TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT
HQAI is driven by a mission and works closely with its partners. We are convinced of the benefits of independent auditing for the sector, but our stakeholders' equal conviction may resonate more with you.
Read what some of the audited organisations, governments, partners and affected persons are saying. And for the record: There is no hierarchy or hidden agenda in the order of the quotes.
One of the most significant developments that we’ve witnessed as Tearfund Netherlands and our partners is that we now place a greater emphasis on the quality of our work. We’re pleased to report that we’ve made noteworthy progress, particularly in terms of community accountability and the implementation of key policies that enable us to carry out our work more effectively. Guido de Vries, Tearfund Netherlands Excutive Director, February 2024
The incisive analysis by HQAI's auditors has helped Help a Child to define and work on key areas of improvement in policy and practice, and thus has certainly not become a paper tiger but a living process of continuous improvement. Geert De Jonge, Manager Expertise & Development at Help A Child, January 2024
By upholding the CHS, we strive to express unwavering compassion, integrity, and accountability, ensuring that our humanitarian and community development efforts reflect the highest ethical and moral values in providing aid to those in need. We passed this big milestone, and that is so encouraging! But the journey isn't over, and we need to keep working to uphold this standard at the highest level to provide the best work possible for the vulnerable communities with whom we work. At World Renew, our CHS certification helps us achieve our shared vision, and we remain dedicated to continuous improvement. We are so thankful to be part of this process. Carol Bremer-Bennett, USA World Renew Executive Director, January 2024
HQAI establishes confidence between critical humanitarian partners. And that’s why I am so motivated by their mission and convinced by their impact. Independent, objective auditing is vital at a time when local actors deserve scaled resources from international donors to meet the multiple challenges of our times. Yves Daccord, Renowned Humanitarian Leader, International Strategist, Influencer, and Former Member to HQAI’s Board and General Assembly, December 2023
The audit process has been transformative for CAFOD, resulting in positive changes. These include strengthening organisational processes and developing approaches that enable us to fulfil the CHS commitments in a way that aligns with our partnership approaches and local leadership commitments. Vicky Shearer, Organisational Performance & Evidencing Manager at CAFOD, December 2023
HQAI CHS audits are a very rich process where we interact with many departments and whole projects of the organisation, including communities, field offices and senior management. Both auditors and organisations emerge with a better understanding of themselves and of the intricacies of humanitarian workings. This knowledge is the first step to honest conversations about challenges and also a great way to discuss what works well and showcase the work of organisations outside of traditional communication-crafted messages through the assessment of an independent third party. Marie Grasmuck, HQAI Senior Auditor, December 2023
Undergoing the audit process has improved World Renew as an organisation by giving us the opportunity and accountability to think through our processes and systems. The audit experience provided space for honest and judgement-free self-assessment in the interest of continuous improvement. I personally appreciated how the challenges presented by the process were action-oriented and feasible, not overwhelming. Naomi Bula, Director of Marketing & Communications at World Renew Canada, December 2023
CHS Audits for us are special, as they look at us holistically, both in terms of the broad spectrum of the nine commitments, but also from different angles that include the voices of the people we serve. This makes every audit a very constructive and formative exercise in itself, interviews and follow-up conversations with HQAI auditors are often also moments of reflection and ideas. For us, concluding an audit is, therefore, always somewhat an inspiration: It confirms where we have moved forward while helping us understand where we should have more ambition in our journey to become the most accountable we can be as an organisation. This is not least due to the quality of the auditors we had over the years. Volker Hüls, Head of Effectiveness, Knowledge and Learning at Danish Refugee Council (DRC), December 2023
CHS audits are a learning process for organisations as they allow them to identify areas for improvement as well as their strengths. As an auditor, I have found that our audits help organisations to improve and, as a result of these improvements, communities and people affected by crises are better supported. Jorge Menendez, HQAI Supervisor Auditor, December 2023
This certification will be an additional driver and motivation for us as an organisation and as humanitarian workers to enhance and strengthen our humanitarian interventions and further scale up the conformity with CHS to the next level. Essam Abdely, Program Development & Grants Manager at Hand in Hand For Aid and Development (HiHFAD), December 2023
CHS certification has been an incredible identity for EFICOR. It gives us great branding and visibility at the national and international level stakeholders. It also helps us to be intentionally quality-conscious and financial prudence. It ensures our role as good stewards of resources and people-centric implementation processes. Ramesh Babu, Executive Director of EFICOR, December 2023
As an auditor, the CHS audits enable us to work in partnership with a variety of different organisations in our sector, helping to provide a mirror onto their own systems for quality and accountability. Our reports reflect both the systemic strengths of the organisation as well as highlighting some critical areas for improvement. Staff dedication to improving their work is motivating and inspirational. Conversations with community members inspire us and breathe life into the audit process. Sarah Kambarami, HQAI Senior Registered Auditor, November 2023
CHS verification is not a one-time achievement but a commitment to ongoing improvement. It encourages organisations like ours to assess and enhance their policies, processes and practices continuously. Being verified against the CHS also publicly validates our commitment to upholding the highest standards of humanitarian practice and accountability internally. Showing that we are working hard to meet this global mark continually increases the credibility and trust we get from donors, partners and, most importantly – the people we serve. Abdullah Al Kaff, Partnership Officer at Building Foundation for Development, September 2023
The simple reason is that local people are the first responders to any crisis as was evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic and
thus need to have the capacity to make important decisions in a limited time. Second, indigenous people know their context
the best… While working for Friendship, before localisation even became a norm, I realised that unless the donors and
people in need are brought together, the donor would never trust or understand the severity of the situation.
