Breaking down geographic & organisational barriers – the CHS Exchange

19 September 2019

We at the CHS Alliance are getting excited for our next CHS Exchange.

Five years on from the launch of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), humanitarian and development experts will meet in Bangkok, 19-20 November, to discuss the progress that has been made by applying the CHS, and what more we can do to drive change for the people we serve.

Our Head of Policy, Advocacy & Learning, Bona Sokpoh, sat down with two participants of previous CHS Exchanges to find out what to expect…

Mayumi and Katy in discussions at a previous CHS Exchange. Credit IRW

Bona, CHS Alliance: For you, what were the most important take-aways from the Exchanges?

Katy Bobin, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning Lead, Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) For me, it was really interesting listening to participants share good practice examples from the field, as well as identifying common challenges that require collaborative effort to address. I met new contacts and also strengthened my relationships with other accountability focal points.

Mayumi Fuchi, Global Programme Accountability Lead, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW): And for me, it was so inspiring to be able to exchange ideas with such a wide variety of participants. Conversations with those in London naturally opened up discussions around CHS mainstreaming across global operations and challenges specific to the headquarters. And then in Amman, having such a high level of local organisations engage at the regional level created opportunities to share insights on challenges specific to the region and the context.

As a face-to-face platform, the CHS Exchanges really help to break down the geographic and organisational barriers between those committed to improving quality and accountability in the sector. Swapping knowledge and hearing direct experiences of fellow aid workers applying the CHS have become key ingredients for innovation, new ideas and insights. I’m excited to see what new inspiration the next one in Bangkok will bring.

Bona, CHS Alliance: How have you applied learnings from previous Exchanges to your organisations’ everyday work?

Katy, DEC: The CHS Exchanges have sparked many new ideas for our research and learning agenda. It is also really useful to have a deeper understanding of key quality and accountability issues when reviewing members’ programmatic reports.

Mayumi, IRW: I have utilised best practice tools shared by other agencies at previous Exchanges and spread them to Country Offices, for example on complaint mechanisms and safeguarding.  I have also taken on and adapted approaches from other organisations on integrated accountability in programming and on the internal quality management system which incorporates the CHS at the country level.

Bona speaking at the London CHS Exchange in 2018

Bona, CHS Alliance: What do you think has been the greatest achievement of the CHS over the last five years, and what do you hope to see in the next five?

Katy, DEC: For DEC, the CHS has become the cornerstone of our accountability framework. It is now a DEC membership requirement to demonstrate improvement against CHS commitments. All of our 14 members are working in line with this. At the CHS Exchanges, it has become clear that more donors and NGOs are moving in this direction.

Mayumi, IRW: The CHS has rapidly become a universally recognised humanitarian standard in the aid sector. Development of the CHS self-assessment tool and verification framework, coupled with learning events such as the CHS Exchanges, have provided the sector with a series of learning tools that help us all to become more accountable to affected communities and people.

Over the next five years, as the CHS approaches it’s first decade, I feel that we need to emphasise the links between applying the CHS and achieving the aims of the localisation agenda and the leave no one behind movement to ensure that the most vulnerable are at the forefront of humanitarian action.

Bona, CHS Alliance: Thanks for sharing your experiences on the CHS Exchanges. I’m looking forward to continuing these discussions at our next Exchange, alongside many other NGO, donor and UN agency representatives.

Join us at the Bangkok CHS Exchange, 19-20 November, and be a part of this important milestone event for the CHS.