Concern s Strategy to ensure Accountability to Partners and to Beneficiaries when working with Partners

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1 Concern s Strategy to ensure Accountability to Partners and to Beneficiaries when working with Partners Complaints box in Jajarkot District project office, Nepal. Photo taken by Madan Baghan, March Detailed Implementation Project Plans displayed at community level in Bochibada village, Nepal. Photo taken by Thomas Fergusson, April Accountability Partner Strategy November 2010

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Concern s Partnership Approach Concern s Commitment to Partnership Concern s Definition of Partnership Local Civil Society Partners Distinction Lines of Accountability when working with Local Partners HAP s Requirements for Concern s Work with Local Partners Concern s Programme Cycle Management Fulfilling HAP Standards within Concern s Programme Cycle...8 Phase 1: Programme Planning... 8 Phase 1: Programme Planning with Partners... 9 Phase 2: Start-up Phase 2: Start-up with Partners Phase 3: Implementation Phase 3: Implementation with Partners Phases 4, 5, and 6: Annual Review, Mid-Term Review and Evaluation Phases 4, 5, and 6: Annual Review, Mid-Term Review and Evaluation with Partners Phase 7: End or Renegotation with Partners Partners Accountability to Beneficiaries Implications for Applying HAP Standards when working with local partners Process and Accountability for Management FIGURES Figure 1: Concern's Policy Shift from on Partnership... 1 Figure 2: Concern's understanding of partnership represented diagrammatically... 2 Figure 3: The Accountability Flow between Concern, Local Partners and Extremely Poor People... 3 Figure 4: Concern's Programme Cycle... 6 Figure 5: Concern s Programme Cycle Management System with local partners... 7 Figure 6: Possible partner project timings relating to overall programme... 7 Accountability Partner Strategy November 2010

3 1. Concern s Partnership Approach 1.1 Concern s Commitment to Partnership Concern is committed to selecting like-minded partners who have compatible vision and values with Concern in seeking to address the root causes of poverty. We use the Concern selection and capacity assessment tools to assist us in our partner selection process and in building partner capacity. Concern s role and commitment to building the capacity of partners should be clearly reflected in a capacity building plan. We must also ensure that we have competent staff who can strengthen the capacity of our partners in delivering quality programmes to our target communities. Over the years, this commitment to working with partners has developed to the extent that partnership has become a fundamental way that Concern works. Figure 1: Concern's Policy Shift from on Partnership Importance of strengthening the capacity of local development actors Addressed more specifically the area of working with and through local partners Categorically adopted partnership as one of the organisation s six cross-cutting approaches 1.2 Concern s Definition of Partnership Concern s understanding of partnership is outlined in the Policy on Concern s Relationships with Other Institutions (Partnership Policy 2007). In it, Concern recognises that it cannot achieve its mission in isolation, but that it needs a range of different types of relationships in order to achieve this. Though Concern engages in different relationships for different reasons and to achieve different outcomes, all of these relationships are needed and are equally important. The policy states that the term relationship is used to describe all interactions between institutions and that partnership is just one type of relationship. Concern understands that all relationships have different levels of collaboration - i.e. relationships involving close collaboration like joint implementation or loose collaboration such as networking or information sharing. All relationships also have different depths - i.e. different levels of compatibility; mutual respect and negotiation; inter-dependence; accountability; transparency, integrity and ownership; openness and responsiveness; and trust. These are referred to in the policy as principles. By plotting the levels of collaboration and principles on a diagram, it was seen that the essence of partnership is a combination of a high degree of collaboration, probably over long periods of time, and the application of high levels of principles. Accountability Partner Strategy November

4 Figure 2: Concern's understanding of partnership represented diagrammatically One of the results of this partnership definition is that Concern does not define partners according to their organisational type. Instead, Concern s partners can be from all sectors of society, from civil society, local government, inter-governmental (bilaterials and multilaterals), or the private sector. Indeed, Concern is committed to working with a range of partners at different levels, from community organisations and local government institutions, to national level institutions and international agencies in order to achieve poverty reduction outcomes. Despite this inclusive definition of partnership, this document will focus primarily on local partners i.e. implementing organisations in our countries of operation, most of which are government and civil society based. This restriction in the paper s scope is due to the fact that Concern s private sector and intergovernmental partners provide mainly technical and funding support and so have little or no direct contact with our beneficiaries. On the other hand, Concern s local partners have considerable contact with beneficiaries and therefore the implementation of HAP standards becomes radically more significant. 1.3 Local Civil Society Partners Distinction Due to its definition of partnership (based on collaboration and principles), Concern can potentially classify Community Based Organisations (CBOs) as partners. It is important to note that (for the most part) these CBOs actually comprise Concern s beneficiaries. In such cases, Concern s accountability should be treated as if working directly with beneficiaries. In cases where CBOs work more like local NGOs or intermediaries and for non-members, then they are coverd by the rest of this document. Other civil society partners (such as Non-Governmental Organisations, Forums, Networks, Advocacy bodies, etc.) do not comprise Concern s target group and work as intermediaries for the benefit of others. These intermediaries are the local civil society partners that are covered by the rest of this document. Accountability Partner Strategy November

