Humanitarian Operations Manual

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Operations Manual Purpose
The ACT Alliance maintains the Humanitarian Operations Manual (HOM) to guide Alliance humanitarian response operations. This manual, redesigned and modified in 2023, replaces the document ACT Alliance Response to an Emergency: Policy, Guidelines and Tools, and Annexes, approved by the ACT Governing Board May 2012 and amended May 2014, and other related guidance issued by the ACT Secretariat since. This manual defines the scope and responsibilities of ACT Alliance stakeholders in its humanitarian responses. It also outlines the principles, standards, and protocols that the ACT Alliance adheres to.

Intended Use
The HOM is reviewed and updated, at a minimum, annually by the ACT Alliance Secretariat through the Emergency Preparedness and Humanitarian Response (EPHR) staff. Online access to the HOM is offered via the ACT Alliance website. Resource links are provided throughout the HOM for easy access during response operations.

Intended Audience
ACT Alliance Requesting Members, Implementing Partners and Funding Members, and their partners, ACT Forum leadership along with ACT Secretariat staff with humanitarian programming responsibilities.

 

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ACT Alliance is committed to demonstrating accountability in every aspect of its work.

The ACT Quality and Accountability Framework 2021 summarises standards of quality towards which ACT can be held to account by its stakeholders and by each other. It states ACTs primary commitments and the different responsibilities of ACT members, ACT secretariat and ACT governance in relation to ACTs accountability mechanisms.

Mandatory Policies and international standards

 

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ACT Alliance Member
ACT Alliance members work collaboratively at the local, national, regional and international levels to deliver impactful humanitarian programming in support of crisis affected communities. ACT Alliance Members in humanitarian responses serve at least one (and sometimes several) of the following roles with their corresponding responsibilities.

Act Forum
Coordinate national or regional ACT Alliance emergency responses, with the intention that all ACT Alliance Members and their partners collaborating in one ACT Alliance response in the country (countries) where ACT humanitarian resources are programmed. Forums and their members are responsible for the preparation of the emergency preparedness and response plan and sharing of humanitarian resources and learning across the membership with a focus on facilitating ACT Alliance effectiveness, capacity development, efficiencies, and learning. During an RRF or Appeal response, the Forum(s) which include Requesting Members and/or Implementing Partners, will serve to facilitate and support the joint design, implementation, monitoring, reporting, and evaluation of emergency projects.

Requesting Member
The Requesting Members are the project managers of the humanitarian response. They ask the ACT Alliance for support in responding to a humanitarian response. During the onset of a new crisis, the Requesting Member submits an alert that provides essential information about the disaster and to inform the alliance of a planned response either through two humanitarian funding mechanism, an appeal or rapid response funds (RRFs) and support from ACT secretariat on project design and project management. Once an Appeal response is authorised by the Emergency Steering Committee (ESC) or an RRF response is authorised by the ACT Secretariat, the Requesting Member implements the humanitarian response programming on behalf of the Alliance. The Requesting Member provides the personnel, systems, processes, equipment, and tools needed to manage the specified humanitarian project. This includes both programming (including technical delivery, reporting) and operations (including financial and human resources management) management responsibility. Requesting members, through an appeal task group, also need to facilitate and define the allocation parameters of appeal funding.

Implementing Partner
In cases where the requesting members are not direct implementers, the Implementing Partner(s) support the Requesting Member humanitarian response programming under the direction of the Requesting Member. The Implementing Partner provides additional resources as specified by the Requesting Member. This may include, but not be limited to, personnel, systems, processes, equipment, and tools needed to implement the specified humanitarian project. Implementing Partners can be either ACT Alliance members who do not meet the criteria to request funding or non-ACT Alliance members.

When Requesting Members work with ACT Members or non-ACT agencies as Implementing Partners, these partners must be under the supervision and full responsibility of the Requesting Member. The ACT Requesting Member is fully responsible for ensuring that all ACT appeal policies and processes are adhered to, including those for finance and reporting. ACT Implementing Partners must comply with the Humanitarian Principles, ACT Code of Conduct, the ACT Code of Good Practice, the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, the Humanitarian Charter, Core Humanitarian Standard, and the Sphere Standards and its companions.

Funding Member
Through the appeal process, Funding Member(s) support ACT Alliance humanitarian responses with critical financial resources required to deliver ACT humanitarian responses. Funding Members are responsible for the timely delivery of financial resources and transparent sharing of the resources they allocate within the Alliance. Funding Members may also advise the ACT Secretariat regarding communications, advocacy, reporting requirements, monitoring, evaluation and audit requirements. In some cases, funding members are also requesting members in countries where they are present and ready to respond to an emergency.

Appeal Task Group
Appeal task groups are created after an appeal is launched for coordination, mainly composed of Requesting Members and forum coordinators.  The task group also makes decisions in issues relating to the appeal such allocation of funding, appeal revisions, scope of implementation and budget, and project extensions.

ACT Alliance Secretariat
Provides coordination, technical and policy support to facilitate the global ACT Alliance response. Responsible for communicating and advocating on behalf of the ACT Alliance in one unified voice, ensuring that global humanitarian projects meet or exceed humanitarian community standards and commitments for accountability to crisis impacted communities and donors. The ACT Alliance Secretariat ensures accountability for funding resources including coordinating financial tracking and audit as well as Monitoring Evaluation, Accountability & Learning (MEAL). The ACT Secretariat facilitates the ACT Appeals and rapid response fund for humanitarian operations. The ACT Alliance Secretariat represents the ACT Alliance to global and regional humanitarian coordination platforms.

Emergency Steering Committee
The ESC determines when to launch an Appeal (Go/No-Go Decision) based on the ACT scale up criteria. ESC has responsibility for rapidly (within 48 hours) making a decision regarding an ACT Alliance humanitarian Appeal activation and addressing issues from the membership. The mandate and Terms of Reference (ToR) for the ESC can be found in the revised ACT Humanitarian Policy (Section 7.1.1).

Surge Capacity
ACT Alliance surge capacity is currently under development. However, during large-scale emergencies Humanitarian Programme Officers in the region may be mobilised to facilitate technical support and coordination.

References and Templates
ACT Code of Conduct
ACT Code of Good Practice
National, Sub-Regional and Regional Forums Policy (2018)

 

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As mandated by the ACT Alliance Global Strategy 2019-2026 and its implementation plan, the following Guiding Principles will be observed in ACT humanitarian work:

  • Total ACT Response. ACT Alliance’s humanitarian work will seek to harness and communicate the combined strength of its members in delivering response at scale and considerable reach through the ‘Total ACT Response’ approach. Most ACT members respond through the ACT humanitarian mechanism, and in many cases, members also respond using their own resources or bilateral funding to non-ACT partners. Total ACT Response includes the work of all ACT members responding to the emergency in their different capacities and contexts (e.g. implementation, funding, advocacy, and communications).
  • Quality and accountable response. ACT Alliance will seek to consistently deliver quality and accountable humanitarian responses. This will be guided by the Humanitarian Charter, the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), Sphere Standards and companion standards, including tools for the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. To ensure timeliness and efficiency, ACT response will be strengthened by the establishment of appropriate digital platforms and management systems.
  • Working with faith actors. ACT humanitarian work will be guided by our commitment to ecumenical diakonia, and actively highlight the important role of faith actors and religious leaders in humanitarian response and advocacy, without proselytizing.
  • Forum-driven alliance. ACT humanitarian programme goals will be enabled by strengthening the role of ACT national forums in engaging local partners and communities in delivering humanitarian response.
  • Locally led response. ACT Alliance will support survivor and community-led approaches to humanitarian response and support the shift in power in the humanitarian system toward local actors.
  • Joint programming. ACT humanitarian programmes will seek to employ joint programming approaches among its members that demonstrate strong coordination and multi-sectoral impacts and are supported by a dynamic approach to funding and fundraising.
  • Capacity sharing. ACT Alliance will invest in strengthening the humanitarian capacity of forums and national members through robust capacity and learning mechanisms, sharing of technology and expertise, and establishment of an effective surge mechanism.
  • Emergency preparedness and response planning. ACT humanitarian response will be defined by ACT national forums based on their own contexts through up-to-date Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans (EPRPs), which is made mandatory for all forums as part of ACT humanitarian reform.
  • Humanitarian Advocacy. ACT humanitarian advocacy will be primarily guided by the ACT Advocacy Strategy, the Grand Bargain commitments, and the crisis/country-specific advocacy of ACT forums and communities
  • Holistic programming. ACT Alliance will seek to employ holistic programming approaches in emergency response and exit and sustainability strategies by establishing links with other thematic priorities of the ACT Global Strategy, i.e. migration and displacement, climate justice, gender justice, and peace and human security. ACT Alliance humanitarian work will develop tools in humanitarian needs assessments and programme design to realise this vision.

The Humanitarian Imperative

The humanitarian imperative is a principle which states that “action should be taken to prevent or alleviate human suffering arriving out of disaster or conflict, and that nothing should override this principle.” The ACT Alliance and its members affirm this principle and are expected to integrate it throughout the planning, execution, and evaluation of humanitarian response efforts.

