Harmonising donor assessments & CHS Verification
Towards Grand Bargain Commitment 4: harmonising donor assessments & CHS Verification
February 2020. This article was originally written and published by the CHS Alliance.
In recent years, it would seem that demands on partnership capacity assessments and due diligence processes have increased, especially with the rigour of more in-depth PSEAH due-diligence processes. Yet Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) verification could hold potential to support the drive for harmonisation of partnership agreements, saving time and avoiding duplication in operations.
Bringing together donors and NGOs at Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) 2020, the CHS Alliance and HQAI held an interactive discussion on how CHS verification can cover a substantial amount of donor partner capacity assessment requirements and due diligence checks, without donors needing to compromise rigour.
Mervat Shelbaya, Head, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Secretariat opened the meeting reflecting on the current state of the humanitarian sector:
With global humanitarian needs at record levels, it becomes more vital than ever that we cut duplication and management costs wherever we can. Yet we know this cannot be at the expense of keeping affected people at the heart of all that we do. I know first-hand, from my position in OCHA, that putting the people receiving our services in the driver’s seat of humanitarian action is the only way to ensure aid is really effective and relevant. Mervat SHELBAYA, Head, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Secretariat
Call to save time and avoid duplication
Experts in humanitarian financing, from the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) set the scene, reminding participants of the background to 2016’s Grand Bargain Commitment 4, where aid organisations and donors committed to harmonise partnership agreements to save time and avoid duplication in operations.
It is healthy for an organisation to look regularly at systems within our organisation by external audits to comply with donor requirements – but it is costly. says Cecilia ROSELLI, Head of Partnership and Humanitarian Policy Unit, NRC.
Doing it well at the beginning of the project cycle – already at the partner assessment stage – is important for harmonisation and simplification of reporting in a later stage. Jeremy REMPEL, Head of Humanitarian Financing, ICVA.
CHS verification for simplification
Tanya Wood, Executive Director, CHS Alliance outlined the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) and it’s Nine Commitments that organisations and individuals involved in humanitarian response can use to put communities and people affected by crisis at the centre of humanitarian action. Tanya went on to underline that the CHS is the result of a global consultation process, drawing together key elements of existing humanitarian standards and commitments.
Pierre Hauselmann, Executive Director, HQAI followed by explaining how the CHS was designed so that its application can be measured. Measuring performance through the CHS verification scheme helps organisations learn the extent to which accountability standards have been incorporated into their work and highlights which areas they may consider improving. Independent verification and certification against the CHS undertaken by HQAI provides a detailed picture of the degree to which organisations have successfully implemented the CHS, as well as providing a road map for making improvements.
HQAI has compared certification audits against the CHS with donor partner assessments – in one example we found that 85% of the questionnaire could be answered by the CHS audit. A clear potential for CHS verification to harmonise and simplify donor partner assessments Pierre HAUSELMANN, Executive Director, HQAI
Sharing current examples
Donors and NGOs discussed how donors’ recognition of CHS verification could be an effective enabler of their joint commitment to harmonise and simplify reporting requirements, while ensuring accountable aid.
Panellists and audience members alike shared varied examples of CHS verification already saving time and avoiding duplication:
Shortened versions of partner capacity assessments are available for CHS verified organisations as an incentive shared Lys KULAMADAYIL, Germany Federal Foreign Office
From a Programme perspective, no other due diligence process has surpassed the robustness and rigorousness of CHS verification, which are assessed by credible, experienced auditors Mayumi FUCHI Global Programme Accountability Lead, Islamic Relief Worldwide
The discussion is happening between donors in different working groups, but it is an incredible complex and technical process when you go deeper Claire CLEMENT, Humanitarian Adviser, Australian Mission to the UN
Since 2017 CHS verification is a requirement for DEC. CHS indicators are part of the reporting template to DEC Katy BOBIN, DEC
We were changed by CHS certification with HQAI” reflected Prem Livingstone, EFICOR India. “In the thousands of remote villages where we work, people now know how to complain Prem LIVINGSTONE, EFICOR
Join the bold
More than 100 aid organisations have undertaken or are in the process of undergoing CHS verification, demonstrating the sector’s huge commitment to creating a culture of accountability.
More donors (governments, UN and INGOs) need to be bold and use the CHS to increase the sector’s effectiveness and efficiency through harmonisation and simplification of their partner assessments.