5 2. Lines of Accountability when working with Local Partners There are various lines of accountability when Concern works with local partners to deliver humanitarian assistance or development outcomes to beneficiaries - i.e. extremely poor people. Concern has to be accountable to partners and vice versa. Both Concern and partners have to be accountable to beneficiaries. These lines of accountability are summarised in Figure 3 below: Figure 3: The Accountability Flow between Concern, Local Partners and Extremely Poor People Extremely Poor People (Beneficiaries) Local Partners (Government / Civil Society) Note that the following features on the diagram: The arrow between local partners and Concern is double headed, showing that accountability is mutual - i.e. it flows both ways. A dashed line is drawn between Concern and Extremely Poor People depending on the degree to which Concern directly implements or works with partners. Because we have offices in all of our countries of operation, Concern and its partners often work closely together as a team to implement programmes. The extent to which we have contact with beneficiaries varies between countries, contexts, and programmes. If and how we will interact with beneficiaries when working with partners should be agreed before implementation. The lines themselves encompass the HAP standards of ensuring: publicly available information and transparency; participation of beneficiaries; competent agency staff; implementation of a complaints and response mechanism; and continual improvement of accountability and quality management. Accountability Partner Strategy November

6 3. HAP s Requirements for Concern s Work with Local Partners HAP certification does not mean that our partners must also be HAP certified to allow us to work with them. We agree with HAP ( ) in that, In some circumstances the best available humanitarian partners may not meet all technical standards of good practice, or may be unwilling or unable to comply with the certified agency s humanitarian accountability framework. In such cases, (Concern) will use the Principles of Humanitarian Action to justify a decision whether to support a partially compliant humanitarian actor. We also agree with HAP that the partnership may in fact be damaged if we seek to impose HAP benchmarks upon our partners. For example, we often work in partnership with local government in its health and education programmes. Trying to force such standards on government bodies may prove detrimental to both the relationship and the programme in the long run. However, we are committed to assisting our partners to continually improve their accountability practices wherever and whenever it is possible. Note too that our HAP certification does not mean that our partners are also automatically certified by virtue of the partnership. In the HAP 2010 Standard in Accountability and Quality Management, each of the six HAP benchmarks includes a section detailing the additional requirements for organisations working with partners. These additional requirements are as follows: 1. Delivering on commitments. The organisation s accountability framework shall reflect a commitment to working in partnerships based on mutual accountability, transparency and respect, and continual improvement. The organisation shall document: 1. its general approach to working in partnership; 2. the process and criteria for partner selection and the role of accountability in assessing potential partners; 3. what is negotiable and non-negotiable when working with partners, referring specifically to the accountability framework. The organisation shall work with individual partners to agree: 1. expectations and working arrangements; 2. the commitments of partners to the people they aim to assist and how these will be met; and 3. if and how the organisation will interact with the people it aims to assist. The organisation shall work with partners to strengthen their capacity to put relevant parts of the accountability framework into practice. 2. Staff competency. The organisation shall make sure that staff who work with partners understand the partnership agreements, the implications of the organisation s accountability framework for partners, and the obligations of each partner. The organisation shall work with partners to agree knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes needed by partners staff to implement agreed commitments, which include not exploiting or abusing the people they aim to assist. The organisation shall work with partners to strengthen their capacity to establish and monitor staff codes of conduct. 3. Sharing information. 1 HAP (2007). The Guide to the HAP Standard: Humanitarian Accountability and Quality Management. Accountability Partner Strategy November