Humanitarian Principles

  • Humanity: The chief motivation of humanitarian action is to save lives and alleviate suffering in a manner that respects and restores personal dignity.
  • Independence: The humanitarian principle of independence maintains that humanitarian objectives must remain autonomous from political, economic, or other objectives. Humanitarians must not be subject to control or subordination by such non-humanitarian interests.
  • Impartiality: Humanitarian action should be based solely on need, with priority given to the most urgent cases irrespective of race, nationality, gender, religious belief, political opinion or class.
  • Neutrality: Humanitarian actors must maintain neutrality by refraining from taking sides in hostilities or engaging in political, racial, religious or ideological controversies.

Critically, the ACT Alliance does not tie the promise, delivery or distribution of assistance to the embracing or acceptance of a particular political or religious creed.

Do No Harm
Humanitarian Do No Harm principles should be applied to all ACT Alliance assessments and responses. ACT Alliance assessments should:

  • Avoid building unrealistic expectations in the communities of what an assessment will lead to.
  • Ensure that individuals who are participating in assessments do so with their informed consent.
  • Ensure referral protocols are in place in the event a beneficiary reports or discloses a violation or issue to an enumerator (enumerators should be trained on how to address and manage these situations in each specific context).
  • Avoid assessment fatigue by the disaster communities through effective coordination of assessments and by using secondary data sharing to the greatest extent possible. Multiple visits without visible outcomes lead to assessment fatigue and unrealistic expectations.
  • Consider the protection of all populations involved. Take all steps necessary to decrease the vulnerability of populations.
  • Be sensitive to cultural norms (including gender norms that may impact the safety, dignity, access, and participation of the community members), individual privacy and the potential psychological impact of an assessment.
  • Have clear processes and procedures in place for minimising and managing the collection of any Personally Identifiable Information (PII). If for some reason PII is collected (to be avoided), all PII should be securely maintained and then permanently destroyed at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • If it is determined that communities cannot provide their informed consent, or that conducting or completing an assessment may create risk, the assessment should cease and appropriate follow-up action (to address potential risk) should be taken by the assessment team.

Localisation
The ACT Alliance seeks transformative change of the humanitarian system in which a majority of local and national actors face disproportional barriers to access for funding, ownership of humanitarian projects and decision-making. Such a shift in power entails giving primacy to local solutions and knowledge, and partnership models which uphold the dignity and ownership of local actors wherever possible ensure their leadership.

References and Templates
ACT Alliance Humanitarian Policy

 

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ACT Scale-Up Model
The ACT Alliance response to an emergency will be guided by what will be known as the ACT Scale-Up Model. This serves as guidance for decisions by the ACT ESC to launch an ACT response based on the available response modalities, i.e. Rapid Response Fund (RRF) and ACT Appeal. It is recognized that ACT Consortia (see Section 6.4 Partnerships & Consortia for additional information) will self-organise in many contexts, however the ESC may provide advice on the formation of consortia vis-a-vis the launching of an ACT Appeal.

The ACT Scale-Up Model will be guided by the following response criteria, adopted from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Scale-Up Protocol 13.

  • Scale: number of affected/potentially affected people; size of affected areas. There are four levels of scale. Emergencies of large or mega scale are eligible for an ACT Appeal.
    • Small Scale (localised): Emergencies that are localised in areas where ACT is already working or where members can easily move to respond. Often related to flooding, drought, landslides, etc. they are responded to by the regular staff of members. Normally a small scale emergency does not require external funding or capacity assistance. The response addresses the needs of a small number of affected persons.  For a small scale response, ACT Forums can indicate their request for an RRF, through its local/National members.
    • Medium Scale (localised or nationwide): Emergencies may be localised or nationwide, and will likely have a considerable impact on the lives of people covering a larger geographical area or a significant number of affected people. ACT members may need to add additional capacity to respond to the emergency. ACT Forums can indicate their request for an RRF, through its local members, for a medium scale response.
    • Large Scale (localised or nationwide): Emergencies that surpass the capacity of local or national ACT members to respond. Additional and specialised staff need to be hired or deployed, which may be national or international. An ACT Appeal will likely be issued.
    • Mega Scale (national or regional): Emergencies that surpass the capacity of most national and international humanitarian actors to respond. They will often have a great impact on the local, national or regional infrastructure, which require complex mechanisms to set up emergency responses. An ACT Appeal will likely be issued.
  • Urgency: number of people displaced; crude mortality rates; minimal or no access to life-saving support; critical protection risks.
  • Complexity: multi-layered emergency; presence of a multitude of actors; high risks of politicisation; lack of humanitarian access; high security risks to humanitarian actors.
  • Complex emergencies combine internal conflict with large-scale displacements of people, mass famine or food shortage, and fragile or failing economic, political, and social institutions. Complex emergencies arise from human fallibility, and may include nuclear, biohazard (e.g. oil spill), or climate change-related factors. Often, complex emergencies are also exacerbated by natural disasters. Complex emergencies can be supported by an ACT Appeal.
  • Capacity: low levels of local or international response capacities, including lack of required specialised or technical expertise; needs outweigh the capacity to respond; ACT Alliance Member(s) have the capacity and desire to respond; inadequate humanitarian leadership.
  • Risk of failure to deliver effectively and at scale to affected populations: vis-à-vis assessed need and severity (violations of human rights and international humanitarian law; exacerbation of food insecurity; deterioration of civil unrest).

The ACT Scale-Up Model also includes the following additional criteria, which will be used to assess all funding applications in addition to the IASC Scale-Up criteria:

  • Funding viability based on feedback from funding members.
  • ACT member presence and capacity on the ground.
  • Proven track record of requesting members to implement humanitarian projects, including planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting (PMEAL).
  • Demonstrated coordination of ACT national Forum (where there is no ACT Forum, demonstrated coordination among members in-country).
  • Updated EPRP and Contingency Plan.
  • Existing relationships with local faith actors, churches, and other communities of faith.

 

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The ACT Quality and Accountability Framework (QAF) summarises standards of quality towards which ACT can be held to account by its stakeholders and by each other.

Safeguarding
Safeguarding is an ethical approach and set of practical measures adopted by organisations to promote the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in the delivery and receipt of humanitarian aid and development assistance, whether that is aid delivered as a response to conflict or emergencies, or programmes and activities that are focused on building the capacity of communities e.g. for health or education etc. Safeguarding is about protecting people as far as possible from all forms of harm, including Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH), that might result from their involvement in or contact with the organisation. The likelihood of exploitation and/or abuse increases when individuals are in a vulnerable situation and where unequal power dynamics exist.

ACT Alliance’s commitment to safeguarding, and expectation of Members, includes protecting staff from harm and inappropriate behaviour, including discrimination, bullying, and/or harassment in any form, and preventing and responding to harm caused by the organization to the people being served including SEAH. This means ACT Alliance is committed to:

  • Safeguarding communities and individuals
  • Safeguarding staff, volunteers, partners and contractors
  • Safeguarding the ACT Alliance Membership
  • Safeguarding ACT Alliance programs

All employees within ACT Alliance member organisations have a role to play in safeguarding. Certain employees also have responsibility for monitoring the implementation of a Safeguarding Policy or designing and adapting organizational systems and processes to integrate safeguarding requirements. Those with designated safeguarding responsibilities are responsible to help others understand their obligations under a Safeguarding Policy and respond, as necessary, to safeguarding reports and concerns. The expectations for ACT Alliance members regarding Safeguarding are outlined in the ACT Safeguarding Policy, ACT Safeguarding Guidance Documents.

Protection from Sexual Harassment, Exploitation & Abuse (PSHEA)

ACT Members are all required to follow a set of standards designed to stop and/or ensure adequate response to sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse. In addition, ACT Members should commit to being proactive in addressing such gross violations of human rights and in cases where members lack the required skills, experience or resources, they should establish a safe referral and reporting process to competent organisations. Integrating protection and gender are also key aspects to protecting people against sexual misconduct and crimes, as sexual violence is the most immediate and dangerous type of gender-based violence (GBV) happening in emergencies.

Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS)
The ACT Alliance humanitarian operations seek to comply with all of the nine (9) CHS commitments while also incorporating CHS guidance and indicators into humanitarian operations project design and implementation. Specifically, ACT Alliance Members should comply with the Core Humanitarian Standard Guidance Notes & Indicators. These indicators and related guidance notes should be applied to:

  • Project design;
  • Monitoring at project, sectoral and response-wide levels;
  • Capacity-building strategies;
  • Internal evaluations;
  • Peer and joint reviews and evaluations; and
  • Real-time monitoring by affected communities and people.

For assistance verifying CHS compliance and applying these indicators and related guidance, please see the Core Humanitarian Standard Guidance Notes and Indicators.

Sphere
The Sphere Handbook was developed to provide minimum standards for the provision of emergency humanitarian aid. ACT Alliance humanitarian operations should adhere to and reflect Sphere Guidance and Standards. The foundations of the Sphere Handbook are the Humanitarian Charter, Protection Principles and the CHS. These lay out the key principles, responsibilities, and duties of humanitarian actors and are to be adhered to at all times. The Handbook also covers specific standards for responses related to Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion, Food Security and Nutrition, Shelter and Settlement, and Health. For detailed information and minimum quality assurance standards for each of these sectors, please reference the full Sphere Handbook.

