2013 Humanitarian Accountability Report

Ten years ago, the humanitarian sector was just starting to acknowledge affected populations as a primary stakeholder, one which should be able to hold humanitarian actors to account. For quite some time then, while the word was extensively used in policy discourse, there was little agreement on what being accountable to crisis affected populations actually meant, only a sense that this was the “right thing to do”. Today, it seems unthinkable to plan and lead a humanitarian response without putting crisis affected populations at the heart of programming, demonstrating the great leaps that tthe sector has taken in a relatively short period of time.

The 2013 Humanitarian Accountability Report, which offers an overview of the progress the humanitarian sector has made and the obstacles it has faced over the past 10 years, comes at an opportune time. Accountability is no longer just a fashionable term, there is now a shared understanding of what it takes to be accountable as detailed in the HAP Standard benchmarks or the IASC Commitments on Accountability to Affected Populations. From changes at policy level, to concrete actions taken in the field, this report documents this sector-wide shift. It also shows that being accountable to the people we aim to serve is not just the right thing to do, it is also the best way to ensure programmes are relevant, effective, efficient and sustainable.

Can we then be satisfied with what we have achieved and consider this mission accomplished? Not quite. On the one hand, as this report also shows, practice is not yet on par with policy. On the other, being accountable is an ongoing task. It commits us to listen to the voices of our stakeholders and strive to ensure our actions are driven by needs as voiced by the people we aim to assist.

Switzerland, as demonstrated by its support of HAP and other quality and accountability initiatives, strongly believes in the need to empower beneficiaries of humanitarian aid and actively include them in decision-making processes. We believe this to be the most responsible way to express our solidarity with crisis-affected populations, and an ongoing duty.

The HAP Standard begins with a request to define commitments and an action plan, and concludes with learning and continual improvement. This report documents what has worked, but also outlines some of the shortcomings and obstacles that have prevented progress. It is now our responsibility to scale up best practice, remove the obstacles, and continue to deliver on our commitments to people affected by crises