7 The organisation shall make public, at appropriate levels, the names of its partners, their main activities and a financial summary of programmes it funds. The organisation shall work with partners to agree how and when they will share information with people they aim to assist, and to put this agreement into practice. The organisation shall work with partners to strengthen their capacity to meet sharing information requirements. 4. Participation. The organisation shall work with partners to agree how people they aim to assist will participate at different stages of the project, and to put this agreement into practice. The organisation shall work with partners to strengthen their capacity to meet participation requirements. 5. Handling complaints. The organisation shall work with partners to agree how they will raise and handle complaints against each other in a safe and accessible way, and to put this agreement into practice. The organisation shall work with partners to agree ways in which they will enable people they aim to assist to raise complaints with the partners, including the circumstances when partners will refer the complaint to the organisation, and to put this agreement into practice. The organisation shall work with partners to strengthen their capacity to meet handling complaints requirements. 6. Learning and continual improvement. The organisation shall work with partners to agree how they will jointly monitor and evaluate programmes, the quality of the partnership, and each other s agreed performance, and to put this agreement into practice. The organisation shall work partners to strengthen their capacity to meet learning and continual improvement requirements. Accountability Partner Strategy November

8 4. Concern s Programme Cycle Management When working with local partners, the process we use is integrally linked to our programme cycle 2 which is therefore the main framework that we will use for applying HAP minimum standards when working with local partners. Figure 4: Concern's Programme Cycle Figure 5 below is a modified version of Figure 4 (Concern s programme cycle). It outlines the key activities and products that are involved in each phase when specfically working with local partners. 2 This is opposed to funding particular partners in the long-term through institutional support. Accountability Partner Strategy November

9 Figure 5: Concern s Programme Cycle Management System with local partners Note that, ideally, partners are involved from the beginning of the programme. However partners may join the programme after its start to implement a specific task or project (as illustrated in Figure 6 below). Figure 6: Possible partner project timings relating to overall programme YEAR PARTNER A s PROJECTS PROGRAMME PARTNER B s PROJECTS PARTNER D s PROJECT PARTNER C s PROJECT Managing longer-term programmes is often associated with a programme approach. In some contexts, elements of the programme approach (e.g. policy engagement, institutional strengthening, linking partners) are not relevant or even possible especially in sudden onset emergencies or chronic emergencies. In such cases, short-term projects are implemented and certain programme steps in Concern s programme cycle (such as partner workshops, major stakeholder consultations, mid-term reviews) are not required. This section outlines our strategy on how we will fulfil the 2010 HAP standard for working with partners for each step of its programme cycle given in Figure 4 above. It first provides relevant points from Concern s PM&E Guide that demonstrate how we aim to explain and continually improve the quality of the partnership with respect to the HAP Standard Commitment and the HAP Standard Principles of Accountability. It then covers specific strategies that we will undertake to ensure that we are accountable to: 1) both partners and beneficiaries, 2) partners, and 3) beneficiaries when we are working with or through partners. Accountability Partner Strategy November

10 5. Fulfilling HAP Standards within Concern s Programme Cycle Phase 1: Programme Planning From Concern s PM&E Guide 3 CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS & OBJECTIVE SETTING (Section 2.1 & 2.2): Ensure from the start of the process that there is a common understanding and clarity among stakeholders (including partners) about Concern s policy statement and relevant strategies. The most important opinions in the programme planning are those of people who represent intended beneficiaries. Contextual analysis should be carried out with existing partners and potential partners wherever possible. Contextual analysis does not require detailed planning in all target communities. That should happen after programme approval in order to avoid unfulfilled expectations. When working in partnership, contextual analysis should be done with relevant existing partners or potential partners as far as possible. Contextual analysis requires a thorough understanding of the context with input from all relevant stakeholders and in particular from people who represent the intended target groups. Identify stakeholders and determine how each group needs to be involved in the contextual analysis process their respective roles can vary from being fully involved in the process, to providing information, to just being informed about it. Remember to document the process, including what information gathering took place and how, what analysis took place and how, why decisions were made and which stakeholders were involved in each step. Objectives must be set with stakeholders (including partners and beneficiaries) to ensure that they are an expression of a common understanding of the achievements or results the programme is working towards. From Concern s PM&E Guide DATA COLLECTION & ANALYSIS (Section 2.3 and 2.4) Data collection is vital for management - it is the basis for accountability to donors and beneficiaries. When collecting data, think about confidentiality and whether there is a need for anonymity. You must ask participants whether they are happy for information to be shared and get their informed consent. Full involvement of the community in data collection is very important. This ensures that they understand why the data is being collected and that it is relevant for them. Communication is key. Community representatives should ideally be part of the team. Keep data analysis simple - think about how you are going to present your data so that analysis can be participatory. Whenever possible (and appropriate) involve stakeholders particularly programme/project teams and target populations in data analysis, and then work with them on deciding how the results should be used. It is vital to be clear about who is responsible (and consequently who should be held to account) for analysing 3 Concern s PM&E Guide is currently being revised and will take account, amongst others, the findings in the HAP baselines and audit. v2.0 of the Guide will be available in early Accountability Partner Strategy November

