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Accountability in Humanitarian Assistance: Bangladesh Perspective. Date : 11th November 2010 Time : 18.30 to 21.30 Venue: BRAC Inn, Mohakhali, Dhaka. Shwakat Ali Tutul, Mustafa Kamal Akanda and Sanat K. Bhowmik. Accountability in Humanitarian Assistance: Bangladesh Perspective.

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Accountability in Humanitarian Assistance: Bangladesh Perspective

Date : 11th November 2010Time : 18.30 to 21.30 Venue: BRAC Inn, Mohakhali, Dhaka

Shwakat Ali Tutul, Mustafa Kamal Akanda and Sanat K. Bhowmik


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Accountability in Humanitarian Assistance: Bangladesh Perspective

Accountability: In HAP perspectiveAccountability is the means by which power is used responsibly and humanitarian accountability involves taking account of, and accounting to disaster survivors.

Humanitarian Assistance: to assist disaster survivors. In the context of Bangladesh program support like health, education, micro credit, rights based program, DRR programs etc are also Humanitarian assistance as these programs for the poor and hard core poor people.

Bangladesh Perspective: Inception of HAP, practices of HAP principles and standards by HAP partner agencies working in Bangladesh.

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Objectives of the presentation

To explore HAP inception and promotion in BangladeshTo uphold the current status of HAP standards in the practice level of HAP partner and sub-partner agencies.

To sensitize the key stakeholders for promoting of HAP culture.

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How we prepared this Presentation

Onsite and email Consultation:Beneficiaries, Staffs, Representatives of HAP Peer support group, HAP secretariat colleagues, consultant and disaster experts.

Program visit :DCA’s Aila response program at Khulna, Dacop in this program they are piloting HAP principles and accountability standards in the practice level.

Web site visit and reports and documentation read out:HAPI and HAP peer support group’s in Bangladesh.

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HAP partners in Bangladesh

Among total of 62 HAPI partners the following agencies are working in Bangladesh. Among them Dan Church Aid, World vision, CAFORD(Caritas), Concern, CARE, Christian Aid, Save the Children – UK, Tear Fund, Muslim Aid and Oxfam GB are International agencies and COAST Trust and CODEC are national agencies.

Among 8 HAP certified partners Dan Church Aid and Tear fund have activities here. COAST Trust and Muslim Aid are now in certification process.

We also came to learn that Rupantar, DSK, Gono Unnoan Prochesta (GUP) are willing to get HAP membership.

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Inception of HAPI in Bangladesh

  • Accountability and Quality Management Standards Development Workshop 31st May to 1st June 2006:

  • Total 31 participants with 4 beneficiaries (who got aid support during a disaster) were present to share their experiences in HAP I accountability standards development process. Oxfam Bangladesh was co hosted the workshop.

  • One of the core objectives was to discuss the draft of the HAPI standards and to ensure that they are:

    • Relevant

    • Measurable

    • Feasible

    • Affordable

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Overview of HAP's Initiatives in Bangladesh:

After critical period passed over of cyclone Sidr and NGOs were initiating long term rehabilitation and reconstruction programs. Under the New Emergencies Policy, a HAP-led initiative in Bangladesh was agreed to promote good practice through supporting efforts to develop and improve immediate activities and systems that focus on quality and accountability to disaster survivors during the Sidr response.

The strategy for this initiative was:

To strengthen staff understanding of Principles of Accountability to disaster survivors and of their agencies’ compliance with these Principles;

HAPI completed the initiatives in three phases

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Phase 1: Accountability Self-Assessments January 2008:

The initiative started with a workshop ( 23rd-24thJanuary)on accountability self-assessments attended by key staff from 14 NGOs.

HAPI Team and staff from participating agencies undertook self-assessments during field visits in the most severely Sidr-affected in Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Burguna Districts.

In total, six field visits were conducted with: Save the Children UK; Christian Aid and their partner GUP; Concern Worldwide and their partner SPEED Trust; CARE Bangladesh; HEED Bangladesh; and Muslim Aid.

The field visits focused on reviewing practice against the HAP Standard Benchmarks in particular information dissemination, community engagement, and complaint-handling.

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March 2008; Lessons Learnt Workshop:

On the 25th March 2008, 17 agencies met in Dhaka to review progress and lessons learnt to date.