IASC
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is the longest-standing and highest-level humanitarian coordination forum of the United Nations system. It formulates policy, sets strategic priorities and mobilizes resources in response to humanitarian crises.

With members from within and outside the United Nations, the IASC strengthens collective humanitarian action through the implementation of a coherent, unified response. Towards that end, the IASC advocates for common humanitarian principles and makes strategic, policy and operational decisions with a direct bearing on humanitarian operations on the ground.

References and templates
ACT Alliance Quality and Accountability Framework
Safeguarding Policy
SCHR Misconduct Disclosure Scheme
Core Humanitarian Standard
Sphere Handbook

 

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Due Diligence
ACT Alliance will establish a set of processes that provides a level of assurance that humanitarian response funds are used appropriately by the members and do not cause any harm. Members should have suitable policies, procedures, and controls for managing potential risks.

Member Capacity Assessment for Humanitarian Operations (CAHO) – to be developed

Purpose of CAHO
At the heart of effective and impactful ACT Alliance humanitarian responses are robust Requesting Members who can effectively manage humanitarian operations. All Requesting Members are at various stages of capacity development for the delivery of humanitarian operations. CAHO supports the Requesting Members capacity sharing and strengthening while ensuring high levels of support and accountability for ACT Alliance membership.

Responsibilities

Requesting Member
Annually complete the Member Capacity Assessment Tool (MCAT) and share with the Secretariat. The MCAT template can be found in Section 8.2.1. Transparently communicate member capacity strengths and weaknesses. Facilitate and be responsive to due diligence requests.

Implementing Partner
Support and share with Requesting Members the technical resources requested as a part of the Requesting Member(s) capacity assessment.

ACT Forum
Coordinate and facilitate national level CAHO resources to the benefit of the forum members.

ACT Alliance Secretariat
Assess MCAT and facilitate the development of capacity strengthening channels and resources for members.

References and Templates
Member Capacity Assessment Tool (MCAT) – to be developed
The MCAT tool is a Member self-assessment tool to assist all Members and the Alliance in understanding where Members are in their capacity development evolution.

 

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Purpose of the EPRP
The purpose of the EPRP is to strengthen ACT’s capacity to respond effectively to emergencies with improved coordination, appropriate, and timely response of forums members and their implementing partners. It is a good platform for developing consortia models, based on a realistic assessment of capacities and competencies to contribute to a consortium. The EPRP is a mandatory requirement for members to access the humanitarian funding mechanism.

The Forum EPRP process is intended to achieve the following results:

  • A clear understanding of ACT’s emergency response mechanisms
  • A strengthened EPRP
  • Readiness for response
  • Clarity on ACT member and partner response capacities and readiness through contingency plans
  • An assessment of the scope for consortia at forum level to attract donor funding
  • Identification of capacity needs and formulation of a capacity building plan

EPRP Submission
EPRPs should be completed prior to a response in coordination and in collaboration with the ACT forum. Member and Forum EPRPs are required for forums to issue an ACT Appeal or RRF. Thus, members cannot receive funds from appeals without an up-to-date EPRP in place. A completed EPRP should serve as the basis or operational response plans as well as enhanced readiness for response. If an EPRP is not immediately available following an ACT Alliance activation to respond, the Requesting Member and/or Forum will submit an EPRP within five (5) business days from the proposal approval and launch to the ACT secretariat.

EPRP Support Resources
EPRP templates should be applied for the completion of all EPRPs. Further, the ACT Alliance Secretariat Humanitarian Team can provide ad hoc technical support with the completion of EPRPs.

References and Templates
Individual Organisation EPRP
Guidance Note – Individual Organisation EPRP
Forum EPRP
Guidance Note – Forum EPRP

 

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Purpose of ACT Alert
The ACT Alert is the first official communication sent by the forum when there is a disaster to the ACT Secretariat. Its purpose is to notify the Secretariat that an ACT member or members envisage an emergency response which may include accessing funding through the RRF or Appeal processes. Where no ACT Forum exists, a member with country presence may create the alert for the secretariat to issue.

ACT Alert Issuance
The alert should be issued by the ACT forum within 24 hours of sudden onset emergencies, and immediately published by the ACT secretariat.  For slow onset emergencies, the alert is issued based on local needs assessments, government requests for assistance or a declaration of a state of emergency, and secondary information from other humanitarian actors.

ACT Alert to Decision Timeframe
In an ACT Alert the submitting ACT Forum or Requesting Members(s) may signify the intention to raise an Appeal per the ACT Scale-Up Model. In cases where the Requesting Forum or Member(s) envisage responding through an ACT Appeal, the ESC must convene and determine, within 48 hours from the time the Alert is issued, whether an Appeal will be raised. If the Alert envisages only an RRF response, the ESC does not need to meet.

References and templates
ACT Alert Template

 

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ESC Response Decision Meeting
The ESC meeting can be confirmed and conducted once a quorum from the ESC roster has been reached. During the ESC meeting, Forum coordinators or convenors are expected to present their case for a humanitarian response using the ACT scale up criteria.

Decision Matrix
Based on the ACT Alert information and other information collected related to a response, the ACT Alliance Secretariat completes a Response Decision Matrix. The Response Decision Matrix must be completed by the humanitarian programme officer prior to the meeting of the ESC and distributed to all ESC meeting participants. The ESC Decision Matrix template can be found in Section 8.1.1.

Decision Options
Based on the decision matrix and ACT Scale-Up criteria, the ESC may determine a) To activate an ACT Alliance response (either via the requested appeal or by recommending the use of an RRF instead) b) Not respond c) Delay decision to respond. One of these three decisions must be made within the forty-eight (48) hour period after the alert was raised. In that case that the ESC recommends activating an Appeal response, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs is then responsible for approving the Appeal publication after a proposal is submitted by the Requesting Members and/or Forum.

Recording
The ESC decision is recorded in meeting notes of the ESC and filed for ACT Alliance membership access.

Appealing ESC Decisions
Where members raise concerns over the decision, the ESC will reconvene to discuss the merits of the members’ appeal and decide.

References and Templates
ESC Decision Matrix

 

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Humanitarian Do No Harm principles (see Guiding Principles) should be applied to all ACT Alliance assessments and responses.

Assessment & Analysis
Humanitarian assessments and related analysis provide the foundation for ACT Alliance humanitarian projects. Assessment and analysis are the first critical step in ACT Alliance humanitarian projects and provide the evidence base required for effective humanitarian response decision-making. As such, during and immediately following the issuance of an ACT Alert, the Requesting Members and/or Forum should prioritise conducting needs assessments, analysis, and other relevant information gathering. Rapid needs assessments of disaster-affected populations determine the magnitude of unmet needs and ultimately inform priorities for ACT Alliance humanitarian assistance. Assessments inform decisions regarding budget, response objectives, technical sector priorities, and targeting. Collect sex, age and disability disaggregated data to inform context-specific intersectional analyses and guide humanitarian planning, implementation, and monitoring processes.

Needs assessment is the best way to answer the question: “What assistance do disaster-affected communities need (ACAPS)?”

Additionally, there are recurring sub questions to this main question where you think specifically how the answer varies for (e.g. women, adolescent girls, young children, older persons, persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics [SOGIESC] and persons with disabilities)?

  • What is the most severely affected area?
  • Who is the most severely affected population?
  • Which groups are most at risk or most vulnerable?
  • How and why are these vulnerable groups affected?
  • What are the most severely affected sectors?
  • What is the magnitude of unmet needs that has not been served by other response actors?
  • Is the area safe and secure?
  • What are the barriers people face accessing services or assistance

To effectively account for the complexity of impacts of crises on women, girls, men and boys in all their diversity, humanitarian action needs to include the gender dimension in analysis and assessment.  The response should meaningfully include crisis affected women and girls, persons with diverse SOGIESC, and the organisations representing them in the coordination on decision-making processes.  ACT Alliance responses should also promote their inclusion in conflict prevention, resilience, and peacebuilding efforts.

Assessment Principles and Commitments

Planning & Scope
Ensure Appropriate Planning & Scope of the Assessment. Before conducting an assessment, the ACT Alliance (led by the Requesting Member with support from the Forum and ACT Secretariat) will thoughtfully plan out the assessment. Specifically, in the planning process, ACT Members will identify existing data gaps, the specific decisions that the assessment can assist with informing and the methods to be used in conducting the assessment. Assessments should be scaled and scoped to reflect the disaster size, context and operating environment. Assessments should be wide enough to indicate the full situation but narrow enough to be manageable.

Accountability
Prioritise Accountability to Affected Populations Focusing on Vulnerable and Underserved Populations. ACT Alliance assessments should be designed, planned, and implemented to give the communities an active and participatory voice in all stages of the assessment. Consideration should be given to vulnerable and underserved populations throughout the assessment process and in the selection of assessment teams. Vulnerable populations are those with a shortage of humanitarian assistance. ACT Alliance will incorporate cross-cutting issues (particularly protection and security) into all its assessments.

