Rooting the CHS Revision in the voices of people affected by crisis

29 November 2022

by Aydée Marin Pallares

Humanitarian Journalist and Consultant & CHS Revision Steering Committee member

I was one of the first people to become a trainer on the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) back in 2015 in Bogotá, Colombia. Ever since then I’ve used the CHS as an essential tool to ensure quality in my work as a humanitarian and trainer.

The CHS sets out a framework for delivering high-quality, accountable assistance regardless of the context or group delivering it. Each of the Nine Commitments of the CHS sets requirements for organisations on how to be accountable to people affected by crisis.

For many years the Standard has been my guiding light on putting this ideal of accountability into practice with the people and communities I work with. 

Yet the world has changed significantly in the last seven years. This is why the CHS co-copyright holders CHS Alliance, Sphere and Groupe URD are leading a wide consultation process on how to strengthen the Standard.

As a member of the CHS Revision Steering Committee I am passionate about ensuring the voices of communities and people affected by crisis are central to this process.

We must ensure that a strengthened CHS balances the power relations between humanitarian and development organisations and those they serve. The only way to do this is for people facing conflict, poverty or disasters themselves to assess if the CHS really meets their needs, expectations and the realisation of their rights.

Organisations that deliver assistance must play their part in facilitating CHS Revision consultations with people affected by crisis. At the end of the day, we work for them, so we need to proactively ask affected communities what they expect from aid workers and how we can improve the CHS.

Therefore, as we draw to the end of the first stage of revising the CHS, I would like to urge all organisations who work directly with people affected by crisis to set up a meeting or focus group to make sure we live out our values and create a community-centred CHS to guide our future work.

From my conversations with people I work with and for, I’ve heard requests for the CHS to be easier for crisis-affected people and local authorities to use as a tool to keep aid organisations accountable to their promises. This means looking at the accessibility and simplicity of the Standard’s language. It also means considering translating the Standard into more languages ​​that are spoken by different communities within countries.

Do these reflections match what the people you work with say about the CHS? Have you asked what they think? Now is a rare and critical opportunity to support people affected by crisis to shape the direction of the fundamental framework for how assistance is delivered.

Here are some initial questions to ask the communities you work for to start the conversation:

  1. Can you describe the most important things you want and expect from organisations that support you?
  2. What do you think organisations need to do to be effective and accountable?
  3. How do you think organisations can demonstrate to you that they work in effective and accountable ways?
  4. What do you think should be done when organisations are not effective or accountable?

The CHS Revision team have created resources to help organisations set up and run consultations on the CHS with the people they serve: Community Consultation Guidelines and Reporting Form. These documents are also available in Arabic, French and Spanish

I urge all those committed to improving the quality and accountability of aid work to step up and support the voices of people affected by crisis being heard loud and clear in this process.

For help organising a community consultation, or to share what you’re hearing, get in touch with the team at

Plus you can help shape the future of accountability to vulnerable and at-risk people right now, by taking part in a feedback survey on the CHS. The survey is available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Tell us what you think about the CHS, and share widely with your network. We are listening – your views will help strengthen the Standard.

For more details on the CHS Revision process and other ways to take part visit: