Archive for February, 2012

In January 2012 infoasaid conducted a five-day training, “Communication is Aid,” in Kenya on

Emmanuel Kivunga facilitating a session.

how to improve two-way communication between humanitarian agencies and the local population using mobile phones and local radio both prior to and during an emergency. The AIM Standing Team’s Emmanuel Kivunga from World Vision, Kenya, facilitated a session.

infoasaid is a two- year, DFID-funded project that is being implemented by two media development organisations – Internews and the BBC Media Action. The vision of infoasaid is to help humanitarian organizations integrate two-way communication into their emergency programmes.

The importance of two-way communication during emergencies and Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Global was discussed in this previous blog .

Emmanuel reported that he learned from the training that:

  • Establishing two way communication with disaster affected communities during emergencies provides a space for dialogue. In this way, feedback and complaints may be shared so that appropriate actions can be taken.
  • During emergencies, communication channels may be destroyed and access to aid hampered. There is therefore need to communicate that there are new places to receive aid, such as new heath facilities.
  • In big disasters where the transport network has been destroyed, communities will need to receive guidance on basic survival before aid can reach them. For example, agencies can communicate how to prepare a simple oral re-hydration solution in case of cholera outbreak. This will assist an infected person before s/he can reach a health facility.
  • Communication during emergencies may give hope to disaster affected communities. Letting the people know that an agency or the government is aware of the situation, is planning a response, or is on the way to provide assistance gives assurance to the affected communities.

infoasaid has preparedness tools to ensure we are ready to communicate when we respond to disasters. Their message library is currently being updated and should be ready shortly.  If you’d like to join the infoasaid distribution list for updates on their tools, email  miranda.eeles@infoasaid.org.

If you are attending accountability trainings or facilitating sessions, please let us know so we can feature a post about your work to share the learning beyond the walls of the workshop  room!


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A January 2011 Network Paper by the Humanitarian Practice Network of the Overseas Development Institute is about common needs assessments (CNAs) in post-emergency situations. It discusses

  • how to design and implement a common needs assessment (CNA)
  • the benefits, drawbacks and challenges of CNAs
  • how to overcome problems of common needs assessments to ensure that they are useful and timely
  • the lessons learned from more than 12 recent CNAs, drawing heavily from the assessments conducted after Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and a series of small common needs assessments in Pakistan 2005 to 2009.

Collecting accurate data on the ground on which to base decision-making around the response ensures greater accountability and effectiveness. Such data also provide a reliable baseline from which to compare later in the recovery phase.

At its best, a common inter-agency, inter-sectoral needs assessment helps to develop a better joint understanding of needs, capabilities, and appropriate response. The story it tells includes both the collection of new information from affected individuals and communities and the collation of relevant information from sources prior to the disaster. But in trying to meet too many objectives, common needs assessments have sometimes failed to live up to this promise. Carrying out a common needs assessment takes time and resources; even when funds and experienced assessors are available, results have not always been useful or timely.

Take a look at Common Needs Assessment and Humanitarian Action by Richard Garfield, with Courtney Blake, Patrice Chatainger and Sandie Walton-Ellery.  Remember Sandie, from ACAPs, from our Jakarta workshop?

What has been your experience with common needs assessments? Do these common needs assessments improve our accountability to beneficiaries? And if so, do the improvements in accountability outweigh the extra work?

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Given that many of you speak Spanish and French as your first language, we thought we’d find out what accountability tools are out there in Spanish and French. Some of these you have probably already seen, but some should be new. Feel free to share here any tools in French or Spanish you have found useful with the rest of the Standing Team!

ECB Project

The ECB Project website has several accountability tools in Spanish and French, like the Good Enough Guide (GEG).  For more on the GEG, see this previous blog post.

GEG in Spanish;  GEG French

GEG Training and Communication materials in Spanish and French.  These include posters, leaflets, films and training guides.

GEG poster

For developing these  GEG materials yourself, use this guidelines: Technical guidelines in Spanish and French.