Sphere Assessment Standards
Follow Sphere Assessment Standards. The Sphere assessment standard states that “the priority needs of all people affected by disaster are identified through systematic assessment of the context, risks to life with dignity and the capacity of the affected people and relevant authorities to respond.” This Sphere assessment standard acknowledges the importance of understanding needs in relation to the political, social, economic, and environmental context in which a disaster has occurred. Thus, an effective response addresses the unmet needs of disaster-affected people and is based on continual reappraisal of vulnerability and capacity in a changing context.

Timing
Timely and Rolling Assessment Process. To be successful, humanitarian assistance should be timely. Given that a response should be based on assessments, it is therefore critical that assessments are also timely and current. Initial assessments should be conducted as soon as possible after the disaster and/or when actors can first gain humanitarian access. It is important to seek the right balance, based on the context, between the quality of the assessment data to be collected, the level of detail and the timeliness of the assessment results. An assessment is not a one-time occurrence. Assessments should take place on a recurring basis with additional data collected in increasing detail. Assessments should be refined over time with findings updated to reflect situational changes.

Assessment Guidance
ACT Alliance conducts assessments as the basis for good project decisions. Keys to successful field assessments include:

  • Aim for timely assessments. The earlier assessments can be done, usually the better, but timeline should also take into consideration security constraints, coordination with other humanitarian actors (to avoid duplication), and effective assessment design and planning (see Steps #2 and #3 below).
  • Review existing secondary data before conducting field assessments for new primary data.
  • Seek pre-disaster baselines, noting chronic needs existing pre-disaster, as well as emergency post-disaster needs.
  • Identify information needed for the specific decisions to be made.
  • Do not overextend an assessment—make it wide enough to reveal the situation but narrow enough to be manageable.
  • Liaise with all technical sectors relevant to the disaster type,
  • Identify the best sources of information and triangulate that information with other sources.
  • Collect data disaggregated as much as possible by geography, age, and gender.
  • Use recognized standards, terminology, and procedures (see Sphere, the Humanitarian Standards Partnership and the Good Enough Guide).
  • Manage community expectations to avoid creating unrealistic expectations of service delivery as well as assessment fatigue.
  • Consider format/reporting requirements of assessment end users and distribute findings quickly to support decision-making and follow-up assessment.

When conducting assessments there are six essential steps.

Step #1: Collect Existing Secondary Data
In the initial days and weeks after a disaster, secondary data are the main source of information. A secondary data review is a rigorous process of data collation and analysis. As a part of the secondary data collection process, pre-existing baseline country data is usually available in global datasets compiled by UN agencies, donor governments, and private sector institutions.  These datasets are commonly published annually online.

Step #2: Design the Field Assessment
Once a decision is made to conduct a field assessment to collect primary data, it is essential to take a deliberate approach to assessment design. Assessment design can be done rapidly during a response but ensuring that time is taken to consider the appropriate assessment design is critical to a successful field assessment.

To design a field assessment, assessors should take the following sub-steps:

Step 2.1: Establishment of the assessment team. An assessment team can consist of anywhere from one person to several persons depending on the circumstances and expertise required. Consider any social norms that should be taken into account to avoid limiting the scope of the assessment, including gender norms.  The team composition should be adapted to match the circumstances and the personnel resources available but at a minimum one person needs to be designated as the assessment lead responsible for conducting the assessment in whichever disaster locations are selected.

Step 2.2: Identify the overarching assessment questions that need to be answered.

Step 2.3: Determine the best and most appropriate methods to answer the assessment questions. There are four common methods used in an assessment:

  • Direct Observation (site visits, transect walks, and flyovers)
  • Key Informant Interviews (e.g. with community members, community leaders, local authorities, or partners)
  • Focus Group Discussion
  • Triangulation (e.g. other partners, other donors)

Step 2.4: Adapt the ACT Alliance Rapid Assessment Tool (see template in Section 8.4.2) to the context and appropriate methods.

Step #3: Prepare for Field Assessment
Preparation for a field assessment involves trip planning and assessment planning.

Step 3.1 Field Assessment Trip Planning
When preparing for a field assessment trip, consider the following:

  • Security update, travel restrictions.
  • Travellers, to include translators.
  • Destination and waypoint GPS coordinates.
  • Routes, to include primary and alternate routes.
  • Timetable (estimated time of departure, estimated time of arrival).
  • Communications Plan (primary communication channels and alternate communications channels).
  • Medical evacuation process.
  • Team briefing.
  • Key contacts list with work and personal contact details.
  • Local maps of areas to be assessed.
  • Identify and pack data gathering templates and instruments for data capture (e.g. paper/pen, digital collection data tools) as well as tools for conducting the assessment.

Step #4: Conduct Field Assessment
ACT Alliance personnel will utilise the Rapid Needs Assessment Tool. In the assessment design step (Step 3 above), the tool was adapted and tailored to the specific disaster context. The field assessment is where the tool is applied. The following guidance should be considered related to each method of conducting field assessments.

Step #5: Analysis
During the assessment and following the assessment, the essential next step is to conduct a thorough analysis of the assessment data collected per the guidance offered in Section 7.1.5.

Step #6: Assessment and Analysis Reporting
Once the assessment and analysis are complete, the final step in the assessment process is to produce an assessment report that clearly describes:

  • The assessment question(s)
  • Methods used and limitations
  • Assessment findings (organised by assessment question)
  • Assessment analysis and conclusions by assessment question
  • Recommendations

This assessment report should then be shared within the ACT Alliance both in writing and verbally. The assessment report should then be filed electronically so that it is accessible to all ACT Alliance response personnel.

Analysis Purpose
Analysis is the critical step between assessment data collection and informed decision-making. Analysis is the process of bringing order, structure and meaning to the assessment data collected. When doing assessment analysis, the ACT Alliance seeks to identify patterns, trends and relationships in assessment data. Analysis involves understanding what the data collected means and then presenting that understanding in a useful way (with clear observations, conclusions and recommendations) to support better decision-making based on data.

Analysis is taking place continuously throughout a humanitarian crisis. When conducting analysis of assessments, we seek to:

  • Compare the severity of the conditions between various affected groups and locations
  • Explain association and underlying factors
  • Forecast the evolution of the impact of the disaster
  • Prioritise the most important humanitarian needs and target groups
  • Help to define and select the appropriate and proportionate response interventions and modalities

Analysis Guidance

Analysis Step 1: Define Analysis Questions
The first step in the assessment analysis process is to identify the questions to be answered by the analysis of the data. Sample questions include:

  • Which pre-existing vulnerabilities might have been exacerbated by the current situation?
  • Who/what was affected and to what extent? Identify the people and resources affected by the disaster.
  • What is the scope and scale of the impact?
  • What resources and capacities already exist?
  • What are the humanitarian needs and gaps?
  • How might the disaster (impact of the disaster) develop? Highlight special concerns about existing or emerging risks/threats, how they might unfold in the future positively (opportunities) or negatively (risks) and impact the current situation.
  • What are the priorities for action and required resources of the communities impacted by the disaster?

Analysis Step 2: Organise and Summarise Observations
Organising the data involves gathering the assessment data, forms and observations into one place (such as a shared online folder).

Analysis Step 3: Compare by Identifying Patterns and Relationships in the Data
Once the observations are organised and summarised, this data needs to be compared against other data (usually pre-disaster baseline data). Comparison is essential to the analysis process. Comparison can be made to humanitarian standards (e.g. Sphere), other comparable geographic areas (e.g. province A as compared to province B), social group comparisons that identify different levels of needs between different population groups (e.g. agro pastoralists vs. farmers, host populations vs. IDPs etc.) and time (e.g. pre vs. post disaster).

Analysis Step 4: Interpret
Following the process of organising assessment observations and comparison, it is essential to then interpret the assessment data. As the assessment data is tested, refined and retested against new assessment data, explanations can become more consistent, triangulated and defendable. Context is essential in the interpretation process. Assessment data alone will rarely provide the answers to the questions. Looking at data alone without ascribing the proper context can yield imperfect and misleading conclusions that are to be avoided. Good interpretation recognizes that the context is as important as the data itself.

The ACT Alliance draws on individual and collective knowledge using experience, logic and expertise to interpret conclusions and recommendations. Conclusions are the analytical answers to the questions originally posed. Recommendations are based on the observations and conclusions. Recommendations usually take three forms:

  1. a) Most severe problems and key priorities
  2. b) Action that should be taken
  3. c) Further information that should be gathered.

References and Templates
Rapid Assessment Tool

 

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Purpose of the RRF
The primary purpose of the ACT Alliance RRF is to provide financial resources to local and national members of the ACT Alliance in the first days and weeks following an emergency, and where national members have the capacity to respond. The RRF is also ACT’s main mechanism to promote locally led response, in alignment with the localisation agenda of the Grand Bargain. In acknowledgement of escalating humanitarian needs and growing ACT Alliance member capacity, the Global RRF Appeal has been expanded to promote increased funding to the RRF. In addition, in 2021 the maximum amount of ACT Alliance RRF funding available per individual requesting member was increased to USD 150,000 per emergency. RRFs will primarily aim to provide life-saving response in small-scale emergencies and proposed responses that do not sufficiently meet the criterial for ACT Appeals.  Due to the scale of the emergencies eligible for RRFs, it is expected that there will be a minimal number of members applying for the RRF per emergency.