11 and using data. Principles Phase 1: Programme Planning with Partners Process Partnership Steps 1a and 1b: Stakeholder Analysis (to identify new partners) and New Partner Selection Concern s Accountability to both Partners and Beneficiaries when Working with Partners Concern will carry out stakeholder analysis to identify organisations that have a stake in achieving Concern s mission - i.e. organisations or groups who have an interest in or influence on our work. Those organisations that require high levels of collaboration and partnership principles will be identified as potential partners. Any complaints by potential partners with respect to partner selection will be directed to Concern s senior management (ACD or CD as appropriate) and possibly to the appropriate Concern Regional Director if required. Any learning 4 from the partner selection process and from complaints received from partners and/or beneficiaries shall be fed back by the Concern Country Director to Overseas, SAL and the Emergency Unit for review of policy and guidance documents. 4 For purposes of confidentiality, complaints themselves should not be shared with SAL or the Emergency Unit or Overseas. Only learning from the process should be shared. Accountability Partner Strategy November

12 Concern s Accountability to Partners Concern s Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners We will explain to potential partners the partner identification and selection process that it will use. Such a process must be transparent and representative. The ability to exercise accountability to beneficiaries and other stakeholders will be one criterion amongst others 5 for partner selection and Concern will be transparent about this. Our preference is to work with local partners who are already moving towards being accountable to beneficiaries. In any direct contact with potential civil society and local government partners, we will articulate our downward accountability commitments. This will include sharing of a simplified form of the Accountability Framework, key documents on the HAP standard Commitment and the HAP Standard Principles, and key Concern documents on Humanitarian Principles and Practice, including Principles of Accountability and Principles for Humanitarian Action. We will use the Concern Emergency Partner Selection Assessment Tool (CEPSAT) or Concern Local Organisation Selection Assessment Tool (CLOSAT) and the Concern Local Organisation Financial Assessment Tool (CLOFAT) tools to help identify and select new civil society partners 6. These tools include questions related to accountability to beneficiaries. For potential new local government partners, we do not use specific tools for selection. Instead their Our accountability commitments 7 will be shared, explained and discussed with beneficiaries by the partner. Roles and responsibilities of both the partner and Concern must be clearly defined in project agreements which must also include agreed progress indicators and a monitoring plan. When Concern is new to an area, we will consult with the target community (as well as other stakeholders) to identify the key institutions that are responsible for - or who already deliver on - the sector area that will be implemented. Concern will explain the partner selection process to the community and consult with them on the selection of potential partners, asking questions such as: a) Do you know these partners? b) What can you tell us about these partners that might inform our decision about whether to partner with them? c) Would you be happy for these partners to be the ones dealing directly with you? d) Can you suggest better partners? Why those? e) How do you think those partners will work with other key stakeholders in government/civil society/private sector? (See footnote eight below 8 for exceptions to this process). 5 Refer to partner policy on non-negotiables: %20CLOSAT%20and%20Capacity%20Assessment.aspx 6 Note that CEPSAT, CLOSAT and CLOFAT are selection tools, not capacity assessment tools. For more information on the difference, refer to the intranet partnership wiki page: %20CLOSAT%20and%20Capacity%20Assessment.aspx 7 Including commitments to The HAP Standard Commitment and the HAP Standard Principles. 8 This process is particularly relevant where we already have a relationship with the community and are expanding or changing our programming. Where we are already working with a partner and the partnership is expanding into a new Accountability Partner Strategy November

13 Concern s Accountability to Partners accountability to beneficiaries and our accountability commitments will form part of the discussion / negotiation process on how we will work with the local government partner on addressing accountability. Concern will document and justify its selection process with written approval by appropriate managers - e.g. Programme Manager and Assistant Country Director of Programmes. Concern s Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners Once partners have been selected, the target communities (as well as those who were consulted and other relevant local institutions / authorities) will be informed as to who has been selected, the process used, and why. Partners may ask us to justify our partner selection and they will be given an appropriate and fair response by our senior country programme management. STEP 1c: Negotiation of Partnership and Partnership Agreement Concern Accountability to both Partners and to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners Negotiations regarding the nature, forms and mechanisms of accountability have to happen early on in the partnership. Accountability can be discussed generically when the broad partnership agreement is negotiated and then detailed later in the project specific agreement 9 in terms of how and when it will be achieved. Any complaints by selected or unselected - partners regarding the partnership negotiation, the partnership agreement, or the decision not to go ahead with a partnership agreement may be directed to the Concern s senior management (ACD or CD as appropriate) by the partner organisation s senior staff. Any learning from partner negotiation and agreement processes, and from complaints received, shall be fed back by the Concern Country Director to Overseas, SAL and the Emergency Unit for review of policy and guidance documents. community or area, then this process may not be deemed necessary as we often work with existing partners to identify beneficiaries. 9 It is important to distinguish between the partnership agreement (which is aspirational and, ideally, co-written), and the project agreement (which is clear in terms of e.g. outputs, reporting, responsibilities, legalities, etc.). Accountability Partner Strategy November

