Who are we and what do we do ?

ALNAP: established in 1997, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action is an international, sector-wide membership forum which aims to promote a culture of learning across the humanitarian sector in order to improve performance. ALNAP is involved in a range of activities including the production of an annual Review of Humanitarian Action which monitors the performance of humanitarian action though a synthesis of evaluative reports provided by the Membership. It monitors the quality of the evaluations themselves using the ALNAP quality pro-forma, and works with agencies to improve their evaluation skills. The ALNAP Secretariat hosts a comprehensive evaluative reports database. ALNAP’s Biannual Meetings provide the membership with extensive opportunities for networking and learning on a range of important issues.

ALNAP also produces papers that draw together lessons learned for particular types of emergencies, and practical tools, such as guidance booklets and training modules, on subjects and themes prioritised by the Membership. The ALNAP Secretariat hosted the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition during 2005 and 2006 and is taking responsibility for its follow-up. At the time of writing, ALNAP has 57 Full Members and over 700 Observer Members; its Secretariat is based at the Overseas Development Institute in London. www.alnap.org

Humanitarian Accountability Partnership – International – HAP: was founded in 2003 by a group of humanitarian agencies committed to making their work more accountable to its intended beneficiaries, following on from several years of research and field trials conducted by HAP’s antecedents, the Humanitarian Ombudsman Project (1999-2001) and the Humanitarian Accountability Project (2001-2003). HAP is now finalising a system of voluntary self-regulation and quality assurance to be based upon the HAP Accountability and Quality Management Standard due to be published in late 2006. Registered as a Swiss NGO, the HAP Secretariat is based in Geneva with 14 full members as of September 2006. New members are required to submit an Accountability Workplan mapping out how their organisation will seek to implement the HAP Accountability Principles. Eventually, through the accreditation of affiliated NGO networks and associations with the authority to certify their own members as being compliant with the HAP Standard, it is hoped that HAP’s vision of an accountable international humanitarian system at large will eventually be realised. www.hapinternational.org

People In Aid: formally established in 1995, People In Aid promotes good practice in the management and support of employees and volunteers working in relief and development. The People In Aid Code of Good Practice is a quality framework covering all aspects of human resources and people management. It comprises 7 principles, each with specific indicators. The Code supports continuous improvement of NGOs’ HR practices, facilitates stakeholder engagement, and measures improvement. People In Aid’s mandate as a central resource to the sector, supporting agencies in improving the quality of their human resources management, is further carried out through workshops, published guidelines, research and exchange of information between the 100+ members based in over 25 countries.

The Sphere Project: launched in 1997 by a group of humanitarian NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, Sphere has developed a handbook of standards for 4 sectors (Water/Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion; Food Security; Nutrition and Food Aid; Settlement and non-Food Items and Health Services). The cornerstone of the book is the Humanitarian Charter, which describes the rights of people affected by disasters. The standards, each with key indicators and guidance notes (covering ‘cross-cutting issues’ such as people living with HIV/AIDS and gender), aim to articulate the implications of fulfilling these rights. An introductory chapter outlines standards which are common to all sectors, such as Participation, Initial Assessment and Evaluation. The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross/Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief is an annex in the Sphere handbook.

Sphere is not a membership organisation. The process of developing the handbook, and its revision for 2004, were based on extensive collaboration involving over 4,000 people from 400 organisations in 80 countries. Following consultations in 2004 with people and organisations that use Sphere, the Sphere Management Committee became a Board. The small project office based in Geneva was restructured to allow greater emphasis on gathering and managing knowledge on Sphere, and better support those developing materials and training to facilitate its use. The interactive website and online database are a key tools in these tasks. ‘Offline’ activities include ‘learning activities’, which are being held around the world to allow people to reflect on and record their experiences of using Sphere (see also below How do we know that we are making a difference?.

The project operates in three languages: English, Spanish and French. Most project materials are available in all three languages, and the handbook has been translated into several more. www.sphereproject.org

See the end of this paper for information also about Coordination SUD / Synergie Qualité, Quality Compas/ / Groupe URD and the Emergency Capacuty Building Project.