RRF Process Summary
The Rapid Response Fund Guidance provides in depth instructions for the RRF eligibility requirements, the procedure for RRF applications, and RRF implementation expectations. Templates for single member and multiple member RRF Proposals can be found in Sections 8.4.4 and 8.4.3.

RRF proposals must focus on providing life-saving responses in small and medium-scale emergencies and must satisfy a minimum of two ACT Scale-Up Model criteria. RRFs must be implemented for a period of up to six months. There is a possibility of applying for another round of funding to support continued relief work provided that this is substantiated by a needs assessment. The maximum amount allocated to RRFs is USD 150,000 per requesting member.

RRF proposals must be submitted to the ACT Secretariat within three (3) business days of either a validated ACT Alert or an ESC recommendation to pursue a response via the RRF process. The Requesting Member/Forum EPRP and rapid needs assessment should be used to assist in developing an RRF proposal. Proposals submitted beyond the required three (3) business days may not be considered. An ESC meeting is not necessary for the evaluation and approval of an RRF proposal, rather the ACT Secretariat and Global Humanitarian Operations Manager are responsible for RRF approvals. However, the ESC can decide to recommend the usage of an RRF when deliberating an appeal request, thus triggering the RRF proposal process.

The RRF will be reviewed, and feedback provided within two (2) business days following proposal submission with an aim to approve funding within the same timeframe, if feasible. Consultation between the ACT Secretariat and requesting members in order to revise the proposal is expected and should be conducted with urgency. The Global Humanitarian Operations Manager (GHOM) will make decisions on RRF project applications, given endorsement by the ACT Regional Representative. Decisions will be made and communicated by the Secretariat on approval, approval amount, and non-approval of RRF applications. Following the Secretariat approval of an RRF proposal, the RRF operations plan and budget are not subject for revision. However, within seven (7) business days of an RRF proposal being approved, an inception meeting should be held between the Requesting Member(s) or Forum and the Secretariat in order to clarify and add detail to project timelines and quality expectations.

References and Templates
Rapid Response Fund Guidance
Rapid Response Fund Template

 

 

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Purpose of the ACT Appeal
ACT Appeals are to be mobilised for emergencies that meet three or more of the ACT Scale-Up criteria. Appeals, including the annual Global RRF Appeal, are a primary mechanism through which members of the ACT Alliance demonstrate a coordinated ecumenical response to emergencies. The total number of ACT Appeals is intended to be limited, as the ACT Alliance seeks to leverage it strategically and support stronger collaboration of members in humanitarian response and fundraising.

Eligibility & Criteria
Eligibility

  • All ACT members in good standing, with a valid Membership Cooperation Agreement (MCA) and positive past reporting compliance, are eligible to apply for appeal funding.
  • Organisational and Forum EPRPs are mandatory to access ACT Appeal funding. For emergencies where there is no Forum, an updated organisational EPRP is required for each of the requesting member(s).
  • Requesting members are required to apply the Core Humanitarian Standard and Sphere and companion standards in the design and implementation of responses funded by an appeal.

Criteria

  • Appeals must address emergencies that meet three or more criteria of the ACT Scale Up Model, as determined by an ESC meeting.
  • Appeal projects must have a maximum duration of 12-24 months, depending on the humanitarian needs and operational context.
  • Appeal projects will seek to strengthen local systems of response as part of the localization agenda. Members will consider communities as well, following capacity sharing and partnership principles.
  • Eligible emergencies can be of rapid onset nature (e.g. earthquake or flood), slow onset nature requiring early response or emergency relief (e.g. drought), or of a complex humanitarian character (e.g. refugee or internal displacement situation, resulting from breakdown of social, political and economic systems).
  • Appeal proposals must demonstrate member capacity for implementation. This can be demonstrated using a completed MCAT.
  • An appeal is expected to be revised within three months after it was launched.
  • Both Appeal proposals and revised Appeals must receive endorsement from the national Forum. In the case that a national Forum does not exist, the Appeal proposal must be endorsed by all local ACT members present in country.

Appeal Timing 
After the ESC approves an Appeal launch, Requesting Members and/or Forums are responsible for submitting an Appeal proposal to the secretariat within seven (7) business days. Then, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs has the following two (2) business days to approve the Appeal publication and publish it within nine (9) business days of the ESC decision. If there are any issues with publication, the Requesting Members may send their feedback to the humanitarian programme officers, who are the first line of contact with the secretariat.

The revised appeal process begins a minimum of three weeks after the initial launch prior to the conclusion of the initial three (3) month humanitarian appeal. A revised appeal plan and budget are to be submitted no later than two weeks prior to the conclusion of the initial three (3) months after the appeal was launched.

Appeal Proposals
Both initial and revised Appeal proposals include a narrative and budget component. Appeal proposals include key information including context and needs, capacity to respond, response strategy, project management, and project quality and accountability including results framework.

The initial Appeal proposal provides information mostly pertaining to the first three months of the intended humanitarian response with some forward planning. The initial proposal should be as specific as possible given the information constraints likely to occur at the outset of an emergency. The revised appeal builds upon the initial three (3) month appeal used at the outset of the response. The response strategy and implementation approach laid out in a revised appeal should incorporate and reflect the information and experience gained during the first three months of the Appeal response.

ACT Appeal narrative and budget proposal templates and should be used for both initial and revised Appeal proposals.

Appeal writing is essential during an ACT Alliance humanitarian response. The writing of an appeal is foundational for the raising of internal ACT Alliance funding and to raise funds from external donors while providing a clear design document that response operational managers can use to implement activities and report against. Thus, the appeal is an important fundraising tool but it also is important as a tool to ensure effective project design, operational management and accountability.  Failure to submit a quality appeal in a timely manner may limit the ACT Alliance’s ability to raise funds that will meet the demands of the operational response and potentially harm the ACT Alliance’s reputation with donors.

It is critical that there are dedicated appeal writer(s) available from the beginning of an operation. Writers should be sufficient in number, experience and in time available to dedicate themselves to the appeal writing process. The appeal should be written based on a rapid needs assessment and the organisational and forum EPRPs. The proposed appeal activities should not be developed solely by the ACT Alliance instead the targeting of project activities should be coordinated with other local, national and international actors to avoid proposing the same project activities to the same target populations. The appeal should be realistic and achievable within the specified budget and time frame. The ACT Alliance capacity and ability to deliver the project should be clearly articulated along with any risks and risk mitigation steps. The writing style of the appeal document should be clear, straightforward, well formatted, and grammatically correct.

References and Templates
Appeal Template
Appeal Budget Template
Results Framework Template

 

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Situation Report
Situation reports provide concise, up-to-date, and accurate information about the humanitarian situation and the ACT Alliance response. It is essential that the report include details related to the ACT Alliance response and humanitarian assistance provided to communities. The Requesting Member prepares regular situation reports that are distributed to all members by the ACT Secretariat.

Frequency & Timing
Following activation of a response, the Requesting Member and ACT Secretariat will agree as to the frequency of situation reports reflected in the appeal document. This frequency should be revised as an operation evolves with situation reports commonly being more frequent in the first month of a humanitarian response operation. It is common for the ACT Alliance to issue situation reports every week at the start of a new sudden onset humanitarian response. As the response operation stabilises, reports can be issued once every two weeks then quarterly. For all ACT humanitarian responses, a situation report should be issued at a minimum once a month.

RRF Requirement
For RRFs, in conjunction with monthly situation reports, a situation report must be provided at the end of the first month following the emergency or one month following the project start date.

Interim report
Interim progress reports, both narrative and finance variance reports, are submitted by the requesting members at a date indicated in the published appeal, halfway through a one-year appeal, or every six months for a multi-year appeal.  The interim reports will be followed by a monitoring visit from the secretariat.

Final Report
RRF and Appeal final reports (including financial reports) must be submitted to the ACT Secretariat 60 days after its project end date. Failure to submit reports on agreed deadlines will result in non-compliance measures.

Audit Report
Projects with funding of over USD50,000 will require a project audit report submitted 90 days after the project period ends.

Project Completion Report
A project completion report will be drafted by ACT secretariat led by the humanitarian programme officers summarizing the project context, response, implementation, financial management, and learning.  This project completion report will be forwarded to all project stakeholders.

The SitRep, Interim, and Final reports will be shared within ten days after the published reporting deadline to the funding members after being reviewed by ACT secretariat.

References and Templates
SitRep Template
Interim Report Template

Final Report Template

Project Completion Report Template

 

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Purpose
Project extensions may be possible if there are additional needs to be met or funding is available. Requesting members can request a no cost extension by submitting a project modification request to the ACT secretariat three months prior to the original project end date.  Projects can be extended up to six months.  In exceptional circumstances such as high levels of humanitarian need still exist and where a continued and sustained response is important, the response can be extended for another year.

Decision
The decision to approve a project extension is made based on the recommendation of the Forum or appeal task group, with the concurrence of the ACT Secretariat, and the approval from funding members.

References and Templates
Project Modification Template
Project Budget adjustment Template

 

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Close Out Decision
Three months prior to the conclusion of a revised appeal, the ACT Secretariat meets with the Requesting Member and funding members to determine whether to end the humanitarian project. If the decision is to close the humanitarian project, then a closure decision is issued to the ACT Alliance at that time. This decision is recorded and made available for ACT Alliance member access.