14 Concern s Accountability to Partners Concern Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners Concern will have frank and honest discussions with both existing and potential partners about any potential role that they would have in the programme that is to be designed or in any proposed programme that the partner has submitted. Concern s partnership policy details non-negotiables and negotiables, Concern s accountability commitments and commitments to the HAP Standard Commitment and the HAP Standard Principles will be shared with and explained in detail, and a discussion held on these for appropriate inclusion in the partnership agreement/mou. Part of the negotiation will be around how the partners will be accountable to the beneficiaries. Concern will share its standard agreement process and templates with partners. Partners will be invited to input into the agreement, but, we prefer to refer to our own template so as not to omit certain non-negotiables. Concern will discuss and negotiate with beneficiaries and partners the possibility of a tripartite agreement with roles and responsibilities of Concern, partners and beneficiary groups all clearly articulated. This route should only be pursued if a tripartite agreement is deemed to be of value, rather than a waste of beneficiaries time, and if this has been agreed through the negotiations (see cautionary note 10 ). If a tripartite agreement is to be used, beneficiaries will be invited to input into the agreement through a process of consultation. The contents of the tripartite partnership agreement/mou between Concern and its local partners will be made available to all three participants of the agreement. The formal partnership agreement/mou shall identify and clarify all accountability commitments between: 1) Concern and the partner, 2) the partner and beneficiaries, and 3) Concern and beneficiaries, as well as key roles and responsibilities related to each of these. The partnership agreement/mou shall also recognise that partners may have multiple donors who have different accountability commitments to ours and we will negotiate on how best to manage these. The process of negotiating the partnership agreement is as important as the resultant document. Partnership Agreements should specify the length and nature of the relationship at the beginning of the 10 While this is a nice idea and very workable in some communities, particularly rural communities where cohesion and trust is good, it may not be so good in other areas, particularly in terms of who signs on behalf of the beneficiaries. Is it community leaders, representative group leaders, individual beneficiaries? It could actually shift power dynamics and marginalise the voiceless, even more so if agreements were with the wrong people. An agreement could be perceived as a very powerful tool in urban communities where gangs rule. It could give them a greater power over community members than they already have and Concern could be working for a long time in an area before we know who is who. Unless we know our beneficiaries individually and really well, such a tripartite agreement could actually do more harm than good. Accountability Partner Strategy November

15 Concern s Accountability to Partners Concern Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners partnership. Ideally, an exit strategy should be developed at this time. Concern will also show that it has a plan and commitment for supporting and strengthening its own and its partners capacity to apply those accountability commitments that are relevant to the partner, the HAP Standard Commitment and the HAP Standard Principles. The plan will be outlined in our Accountability Framework and will be detailed in the capacity building plans for both Concern and partner staff. Job descriptions of Concern staff will include roles and responsibilities for the delivery of commitments made in the Accountability Framework that are relevant to the post. PDRs will include a review of the delivery of commitments relevant to the post. A complaints and response mechanism for partners should be discussed and agreed in terms of how any conflicts will be resolved within and during the partnership, including identification of to whom such complaints should be given and how they will be dealt with. Partners views will be actively listened to by Concern staff (field and management) who will be open to amend agreements, plans and approaches on the basis of the realities that partners and communities face. Phase 2: Start-up From Concern s PM&E Guide on STARTUP WORKSHOPS 11 and M&E PLANS (Section 2.5 & 2.6) Parameters ( negotiables and non-negotiables ) in relation to partnership and systems should be defined internally before the start-up workshop discussion with partners. Make sure that key moments and mechanisms for consulting and feeding back to beneficiaries are defined in the M&E plan. Start-up is an opportunity to revisit the added value of the partnership and the partnership agreements. How 11 A start up workshop consists of a series of critical events that are used to launch or kick start a programme, bringing the programme team and key stakeholders together at the beginning, maybe for the first time. Accountability Partner Strategy November

