From Katy, Standing Team Coordinator

In early 2011 when I joined the ECB inter-agency Accountability & Impact Measurement Standing Team as the coordinator, I honestly had no idea what kind of experience I was in for. I was passionate about accountability to beneficiaries. I had learned about the original ECB Standing Team from 2007. I had served on CARE’s internal Quality & Accountability team. I knew the team had the support of the AIM Advisers, who were each organization’s champions for accountability. And the Standing Team ‘experiment’ seemed to present an incredible and rare opportunity.

But I also knew that what lay ahead of us would be hard. We would be forming a large, inter-agency team of accountability specialists from six agencies. These people would not know each other (with very few exceptions). We all spoke different languages and came from all over the world. Some of us were very experienced accountability practitioners and others were just starting out. Some were senior staff, others more junior. Most were humanitarian workers but some came from the development side of their organizations. Before the first workshop, many of us had never traveled beyond our own country.

I am happy to say that the last two years have gone well beyond my expectations. The journey has been a beautiful one.  Together, with our Standing Team members, our field ‘clients’ who requested our services, our AIM Adviser champions, and our sector partners, I can confidently say we have met the expectations and goals we originally set out for ourselves.

We held three incredible face-to-face learning workshops. The first two, Accountability Fundamentals and Joint Evaluations, were held in 2011 to prepare the team for deployments. These focused on building a common understanding of accountability principles and frameworks, understanding AIM tools, developing deployment protocols, and committing to documenting our learning. The last workshop was held to document and learn from our experiences individually, as agencies, and as a team, to review and interrogate our model, and to consider options for the future.

We developed two amazing tools: the Standing Team toolkit and the Good Enough Guide Training of Trainers module.  The toolkit houses an extensive number of top notch tools and resources from agencies and sector networks on “how to’s”, including case studies and practical experience. The Good Enough Guide Training of Trainers module is part of a suite of tools to help agencies to implement accountable systems and create accountable practices and ways of operating.

We committed to four deployments this year. We exceeded that goal! We facilitated eight deployments to six countries (two to Bangladesh and Bolivia, one to Nepal, Niger, the Horn of Africa, and Indonesia). Deployments often helped country offices to identify accountability gaps and put action plans into place. Others were to facilitate trainings on accountability. These deployments were generally very well received, and several of our clients cited the team’s deployment as one of the most significant experiences for their consortia.

We created a fantastic deployable team of 30 accountability champions from six agencies. This is the achievement I am most proud of! We have all grown so much in our understanding of accountability thanks to these deployments, where we served our colleagues in country offices. These have been well recorded in reports (posted to the ECB website) and in our blog here.

The future of the team is unknown as of now. But at this point, I believe we have a solid base of evidence on what has worked well and what could be modified to improved the model.

I have very much enjoyed getting to know the team members from around the world. I have learned so much about complaints & feedback systems all over the world.

In closing—I thank you, accountability champions, for making the Standing Team an incredible experiment!


From Sarah, co-Standing Team coordinator

It has been a few weeks since I left the ECB Project and my work with the Standing Team, but certainly not too late to offer reflections on my experience and thanks to my colleagues.

My work with the ECB AIM Standing Team was a tremendous growth experience for me.  I learned so much from the inspiring work being done by the Standing Team members, which I will carry forward.  While I gained a great deal of knowledge on the successes and challenges of implementing accountability systems, the lessons I will hold closest go beyond these technical details of accountability systems.

One of the aspects of the Standing Team that I valued the most was the fact that it brought together professionals from a variety of geographic locations, with different backgrounds and varying levels of experience. I learned during our Nepal workshop that when new energy and perspectives are combined with years of practice, the outcomes can be exciting and unexpected. I learned how much our programs can be improved when we share our experiences across agencies and across cultures.  I learned that the keys to real collaboration are patience and a truly open mind. Finally, I learned that, when working across the world, as our agencies do, face-to-face meetings (though costly) are incredibly valuable for meaningful dialogue, building camaraderie, increasing motivation, and reaching common understandings!

Thank you to all of the Standing Team members and my ECB colleagues for teaching me so much. I am extremely grateful.  Best of luck!  And don’t forget to use the AIM Standing Team Toolkit!

Idrissa, on the right

Idrissa, on the right (photo courtesy Zahairou Mamane)

We recently received news that we have lost a member of our team. Our friend and colleague, Idrissa Amadou, passed away earlier this week. We mourn his loss and send our condolences and prayers to his family.

Idrissa joined the ECB world as a part of the Niger consortium in 2008. He was a CARE staff member of and contributed to the global development of the ECB Knowledge Management & Learning strategy. He was passionate about creating a learning environment within CARE and the larger ECB world.

In 2011, he was nominated to join the ECB Standing Team by his CARE global accountability Advisor.  He participated in the Casablanca training on Joint Evaluations. Idrissa left CARE in early 2012, taking a position with Oxfam in Burkina Faso. Luckily for us, his Oxfam colleagues were keen to support him, and he kept up his membership in the ECB team.

The ECB Niger consortium requested a deployment for Standing Team services in October of 2012.  Idrissa was a logical choice and the consortium requested that he participate in the deployment. Along with another colleague from CRS, he traveled home to Niger to participate in the two-week deployment. He gave his all for those two weeks and then some.

Idrissa on his Niger deployment

Idrissa on his Niger deployment (photo from Niger consortium)

In 2011, Idrissa said this about himself:

“Since I am with CARE, I have occupied a position that has a link with accountability and impact measurement, and this is my current job area.  I believe in this process and I am convinced that it is the best way to ensure that we reach people who are in need.  It is one of the best way to contribute to CARE’s vision and mission of ending poverty and social injustice and the Standing Team provides a space for learning and sharing.

