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Archive for January, 2012

source: ECB Project, ACAPS

We are thrilled to announce the upcoming Bangladesh Standing Team deployment. Details are still forthcoming, but here’s a bit we can share with you now.

When: 3 weeks in April

Who: 1-2 AIM Standing Team member and 1 AIM Adviser

Costs: The Bangladesh consortium will cover the costs of the trip, and Save the Children Bangladesh is lead there.

To do what: review and document the current practice of accountability of the 7 agencies of the consortium, and create an action plan for improvement

Details: While the Terms of Reference is still in draft form, the AIM ST member and the AIM Adviser may:

  • Review the practices of accountability at the agency level through pre-existing data on accountability and other agency-level reports, and through field visits and interviews
  • Design and facilitate a day long interactive workshop to share the findings, including best practices and identified gaps  in practice of accountability
  • Write a report on the findings
  •  Design an action plan

Contact the  Standing Team Coordinator with questions or expression of interest!

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Registration is now open for two InterAction workshops funded by the  U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.  Must RSVP by February 1. This could be an interesting opportunity for Standing Team members to explore complaints mechanisms.

Community-based complaints mechanisms  to address sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA)  February 27 – 28, 2012 BANGKOK

This workshop will equipyou with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide a confidential, accessible, fair and consistent means of reporting concerns with regard to SEA allegations by beneficiaries.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Assess, review, and explore existing agency complaints mechanisms and share lessons learned;
  2. Develop an effective community-based complaints mechanism;
  3. Write a skeleton complaints mechanism that can be further adapted for agency implementation; and
  4. Build on existing guidance on how to engage communities to design organizational procedures that will encourage beneficiaries to come forward with SEA complaints.

Costs and Travel Support    The cost of the training is free, including breakfast and lunch during each of the training days, but participants will be required to pay for their own travel and hotel. InterAction will also be offering the opportunity for travel subsidies to those who qualify, depending on availability of funds. Click here for more information.

Investigations  of SEA Allegations Workshop February 29 – March 2

Please indicate if you wish to attend both trainings in your Workshop Application in Bangkok and RSVP by February 1, 2012 to Margot Bokanga (mbokanga@interaction.org). These workshops are part of a project of InterAction’s SEA Sub-Working Group to build NGO capacity to address sexual exploitation and abuse. There will be additional workshops in Nairobi, Port au Prince and Washington, D.C. For more information on the project and more workshops, click here and visit http://www.interaction.org/sea

E-Learning Tools           

 If you can’t attend these workshops (since none of you are in Bangkok!), take advantage of InterAction’s new learning tools here: www.interaction.org/sea. Do let us know what you think of these tools, and whether you would be able to attend any of these workshops!

  • SEA 101” – a 23 minute introduction to the basics of SEA for aid workers
  • Managing SEA Investigations” – a 13 minute introduction to managers’ role in establishing codes of conduct, complaints mechanisms and managing investigations following established policies and protocols.

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In a disaster, communities have urgent questions:

“How can I get health care?”

“What can I do to make sure my family is safe?”

“When can I return home?”

“Who will help me rebuild my house?”

And, crucially, “Who will listen to me so that I can explain my problems, and find answers?”

In the aftermath of many natural or man-made disasters, the opportunity for affected communities to have their voices heard is still rare. This was found to be the case by a 2011 assessment of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa by the Joint Standards Initiative. “Collectively, the humanitarian community fails to realise that humanitarian responses are often undermined precisely because people’s information needs are considered a low priority” wrote Jacobo Quintanilla, Internews Humanitarian Director and first CDAC Coordinator in Haiti, in a blog on the Humanitarian Practice Network site. Enabling communication between the humanitarian agencies and the disaster-affected allows the latter to use relevant information to weigh in on the services aimed at them.

Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Global was founded by a group of international relief and development organizations including British Red Cross, Save the Children, IFRC, and OCHA, and media development agencies including Thomson Reuters Foundation, BBC World Service Trust, International Media Support (IMS) and Internews. As of 2010, all of these agencies financially support CDAC and represent the CDAC Steering Committee.