The participants shared good practice examples of humanitarian accountability i.e. notice boards with key information, regular monitoring of beneficiary satisfaction, village committees which make project related decisions on behalf of their communities and so on.

Workshop participants also highlighted that offering beneficiaries opportunities to provide suggestions has changed mind-sets of staff, and involving local communities in beneficiary selection improves the effectiveness of the intervention.

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Phase 2: Focused Support on Complaint and Response Mechanism:

  • To strengthen existing mechanisms and develop more effective ways of handling complaints, HAPI conducted a three-day workshop in Dhaka, attended by 20 participants from 12 NGOs. The workshop was held on August 2008

  • All participants identified some action points they would take forward these include:

    • Seek senior manager commitment;

    • Orient staff, partners and beneficiaries;

    • Engage beneficiaries in the design of the mechanism;

    • Develop a staff Code of Conduct and organizational complaints handling policy and procedure;

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Phase 3: The After Action Review November 2008 Mechanism:

  • The After Action Review (AAR) carried out in November 2008 to examine the progress made against the aims of HAP’s initiative and reviewed the appropriateness and impact of HAP’s engagement in terms of influencing field practice and humanitarian quality management systems

  • As part of the AAR HAP team carried out two main activities:

    • Visit to a project site of interested agencies that went through the self-assessment process.

    • AAR workshop for participating agency staff and community representatives who had first hand experience of the Sidr response

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Develop of Peer Support Group: Mechanism:

At the end of the after action review all the participants agreed to develop HAP peer support group (PSG) Bangladesh.

This group is a common platform of HAP member organizations and their partner’s representatives to share the lesson learning and exchange views to promote HAP principles of Accountability and Standards in to practice to respective organization.

Five meetings were held so far. HAP secretariat is also in touch with this group and follow-up the progress peace meal basis.

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HAP and Sphere Revision Workshop Dhaka, 12 October 2009: Mechanism:

  • This workshop was hosted by the Emergency Capacity Building (ECB) Project Consortium.

  • The objectives of this workshop were:

    • To ensure revisions in the HAP Standard and Sphere Common Standards.

    • To seek specific suggestions on improvements to the Sphere Common Standards and to the HAP Standard

  • ECB project have significantly contributed in accountability culture to their consortium members by following the “Good Enough Guild”

  • They have translated the guild in Bangla, trained 150 staffs in good enough guild.

  • The ECB project focused on complaints response mechanism of HAP to implement in by consortium members and partners agencies. .

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Support to carry on base line of COAST Trust 23-27 November 2008:

A two members HAP team carried on COAST Trust’s base line compliance with HAP principles of accountability and Standards.

They have reviewed documents, staffs consultation, program visit and made beneficiaries consultation. And after that they have produced the baseline report with specific recommendation to enrich some procedures, especially the complaint response mechanism, Information disclosure policy and to develop a Humanitarian Accountability Framework (HAF).

This team also contributed back and forth support to develop all the policies and the HAF. Now COAST is facing certification audit by a HAPI team.

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HAP Standards 2007 review Workshop Dhaka, 12 October 2008:

As a part of series of consultation around the world, a day-long review meeting on Humanitarian Accountability and Quality Management Standard review was held on 14 October 2009 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Total 29 participants among them 20 participants from community people including beneficiaries, local government representatives and Journalist and others were organization staffs.

The workshop was organized to seek reflections of the participants on the HAP principles of accountability and the benchmark for HAP 2007 standard.

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

Dan Church Aid (DCA):

They are piloting HAP standards in their Aila Ad hoc Project 2010 the project is implementing partnership with Dustha Satha Kendro (DSK) in Dacop Khulna.

And in most recent time they made huge participatory consultation to find out the activities and inputs of the upcoming amendment phase of the ongoing project.

They conducted DCA and DSK staffs in HAP principles of Accountability and Standards. DCA have a designated regional colleague in monitoring to HAP compliances.

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

  • World Vision Bangladesh:

  • Taken initiatives to implement HAP piloting in 5 Area Development Plans (ADP). From 2009 WV is piloting HAP and maintains HAP standards in its all activity level.

  • In the process of piloting they Developed documents & displayed:

    • Notice Board for market place

    • Leaflet for Community level

    • Information of One-year activities including budget at Union Parishad Level.

