humanitarian
accountability framework, c) humanitarian plan, d) progress reports and e) complaints handling
procedures. All this should be stated very clearly from the beginning of any project within the

Bench Mark 3: The agency shall enable beneficiaries and their representatives to participate in
Programme decisions and seek their informed consent. Community members need to be part of
the decision making process.

Benchmark 4: The agency shall determine the competences, attitudes and development needs of
staff required to implement its humanitarian quality management system. When recruiting
people it may help to know their profile, skills and behavior.

Benchmark 5: The agency shall establish and implement complaints-handling procedures that are
effective, accessible and safe for intended beneficiaries, disaster affected communities, agency

staff, humanitarian partners and other specified bodies. Agencies need to ensure that
communities have mechanisms in place to direct their complaints and concerns.

Benchmark 6: The agency shall establish a process of continual improvement for its humanitarian
accountability framework and humanitarian quality management system.

While this was just a brief overview of the HAP International standards, please visit their
website or refer to the following attachments for additional information.

3. Complaints Handling in Complex Emergencies- Zia Choudhury, Danish
Refugee Council

Complaints handling has been recognized as an important component of being accountable to
the beneficiaries.

Accountability brings positive outcomes –while agencies tend to be accountable to donors
beneficiaries have often been left out and they are the very centre of accountability. Some of the
positive outcomes of developing and implementing accountability systems are increased dignity
for our target communities and better quality programmes. Accountability can help to achieve :-

    •   Quality of service delivery.
    •   Trust between the implementer and the client.
    •    Promotes transparency.
    •   It redresses power imbalance.

Examples of standards used for quality delivery include: Sphere standards, Hap 2007, Child
Protection standards and UNHCR standards, to name but a few.

Why does DRC make this a priority?
   Most agencies lack standards and yet it is imperative to incorporate these into
      humanitarian operations.
   The industry needs regulation. It is important that we regulate our projects to ensure
      consistency of aid delivery.
   How the agencies are regulated depends on individual agencies and their varying levels
      of commitment. Some agencies make it a priority to audit themselves internally,
      however, there are solid rationales for external regulation as well.
   Systems are now in place to verify independent internal mechanisms, such as HAP.
   Beneficiaries are the key stakeholders of humanitarian aid and they are best suited to
      judge the quality of aid agencies.

       Participation is an important way to change power imbalance, but participation alone
        does not make up accountability; it also requires more involvement and engagement
        throughout the entire project cycle, from initial assessments to monitoring and
        evaluation of implementation.

       It does need to be acknowledged that not every beneficiary wants to participate. It‟s not
        easy to involve every participant, therefore it is essential to use community

Operating in complex emergencies is incredibly complicated, and establishing effective
complaints mechanisms in such situations even more so. For example, in Somalia there is
continual insecurity for staff, harsh conditions, inconsistent access to project sites, and funding
issues due to the short term nature of emergency projects. In such a volatile and varying
operating environment, complaint mechanisms give a sense of power to the communities over
the aid being delivered, reinforces people‟s dignity, and sends a message to communities that
their opinions about appropriate aid and their involvement in its delivery is important.

For example, DRC implements a food distribution programme in Somalia – and at the onset of
their programme they explained publicly to the community the humanitarian standards they
were going to use, incorporating a variety of information, education communication materials
(posters, radio, mobile phone hotlines) in order to convey the message. Creativity and
innovation is essential in ensuring the communities receive the necessary information in an
appropriate, effective and understandable manner.

Questions and Comments:

Q: What about the UN system? Do they have similar standards for their operations?
Response: The UN has its own regulatory system, evaluations are done for projects that come
from their headquarters. They also have their own investigation unit in Geneva to look into
complaints lodged about their operations.

