5. Q&A Checklist for COs
This checklist is intended for Country Offices engaged in an emergency response. It draws from CARE’s Humanitarian Accountability Framework (HAF), which incorporates the CARE Humanitarian Quality and Accountability Commitmentsand Humanitarian Performance Targets and the relevant Compliance System.
WHAT to DO
- ensure that an organisational culture of transparency and accountability is modelled at every level including CARE leadership.
- plan and budget for quality and accountability (Q&A) including M&E capacity, feedback and complaints mechanisms, reviews and evaluations (see also chapter on M&E).
- ensure that that Q&A commitments are integral to every CARE staff member’s role and every stage of CARE’s humanitarian programme cycle
- ensure that CARE’s response is timely and reaches as many people as possible according to CARE Performance Targets whilst maintaining high Q&A standards as indicated in CARE’s Humanitarian Commitments
- have in place safe and responsive feedback and complaints mechanisms that are designed, implemented and monitored with the involvement of people affected by crisis
- meaningfully engage all stakeholders, and primarily those people affected by crisis, throughout the programme cycle, such they are informed, empowered and able to influence CARE’s response
- ensure that robust monitoring and evaluation and HAF compliance processes – Rapid Accountability Reviews and After Action Reviews – take place, for the sake of accountability as well as to enable real-time and long-term improvements in CARE’s humanitarian programming
- ensure that CARE’s response is focused on its core sectors and aligned with its programme approach such that it promotes post-emergency transition, recovery and resilience-building
- assess and monitor the risks, vulnerabilities and capacities of people affected by crisis, making sure to plan and adapt programming accordingly
- ensure that there is adequate protection of all stakeholders, including people affected by crisis, CARE and partner staff, and that any negative effects of CARE’s programming are mitigated and managed
- coordinate effectively with other humanitarian actors, including ensuring adherence to CHS commitments and to relevant technical programming standards, and jointly organisng appropriate verification processes
- develop effective, accountable working relationships with partners based on clear and consistent agreements whilst supporting and ensuring their adherence to CARE’s HAF
- ensure that staff are sufficiently skilled and supported to adhere to the HAF (and thereby to deliver good quality, accountable humanitarian programming)
- ensure that staff policies and procedures are fair, transparent, non-discriminatory and compliant with local employment law
- ensure efficiency and transparency (including sharing information on community-level budgets and expenditure) whilst avoiding diversion and wastage in the management of financial resources
WHAT NOT to DO
- Fail to establish and communicate clear accountability systems during an emergency response, both within CARE and partners
- Not allocate dedicated resources for monitoring and evaluation from the early phases of the emergency response
- Not provide communities with timely or adequate information about their entitlements
- Think there’s not enough time or capacity to involve disaster-affected communities in participatory processes
- Establish beneficiary feedback or complaints systems that are difficult to access by vulnerable groups and/or can be manipulated by elite people – or none at all.
- Measure simple outputs, e.g. quantities of food distributed, rather than using accepted quality standards and indicators (e.g. CHS, Sphere) to assess and monitor needs and assistance provided
- For new staff, focusing only on technical training and not bother with orientation on relevant parts of the Humanitarian Accountability Framework (codes of conduct, etc.)
- Not prioritise capacity building/orientation in practical accountability methods and mechanisms of ‘front-line’ field staff from CARE and partners that are the primary points of contact with communities
- Not adapt monitoring and evaluation, and accountability systems for longer-term projects and programmes to a more dynamic and fast-moving context of an emergency response.
While HAF compliance relates to all of CARE and is the responsibility of every CARE staff member, this checklist highlights only the most critical Q&A actions and responsibilities for Country Offices engaged in an emergency response. It should be read alongside the sections on Q&A roles and responsibilities, Q&A resourcing, and Q&A support.
How quickly and effectively CARE is able to meet benchmarks and targets defined in the HAF will depend largely on the context. While the HAF will be used as a basis in judging the quality and accountability of each response, this will be in the context of a ‘good enough’ approach. The good enough guide acknowledges that in an emergency response, adopting a quick and simple approach to impact measurement and accountability may be the only practical possibility. ‘Good enough’ does not mean second best, but rather it means recognising and acknowledging limitations in terms of capacity and time, prioritising appropriately, taking steps to anticipate and fill gaps and, when the situation changes, review and revise accordingly.