    • Big display board for information of five years activities & budget at Upazila entrance.

    • Complain box at ADP offices

    • Wall writing; organization back ground and ADP information.

    • Whistle Blower Policy(Complaint Response Mechanism)

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

Muslim Aid

To response to establish quality management system Muslim Aid finalized the country-level HR Manual including formalizing staff evaluation process.

They have developed different mediums for sharing information with key stakeholders including beneficiaries and affected communities

They identified beneficiary groups and committees to input into decision-making, participate in beneficiary selection process, and implement the project.

And they introduced a complaints receiving and feedback system.

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

CARE Bangladesh

Monitoring framework for Sidr response included questions on beneficiary accountability (such as participation and complaints handling).

They have established complaint and response mechanism that received 3000 complaints.

DSK

Used community meetings to conduct budget analysis / participatory budgeting.

Worked with community representatives to review and revise beneficiary list.

They piloting HAP principles and Standards in Aila response project

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

COAST Trust

Undertook a Baseline analysis to review status against the HAP Standards.

Orientated to all staff and all the beneficiaries on HAP Principles of Accountability and Standards.

Developed complaint and Response Mechanism and Information disclosure policy and Humanitarian Accountability Frame Work.

Developed and circulated a leaflet to all members, staffs, local community and respective stakeholders. The leaflet is simply reflecting organizational commitment for establishing accountability culture in every aspect of the organization.

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

Rupantar:

Translated HAP principles of Accountability in Bangla to introduce to staffs .

They set Complaint Boxes at their project area offices and make feedback to each of the complain whether it reflects small or big issues

They practice beneficiary’s participation in implementing project activities through forming PIC from the beneficiaries.

They disseminate project information to beneficiaries and local government representatives before and after the project completion

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

Concern Worldwide

Oriented 200 agency and partner staff on the HAP Standard

Revised all staff job descriptions and included an objective on accountability.

Specific objective on establishing and promoting accountability to affected-communities incorporated into Programs Quality unit.

Participatory beneficiary selection guidelines and tools jointly developed by Concern and Partners.

Community Monitoring Committees formed to monitor service quality, and receive complaints.

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

DSK

Used community meetings to conduct budget analysis / participatory budgeting.

Worked with community representatives to review and revise beneficiary list.

They are piloting HAP principles and Standards in Aila response project.

GUP

They have developed a code of conduct outlining the principles that will guide staff conduct.

Taken steps to recruit female staff and volunteers at Dhaka and project level.

Worked with the community to develop beneficiary selection criteria.

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

Oxfam GB

Conducted a Real Time Evaluation 6 weeks into the Sidr response to review the project with respect to: quantity vs quality, quality management, coordinated response, sustainability and effective support functions.

Undertook in-depth interviews and focus group discussions during rapid needs assessment to seek input from communities.

Shared information through leaflets, billboards, signboards, wall paintings, banners, village dramas and distribution cards.

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The Bangladeshi agencies achievements after HAPI initiatives:

Save the Children UK

Integrated Principles of Accountability into partner MoUs.

Encouraged social monitoring at community level by providing clear information about level of cash support and intended usage.

They have revised approach to selecting community representatives to participate in implementation of child Safe Spaces.

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Best practice 1: initiatives:

Participation in Shelter project; Formal agreement between

Muslim Aid and each beneficiary:

  • The Agreement was drawn up with details of the terms and conditions including the roles and responsibilities of each party in the implementation of the shelter project as a response to Sidr cyclone in 2008. Among the main points of the agreement some are as follows:

  • Roles and Responsibilities of the first party (Muslim Aid):

  • Maintain close communication with the beneficiary & also provide necessary feedback regarding their work during the implementation period.

  • The agreed funds would be disbursed on an installment basis after evaluating on work progress of last installment.

  • Role and Responsibilities of the second party (Beneficiary):

  • Contract with construction labor, carpenter, wages and drawing up a contract.

  • Identify the source of construction materials and procure quality materials.

  • The beneficiary must be the owner of the land and provide all necessary land related documents for verification.

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Best practice 2: Response to Complaints by Caritas: initiatives:

Prior to the publicizing the beneficiaries list, Caritas staff members used hand mikes and walked through the villages to announce the time, date and place that the beneficiary list will be made public and at that meeting list was final.

