The Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) is a voluntary and measurable standard, which means its application can be objectively assessed. The CHS Verification Scheme allows organisations to measure the extent to which they have successfully applied the CHS requirements, and allows them, if they so wish, to demonstrate that they have done so.
Verification is a structured, systematic process to assess the degree to which an organisation is working to achieve the CHS. The Verification Scheme is managed by the CHS Alliance. It sets out the policies and rules of the verification process to ensure it is conducted in a fair and consistent manner for all participating organisations.
The Scheme offers four verification options with different degrees of rigour and confidence in the results. These are self-assessment, peer review, independent verification and certification. Although each option is stand alone, the indicators used in the self-assessment are common to all four options.
We encourage you to watch a short four-minute video animation below that gives an overview of the benefits of verification, the CHS Verification Scheme and the four options available for verification. The animation is available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.
To avoid potential conflicts of interest and following international good practice, the actual independent auditing is undertaken by a certification body specially established for this purpose and is totally independent from the CHS Alliance, the CHS standard setting process and the organisations it audits. Currently the only such organisation is the Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative.
The CHS self-assessment tool is used to collect data and feed it into the verification framework. The self-assessment tool is available on the CHS Alliance website. Individuals, organisations, coordinating bodies, consortia and other CHS stakeholders interested in assessing their degree of application of the CHS can use the tool. It helps ensure there is evidence that an organisation has the policies, systems and practices in place to support learning and continuous improvement against the aims and commitments of the CHS.
The self-assessment tool can be used to assess CHS implementation in projects and programmes, organisation-wide, or at the cluster or country level. As such the whole system offers a coherent framework to orient:
Members of the CHS Alliance will be required to self-assess using the self-assessment tool. However, non-members and organisations not opting for independent verification or certification may choose to adapt the self-assessment tool e.g. they may choose to report against the Nine Commitments of the CHS only. However, they would be expected to reference the key actions and organisational responsibilities within their findings and analysis.
Each of the verification options provides valuable information on an organisation’s strengths and areas for improvement against the CHS. They are therefore an important means to support organisational learning, continuous improvement and capacity strengthening. The verification process also generates comparable data at the sector level that will allow the CHS Alliance to report on overall trends, successes and challenges in the implementation of the CHS. This will help the organisation to continuously improve the standard and contribute to building an evidence base on the impact of the CHS on aid quality, accountability and effectiveness.
To ensure the coordination of verification tools and the comparability of the data they produce, they all are derived from the CHS Verification Framework.
The CHS Verification Framework is a key part of the verification scheme. It ensures there is a harmonised approach to monitoring, evaluating and reporting the application of the CHS from which it is directly derived. The indicators included in the Verification Framework are taken directly from the requirements of the Nine Commitements of the CHS i.e. the 36 key actions and the 26 organisational responsibilities described in the CHS have been turned into 62 indicators. This is to allow organisations to objectively determine the extent to which they are applying the standard.
The Verification Framework is the result of the feedback collected from stakeholders and the outcomes of field testing with various organisations working in different crisis contexts. Prior to finalising this version of the verification scheme a further consultation was undertaken with 14 organisations that have been through the field testing and also with a variety of organisations that will undertake a self-assessment as part of the membership requirement of the CHS Alliance.
Changes will be brought to the framework any time experience shows it can be significantly improved. These changes will automatically be reflected in the other documents and tools derived from the framework.
A number of organisations have undertaken mid-term or recertification audits in the first 8 months of 2015 as part of the conditions of their 2010 HAP certification requirements. Given that HAP (prior to its merger with People In Aid to form the CHS Alliance) had committed to transition from the 2010 HAP Standard to the CHS from its launch in December 2014, these audits were undertaken using the CHS verification tools, bridging with HAP requirements. These audits provided a unique opportunity in which to test, and where necessary adapt, these verification tools.
One of the outcomes of these audits is a recommendation to the Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative, the independent body that will undertake external verification, to grant certificates of compliance against the CHS to the organisations in question. The Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative will review these recommendations and supporting reports, and decide on an appropriate course of action. The CHS Alliance has not been involved in any of these audits.
People In Aid Code Quality Marks will no longer be awarded. All members with an existing Quality Mark should continue to display it until it expires, and the CHS Alliance will continue to recognise and promote existing Quality Marks. HR- and people-related activities are required throughout the CHS and only assessment against the CHS in its entirety will provide a true picture of the effectiveness of HR and its contribution to the organisation’s quality and accountability.
For more information about the CHS Verification Scheme, please contact David Loquercio.