2023 – the turning point for creating an accountable aid system

30 January 2023
Tanya Wood

by Tanya Wood

Executive Director, CHS Alliance

As we start 2023, I’m excited to see increased momentum towards humanitarian assistance becoming a system where people affected by crisis exercise their agency, influence and power.

A system where it is the norm for aid organisations to cooperate with, and be accountable to, those they serve, and change when they’re not.

A system where every voice counts, not only those with entrenched power.

Watch my quick update on CHS Alliance’s 2023 vision, or keep reading for more details on our plans to transform the aid system.

In 2023 CHS Alliance will push to achieve the goals outlined in our current strategy to:

  • Improve delivery of the Commitments of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS),
  • Build a stronger CHS Alliance movement, and
  • Create a more accountable aid system.

So, what will this look like in practice over the year? Here are CHS Alliance’s three priorities for 2023, I look forward to working with you to get closer to that shared vision for every person affected by crisis:

1. Renewing our Commitments to people in crisis

This year is a pivotal one, as we will collectively produce an updated version of the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality & Accountability (CHS).

The CHS custodians – CHS Alliance, Sphere and Groupe URD – are leading this global process to confirm that the CHS Commitments are still relevant and as accessible as possible for people affected by crisis.

In 2022 we heard from more than 2,000 people from across the world and all parts of the aid system- including communities affected by crisis – on their experience with the current CHS, and what a strengthened Standard should look like. Taking onboard these contributions we are now drafting an updated CHS.

This year, the CHS copyright holders will run a series of regional consultations and country case studies on the proposed updated Standard. We will prioritise hearing directly from communities and local actors. Dates and locations will be announced soon.

Want to know more – join us for a CHS with a face to face session at April’s Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks. ‘Renewed Commitments to People we Serve: CHS Revision Update‘ will take place Tuesday 25 April 11:00-12:30 CEST, at the Centre International de Conférences Genève. Make sure to mark your calendars.

Keep up to date with the CHS Revision to be part of shaping the Standard.

2. Driving change through greater national CHS verification uptake

As the Humanitarian Accountability Report 2022 showed, CHS verification drives individual organisations to improve their work and changes how they behave towards the people they serve.

Looking across collective CHS verification results, we better understand accountability trends to learn where systemic efforts must be focused.

To drive even wider change, we need all types of aid organisations to make the most of CHS verification. This accountability data helps us be more representative of the great diversity of actors delivering support and protection across countries and contexts.

This is why over 2022 we engaged with more than 300 national NGO representatives at seven online workshops to hear how to better support local and national NGOs apply the CHS. From Uganda to the Philippines, we listened.

I’m proud to say that over the last year, the vast majority of organisations joining CHS Alliance, and those starting a new CHS verification were national NGOs. We now have a great opportunity to build on this to see how a collective effort around the CHS drives real change for people in crisis

Building on this great news, at the end of 2022 CHS Alliance commissioned a review of how to make CHS verification more accessible to local and national actors. The review’s findings will be shared in the coming months with our plans to help organisations deliver on their commitments.

Learn more about how CHS verification delivers change.

3. Scaling up our collaboration

This momentum lays the ground for an even stronger CHS Alliance movement.

Last year we conducted an extensive Membership Dialogue with our members. This gave space for honest and open conversations on how CHS Alliance can better support and collaborate with our dedicated member organisations.

Working more meaningfully with our members and scaling up our partnerships at country level will be key to achieving our aims in 2023.

CHS Alliance continues to co-chair the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Task Force 2 on Accountability to Affected People. This means the Alliance contributes to influencing the drive for greater accountability with the humanitarian leadership and coordination structures. With the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, putting Accountability to Affected People firmly as his priority – we look forward to being part of the system change needed.

Running deeply throughout all our collaborations will be our continued work on tackling the scourge of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment by aid workers. This signifies the worst failing of accountability in aid and demands urgent and joined up response at every level. Throughout 2023 we will be supporting aid organisations to:

increase the capacity of SEA investigators,
prevent abusers remaining in the aid system,
better encourage and handle complaints,
harmonise reporting on SEA cases,and
shift how victims/survivors are treated.

Finally, no amount of tools, guidance or schemes will truly change the way the aid system works without cultivating organisational cultures in which mindsets, values and behaviours align to the CHS.

I believe that – with your engagement – these three action areas will make 2023 the year that we see a real turning point in delivering our CHS Commitments that we’ve made to people affected by crises. Now is the time to step up and be part of the change. Together, we are a powerful movement demanding greater accountability to those we serve. I look forward to delivering this with you in 2023.

Make sure you’re signed up to our monthly newsletter to receive invitations to this year’s critical accountability events, hear about our latest resources and play a part in shaping the future of accountable aid. 

Not yet a member? Learn more about joining the global movement demanding accountability.