But when complaint boxes were set at Aila Housing Project areas total of 15 complaints were dropped about objections to chosen beneficiary HHs.

In response to these cases Caritas field officers visited the HHs and checked the house again against the beneficiary criteria to address the complaint.

They recorded their findings in writing and report to the Field Officer. 

Complainants and field officer findings were reported in the PIC meetings, and decision were made and recorded in the minutes and those 15 complainers were convinced that were out of beneficiaries criteria.

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Critical case 1 : Adopting accountability culture into partner organization:

After having membership with HAP COAST Trust was trying to promote accountability culture to its partner organizations working locally in Bhola and in Cox’sbazar districts.

COAST organized Two workshops in two respective districts where organization’s chief/ executive director were present.

Coincidently in both of the workshops the participants showed huge opposes from them to implement accountability criteria.

Especially they didn’t want to be accountable to organization’s highest body or executive body.

They explained that they still hardworking to develop the organization with alone initiatives no executive members helped them except signing to some documents when need and many of the participants said that they have invested their own money in organization development.

If they show all the things transparently to the executive committee and made them aware of their authority they may sack them from the executive post

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Critical case 2: Impartiality practice is critical: partner organization:

In the Aila ad hoc project by DCA and implemented by DSK at Kamakhola Union at Dacop, while sharing to one cash for work group the women said the PIC and even the staffs choose more men labor then of women to implement the earth work. We found 40 men and 15 women to a group. We questioned to the PIC committee about the meter they answered that women have less work capacity then of men but we have to finish the work in time.

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Overall challenges to compliance with HAP principles and Standards:

One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that agencies put into good systems in place so things are done systematically.

Many organizations work with the most vulnerable people, the important issue is how they involve them in making decisions about programs.

Another challenge is how to set safe, accessible, effective and confidential complaints and response system, this system should be able to deal with all types of complaints including sensitive complaints on sexual exploitation and abuse.

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Overall challenges to compliance with HAP principles and Standards:

Most of the emergency projects are short time project so staffs competency grown up is challenging issue.

Political and societal trend to influence some time threading to agencies to work with impartiality and neutrality.

Due to corruption culture some time agencies have to make check and balance with elected representatives as well as government sectors.

HAP philosophy is new in Bangladesh and not yet tested so it is taking time to grow organization competencies to compliance with HAP standards.

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The gaps to compliance with HAP principles and Standards Standards:

At present many agencies have good practices but they remain ad hoc

To make understanding of Organization leaders and Executive Directors in HAP philosophy and quality management is really important and this is a major gap.

CRM is one way to give a voice to people in case they are not satisfied but the

Piloting of HAP is implanting agencies have little initiatives to educate the people they assist so they know they have a right to hold agencies to account and if they are not satisfied this is highest level gap. but some time you will not find any plan and specific implementing procedure for that.

Most of the Organization have no specific compliance or monitoring personnel for HAP and not even budgetary allocation for both partner and sub-partner organization to bear a staffs cost and staffs development.

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The gaps to compliance with HAP principles and Standards Standards:

Staff values, attitude, behavior and skills can have a huge impact on how they work with people so there needs to be a good staff code of conduct so staff knows what is expected of them. The community should also know this so they know what to expect from staff.

Big bill board with huge information but when you read it you may not confirm that whether these inputs will be given within a certain time or already been given.

Beneficiaries knows about the implementing organization only but they don’t know the back ground of donor and grant giving organization.

This is not easy to meet or get mobile number of a chief of an INGO, or UN mission

Sometimes the community representatives make decisions, but they do not represent views of the most marginalized and vulnerable.

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Prospect of HAP in Bangladesh: Standards:

Now in Bangladesh there have some legal structure existed which will help to promote accountability and transparency culture among agencies work for emergency response or any development programs.

Those are Right to information act, Micro credit regulatory authority, improving monitoring from NGO affairs bureau and refinement of existing social welfare registration process.

CRA, participatory need assessment for program inputs are practicing here by agencies.

Rights based approaches program are trying to make the community vocal to seek their rights and entitled for the agencies.

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Concluding remarks: Standards:

HAP is a matter of practice; HAP is amatter of ethical aspiration which can be reflected through appropriate organizational culture

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Thanks Standards:


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