16 these relationships and agreements will be monitored and how disputes will be resolved should also be defined. It is also important to be open and transparent about systems requirements from the start, especially when some of these might be problematic. Power issues always exist with partners and need to be discussed. Being open about these and recognising the non-negotiable factors from the start will ensure that the discussions and the solutions are balanced and useful. Plan with adequate time and set dates carefully to ensure that the relevant participants are able to take part in the start-up workshop(s). Some partners may want to send staff who are very junior or who may disappear for parts of the process because they see M&E as unimportant or not their responsibility or because they may be very stretched. Make sure that partners are made aware beforehand of the need for the workshop, the importance that Concern places on M&E, and the reasons why we do so. Financial planning is always of particular interest to partners, because they need to start thinking about things like recruitment for projects, budgeting, etc. Being clear about the parameters and budgets before the workshop, as well as being open and transparent about them, will be important. It is also useful to bring in the finance department to work on these issues and build capacity in financial management. If the partner is likely to be purchasing material in the course of the project, it is important that the logistics department is brought in to any discussions in relation to tendering, specifications, storage, distribution, etc. In the event that a broad range of organisations involved, with teams of very different capacities, skills and experience. Some partners may be less confident in a large formal forum. In addition, some partners might become involved at later stages but will still need to be integrated into the programme team. High levels of participation from all stakeholders are vital, so the workshops have to facilitate this. From Concern s PM&E Guide on BASELINES (Section 2.7) Make the baseline relevant for all stakeholders including target population. Analyse baseline findings with your target population and other stakeholders and make adjustments to the project/programme as necessary. Ensure that everyone understands the purpose of the baseline, what data will be collected (defined in your M&E plan) and what will be done with it. Identify who (staff, partners and community participants) will be involved in collecting baseline data, storing it, analysing it, feeding information back to the wider community, and refining the M&E plan and programme/project activities as a result, as well as who is responsible for managing each part of the process. Discuss the baseline with communities as part of community planning so that they are clear about what information is required and why. Check that the baseline is happening according to plan. Include it in performance management of staff, reviews of partnerships, and discussions with the community. Hold the key manager accountable to the objectives that were set for the baseline. With partners, make sure that the process of conducting a baseline is monitored by Concern i.e. manage the partner around this. Ensure that the partner has the capacity to carry out a baseline (in a participatory manner), including deciding what data to collect, collecting the data and analysing it. If their capacity needs building, accompany them on this process, or bring in an external person to help. If multiple partners are working towards a programme, ensure there is absolute clarity about what information is collected by whom. This includes data that everyone needs to collect, as well as data that only certain partners need to collect. Make sure it is clear (to the partner and to Concern) how the baseline information they collect fits into the bigger programme baseline. Partners can be brought together to review the results jointly and revise the overall log frames/m&e plans/m&e matrices as well as their individual ones. Accountability Partner Strategy November

17 Relevant Points from Concern s PM&E Guide on COMMUNITY PLANNING (Section 2.8) Involve people in as meaningful a way as possible so that their participation is useful and relevant. Community planning should not be just about meeting the needs for information of Concern/partners, and should not overburden the community. Ensure that information flows both ways during planning so that communities are aware of the information that is being collected and can begin to hold us to account. Community planning should also involve discussing with community members how the work will be monitored and reviewed and using this to feed in to and/or validate the project/programme M&E plan. This is also the time to ensure that accountability mechanisms are in place and that community members are fully informed about Concern/partners and the project/programme, and that mechanisms for feedback are clear and accessible to all. Remember that different staff/partners may have different interpretations of what participation means. Even when working through partners it is our responsibility to ensure that community planning reflects our commitment to participation and accountability. This means assessing and choosing partners which have the values, skills and experience to do this work well, working alongside them if they need support, and learning from them where they are more experienced. Phase 2: Start-up with Partners Concern Accountability to both Partners and Beneficiaries when Working with Partners in all project agreements. Monitoring the impact of the intervention on the poor is an absolute requirement of all interventions. This needs to be clearly articulated when programme planning takes place. Monitoring processes for measuring a) poverty impact, b) participation, c) accountability, and d) partner capacity changed must be agreed and articulated The use of participatory methodologies and the capacity building and empowerment of partners and beneficiaries shall be at the heart of the design of the project and programme, unless the context dictates otherwise (e.g. in some acute emergency situations). The programme plan should spell out when baseline surveys are conducted for key indicators of change. The programme M&E plan should provide for baseline, monitoring, and end-line of capacity changes with clear indicators at beneficiary, partner and Concern capacity levels. Partners and beneficiaries views on how to monitor and evaluate results will be actively listened to, negotiated, and built into project and programme plans as appropriate. Accountability Partner Strategy November