Q: How has processing complaints being done in DRC?
Response: Complaints handling can be achieved at two levels, within DRC at country / regional /
HQ level, as well as communities can alternately contact HAP International if they feel
appropriate action has not been taken to their satisfaction.
Q: Should complaint mechanisms have a means of providing feedback?
Response: Every mechanism must have a means of providing feedback in order that communities
realize that their complaints have been received, acknowledged and actioned. Otherwise
communities will lose faith in the system, and the organization will lose its credibility.

4. Implementing Policies into Practical Accountability Action, the Oxfam
experience in Chronic Emergencies-
(Awadia Ogillo-Oxfam GB, South Sudan Country Director)

Oxfam has an Accountability Policy to help the organization establish and achieve its standards.
Oxfam views Accountability as a process through which an organization balances the needs of
its stakeholders and beneficiaries, as well as promote transparency and participation. Oxfam has
therefore developed a matrix to assist in its work.

4.1 Experience from Southern Sudan.
Oxfam GB is one of the only organizations working in the Western Equatorial village of
Dorowa, where the majority if not all of basic services are lacking. Despite lack of guaranteed

funds, Oxfam manages to implement public health programmes, including the provision of clean
drinking water, provision of sanitation, and hygiene promotion through community mobilisers.

In its programmes, Oxfam ensures beneficiaries consistently inform programme choices and
implementation, and are viewed as the judges of impact. In its Dorowa programme Oxfam uses
a feedback mechanism to ensure community voices are heard and acted upon. During meetings
community members are encouraged to provide feedback, ask questions and raise their

4.2 Challenges/lessons learnt from Oxfam GB

     •     The goal should be to receive realistic feedback from the community, therefore it is
           good to be flexible and open to different methods.
     •     No feedback / complaints is not necessarily a good thing. If no feedback is being
           provided this could be a sign that somewhere something is wrong but the community is
           not willing or cautious to approach the agency. It is tempting to think that everything is
           going alright when there are no complaints. However, agencies should proactively
           encourage feedback and initiate dialogue to ensure the needs are being met.
     •     Prepare staff to receive and address feedback and complaints so that issues are
           effectively actioned and reach the appropriate levels within the organization.

Questions and Comments:

Q: Does Oxfam have a step by step complaint procedure at the community level?
Response: yes, complaints are raised to the local Oxfam staff first who will then forward it to the
relevant management with the agency for onward action.

Q: Has Oxfam had any experience setting clear limits concerning the feedback?
Response: yes, setting limits can be helpful if these are handled in a clear and transparent way. It
helps to clarify expectations from both staff and communities about what is, and what is not, in
the control of the agency to address.

Q: How does Oxfam deal with complaints that are not within your organization but under your
project area?
Response: there are committees in place that look specifically into these issues. Oxfam tries to
make it clear to the communities what is and is not in its remit to address, however, concerns
can always be raised to the Programme Manager in that area and feedback will be provided
about how the issue was handled.

5.       Encouraging Accountability and CRMs while Working through Partners-
         (Zamzam Billow, Oxfam Novib, Somalia Programme)

Oxfam Novib works in Somalia and is an affiliate of Oxfam International. The agency uses a
model routed in the principle of “equal partnership” with a near or complete handover of day to
day implementation responsibility to local partners.

Oxfam Novib and partners use community managed monitoring systems and clear guidelines for
ways of working with partners. In order to partner with Oxfam Novib, agencies must have
delivery structures and feedback mechanisms embedded in the community. Careful and
elaborate partner identification and appraisal processes are encouraged.

5.0        Why CRMs?

              CRMs are important to monitor and improve on programming.
              Empowering stakeholders.
              Discouraging corruption, theft and abuse.
              Increased transparency.