I support accountability and impact measurement by sharing experiences and participating in real emergency situations.”

We celebrate the life of Idrissa Amadou. We give thanks for the contributions he made both to our team and to our sector. We remember him for his warm smile, his friendly nature, and his kind ways. We deeply appreciate the advocate that he was for the most vulnerable and for disaster affected populations.

We will miss him.

Over the years, we worked closely with Silva Ferretti. Not only was she a co-facilitator in all three of our workshops, she also worked closely with the coordinator to develop all of the key Standing Team tools. Following our recent workshop in Nepal, she leaves a final note to the team (and the final pictures):

It was a pleasure to co-facilitate the Nepal workshop, and to have the privilege to see again many AIM Standing Team members I met in Jakarta or Casablanca. And of course, to meet new team members! It is always such a lively crowd.

I was impressed by how much the team had achieved, and the ripple effect of members’ work over the last 1.5 years. Clearly the AIM standing team had facilitated much needed learning and sharing on accountability and impact measurement.

It was refreshing to see the passion, the enthusiasm and the knowledge brought by each participant in the room, and to be reminded of the importance and the benefit of connecting people and organizations.

So, I wish good luck to the AIM Standing Team members and participating agencies. Keep up the good work you are doing!

Here are the pictures taken during the workshop – the people, the flipcharts, and all, in no particular order! – to remember the workshop and our fun and energizing days together! Just click on the link below.

Pictures from the Learning Workshop

You read the first part of the Indonesia Standing Team deployment, here’s the second part, written by Ajaz (Mercy Corps) about his deployment with Kaiser (Oxfam) and Yvonne (CRS). 

During the interviews with representatives of ECB member and other stakeholder organizations (both national and international) it was emphasized that there is a need to have work collectively to enforce shelter accountability. The experiences and best practice of one organization must be shared. This would help not only to maximize the impact but would also make optimal use of the limited resources available in shelter programming.

During our interagency team’s interviews with representatives of the ECB Indonesia organizations, we found that many organizations have achieved higher benchmarks in the five key elements of accountability which could be highly useful for other stakeholder organizations given the openness and willingness of organizations to acclimatize best practices in shelter accountability. We also identified many gaps through these interviews and the shelter accountability workshop, and a lack of collaboration among stakeholder was one area. The other key gap identified was a gap in leadership and governance related to accountability. Therefore, agencies should review their strategies, disaster readiness or preparedness, partnership and capacity strategies and community of practice in shelter accountability. As few organizations use different impact measurement and accountability tools and (like Good Enough Guide) it is necessary to share the usefulness and experience of adapting such tools. We recommended to  ECB Indonesia to promote learning across organizations.

The Shelter Cluster Forum in Indonesia should work with BNBP (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana – the national disaster management agency) as member of the Community of Practice to effectively coordinate and facilitate emergency response in Indonesia.  This would help to improve the quality of emergency response and would also help to better understand its role and new regulations in disaster response that would potentially impact the accountability to affected populations.

Other than the detailed gap analysis of organizations involved, following were the key learning’s from the workshop:

  • Significant work has been done in accountability to affected populations in Indonesia. The existing level of level of accountability and the recognition of its understanding is higher than in other ECB consortia countries.
  • There are legal challenges in disaster management laws currently in Indonesia. These changes would have significant implications on INGO interventions in emergency response.
  • The Indonesia Shelter Cluster Forum should work as a umbrella organization to provide support for knowledge and experience sharing and provide a platform  for joint advocacy initiatives.

Thanks to our colleagues in Jakarta for hosting us!

Standing team members Hugh Earp (ECB Project) and Angela Rouse (CARE International) recently attended a talk on communication technology and accountability to crisis-affected populations. The event profiled two projects funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund which aim to improve NGO accountability to communities in crisis through the use of innovative communication technology.  Here, Angela gives a little background on the complaints mechanism that DRC is using in Somalia.

Piloting Accountability Systems for Humanitarian Aid in Somalia

In Somalia the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is seeking to address accountability in the context of remote management so as to enable meaningful beneficiary participation and strengthen the demand-side of local level governance and community-based organisations.  The organisation is using mobile phones, internet, on-line communities and social media to collect feedback from communities, all of which are mapped using the Ushahidi platform, first used to map reports of election violence in Kenya in 2010.  Community members are able to send a text message using their mobile phone with any feedback or complaint on DRC’s activities.  This text is payable at the normal, local rate which seems not to be a barrier to submitting an issue.  The SMS is received and reviewed by a dashboard administrator, who removes any identifying information for confidentiality purposes and posts the message to the map.  Have a look at the map here.  You can zoom in and then review complaints by location.   For example, on 19 March 2012 the complaint illustrated below was submitted – you will see the location mapped, the original complaint and the translation and – importantly – the follow up that was made in response.  Thinking back on tool 12 of the Good Enough Guide you’ll see this system ticks many boxes:

  • it is an accessible system provided you have access to a mobile, although there are also other ways in which complaints can be submitted, such as through agency staff
  • complaints are handled in a clear, systematic way that ensure each complaint receives a response and appropriate action
  • the complainant receives a text message confirming receipt of the complaint
  • it allows tracking of whether the complaint has been investigated and acted upon, or whether it is still pending
  • it helps to promote consistency: ensuring similar complaints receive a similar response
  • confidentiality is ensured
  • it allows learning: statistics and trends can be tracked and can inform future approaches and programming.

SMS feedback

More information on this project can be found here.

The second project that was presented was around using the radio to communicate with communities in an interactive way in Haiti.  Read more about it here: Mobile technology – listening to the voice of Haitians.