Exit Activities
Prior to closing, the Requesting Member responsible for the project has the responsibility for ensuring that all project activities are concluded by the project end date established by the end of the revised appeal. Exit activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Financial Closure
Completion of all financial transactions by the agreed upon closure date.

Final Audit
Completion of a financial audit by external auditors of the humanitarian project.

Learning Review
Per the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning (MEAL) guidance in Section 4, completion of a Learning Review is to take place prior to the conclusion of the project and usually is within the last month of the project’s duration.

Completion Report
Humanitarian programme officers close all appeals and RRFs with a closing meeting and a project completion report summarising the response, its accomplishments, and lessons including a summary of income and expenditures.

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ACT Alliance operational mismanagement happens when a member or the ACT Alliance Secretariat regularly fails to meet their operational responsibilities specified in this manual. For members, this usually involves a lack of reporting in a timely manner and as agreed upon or the inability to produce financial data. ACT Alliance’s Complaints Policy covers serious disciplinary measures per the ACT Alliance standards and policies on fraud and corruption. ACT Alliance has also endorsed the SCHR’s Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. Through this endorsement, the ACT secretariat is committed to systematically check with previous employers about any misconduct issues relating to sexual exploitation and abuse and to potential new hires and to systematically respond to such checks from others.

Non-compliance Repercussions
Non-compliance of contracts and reporting requirements is a loss of trust, credibility and the resources required for current and future humanitarian responses.

Non-compliance Consequences
Consequences are determined by the ACT Secretariat based on the severity of the mismanagement issue Humanitarian operations complaints are considered by the ACT Secretariat on a case-by-case basis. The following consequences are applied:

  • Level 1 = Warning message from the ACT secretariat to the Member.
  • Level 2 = Temporary suspension of member’s ability to receive future ACT Alliance humanitarian funding mechanisms.
  • Level 3 = Letter of Censure from the Secretary General.
  • Level 4 = Recommended Membership Suspension to Executive Committee.

Levels 1-3 action can be taken by the ACT secretariat. Level 4 will involve the ACT Alliance Membership and Nominations Committee. Mismanagement consequences are to take into consideration the MCAT and the humanitarian context. The Membership & Nomination Committee (MNC) are to be consulted regarding management issues that reach Levels 3 or 4.

Mismanagement Reporting
Reporting of non-compliance or mismanagement decisions is to be communicated to the ACT Alliance Secretariat in a timely manner following the ACT Alliance’s Complaints Policy. Complaints related to ACT Secretariat staff performance can be directed to the staff, supervisors and/or the ACT Alliance complaints policy.

Complaints and Feedback Mechanism
The ACT Alliance is guided by its Complaints Policy.

References and Templates
ACT Alliance Complaints Policy

 

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Purpose of MEAL
Effective monitoring that includes the collection and analysis of performance data is meant to increase the opportunity for making evidence-based project decisions and strengthen ACT project evaluations. By continuously tracking specific indicators, changes over time can be measured and placed into context, to be used for real time and future decisions. Evaluations allow for the measurement of project goals, enabling a stronger understanding of the accomplishments or shortfalls of project efforts.

Together, monitoring and evaluation can help organisations draw out relevant information from past and ongoing activities and use these as the basis for making project adjustments and future planning. Accountability practices ensure that standards of quality are maintained by ACT members and that ACT can be held accountable by its stakeholders and by its members. Monitoring, reporting and evaluation support accountability by recording project results and creating the opportunity for those results to be shared transparently with stakeholders and internally. Learning from project results and the experience of ACT members and stakeholders is a tool for supporting better performance, quality, and accountability over time. By reflecting on and sharing insights regarding project management and governance practices, ACT can better leverage the wealth of knowledge held by members of its network in order to more successfully reach its goals.

Definitions

  • Monitoring is a systematic and continuous process of collecting, analysing, and documenting information that enables regular reporting on the progress of project implementation over time.
  • Evaluation is a one-time (as opposed to ongoing) objective assessment of an on-going or completed project and its design, implementation, and/or results. Information and learning from evaluation are used to inform future projects and organisational learning. Evaluations may be internal ACT Alliance peer evaluations or external evaluations conducted by external evaluators or evaluation teams.
  • Accountability is the acknowledgement, communication, and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions, and policies including administration, governance, implementation and consequences of the implementation of all activities the member is involved in. This includes Accountability to Affected People (AAP), which is the process of using power responsibly and being answerable to the people and communities who are impacted by the ACT Alliance’s humanitarian programming.
  • Learning is the intentional sharing and acquisition of knowledge or skills by ACT Alliance, its secretariat, members and/or their stakeholders. The process of learning should lead to change which occurs as a result of newfound experience or knowledge.

For greater detail on the ACT MEAL definitions and approach, please see the Humanitarian M&E Mandatory Guidance.

ACT Alliance Humanitarian M&E Mandatory Guidance
The current version of the Humanitarian M&E Mandatory Guidelines should be referenced and applied for all ACT Alliance humanitarian projects.

Roles & Responsibilities

  • ACT Member: Lead ACT Alliance MEAL activities during a humanitarian response. Ensure that ACT Alliance humanitarian MEAL resources are applied and adhered for all humanitarian programming. Ensure that a monitoring plan has been agreed with the humanitarian programme officer within two weeks.
  • ACT Forum: Coordinate MEAL activities amongst the Members during a humanitarian response.
  • ACT Secretariat: Provide global MEAL technical support to Members and engage in global humanitarian community MEAL fora to ensure that good MEAL practices are understood and applied during humanitarian operations.
  • ACT Governance: Ensure that MEAL obligations can be met through the provision of comprehensive resource support to the ACT Alliance membership.

Learning Review
A humanitarian Learning Review is a mandatory internal performance review and learning exercise aimed at identifying ACT Alliance operational successes and areas for operational improvements that can be applied to the current operations or future operations in other humanitarian contexts. A learning review usually takes place around the time of a project conclusion and preferably one month before or after a project closure. A learning review brings together key staff and partners who have been involved in the ACT Alliance humanitarian operation. Recommendations for improved humanitarian responses are the key outcome from the exercise. Where an evaluation has taken place, the learning review should take place following the finalisation of the evaluation. The learning review will be facilitated by the humanitarian programme officer.

Evaluation
ACT Alliance is committed to learning from its experience and to the systematic analysis and assessment of its humanitarian appeals to improve performance. Evaluation is a key component of our broader approach to considering the impact of our interventions and should consider and inform the design and delivery of our programmes, and the articulation of our internal policies and management processes.

ACT adheres to the OECD/DAC definition of evaluations: An evaluation is the systematic and objective assessment of an on-going or completed development intervention, its design, implementation and results. The aim is to determine the relevance and fulfilment of objectives, development efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability. An evaluation should provide information that is credible and useful, enabling the incorporation of lessons learned into the decision-making process of both recipients and donors”.  Evaluations of humanitarian appeals in ACT Alliance can be internal or external. See section 4 of the Humanitarian M&E Mandatory Guidelines.

References and Templates
Humanitarian M&E Mandatory Guidelines

 

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Principles & Guidance
Robust financial management plays an essential role in an effective ACT Alliance humanitarian response project. Accountable financial management enables effective and timely cash and budget management to allow for efficient implementation of projects with requisite levels of accountability to ACT Alliance donors. Financial management enables timely and accurate management and reporting of expenditures. At the core of ACT Alliance’s humanitarian projects are members working together to deliver aid to the people in need. Financial management is an integral part of its operations where some members fund projects while members in the locality of the disaster implement the humanitarian response. ACT Alliance members work together to deliver assistance with accountability shared throughout the membership. Requesting and Funding Members, as well as the ACT Secretariat, are all key stakeholders in ensuring high quality financial management and the smooth flow of funds.

Responsibilities
Requesting Member: The Requesting Member takes the following financial management responsibilities, with support from the Secretariat and other members involved in the response:

  • A clear financial structure and sufficient personnel capacity to adequately meet project demands.
  • Internal controls for accountable financial management.
  • Management of cash and cash equivalents to ensure safe and accountable control of cash and ensure cash flow is adequate for operational requirements.
  • Implementation of appropriate controls and procedures for cash disbursements, including cash advances, petty cash funds, travel advances and any use of cash facilitators.
  • Effective management of contracts and grants, including tracking of contributions, management of budgets, compliance with donor regulations, expenditure reporting and internal audits.
  • Support regarding budget development.
  • Coordinate with ACT secretariat and provide timely information on funding receipts through Payment Advice Notes, financial reports including variance and audit reports.

Funding Member: Funding Members are responsible for providing funds in a timely manner so that Requesting Members can use the funds more effectively. Funding Members are responsible for fundraising for response efforts and often are responsible for donor requirements and reporting.

  • Pledges. Funding members need to inform the ACT Secretariat of pledges and when pledges are expected to be transferred. ACT Secretariat will inform requesting members accordingly.