5.1 Ensuring quality and accountability

Oxfam Novib employs a range of mechanisms to ensure that their partner programmes are of a
high quality and meet global humanitarian standards. They try to ensure that resources and
program delivery is made accountable through innovative ways of monitoring and tracking
program delivery. The monitoring and accountability practices are handled at different levels of a
programme i.e:

   •       Community level
   •       Partner level
   •       From Oxfam Novib upwards to Oxfam International level

5.2 Community-Based Monitoring

       •    Before design/implementation of any project, ensure that communities are involved in
            the project cycle directly or through community selected project management
       •    A Project Management Committee (PMC) -or Village Relief Committee, VRC - is
            created, composed of local elders, women representatives, youth representatives,
            chiefs and local authorities
       •    Selection must be transparent and based on fair criteria which should also be agreed
            through community meetings and embedded in the contractual documents with the

5.3 Community Managed Actions

       •   As a key link between the community, the partner and the ON, PMC play a central role
           in project implementation. Thus the tasks of the CPC members and their voluntary
           contributions to the project should be clearly explained and emphasized to the
           community during the initial. Information broadcasting: declare to both the communities
           and other local actors via different inter-agency forums and in some cases local media
           what/where actions, what budgets and program activities are located and with which
           local partner.
       •   This broadcasting and transparency maximizes/elicits feedback from various
           stakeholders about what they themselves are doing, what they think of the intervention
           etc. This checks possible overlaps and misinformation.

5.4 Accountability and Quality Assurance

     •     Real time evaluations and peer reviews: conduct real-time evaluations and reviews of
           the programs, and not only after the program has ended. Carry out evaluations mid way
           through the project implementation and augment this with peer reviews among local
           agencies and also in some cases between INGOs.

Questions and Comments

Q: How does Oxfam Novib work with partners who have different policies?
Response: Potential partners are briefed on Oxfam Novib‟s policies and its expectations of
implementing partners, and from there the two agencies together try to build on common
ground. Staff attitude and awareness on CRM is crucial, as well as levels of readiness to handle
feedback and its consequences.

6.       Making Accountability and CRMs a Priority in Conflict Areas:
 (Daniel Ogwankwa -HIJRA Somalia)

HIJRA is a national Somali NGO with programmes focusing in :
     •     Agriculture
     •     Food Security
     •     Public health
     •     Livelihoods
     •     Water /San

HIJRA is the primary implementing partner for Oxfam GB in South and Central Somalia. The
agency mainly target IDPS around the Mogadishu corridors and provides wat/san services.

6.0 How HIJRA demonstrates Accountability :
    • Staff recruitment and induction.
    • Assessment planning.
    • Project design.
    • Actual Project implementation.
    • Monitoring and evaluation.
    • Application of universally acceptable best practices in emergencies (Sphere standards,
      RCRC, Good enough guide).

6.1 Staff recruitment and induction

Accountability starts with the recruitment process and includes very clear TORs, thorough
induction of new staff is mainly about their programs and expectations. Placement of staff is
based on specific competencies. HIJRA is currently in the process of implementing the People in
Aid code.

6.2 Assessment Planning.

The objectives of every assessment are clearly stated. The agency involves and informs the
target community and local authorities before any assessment takes place. They check who is
doing what and where and get as much information as possible. Local representatives are invited
to participate, and sessions are scheduled to discuss and interview different groups e.g. IDP
camp leaders, men and women. Efforts are made to seek the views of these groups on their
identified needs and priorities, and follow up communication is ensured to inform these
stakeholders about any decisions taken.

6.3 Assessment Findings and sharing.

Local representatives are invited to participate in project design, and provided with a clear
explanation on selected target beneficiaries and their roles in the project. MoUs are signed
outlining the different parties‟ roles and responsibilities. Together a complaints and response
mechanism is jointly designed, which designates responsibility to a specific officer in HIJRA who
reports to the complaints committee.

6.4 Project Implementation.

The target community plays a significant role in developing selection criteria, assisting in the
actual selection of beneficiaries, and the actual Implementation of activities. By ensuring
participation of the beneficiaries throughout the entire project management cycle, HIJRA works
to improve its accountability at every step of the process.

