Guided by communities: World Renew’s CHS verification achievements

26 February 2024

Interview with Carol Bremer-Bennett, US Executive Director, Barbara Kayanja, East Africa Regional Director, and Kohima Daring, Bangladesh’s Country Director, about their journey of achieving CHS certification.

CHS Alliance member World Renew, a faith-based organisation committed to serving vulnerable people, embarked on a journey towards CHS certification driven by a desire to meet high standards and become more accountable to those they support. Central to their decision to verify against the CHS was the organisation’s commitment to placing communities at the forefront of their work. As a result of achieving CHS verification, World Renew have now enhanced their operations and processes, better aligning them with the Nine Commitments of the CHS.

“By upholding the CHS, we strive to express unwavering compassion, integrity, and accountability, ensuring that our humanitarian and community development efforts reflect the highest ethical and moral values in providing aid to those in need. We passed this big milestone, and that is so encouraging! But the journey isn’t over, and we need to keep working to uphold this standard at the highest level to provide the best work possible for the vulnerable communities with whom we work. At World Renew, our CHS certification helps us achieve our shared vision, and we remain dedicated to continuous improvement. We are so thankful to be part of this process.” Carol Bremer-Bennett, Executive Director, USA.

Can you tell us about your CHS verification journey?

Our journey began several years ago, initiated by World Renew’s aspiration to achieve excellence in all we do. For us, the Nine Commitments of the CHS embody how all organisations working with vulnerable people should operate. This resonated with our organisation’s foundations and values, making it a natural progression towards aligning our operations with these principles. Achieving certification was important to us so we could ensure that we were doing the highest quality work with our partners and communities and that they could hold us accountable.

To understand the CHS and its implications, we set up a CHS Charter Group to guide World Renew through the CHS verification process.

The whole verification process served as a true catalyst for self-reflection and improvement, enabling World Renew to identify areas for further enhancement while acknowledging progress made. Collaboration with verification auditors – Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative – provided valuable insights and guidance throughout the process.

Communities in Madagascar attending a World Renew training on drought-resistant farming skills and techniques. Credit: World Renew/Eddy Kevin.

To ensure our partners and the communities we help could play an important part in this process, we held many conversations and documented the needed changes. Throughout, the goal of achieving CHS verification galvanised our partners and staff towards a better understanding of our work so that we could make meaningful improvements across the whole organisation.

What improvements have you seen since achieving CHS verification?

We’ve seen some noteworthy improvements for the organisation so far, including updated Human Resources policies based on the CHS, which has resulted in better staff understanding of expected and unacceptable behaviour. This includes a statement of faith and work that staff and partners sign. We also improved our Code of Conduct policy, making posters with objectives that are shared with communities and staff. We’re now clearer about taking photos and which permissions are needed to protect people’s privacy. We have also created more targeted policies on areas such as gender and anti-fraud because of verifying against the CHS.

Finally, and among the most important improvements, we have developed new mechanisms to ensure space for the voices and opinions of those impacted by our work to be heard and acted upon. We have now implemented a functional complaints mechanism in-country offices and among our partners. This underscores World Renew’s commitment to transparency and accountability, ensuring we are always guided by and accountable to the people we serve. The complaints procedure complements a new, clear safeguarding system we’ve set up with our partners.

Overall, achieving CHS verification has had a profound impact on World Renew’s work, fostering a sense of pride and confidence among partners, staff, and communities. The certification process has not only elevated operational standards but also empowered our stakeholders to actively engage in shaping our work top to bottom.

Esther Kaari, farming in Murang’a, Kenya with support from World Renew. Credit: World Renew/Oliver Mangula.

What’s next for World Renew on your CHS journey?

Looking ahead, World Renew remains committed to maintaining our CHS certification and addressing areas for improvement identified during audits. The certification journey has not only strengthened our internal processes but also inspired partner organisations to enhance their own standards, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration that reaches wider than a single organisation.

This interview was originally published by HQAI in January 2024, find it here.

CHS Alliance recognises there are many types of organisations at different stages of their journey to meet their CHS Commitments. That is why the CHS Alliance Verification Scheme offers three different approaches to verifying against the CHS.

These are:

  • Self-Assessment. Self-assessment is a learning exercise. It helps organisations understand their ability and performance against the CHS and builds an improvement plan to make the services they deliver work better for people affected by crisis.
  • Independent Verification. Provides organisations with an external, independent assessment of ability and improvement against the CHS.
  • Certification. Offers organisations a forensic diagnostic of the degree to which they have applied the CHS.

Independent Verification and Certification are conducted by an accredited, third-party auditor – currently this service is offered by HQAI.

Learn more about how verifying against the CHS can transform your organisation for the people you support.