“CDAC’s central objective is to provide a coordinated service to enable humanitarian operations to get lifesaving information to affected populations and to channel their voices back to the providers of assistance working with local media and non mass media communications” (www.cdac-haiti.org).

CDAC aims to make such communication standard practice in humanitarian programming in order to make interventions more effective and improve accountability and transparency to the people.

Today, CDAC member agencies are collectively working to:

  • Raise awareness of the need and benefits of effective communication with disaster affected populations
  • Reach out to aid agencies to support and facilitate their communication with affected populations
  • Collate and document examples of best practice, existing methodologies, and data from monitoring and evaluation exercises
  • Map new technology initiatives to improve information exchange
  • Explore ways of incorporating communication with disaster affected communities into global humanitarian standards (e.g. HAP and Sphere)

CDAC in Haiti

CDAC was most extensively involved in Haiti’s earthquake response. After the earthquake in Haiti, CDAC Haiti, led by Internews and funded by OCHA, launched the first-ever humanitarian operation with a collective, multi-agency effort to coordinate communication between humanitarian agencies and the disaster-affected. Working through an emergency media center created by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), CDAC provided an important coordination platform for an unparalleled collective communications effort. The initiative brings together the humanitarian field with communications, including radio, mass media, SMS, web-based and local media and journalists, as well as more traditional channels of communication.

 CDAC in PakistanWhile CDAC network activities are not longer operating in Pakistan, the site still provides information on CDAC member organizations’ ongoing activities. CDAC Pakistan facilitated research on information needs and information access of flood-affected communities in Sindh and Punjab in November 2010. The research was designed to help aid agencies design and implement their communication strategies. The research includes an accessible online database with the types of communication people have access to, such as radio, mobile phones, or face-to-face contact.

 So you can check out the CDAC resources and see how you can facilitate more communication in your work or invite assistance from CDAC members to promote more accountability to communities! Infoasaid and ActionAid are two such organizations which can assist humanitarian professionals in incorporating communication into humanitarian work. As always, the AIM Advisers are available to support you in these efforts!

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A Standing Team deployment is currently being planned to take place in La Paz, Bolivia in April. While still in draft form, the focus will be for the Standing Team member to co-facilitate with an AIM adviser a four-day training for about 30 participants from various ECB agencies, UN agencies and other organizations. The training fulfills a request from OCHA to build capacity of accountability and impact measurement among ECB and non-ECB agencies and for these agencies to come to agreement on basic elements of the practice of AIM in accordance with the Good Enough approach for emergency and non-emergency settings.

The training will:

  • strengthen capacity by reinforcing the concepts, tools and best practices of AIM
  • cover how to address everyday operational challenges
  • analyze the strengths and weaknesses of an intervention in the field and participants’ own work and propose immediate improvements participants can make in their work.

The overall objective of the training is for participants to practice a minimum quality of AIM in the field.

We are very excited to see how this deployment goes. Contact the Standing Team coordinator to learn more!

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We are happy to share with you a December 2011 study, Formal Systems of Constant Dialogue with Host Societies in Humanitarian Projects: Research on Accountability to Beneficiaries: practices and experiences of aid agencies, by Heller, Költzow and Vasudevan from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. It looks at the vastly different ways in which development and humanitarian aid agencies perceive and practice accountability to beneficiaries. Agencies studied included CARE, Oxfam, UNHCR, ICRC and IFRC and others.

The paper covers a broad set of issues around accountability. Here are a few topics:

  • the different perceptions of accountability
  • concrete accountability mechanisms
  • agencies’ lessons learned and challenges around accountability mechanisms
  • the origin of the accountability movement in the mid-2000s
  • enforcing the implementation of accountability mechanisms to the community within an agency
  • accountability to agency staff
  • the dangers of transparency
  • challenges around participation

The authors take a critical look at the role of accountability mechanisms in addressing the imbalance of power between host communities, the agency and the donor. They say that in reality, donors and agencies still hold immense power over what interventions are implemented, despite communities’ needs, which may change over time and vary within.

Most organizations interviewed were identified to be weak in the area of sharing of feedback and best practices both internally and with other agencies. The paper refers to ECB’s work regarding the need for large Western NGOs to learn from each other around accountability. Check it out!

So, what do you think? Do you agree?

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