6.5 Monitoring and evaluation-

All programs seek to engage the beneficiary communities in the monitoring and evaluation of
HIJRA‟s programming. Following M&E exercises, results are shared back with the community.
Ensuring continual communication helps to strengthen HIJRA‟s credibility with the beneficiary

Questions and Comments :

Q: How are the results of assessment reports shared with the communities?
Response: Outcomes and findings are shared through the dissemination of monthly reports and
community discussions. Financial reports are also shared, and explained in order to promote
transparency as well as accountability. HIJRA finds this an important exercise as these
community briefings puts our agency on an equal level with the communities, and helps to
strengthen confidence and trust.

Q: How is the monitoring and evaluation handled by the communities?
Response: Particularly working in enclosed settings such as IDP camps, community monitors are
essential in helping the agency monitor the effectiveness of our programmes and provide
feedback on issues such as cleanliness of the camps, availability of potable water, quality of
wat/san programming, etc. A monitoring committee is in place which assists the project staff to
keep on top of any issues needing attention or improvements needing to be made in the delivery
of services.

7.       CRMs: A Pathway to Accountability
( Elie Gasagara, FPMG, World Vision International)

World Vision has just recently developed its Complaints and Response Mechanisms and is
currently in process of rolling out the tool in select pilot countries. The CRM tool started with
the Sri Lanka programme for the Tsunami response. World Vision recognizes the high
importance of accountability to all stakeholders – including communities, children, donors, and
government. . The agency created a global accountability unit to coordinate all accountability
efforts for the organization. While World Vision has been successful in implementing CRM in its
relief and food operations, the agency remains challenged to expand this to development

7.0 CRM – WVI Journey to Accountability

World Vision started working on accountability in 2005. HAP International supported World
Vision to pilot Community Help Desk (CHDs) in Kenya, Southern Sudan, Honduras and
Zimbabwe. They discovered the need for standardised tools for implementation of Complaints
and Response Mechanisms. The lessons learned were reviewed and shared during an event held
in Nairobi in October 2008, then revised accordingly to incorporate feedback and finalised in
April 2009.

7.1 Successful experiences with CRM

Information provision and feedback received from beneficiaries improved targeting, transparency
and satisfaction of beneficiaries. Examples from food projects include:-
    a) Lesotho: reported people receiving food with names of people who passed away – this
        was corrected.
    b) Kenya: Community Help Desk members resolved the case of a sick and destitute
        mother who was forced to work for food or be dropped from the list
    c) Georgia: reported delays in food distributions led to prepositioning food in IDP camps
        for timely distributions.
    d) Zimbabwe: positive staff attitude change in dealing with beneficiaries.
7.2 Challenges of implementing CRM :

     •     Complaints Response Mechanisms in political sensitive environment –N. Sudan and
           recent camps in Sri Lanka.
     •     Perception that CRM is a „relief‟ practice –not necessarily for development.
     •     Budget to implement CRM increases the cost of doing business.
     •     Provide adequate technical support to all offices starting CRMs.
     •     Changing organizational culture and attitudes to prioritise community engagement,
           dialogue and feedback.
     •     Better balancing demands on staff time and resources between beneficiary priorities
           with those of our organization, donors and peers in the sector.
     •     Increasing „sophistication‟ of NGO sector requires staff to continuously integrate new

Questions and Comments

Q: How widely do you open your complaint mechanisms in the community? Who all is able to
access and utilize the system?

Response: The system is open to beneficiary communities as well as to the surrounding
community. Non beneficiary complaints can be more challenging to handle, however, any
complaint received needs to be accepted and acted upon.

Q:What are some of the tools that you could use for feedback?
Response: WVI has employed a wide range of tools, often times the agency has to review the
situation to determine what method is more appropriate for that particular community. To date
WVI has used suggestion boxes, graphics and pictures, help desks, and community group
discussions, etc. Some agencies rely solely on oral testimonies (speech), however, a case study
was made of one project who used tape recorders- each household was given a tape recorder
to record their feedback and tapes were collected anonymously.

