Stemming from the shift towards a rights-based approach to humanitarian aid in the 1990s and more recently formalized by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s (IASC) Transformative Agenda of 2012, the call for greater accountability to affected populations (AAP) now figures prominently in the policies, programming, and practices of humanitarian actors. What began as a little more than a fashionable term in humanitarian discourse with only vague implications has now developed into a set of standards, commitments, and action plans that strive to strategically place affected populations at the heart of humanitarian programming.
At its core, AAP is about systematically and meaningfully engaging the recipients of aid into all stages of the humanitarian programming cycle, ensuring they have a voice and a hand in the decisions that affect their lives. For humanitarian actors, this requires respect, transparency, and a willingness to work with affected communities, and also be influenced and judged by them. In practice this entails including beneficiaries in needs assessments, programme design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation; establishing open channels of communication for feedback and information sharing; and facilitating participatory processes for decision making and mutual learning. Doing so is not only fundamental to humanitarian principles, but also a practical means to improve the quality and effectiveness of humanitarian aid and ultimately the sustainability of aid programmes.
To establish a shared understanding of what it means to be accountable to affected populations and provide a practical entry point for effective collective action, IASC put forth five Commitments on Accountability to Affected People/Populations (CAAPs) as part of their Transformative Agenda: i) leadership, ii) transparency, iii) feedback and complaints, iv) participation, and v) design, monitoring, and evaluation. Together with the IASC AAP Operational Framework and Tools to assist in implementing the IASC AAP Commitments and an extensive range of other industry-recognized accountability standards, methodologies, and guidance tools (see references) there is now a clear consensus of what AAP requires of individual agencies and the humanitarian sector collectively, and a baseline for all humanitarian actors to evaluate and enhance their current AAP practices.
This document aims to present a brief synthesis of the existing understanding of AAP, and specifically the IASC AAP commitments, framed within the context of the Sudan SHF. The purpose of doing so is to:
i) establish how SHF practices currently align with industry standards; ii) lay out AAP guiding principles for use by SHF staff and implementing partners, and iii) highlight current gaps and prioritize future actions for improving the SHF effort to improve AAP. A selection of useful external resources is included at the end.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.