18 A clear and simple external complaints and response mechanism 12 will be developed and established within communities for dealing with sensitive and non-sensitive 13 complaints regarding the project, the partnership or any other related issues. Any complaints regarding start-up will be directed to the Concern s senior management (ACD or CD as appropriate) and possibly Concern Regional Director if required. Any learning from the programme planning and project agreement processes and from complaints received shall be fed back by the Concern Country Director to Overseas, SAL and the Emergency Unit for review of policy and guidance documents. Concern s Accountability to Partners Concern Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners Partners views on the design of the programme will be elicited and actively listened to, as early as possible in the design phase (be it a partner designed programme or our programme design) where possible. Capacity issues will be addressed using assessments that will feed into capacity building plans. Partners strengths and weaknesses re. the HAP Standards will be assessed. Concern s role and commitment to building the capacity of partners will be clearly reflected in the plan (with Concern ensuring it has and will develop competent staff to strengthen partner capacity). Partners views on how to ensure participation of communities and accountability to beneficiaries will be actively listened to, negotiated, and built into the project and programme plans as After discussion, clarity on Concern s, the partners and the beneficiaries roles and responsibilities will be clearly outlined and explained to all parties. Where appropriate, information about Concern, the partners and the programme will be displayed in project sites. Beneficiaries views will be actively listened to by field staff, and Concern and its potential partners will be open to amending the proposed project agreement on the basis of the realities that communities face. Expectations of Concern and partners behaviours and attitudes to beneficiaries will be clarified in consultation with beneficiaries. Beneficiary groups should get feedback from 12 The Concern Complaints and Response Mechanism Guide explaining how to design and implement a CRM is currently (October 2010) being developed. 13 Sensitive complaints may include: breach of Concern s Code of Conduct and Programme Participant Protection Policy; breach of confidentiality; fraud and corruption; discrimination; political interference in the programme; credible security risks to the organization, staff or assets, or to the welfare of beneficiaries or partners; any situation that may constitute a criminal offence. Non-sensitive complaints include: beneficiary selection criteria; quality and/or quantity of supplies and services; lack of information; service delivery mechanisms; level of Concern or partner presence in the community; decision making processes in the community. Accountability Partner Strategy November

19 Concern s Accountability to Partners appropriate. Concern will clearly state what evidence is required from the partner to show that they are fulfilling the agreed accountability commitments (as stated in the documented accountability framework), and how they will be monitored for compliance. Clarity on Concern s and partners roles and responsibilities will be clearly outlined in the project and programme plans and agreements, after discussion with partners about these. Concern Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners partner or Concern staff on the key findings from the baseline survey. The rights of beneficiaries to complain will be explained to them. A locally appropriate, accessible, safe and understandable complaints and response mechanism for beneficiaries will be developed together with the beneficiaries and the broader community as appropriate. This mechanism will allow complaints to be directly channelled to Concern if required. It is expected that Concern s standard project agreement process and templates will be used with all partners. Concern will be transparent that the project proposal and plan are an integral part of any project agreement and will be annexed to it. Phase 3: Implementation From Concern s PM&E Guide on MONITORING & PERIODIC REFLECTION (Section 2.9) Collecting and using monitoring data ensures that you know what is going on and are checking whether your activities are working and whether they are still appropriate. It uses this learning to continuously align and adjust programming and objectives. Monitoring, therefore, improves performance, accountability and learning. Select monitoring processes that place your target groups at the centre of the process! This could involve using participatory tools and methods for example, group process indicators, photography or supporting groups to monitor their own progress and the changes it brings about. Phase 3: Implementation with Partners Concern Accountability to both Partners and Beneficiaries when Working with Partners Concern s project and programme management processes will be clearly explained to partners and beneficiaries whenever necessary, and access to information (as well as project and programme plans) will be ensured. Accountability Partner Strategy November