ACT Secretariat: The ACT Secretariat is responsible for the financial management and dispersal of funds received through Secretariat accounts. Members are encouraged to transfer all humanitarian funds through the Secretariat to ensure higher levels of accountability. Members have responsibility for the effective financial management of funds received from the ACT Secretariat in accordance with good practices already established and within this manual.  The ACT Alliance Secretariat provides financial management support to Members throughout the operational management cycle to ensure accountability and to assist with funding disbursements. The ACT Secretariat takes no responsibility for the financial management of funds received by Members through bilateral agreements outside of the appeal.

  • Payment Advice Note. ACT secretariat provides receipt for funding members as soon as the funds have been recorded in the bank and sends a Payment Advice Note (PAN) to requesting members as soon as the funds have been transferred.

Budget Line Items
A budget is developed using the Budget Template (Section 8.4.11) for all responses. Per the template, the following are the budget line items that should be included:

Direct Costs: Direct costs can be clearly attributed, either wholly or in part, to a specific activity, operation, or project, including costs associated with direct management or other identifiable support functions.

Project Staff: Includes all staffing costs required and directly involved in the humanitarian project implementation. Sample Project Staff positions include: Project Manager, Logistics Officer.

Project Activities: Usually delineated by sectors such as Shelter & Settlements/Non Food Items, Food Security, WASH, Health/Nutrition, Protection and Psychosocial with line items for each sector listed by number of units and unit cost.

Project Implementation: These costs are those that are needed to effectively deliver the ACT Alliance project activities and often include coordination costs and capacity development.

Quality and Accountability: these costs cover needs assessments, complaints mechanisms, communications/visibility, MEAL, financial review and audit costs.

Project Logistics: Costs include transportation (including vehicle hire, fuel) and warehousing.

Project Equipment:  Purchases of assets that requires depreciation should follow the member organisation’s procurement policy.  If assets purchased is more than USD500, this should be reported to the ACT secretariat and a deed of donation should be drawn out at the end of the project period.

Indirect Costs: Indirect costs cannot be traced unequivocally to specific project activities and rather include costs associated with general administrative or other support services.

Staff Salaries: Includes staff costs not directly involved in supporting humanitarian projects. This often includes salaries or administrative, finance, accounting, reporting, MEAL, communications or other staff who support the operation with a percentage of their time.

Office Operations: Includes utilities costs such as electricity, rent, office supplies, printer, and printer ink.

Communications: Includes elements such as telephone, internet, fax and satellite phone expenses.

Other expenses may include insurance, bank fees, and other miscellaneous fees related to the operation.

Secretariat & Management Costs: Per the ACT Alliance Humanitarian Policy, the International Cooperation Fee (ICF) will be replaced with a standard budget line for Secretariat management and coordination within the budget of each appeal or RRF that reflects the true Secretariat cost of running Appeals/RRFs. This helps ACT to match income with actual expenditure to help to strengthen Secretariat support to members.

Management of Unspent Balances
All operational account balances should be expended by the conclusion of the project per the agreed upon budget. If at the conclusion of the project there are remaining unspent balances, these funds should be reported at least three (3) months before project closure. In general, remaining funds greater than USD500 are then transferred to the ACT Secretariat for inclusion in the GRRF Appeal or transferred to another appeal with approval from the funding member. In cases where a new appeal will be launched, unspent balances may be transferred to the new appeal provided that requesting members have informed ACT secretariat within three months before the current appeal’s closure and funding members have given their approval to carry forward its balances to the new appeal.

Overfunded Appeals
It is the role of ACT secretariat finance to give regular updates on funding levels both for the funding and requesting members.  However, if an appeal is overfunded, this information should be communicated by humanitarian finance to the team and members. A revised Appeal should be issued if the appeal is overfunded at a significant level and there is a new operational plan to effectively program those resources. The ACT Secretariat will not transfer funds that are more than what has been budgeted by the Requesting Member until the Revised Appeal has been published.

If the operation cannot effectively program the remaining resources and a revised Appeal is not issued, unspent balances must first be returned to the ACT Secretariat. In order to determine which funds make up the unspent balance, the ‘First In First Out’ (FIFO) principle is used. The principle assumes that the first funds contributed to an Appeal are the first funds used by an Appeal response. The FIFO principle is applied using the dates when money was received by the Requesting Member and excludes contributions that have been pledged but are still in the hands of a funding contributor. Because of varied sources of funding, some of which are from back donors with less flexible conditions, the ACT Secretariat Head of Humanitarian Affairs is able to waive FIFO at their discretion when funding conditions call for such a decision. Once the Secretariat possesses all unspent balances, they must consult with the relevant Funding Members as to whether the contributions should be 1) added to the Global RRF Appeal, 2) carried forward to the next Appeal, or 3) transferred to another underfunded Appeal in the region.

Separation of Duties
Ensures that one person’s work serves as a complementary check on another’s. This effectively calls for no one person to have completed control over any transaction from start to completion. Having adequate separation of duties has a major impact on ensuring that transactions are valid and recorded properly. The general principles that govern effective separation of duties as a part of financial management can be summarised as follows:

  • Separate custody of assets from accounting
  • Separate authorisation of transactions from custody of related assets
  • Separate duties within the accounting function
  • Separate operational responsibility from record keeping responsibility.

Adhering to all these principles may not be possible due to resource limitations or other considerations. In these cases, the risk resulting from inadequate separation of duties should be assessed to ensure that the level of exposure is acceptable to ACT Alliance Forum members.

Financial Reporting
Financial reporting on all operations is to take place within the required deadline indicated in the Reporting section. The Requesting Member has the responsibility to submit these reports to ACT Secretariat. The ACT Alliance Secretariat then has the responsibility within ten (10) business days to provide those financial reports to all relevant involved in the humanitarian operation and who contributed to the appeal.

Funds Disbursements
Funds are to be disbursed in a timely manner to the respective Members when funds are received and recorded by the ACT Alliance Secretariat and upon demonstration by Members (usually through the provision of an operational plan and budget) that the funds will be responsibly programmed.  Funds may be received and subsequently dispersed at any time during a response. In most cases, funds are to be distributed within ten (10) business days of receipt from Funding Members provided that funding allocations have been identified or agreed by the requesting members.  Requesting members need to decide how unallocated funds should be distributed during the appeal inception meeting. For RRF responses, funds should be transferred within two (2) business days of an approved RRF proposal, due to the fact that funds are traditionally being used from an already funded Global RRF Appeal, rather than being received on a rolling basis from Funding Members.

Ensuring the timely dispersal of funds is the joint responsibility of multiple ACT Alliance stakeholders. Funding Members are responsible for submitting contributions to an Appeal as quickly as possible, as this allows Requesting Members to use the funds most effectively. Further, Funding Members should inform the secretariat if they expect to make contributions closer to the end of the project period, as this allows for Requesting Members to mitigate the frequency with which projects are left with large amounts of unspent funds or are extended unexpectedly. Once funds are received by the ACT Secretariat, it is their responsibility to transfer the funds to Requesting Members within the aforementioned timelines. Requesting Members are responsible for thorough financial management and reporting in order to demonstrate accountability and encourage continuing contributions.

References and Templates
Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy
Templates are available in the Rapid Response Fund and Appeal sections.

 

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For all ACT Alliance humanitarian operations, it is essential to reference and link to the ACT Alliance Safety & Security Guidelines.

In humanitarian operations, security and safety must be integrated throughout. Essential safety and security steps include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Constant contextual and situational analysis identifying operational security risks and vulnerabilities while consistently applying mitigation measures.
  • Clear articulation and training of all personnel on ACT Alliance safety and security procedures (including movement of personnel, curfews, critical incident management, emergency health, communications).
  • Allocation of financial resources in the appeal budget for the equipment and personnel required for robust safety and security systems.
  • Completion of an up-to-date safety and security plan specific to each humanitarian operation.

References and Templates
ACT Alliance safety and security guidelines

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Purpose
The purpose of ACT Alliance humanitarian operations communications and media is to clearly speak, quickly, appropriately and accurately, in one unified ACT Alliance voice to impacted communities, partners, donors and the international humanitarian community. Communications and media are key tools to raise awareness and funds in support of the ACT Alliance response while also promoting local members and advocating on key issues of importance to those the Alliance serves.

Roles & Responsibilities
Requesting Member: Requesting Members communicate as ACT Alliance members at a local level. While maintaining their individual organisation’s identity, it is required that members clearly brand themselves as a part of the ACT Alliance when participating in an ACT Alliance response. Members should co-brand their facilities, vehicles, working environment, websites, reports, etc. with the official ACT Alliance logo in accordance with the ACT Alliance Branding Policy. ACT Members should identify themselves in every instance (unless for security reasons) as members of ACT and must highlight the ACT identity and activities in their media work.

Communication with the Secretariat to report on the details of emergency conditions, response efforts, and financial management is also a responsibility of Requesting Members. While taking into account their own resources, ACT Requesting Members may also assist other member communications in their information gathering and distribution.

Funding Member: While maintaining an individual identity, funding members must give prominence to the ACT name and/or logo in their external and internal communications and fundraising, regardless of whether they are involved in the funding or implementation of an ACT alert and/or appeal. As appropriate, this includes gathering relevant communications materials (photos, video, stories), coordinating press/media visits to emergencies covered by ACT appeals, exchanging relevant information products with the ACT Secretariat, and crediting information derived from ACT sources to the ACT Alliance.

