Member of the Month: Action Against Hunger

What we have learned from our self-assessments against the CHS.

By: Hannah Wichterich, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Advisor, Action Against Hunger UK

For 40 years, in almost 50 countries, Action Against Hunger has led the fight against hunger.

We are known across the international humanitarian and development sectors for our quality programmes and our technical expertise. Our aim is to reduce the effects of hunger, address its causes, and change perceptions. We consist of six member organisations[1] and have offices across the world. In 2018, we delivered programmes in 47 countries, reaching over 21 million people through the expertise of over 7,500 staff members. 

Over the last two years, we have conducted three self-assessments against the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), and they have told us a lot about ourselves. The self-assessments – conducted by the UK, France and Spain members, looking at head quarter’s practices and at six country offices – gave us some rich data that enabled us to have some valuable discussions at the network level[2]. We found that in some areas we were really strong; less so in others.

After completing the three self-assessments, we scored highest in commitment 1 – humanitarian response is appropriate and relevant – and commitment 6 – humanitarian response is coordinated and complimentary. No surprises there, as most of us know we’re strong in those areas, but it’s great that what we know to be true is now validated and evidenced.

We were weaker in three areas:

  • Commitment 3. The extent to which we’re investing in and building on local leadership in a way that ensures that people aren’t negatively affected is one of the things that we could be doing more of.
  • Commitment 4. We are not as strong as we could be on the extent to which we’re sharing information with communities and enabling their participation.
  • Commitment 5. Complaints and feedback mechanisms need to be strengthened and more consistently applied. We recognise that it’s complicated to put those in place effectively in a way that permeates from the community level to the very top of an organisation. We also recognise that there are some great examples in pockets of the organisation, and the network has a role to play in pinning these together in a coherent way that we can take forwards.

So looking at this, we have some key priorities at the network level, not least making the connection between policy commitments and implementation: we have plenty of policies and guidance, but they are not always consistently applied, so further support to the country programmes on how to use these would be valuable. We are keen to work with the CHS Alliance team on addressing these issues.

We also recognise that many of our countries of operations have been working to address these challenges for quite some time, so there is another job to be done here in collating and aggregating these good practices to scale them up and apply them more consistently across the network.

In addition, we will be supporting the country programmes that have done the CHS self-assessment to use the results to build on our strengths and improve in our areas of weakness.

These topics were also discussed during the Action Against Hunger International Conference in Valencia from June 17th – 19th, 2019 – which actually opened with a panel discussion about the CHS in order to frame our International Strategic Plan 2021-2025 discussions.

The session ended with concrete ideas for us to move forward through our next international strategy, collectively, putting people at the heart of our work and raising the standard for us all. 

Photo: Juliet Parker, Director of Operations, Action Against Hunger UK and Adrien Muratet, Verification Manager, CHS Alliance at the Action Against Hunger International Conference in Valencia – June 2019. Credit: Maxence Defontaine.

[1] Canada, France, India, Spain, USA, and UK.

[2] Network level = across all the member organisations and countries of operations