II. Humanitarian Accountability

CARE’s humanitarian programming is the original source of thought and practice influencing CARE’s thinking on accountability. Part of the reason perhaps is that in humanitarian action there is such a clear ‘entry point’: clearly identifiable constituent groups, a more focused and coordinated structure in which a ‘culture and practice’ could take hold, donors willing to invest in accountability mechanisms, and a body of international experience and standards. CARE has been at the forefront of developing humanitarian accountability standards, starting with the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP 2007-2015) and culminating in CARE's prticipation in the development of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS, adopted July 2015).

1. Humanitarian Accountability Framework

CARE is committed to a wide range of internal and interagency policies and standards for humanitarian actions. However, the large number of different standards and accountability initiatives can be confusing. In order to simplify their application CARE developed a Humanitarian Accountability Framework (HAF) which was first adoped in 2010 and then revised in 2016. The HAF is a policy statement and framework on quality and accountability for CARE’s humanitarian mandate. It sets out how accountability is a constant, guiding principle in CARE’s humanitarian work which, when applied at every stage of the programme cycle, provides an essential means of achieving high programme quality standards and greatest impact.
CAP humanitarian framework.jpg

For more information about the Quality & Accountability in Humanitarian Programmes in general and HAF in particular you can explore the Q&A chapter of the CARE Emergency Toolkit (CET).

2. Mechanisms for assessing emergency response

In a survey in 2017 many of the interviews began with a reference to the Humanitarian Accountability Framework (HAF) and the related Rapid Accountability Reviews (RAR) and After Action Reviews (AAR).
  • Rapid Accountability Review (RAR):
A RAR is a rapid performance assessment of emergency response against CARE’s HAF (commitments) that takes place within the first few months of an emergency response. It generates findings and recommendations that are used to make immediate adjustments to the response. It is also a key source for any response review and performance management process. It usually entails interviews with CARE management and staff (see engagement guide - Eng & Fr versions), communities (see scorecard guide) and other key external stakeholders, and is led by an independent facilitator (from another CARE unit or external to CARE).
Here the main RAR guidance and tools as well as a RAR brief for an AAR in Ethiopia (2015/16 drought response) as well as a full RAR report (in French) from Haiti):


  • After Action Review (AAR):
An AAR is an internal emergency response lessons learned exercise that takes place within the first 3-4 months of an emergency response. It usually takes a workshop format and brings together key staff who have been involved in the response from the CO, CARE Lead and other parts of CARE. It is independently facilitated (i.e. external to the response) and takes into account external and internal feedback collected before the workshop. An AAR draws both positive and negative lessons and leads to recommendations to CARE management for improving emergency policy and practice.
Here the AAR guidance together with the final report from AAR of the Ethiopia 2015/16 drought response.

  • Response Performance Summary (RPS):
By most accounts, these reviews do generate useful lessons for the ongoing response and (to a lesser extent so far) for the wider organisation. As RARs and AARs are being conducted only periodically (once or twice during a response) their influence on real-time management decision-making during ongoing responses is also limited. The Response Performance Summary (RPS) is a tool designed to continuously synthesise and visualise performance data in order to inform key decision makers in CARE about progress and gaps against key HAF commitments and targets throughout the response.
Here the RPS template and an example from Ethiopia together with the RPS for the Ethiopia 2015/16 drought response.


3. Accountability system in a humanitarian context

Interviewees in the 2017 survey also cited promising cases that opened up local spaces for dialogue between disaster-affected people and power holders through representative committees, complaints mechanisms, and feedback mechanisms. Many of these are uneven and have not gone beyond local efforts but some initiatives take feedback and complaints mechanisms to another level. Here a few examples:
  • 'Raise your voice': CARE Syria Feedback and Complaints Mechanisms
The CARE Emergency Response Team in Syria recently developed an online feedback platform to strengthen its accountability towards the communities and its different programming partners. The Syrian context presented specific challenges for accountability. Resources were limited and the interaction between CARE and the humanitarian partners were complex. CARE could not use its logo and could not reveal its presence on the ground which created an additional challenge to set up an effective accountability system.
With its partners, CARE Syria developed a complaint system using open source software. The objective was to achieve better consistency through a harmonised platform, where CARE could access the feedbacks and comments coming from different channel sources, and from different partners, and store and track the information in one place.
Anyone is able to present complaints related to CARE and partners programming through the system including beneficiaries, non-beneficiaries, partner staff or volunteers, other NGOs, local authorities, community leaders and CARE staff. It enables collaboration and follow-up. However, the way the system is set up at the moment, Partner A, for example, cannot see the complaints related to Partner B but CARE can access the complaints from both partners. The system is still under-development but already presents interesting opportunities to be used at a larger scale, for other CARE Country Offices or also, for example, to adopt a regional approach to accountability.