Sphere Handbook in Spanish; Sphere Handbook in French

Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP)

You can use ALNAP’s Evaluative Reports Database to search for documents in French or Spanish. You can search by agency, year, country, region, keyword (i.e. accountability, coordination, etc.) and type of document (i.e. evaluation, lessons paper, manuals, articles, etc.).

Groupe URD (Urgence Réhabilitation Développement)   

Groupe URD is a non-profit research institute which works on evaluations, methodology and training to improve humanitarian practice for crisis-affected populations.

URD website in Spanish  URD website in French

The Participation handbook for humanitarian field workers contains detailed practical advice on the participation of affected people in humanitarian action. Chapters can be downloaded in Spanish or French.

The Quality COMPAS is a Quality Assurance method  in the humanitarian sector which comes equipped with its own set of tools, training modules and consultancy services.

Quality COMPAS in Spanish and French.
COMPAS training modules in Spanish and French.

Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International (HAP)

Case studies and tools in French and Creole

Materials for building staff awareness on quality and accountability and Quick reference tools for staff in French and Creole

Sharing Information in Creole, French and Spanish

Participation in French

Handling Complaints in French and Creole

World Vision

These structured discussion guides for beneficiaries and staff to improve accountability in the field were developed in Sri Lanka in order to evaluate the impact of World Vision’s Humanitarian Accountability Team.  In Creole and French.

Here are one page visuals showing the steps to set up and run a complaints mechanism in French and Creole. These were developed in Haiti in 2010.

Christian Aid

"Accountability is not an add-on." (Christian Aid)

Check out some accountability cartoons in Spanish!

Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) 

Accountability Briefing: Handling Community Feedback / Complaints provides a basic step-by-step guide for partners of CAFOD to handle community feedback and complaints as part of development and/or humanitarian projects. Available in Spanish and French.

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Please take this very short survey so we can best serve you! You just might win a prize!

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Hi there, readers! We’d like to get a better idea of who visits this site and what types of information you’d like to see here. Take this very quick 1 minute (4 question)  survey and be entered into a drawing to win your hard copy of the Good Enough Guide in English, French, Arabic, or Spanish!

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To explore important reading material and issues related to accountability and impact measurement, the idea of a book club was born in December of last year. A book club is both a group and a meeting to discuss a pre-assigned reading, allowing deeper exploration of issues through sharing of our opinions of and our own experiences with the issues. The book clubs have thus far been chaired by an AIM Adviser.

The first book club was in December and was facilitated by AIM Adviser Loretta Ishida from CRS. It discussed the October 2011 Humanitarian Exchange issue on accountability in humanitarian action (see December 6 blog). Approximately 15 AIM Advisers, Standing Team members, and interested ECB agency staff from around the world participated in the conference call. Despite some technical difficulties in using skype, the conversation was rich.

Save the Children, 2011

The second book club took place in January and was chaired by AIM Advisory Lucy Heaven from Oxfam. They discussed Joint Complaints Mechanisms (JCM), but there was no required reading. Before the book club convened, interested participants were given a choice of three topics and JCM was the winner. The book club discussed:

  • when Joint Complaints Mechanisms are appropriate/preferred (fewer agencies, trust between agencies, working in same target area, when population do not know which agency does what)
  • a few known examples of JCMs in the field (Haiti, Dadaab, Ethiopia, Pakistan)
  •  the requirement that participating agencies agree on how to process complaints (protocol, types of complaints to handle, communication to community about mechanism).
  • Quality control: Every agency must respond to complaints; otherwise the reputation of all agencies is at stake.
  • whether implementing a Joint Complaints Mechanism is more or less work for each agency compared to implementing a complaints mechanism alone (more work to set up, but easier in long run, easier if one agency already knows how to do it)
  • examples of Joint Complaints Mechanisms existing beyond the project and handed over to local government or schools (Ethiopia)

Lucy told us:  “It was a great call, and we really got a chance to discuss things in a bit more depth than usual.  No ‘right answers’, just experience and learning from our peers!”

Feel free to recommend a reading for discussion to the Standing Team Coordinator. And watch out for an email from Katy announcing the next book club!

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