Localisation has become the buzzword recently, but it needs to be implemented in a very systemic manner. There needs
to be a clear understanding of what local and international organisations can do; considering that both have a very specific
set of skills to offer. Simply put, an international organisation cannot understand the context better than a local individual
and a local organisation cannot monitor as efficiently as an international organisation due to a lack of resources, as we can
envisage in the coming years with the economic crunch everywhere, and human capital. Therefore, both organisations
should try to fill each other’s gaps as opposed to engaging independently. We need to build this partnership together to
make a global team and work towards better funding and aid. Let’s not look at local or national organisations as exclusive of
each other and focus on the complementarity of the two. Runa Khan, Executive Director of Friendship Bangladesh, March 2023 HQAI Annual Report 2022
At Takaful Alsham we are seeing more complaints across all our projects, to which we respond well, and so encourage more to come forward.
Before CHS certification, around 65-75% of programme participants knew how to complain; since the implementation of changes, this has increased to 90%. Mohammed Ezaldeen, Quality Manager at Takaful Alsham, September 2022 for the Humanitarian Accountability Report HAR
For the last four years, CHS certification audits have shown that we have a weakness in our feedback and complaints handling systems, or a ‘non-conformity’ in the language of the independent CHS auditors at HQAI.
At DRC, we knew this had to change. Following on from an internal review triggered by seeing our verification scores against the CHS and numerous requests from global colleagues, DRC created a global Community Feedback Mechanism Guidance and Toolkit. It is a significant addition to our ability to be accountable to crisis-affected people.
Crucially, for DRC, this guidance marks significant progress in our CHS verification journey to improve our work and deliver our CHS Commitments to those we serve. We are excited to report that we see our feedback and complaint mechanisms steadily improving, as shown through our annual CHS certification audit scores. Joanna Nevill, Global Advisor, Accountability and Participation Division for Effectiveness, Knowledge and Learning, Danish Refugee Council, July 2022
This process has empowered us as much as our partners. It has made us accountable to them and the communities we serve, who have entrusted us with opportunities to take on leadership roles not only at a district but also at a national level. For example, we have been entrusted by the Ministry of Health to chair and coordinate the national working group for mental health and psychosocial support, and many more achievements in terms of trust from both the government and donors. In the last three years we’ve been doing the audits, this has increased our resources from donors such as Dutch Relief Alliance, USAID, Danish Church Aid, UNHCR, and, to some extent, ECHO, who have also used our audit reports to shorten their due diligence processes. As an example, we obtained a US $20 million grant from USAID to lead a project as the first time ever local prime agency in the country, subcontracting three other national NGOs as implementing partners. Our annual budget has consequently increased by 40%, and our staff motivation has greatly improved, leading to enhanced donor satisfaction as well. To conclude, I would encourage organisations, especially local and national, to sign up with the CHS Alliance and for a due diligence assessment scheme that suits their situation, because the benefits they will enjoy are many, from increased donor confidence and funding to improved internal policies and procedures, to being more accountable to the people that they serve. And finally, addressing the donors, I would like to reassure them that the HQAI audits and auditors are extremely detailed, and their rigour can be trusted. Rehema Kajungu, TPO Uganda, during the HQAI session at HNPW in 2022. Ms. Kajungu spoke about the benefits of the CHS verification scheme for TPO Uganda, who has recently bridged from Independent Verification to Certification against the CHS.
Being able to rely on an external body will reduce the burden for all stakeholders, including us. It will be a gradual but exciting phase! Peter Taylor, Head of the Safeguarding Unit at FCDO, during the HQAI session at HNPW in 2022. Mr. Taylor spoke about the pilot project for the direct funding of local NGOs by donors, developed by HQAI in collaboration with FCDO and DANIDA. The project will map donor due diligence requirements both against the CHS and against one another, hoping to identify a common bridge with a CHS audit.