PPT Presentation on CARE Syria Online Complaints System

  • 'Constituent Voice™': Listen Learn Act Pilot
The Listen Learn Act initiative uses Ground Truth Solutions’ Constituent Voice™ method, modeled on customer satisfaction surveys, to asking crisis-affected people questions developed around the CHS commitments. Survey results are analysed and discussed with communities and NGOs to "course correct" based on the feedback. CARE teams in Mali and Lebanon participated in the pilot in 2017 and in 2018 in CARE teams in Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, Tanzania, and Zambia will work with CARE Inclusive Governance team to experiment with this performance-focused methodology.


4. Linking Accountability and Learning

There are a huge appetite and opportunity for a coordinated attempt to collate learning and build towards a consistent CARE-wide accountability practice – building on learning from the humanitarian sector and expanding it more broadly. This is starting to happen – for example:
  • The journey of change: The CARE Gender Marker
After piloting in Humanitarian contexts, CARE developed an organisation-wide gender marker to hold the organization accountable for good gender programming at all stages of the programming cycle. The CARE Gender Marker is now an integral part of CARE's Project and Program Information and Impact Reporting System (PIIRS) which also includes an Inclusive Governance Marker and a Resilience Marker that follow a similar logic for holding CARE members and their teams accountable against the core elements of the CARE Approach.
This document retraces the journey from the Gender Marker pilot to an organisation wide accountability tool.

  • South Asia Floods, Typhoons and Landslides: Annual Lessons & Learning Synthesis
When in 2015 the country teams in Asia developed (sub-)regional operating models and impact growth strategies they benefited from the lessons and recommendations generated by a number of reviews conducted on CARE's responses to floods, typhoons and landslides in the region.
The summary presented here gives a good insight into the evidence generated from response specific performance reviews that can be used to inform wider organisational and strategic decisions.

  • Common Challenges: the hardships of Programme Support in humanitarian programmes
Similarly, when the team developing a training for humanitarian managers in CARE were looking for lessons regarding programme support functions during humanitarian programmes they used evidence from 33 AARs to identify recurrent challenges and relevant recommendations. The synthesis presented here shows the evidence used to inform humanitarian planning and preparedness.


5. Localisation

Partnership is central to CARE’s vision and mission. CARE believes that it is only through the collective action of many actors that we can save lives in emergencies and overcome poverty and injustice. CARE has made its partnering ambition clear, enshrining Partnership as a core Program principle and endorsing the Principles of Partnership (2007), the Charter for Change and the Grand Bargain (2016). CARE’s Humanitarian and Emergency Strategy describes partnerships as critical for the agency to fulfill its humanitarian mandate. The strategy recognizes that CARE is part of a larger humanitarian ecosystem requiring collaboration and partnering among a diverse set of actors to deliver effective and timely responses at scale.

Within the larger Partnership conversation, localizing aid has emerged as a critical pillar of the humanitarian reforms adopted at the World Humanitarian Summit. It calls for a more collaborative and equitable humanitarian system that relies on national and local leadership of humanitarian response, supplemented – not led – by international actors. This shift requires change to the way CARE funds, invests, and engages in humanitarian action: as signatories to these agreements, we must deliver on our commitments to more equitable partnerships and the provision of 20% of our humanitarian funding to local actors by May 2018.

CARE has recently clarified its priorities for localisation, developing a clear implementation plan (see below) to be finalised in early 2018. The plan identifies 9 critical elements for advancing the implementation of the Localization/HP framework, as well as immediate actions and relevant teams for taking them forward.This change initiative will require the recognition, buy-in and investment from senior leadership throughout CARE to achieve the ambition of localized partnerships.

CARE also continue to influence global conversations on localisation through its active contribution to the Grand Bargain (GB) Localization work stream and its participation in the Charter for Change (C4C) steering group. Also, as part of the Missed Opportunities Consortium, CARE secured ECHO funding to pilot innovative partnership and locally-led approaches to humanitarian action under the ‘Accelerating Localization’ project.

Lastly, CARE is also very succesful in providing internal support to different teams across the confederation. These initiatives can take different forms. In August, CI supported CARE Australia to craft the next stage of their strategic partnership with Live and Learn, their local partner in the Pacific region. At the invitation of CARE Canada, we also delivered a 3-day training on partnership and localization as part of the Rapid Response Team (RRT)’s annual September retreat. Responding to a request from the Asia region, we conducted a review of the CARE Philippines’ Humanitarian Partnership Platform. In collaboration with the Partnership Brokers Association, a remote partnering training course will also be piloted in March 2018 with INGO staff and local actors.

To access further information on partnerships please visit the Humanitarian Partnership wiki. It hosts a wealth of internal and external resources on partnership, including internal and external tools, ‘how to’ guides, and research. While the site is still under construction, it fills a critical gap in this area.
As part of the CARE Emergency Toolkit update, CARE also revamped the entire Partnership section to ensure a better fit with CARE’s localization approach and reflect best practice in the field.

Snapshot - Implementation of the Localisation Framework

CARE's Localisation Framework

Gender and Localising Aid: The potential of partnerships to deliver