CHS Alliance launch provokes debate on the future of quality, accountability and people management in the humanitarian and development sectors

Over 150 humanitarian and development leaders gathered in Nairobi on 9-10 June 2015 to celebrate the launch of the CHS Alliance. The two-day event was the culmination of a process to harmonise standards in accountability to affected populations.

Over 150 humanitarian and development leaders gathered in Nairobi on 9-10 June 2015 to celebrate the launch of the CHS Alliance. The two-day event was the culmination of a process to harmonise standards in accountability to affected populations.

The vision, mission and statutes of the CHS Alliance were discussed and approved by the Constitutive General Assembly on 9 June.

The public launch began with a panel discussion on the citizen’s voice in crisis and development, moderated by Professor Dorothea Hilhorst, Wageningen University. The panel included:

  • Pete Manfield, Head of Regional Office for East Africa, United Nations Office for the Coordination at Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
  • Keflemariam Sebhatu, Disaster Risk Management Coordinator, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
  • Nigel Tricks, Representative of Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG), and Regional Director, Oxfam
  • Dr Winnie W. Wairimu, Social Researcher and Development Consultant, Kenya
  • Samora Otieno, Humanitarian Adviser, UK Department for International Development, Kenya

Discussions centred on the growing understanding of the linkages between humanitarian and development activities, and the necessity of underpinning such work with standards. Nigel Tricks underlined the importance of openness, collaboration and innovation in the sector.

The second day started with the final HAP General Assembly, during which the members formally approved the motion to transition HAP into the CHS Alliance.

A panel then reflected on key learning from HAP and People In Aid and how this will drive the CHS Alliance. The panel comprised of:

  • Nicolas Seris, Quality and Accountability Sub-Group Chair, IAWG, and Programme Coordinator, Humanitarian Aid, Transparency International
  • Ana Akhvlediani, Transparency and Accountability Advisor, ActionAid International
  • Jonathan Potter, Executive Director, People In Aid
  • David Loquercio, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Learning, CHS Alliance
  • Dr Aung Ko Ko, National Health and Accountability Officer, CHS Alliance Myanmar

David Loquercio noted: “Proximity is a key driver – distance reduces accountability”. He also questioned how quickly the sector as a whole could change and adapt, and noted the recurring challenges being discussed in all accountability forums. He suggested that the term ‘lessons learned’ ought, in fact, to be termed ‘lessons identified’.

In the afternoon, participants broke into thematic working groups guided by the CHS Alliance strategic objectives:

  • Capacity strengthening
  • Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) verification and certification
  • People culture and development
  • CHS dissemination, policy, advocacy and learning

The discussions were lively, and the CHS Alliance promised to consider all the feedback when writing its strategy, which will be made available in the coming months.

The conference ended with a call for all participants to apply the CHS in their work, and to advocate for the standard and the work of the CHS Alliance within their own organisations and among their partners.