2021 – the year to raise the standard for those we work for

26 January 2021
Tanya Wood

by Tanya Wood

Executive Director, CHS Alliance

I’d like to wish you a happy new year, and share my deep-rooted hope that in 2021, things can and will be better. We believe this at the CHS Alliance and have started the new year hugely motivated to raise the standard of our work for people affected by crisis.

Despite all the challenges of last year, CHS Alliance members and partners undertook huge efforts to make aid work better and apply the CHS. Whether through verification to show how we are meeting CHS commitments, or via individual practices that improve our daily work, we all know things can – and must – be better.

Looking ahead to 2021, we need to continue this momentum. Here are just some of the areas I look forward to working with you on:

Measuring and improving our work through CHS Verification
We will continue to support our members, and encourage others, to improve their work through following one of the CHS Verification options. Our new, improved tools for the validated CHS self-assessment make sure critical insights from the verification process are more accessible for organisations to use.

In the past few years, interest in the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) and verification has significantly grown and today the Standard is widely recognised as a measurable framework that sets out the essential elements for principled humanitarian action. However, if we want to meet the commitments to people affected by crisis that the Standard clearly sets out, the CHS needs to be widely applied by national and local organisations – those who are closest to the people and communities affected by crises – as well as international organisations.

We are, therefore, reinforcing our efforts to make sure the CHS is applied as closely as possible to people and communities affected by crisis.

National and local CHS Alliance member organisations are invited to participate in an online member-only workshop on 1 March 2021 11:00 – 12:30 (CET) to share their perspectives and discuss the Alliance’s plans to get the CHS and CHS Alliance closer to the people affected.

Please register here if you are CHS Alliance national or local member organisation.*

What more do we need to do on PSEAH
Earlier this month I received the latest UK Parliamentary International Development Committee’s report on sexual abuse in the aid sector. It is sobering reading, and a comprehensive summary of how much further we have to go to protect people from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. You can read our initial response to this report and access the full IDC report here.

More support for survivors and victims of SEA
We need to ensure that complaint and feedback mechanisms are truly designed in collaboration the people who will use them. People who unfortunately do end up becoming victims or survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) must have all the access they need to support services. With support of the Netherlands government and the International Institute of Social Studies, we are excited to start work in three countries to improve how victims and survivors of SEA can obtain accessible and effective assistance to complain and see their complaints addressed. 

Staying more connected
While covid keeps us all physically distant – it has meant opening up more ways for us to connect virtually – and we want to keep this momentum going in 2021. Building on the very successful virtual Global CHS Exchange and HHR2020 we will continue to make the most of online solutions to facilitate sharing knowledge, learnings and discussion on the CHS as a driver for change in all our work. Look out for upcoming announcements of learning events. Our training programme also continues remotely, focusing on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse  as well as Investigating allegations of SEA.

Making sure the CHS is fit for the future  – revising the CHS
This year the CHS Steering Committee – which includes CHS Alliance, Sphere and Groupe URD – will start the CHS revision process, through a process that is as inclusive, global, and as accessible as possible, including for people affected by crisis. Together we will work together to ensure the CHS is fit for the future.

Examining and improving our organisational culture
We all know we have to do far more to address the power imbalances in the sector by empowering people affected by crisis to be involved more directly in aid delivery. This is the very essence of the CHS. To make the changes needed, we need to look critically at the cultures that will create the change and drive for a more people centred approach. We will continue our work on organisational culture including how we cultivate more caring and compassionate organisations.

The team at the CHS Alliance look forward to 2021, working with you – our members and partners – to make aid work better for the people we serve, both now and for the future.

*Local and national actors refer to the full diversity of local and national government, NGOs, CSOs, CBOs, women-led organisations, youth groups and more. We consider local and national NGOs to be: “Organisations engaged in relief that are headquartered and operating in their own aid recipient country and which are not affiliated to an international NGO.” GB Workstream on Localisation categories.