In using the HQAI CHS audit to cover 80% of the ECHO assessment, we took a chance, and thought that it was worth it - happily ECHO approved it! The reason was to have donor recognition of the CHS, which is a standard that we really believe in, because Act CoS puts communities at the centre. The CHS audit considerably reduced costs, allowing us to use more resources towards affected communities. I appeal to donors and organisations to have a deeper look at these mechanisms and align their due diligence processes with CHS external verification. Coleen HEEMSKERK, International Director of Strategic Planning at Act Church of Sweden (Act CoS), during the HQAI Donor Round Table in 2021
We are deeply thankful for the work of HQAI and CHSA in streamlining this whole due diligence process and for having a certification in place which we can adopt and rely on. The CHS represents a Gold Standard for us. Joe Hein, Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Luxembourg, at the HQAI Donor Round Table in 2021
We appreciate meeting the auditors. For our community it is very important to be able to express our suggestions and our opinions so that the (audited) organisation can improve. The process will improve the lives of our families.
If there is a problem or complaint, we can easily report that. Ayat, mushroom farmer, Indonesia, April 2019
The changes we made have significantly improved our relationships with the communities we work with. Rizwan Iqbal, ACT Alliance, December 2020.
ACT Alliance is the world's largest faith-based humanitarian, development and advocacy organisation. The network brings together international, national and regional organisations. Quality and Accountability are a fundamental part of our vision and we would like our members to focus on these principles, too.
We see the HQAI certification as an excellent tool to achieve this objective and expect to have a very close cooperation with HQAI in promoting this agenda of transparency. Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary, ACT Alliance, November 2017
DFID is looking at the level of convergence between its due diligence requirements and HQAI's CHS audits to explore the scope for economies of scale by avoiding duplication of assessments. Mary THOMPSON, Safeguarding Unit, FCDO (former DFID), October 2019
HQAI was very open and approachable to find a model that maximises impact and value for our group structure. With all this cooperation the process remained very independent. (...) The report highlighted immediate actions and longer-term improvements for ActionAid to address, including clear recommendations on the functioning of the group.
THE PROCESS WAS AN EYE-OPENER. The organisation now knows its collective strengths and weaknesses. Richard Miller, Humanitarian Director, ActionAid International, October 2018
It is very important for me to trust the system Resnovati, weaver, Indonesia
The fact that the audit is external and the report goes public shifts the conversation. It gives more power to flag certain mechanisms and processes. Nigel TIMMINS, Oxfam International, October 2019
HQAI is critical to the CHS Alliance. It brings the independence and rigour which we need to honour, respect and promote. We have different roles for the same goal: how to support organisations to better work with people in crises. Tanya Wood, Executive Secretary, CHS Alliance, October 2018
The CHS certification was a transformative experience for EFICOR because the way the independent auditors looked at the standard was different from the way we did during the self-assessment. Prem LIVINGSTONE, EFICOR, December 2019
Quality assurance is a two-way street: both donors and NGOs have a responsibility to lift this agenda of quality and accountability. Mille Døllner Fjeldsted, Head of Section (Humanitarian Action, Migration and Civil Society), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, November 2017
All Danish Civil Society Organisations operating in fragile or humanitarian contexts have to be third-party verified or certified against the CHS in order to receive humanitarian funding by DANIDA.
This mandatory approach is not only putting people at the centre, strengthening the focus on quality and accountability and leading to positive learning within the organisations. It also demonstrates DANIDA’s own accountability toward the political leadership and tax-payers.
Danish humanitarian assistance is demonstrably professional, timely, effective and accountable. CERTIFICATION IS AN INVESTMENT WHICH DEMONSTRATES VALUE FOR MONEY. Morten Jespersen, Permanent Representative, Ambassador, Denmark, Oktober 2018
HQAI's methodology facilitates a systematic review of policies and practices (...) and the auditors showed great flexibility to react on and adapt to a changing context.
The certificate is helping Oxfam to re-build relationships and trust. Marta Valdès Garcia, Deputy Humanitarian Director, Oxfam International, October 2018
The certification process has helped our staff to understand that the CHS really has to do with them, and they have a more holistic approach to it now. The process has given us a momentum to improve our Quality & Accountability procedures and practices, a work that we had started some years ago. Aarno Lahtinen. Quality & Accountability Manager, Finn Church Aid, November 2017
IBC was certified by HQAI in 2019. The audit has enhanced our services on the ground and our budget has increased by 7% since the certification. Nalan Üker, IBC, October 2019
Being certified from HQAI gives our local organisation such spices and such flavour. The international community, particularly the donors like organisation that are certified on aspects like accountability, credibility and having more transparency. Qassem Saad, Director, Development Action without Borders, NABA’A, July 2019
Norwegian Church Aid found the opening and closing meeting in the head office very helpful. It was a great opportunity to put the CHS on the table and have the General Secretary highlight the importance of the standard to all staff. A very positive experience. Kjell Magne Heide Advisor accountability and administration, Norwegian Church Aid November 2017
HQAI is a principled institution offering third-party assessments that are evidence-based, rigorous, and centred on the CHS
The CHS and HQAI have the potential to empower the whole eco-system, including humanitarian and development actors. Philippe Besson, Head, Multilateral Division, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SDC, October 2018