20 Complaints and response mechanisms and conflict resolution processes will be established and implemented in agreement with beneficiaries and partners. Any sensitive complaints from partners or beneficiaries will be directed by their senior staff/members of the community to an identified Concern senior manager and then to the Concern Regional Director if necessary. Every effort will be made to resolve any non-sensitive complaints at the level at which they occur so as to cultivate good ongoing working relationships between Concern, partners and beneficiaries. Concern will actively listen to beneficiaries and partners on project progress, and will be open to taking on board suggestions from both beneficiaries and partners on how to adjust the project to enhance its impact. Any learning from implementation and monitoring processes and from complaints received shall be fed by the Concern Country Director back to Overseas, SAL and the Emergency Unit for review of policy and guidance documents. Concern s Accountability to Partners Concern Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners The principle of strengthening capacity and empowering partners will be a component of programme management. Concern staff will not manage partners but will facilitate their development and work. Concern retains the right to monitor and demand certain standards as required. Such conditionalities will be made clear to partners during project agreement negotiations (Step 2). Concern will openly discuss with beneficiaries how Concern and the beneficiaries perceive the project and accountability processes are being implemented, and will provide feedback to partners without betraying confidentiality. Concern will conduct separate and joint monitoring visits at the community level to verify partner outputs and reports. Concern will seek to jointly identify ways forward for the project and programme with the partner based on beneficiary feedback. However, if we have worries over performance, corruption, or similar issues where the interests of beneficiaries are not Accountability Partner Strategy November

21 Concern s Accountability to Partners Concern Accountability to Beneficiaries when Working with Partners best served, we may have to work with other stakeholders - e.g. with other donors to a partner - to help to identify ways forward. Concern will ensure that staff with appropriate skills will support the project implementation of partners and will facilitate capacity strengthening initiatives of the partner 14. Concern will be transparent in its views of how the project/programme is going and will share these with the partners 15. Concern will actively listen to partners on project / programme progress and will be open to taking on board suggestions from partners on how to adjust the project/programme. Concern will openly discuss how the agreed monitoring processes are going and how downward accountability processes are being implemented. Phases 4, 5, and 6: Annual Review, Mid-Term Review and Evaluation From Concern s PM&E Guide on PARTICIPATORY REVIEWS (Section 2.10) Participatory reviews are the principal annual (or six monthly or more frequent if necessary for example, in 14 Concern managers will have regular interaction with partners to solicit and get feedback from them on progress of the programme, including capacity building support from Concern, and the way in which our staff interact with them and with beneficiaries. 15 To do this in a constructive manner, our staff s communication skills may have to be enhanced so that feedback is given in a way that seeks solutions rather than putting partners on the defensive as this may block avenues for problem solving. Accountability Partner Strategy November

22 emergency contexts) events for review and planning. Concern and partner staff will come together with other stakeholders including programme/project participants to examine and analyse existing monitoring data, primary data specifically collected for the review, and secondary data, to: assess jointly how programme activities are progressing; identify indications of outcomes and impact for beneficiaries; examine ways of working and relationships between the various stakeholders; make adjustments and feed into planning Participatory reviews provide a space for partners, target populations and other relevant stakeholders to jointly reflect and learn about a programme or project s progress and the changes it is bringing about; and, importantly, to make changes on the basis of this learning. They are also an opportunity to examine whether people are working together in the right way (how well people are working together, what sorts of relationships exist and whether they are supportive/effective etc), to increase sharing and learning across the programme, and for Concern to be held to account by the various stakeholders. Think carefully about how you are going to present data to different stakeholders and particularly beneficiary representatives, and to ensure that it is understood by participants and that the review meeting is a participatory process. Feedback and communicate the results of the review to all relevant stakeholders, including communities, partners, the country office and Dublin. From Concern s PM&E Guide on MID TERM REVIEWS AND EVALUATIONS (Section 2.11) Evaluations are key moments in the programme cycle for learning, accountability to beneficiaries and other stakeholders, and increasing impact of the programme (reviews) or future programmes (evaluations). Evaluations should be participatory - i.e. involving key stakeholders, partners, and especially beneficiaries - and use participatory methods. Concern and partner staff and beneficiary groups will decide what the review/evaluation is for, the approach that will be taken, and how the findings will be used and disseminated. If possible, Concern, partners and representative beneficiaries should come together to discuss how the programme should be evaluated. Key questions relating to organisational approaches and policy should be asked in the evaluation if these are not covered in the M&E plan questions above about targeting, participation and accountability to beneficiaries, etc. All Terms of Reference for the evaluation of the programme will, where possible, include input and suggestions from the partner as well as from beneficiaries. Think about who needs to be involved beyond partners and beneficiaries. Involving people is the best way to ensure results are understood and acted on. One of the criteria for consultant/evaluator choice should be their ability to work in a way which is properly participatory and involves downward accountability 16. External consultants should be advised of Concern s Accountability Framework commitments (both organisational AF and the contextual AF for the country) and what the partners and Concern have agreed in relation to downward accountability. Partner and beneficiary representatives should be involved in interim and final reporting discussions and workshops. 16 Standard Operating Procedures for Evaluations are being developed. Accountability Partner Strategy November

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