Other methods could include songs, dramas that send messages, focus group discussions,
reference groups that share information about programs. In Zimbabwe World Vision used
school children to develop dramas, skits and plays with key messages. Creativity is very
important and often appreciated by the communities.

Q: What sort of tools are in place for those who are illiterate?
Response: WVI is currently reviewing how to make systems more accessible for all members of
the community, particularly those who are illiterate and cannot utilize written tools. Other
agencies have addressed this in their projects by engaging agency focal points to personally
receive complaints, allowing others to make a complaint on their behalf, using hotlines, etc.

Q: Are we able to develop CRMs and influence such accountability requirements at a cluster
Response: To date this approach has not yet been attempted. In the future at some point there
might be a collective attempt to try this, however, what can be done at present is joint trainings
and capacity building for agencies to raise awareness and sensitise those operating in the cluster
system on accountability issues.

8. Final Q&A on Presentations

Q: What is the difference between feedback and complaints?
Response: Feedback systems can incorporate complaints at times, and allows for flexibility.
Feedback can be positive or negative, while complaints are primarily critical and require some
form of address and response.

Q: Why is accountability just now becoming an issue and receiving attention? Why haven‟t
CRMs been a priority before?
Response: Organisations have been trying to address this for quite some time now, so it‟s not a
question really of this only receiving attention now. There have been multiple efforts made by
many agencies to improve their accountability systems and develop tools to address CRMs. As
pointed out throughout the day, a variety of agencies have been addressing this for years, since
the Rwanda genocide and especially following the West Africa scandal in 2002 regarding mass
abuse and exploitation of aid agencies.

However, the ways of humanitarian operations are changing, and it is becoming increasingly
common for agencies to try to address issues such as accountability in a more coordinated,

collaborative approach. Through initiatives such as the ECB project, there are now forums
where agencies can come together to share their experiences on how they‟ve tried addressing
AIM and the lessons learned, in order to move forward together in a consistent and
standardized manner.

Q: Accountabilty is important, but the bottom line for many agencies will be ”how much will it
cost?”. With funds dwindling and programmes being more commonly short term grant funded,
how can we ensure that our agencies are able to invest in such initiatives?
Response: Donors are becoming more aware and supportive of the recognized need for agencies
to have funds available for accountability. In fact, more and more donors are demanding such
systems be put in place before agreeing to fund operations. So as an agencies we have a strong
case to advocate with donors that more cash is needed and accountability is an area that
cannot just be ignored.

Way Forward: So now what needs to be done?

    1) To promote and advance humanitarian accountability in our agencies?
    • Start with senior management and work your way down – agencies must have their HQ
       and management support in order to ensure there is a culture of accountability running
       through the entire agency.
    • Find out more about the HAP standards and how these can applied in your
    • Advocacy with the donor community to ensure more understanding and buy-in about
       the essential nature of accountability systems in emergency operations and thus the
       need for associated funding.
    • Develop case studies from different agencies and different countries which can be
       shared to promote on-going best practices and lessons learned in the sector.
    • Increase intentional learning and sharing among ourselves-use avenues such as the
       IAWG, ECB etc to share events happening in the region.

    2) How do we promote Accountability here within this region and amongst the members
       of the IAWG?
    • A first step might be to take an inventory of current AIM practices that already exist – a
       mapping of sorts - and try to build onto those.
    • As previously mentioned, it might be worthwhile to share case studies across different
       countries and various agencies to get a better idea of the best practices in existence.

The ECB project will continue working on Accountability and Impact Measurement throughout
the life of the project, linking up with other AIM initiatives to develop sector-wide learning, as
well as calling upon thematic advisors who can possibly assist our agencies in the Horn to move
forward with our work in this area.

The IAWG‟s Accountability sub working group will also continue to meet on a regular basis to
review priorities of member agencies, and review capacity needs and how to most effectively
address these. Agencies with an interest in engaging more actively in AIM initiatives are highly
encouraged to attend upcoming meetings and feed into future planning.


To top