ACT Secretariat: To serve the ACT Alliance’s goals and ambitions the Secretariat must produce regular, consistent and informed communication. The Secretariat is responsible for communicating with global stakeholders about ACT Alliance responses. Raising international attention and awareness about ACT Alliance responses, the funding needs of requesting members, and the utilisation of donor funds are all of particular importance. The ACT Secretariat’s role includes working to coordinate communications efforts among members, to provide appropriate communications products in a timely manner to aid in fundraising and communications work, and to build communications capacity among responding members. These responsibilities are to be carried out through a variety of media outlets, through supporting members with communications materials, as well as the ACT Alliance website.

Guidance
ACT Alliance Communication Policy should be referenced and applied as related to all data and information management.  The ACT Alliance Branding Policy should be referenced and applied as related to co-branding and ACT Alliance visibility.

All ACT members are expected to ensure compelling, effective, and timely communications. Key principles to follow in all ACT Alliance communications are found below.

  • The ACT Alliance commits to base communication on journalistic values of timeliness, accuracy, and high quality, and communicates in ways that respect the dignity, uniqueness, human rights and intrinsic worth of every person.
  • The ACT Alliance does not portray people as helpless victims but recognizes their immense capacity for resilience and action with strong community, cultural, and human resources.
  • The ACT Alliance commits to promoting gender-inclusive language, diverse representations and to counter gender stereotypes in images
  • ACT Alliance communications will be clear, concise, use plain language, and use established journalistic criteria to be understood by as broad an audience as possible.
  • The key goals of ACT Alliance communications are to transmit emergency news from the affected communities to ACT members, answer questions about emergencies, supply context, report on ACT responses, gain media coverage, raise awareness, coordinate ACT members’ communications responses, build capacity among responding members, and inspire.

Photos, videos and stories
The ACT Alliance website includes journalistic stories about ACT’s work. They must be about 300-500 words and contain news that is urgent, timely, and relevant. Stories must contain descriptive detail and focus on a subject and must feature an ACT response as a main focus. It should consider its audience and take them on a journey, providing relevant context along the way. The purpose of the story should be made obvious by the headline and lead sentence and remain clear throughout the piece. Quotes from eye witnesses are essential to fleshing out a story. Further guidance on what ACT Alliance looks for can be found in the Communications Policy in Section 7.1.10.

Pictures and videos are a powerful tool to augment an audience’s understanding of an emergency and response. For this reason, stories cannot be uploaded to the ACT Alliance website without at least one photo that shows the ACT Alliance’s response or someone affected by the emergency. Photos must be taken at your camera’s highest resolution, must be sent as separate jpeg files, be in focus and composed. The name of the photographer and the name of the organisation they work for (if applicable) are necessary in order to give credit for the images or video. Captions accompanying photos must be complete and informative. Specific captioning guidance, metadata requirements, and delivery information is given in the ACT Communication Policy.

Photo releases are required for photos of individuals or small groups of subjects except in immediate humanitarian situation onset. Photos of individual children will never be used without accompanying parental/guardian consent. Contact the ACT communications department with any questions related to media releases.

References and Templates
ACT Alliance Communication Policy
ACT Branding Policy and Guidelines
ACT Public Information Disclosure Policy
ACT Social Media Policy
Communication With Communities Across The Project  Cycle  Management

 

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Roles & Responsibilities
Humanitarian data and information management is a joint responsibility between the members and the Secretariat. Members and Forums involved in a humanitarian response collect, analyse and distribute amongst all of the operational partners (including the Secretariat) relevant humanitarian data and information. The Secretariat then has the responsibility to analyse that data and information for global sharing and long-term record keeping.

Guidance
ACT Alliance Communication Policy should be referenced and applied as related to all data and information management.

Records
The ACT Alliance Secretariat humanitarian department has the responsibility for collecting, storing and distributing documentation of its humanitarian responses. Humanitarian operational data is to be maintained for a minimum of twenty-five (25) years following the conclusion of an appeal.

Personal Identifiable Information (PII)
The ACT Alliance seeks to avoid the collection and management of PII. If PII is collected, it should be destroyed entirely as soon as it is used.

References and Templates
ACT Alliance  Communities Data Safeguarding Policy

 

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Procurement

Sourcing & Acquisition
The ACT Alliance strives towards the local sourcing of supplies that are sustainably sourced with the Requesting Member having the responsibility for procurement.  Procurement starts with a Requisition Order. A requisition order is completed and then authorised. The entity then responsible for procurement can initiate a competitive procurement process. An assessment of the best sources (starting local and national and then going regional and international as needed) to provide the needed in the right quantity, quality and in the timeframe required. Sourcing supplies locally and nationally supports local economies while also reducing transport time, costs and environmental impact.

Contracting
A qualified Requesting Member representative or contracting specialist should negotiate contracts with vendors and service providers. Contracts should be based on a competitive analysis of a minimum of three bids for all procurements over $5,000 in total value. Written terms and conditions need to be agreed upon during the selection stage.

Logistics
Transportation
Transport arrangements will be needed to ensure that supplies reach the locations where they are needed. For each operation, a humanitarian transport plan will be needed that takes into account different means of transport (land vehicles, sea boat shipping or air transport). Consider the following related to humanitarian transportation:

  • Available transport options related to speed, safety, pricing and accountability of supplies.
  • Contracting modalities with transport providers.
  • Insurance terms.
  • Transportation documentation.
  • Incoterms: Incoterms are a set of international rules, issued by the International Chamber of Commerce, for the interpretation of the main terms of delivery used in foreign trade contracts. Incoterms define the rights and obligations of the seller and buyers with respect to transfer of risk (and when), packing, transport, insurance, handling, customs and who pays for these activities.

Warehousing & Storage
Appropriate warehousing and storage is used to protect ACT Alliance supplies and ensure accountability through an organised system of management. Consider the following related to humanitarian warehousing and storage:

  • Stock management procedures and staff to handle all aspects of warehousing and storage.
  • Estimating storage requirements based on level of anticipated stock.
  • Security, safety, access, size, ventilation, location and required utilities.
  • Rotation of supplies.
  • Use of waybills, stock cards and other supply management tools.

Customs
For any imported goods, customs processes will need to be managed to ensure timely delivery.

Telecommunications and information technology
ACT Alliance operations may require additional IT resources for full voice and data sharing functionality when responding to humanitarian crises. Functional IT also is essential to robust safety and security. Additional supplementary IT equipment for humanitarian response operations may include:

  • HF/VHF Radios
  • Satellite Phones
  • Portable Satellite Terminals

IT Equipment Management

Procurement and management of field IT equipment required for an ACT Alliance response is the primary responsibility of the Requesting Member. The Requesting Member is to continually assess IT equipment and system requirements, ensure tracking and functionality of equipment and training of staff regarding IT equipment being used on an operation. If IT equipment is not of sufficient quality and standard, the Requesting Member and/or Forum can request additional IT equipment resourcing through the Appeal.  Please refer to further guidance on IT and assets procurement in the financial management section.

 

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Gender in Emergencies
Gender inequalities exist before, during and after a humanitarian emergency and can be further exacerbated in times of crisis. Therefore, if specific gender groups such as women and girls were already discriminated against in a specific context at the onset of a crisis, they will be disproportionately affected, disadvantaged or invisible during the humanitarian response unless we are aware and proactively ensure that the response is inclusive, effective, efficient, and empowering.

ACT Alliance commits to the goal of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in humanitarian action as one of its core priority areas. By identifying and addressing the specific needs of women, girls, boys and men in all their diversities, by promoting and protecting their human rights, and by redressing persisting and even deepening gender inequalities – including through the promotion of women’s leadership and contribution across the humanitarian response – ACT will promote more equitable and effective humanitarian outcomes for all crisis affected populations.

ACT recognizes that gender mainstreaming is central to the success of all protection work. The ACT Gender Justice Policy (Section 7.1.11) is the document which outlines ACT’s overall approach to mainstreaming gender considerations into its decision-making and operations

ACT Alliance recognises that to effectively account for the complexity of impacts of crises on women, girls, men, and boys in all their diversity, humanitarian action needs to

  • be rights-based,
  • bring an intersectional understanding of diversity as a prerequisite for leaving no one behind (LNOB),
  • be alert to societal power dynamics and the impact of gender inequality and all other forms of intersectional discrimination
  • recognize differing gender-based needs, as well as the potential for inequitable access to the resources and services needed to address them
  • facilitate the leadership role and contribution of crisis affected women and girls in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of any response strategies that directly impact their lives and those of their dependents and wider communities

Gender Based Violence in Emergencies
In the context of emergencies, gender based violence (GBV) is of particular concern and must be treated as an essential aspect of protection. ACT Alliance holds a zero tolerance approach to GBV, not only in armed conflicts, but also during peacetime. Specific GBV considerations are outlined in the ACT Alliance Humanitarian Protection Policy, Section 7.1.3.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Definitions
Disaster Risk Reduction includes project activities that help communities systematically analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.

Disaster risk reflects the nature, intensity and magnitude of one or more hazards and the vulnerability of the people to those hazards. Formulaically, this can be considered as:

DR (Disaster Risk) = V (Vulnerability) X H (Hazard)
C (Capacity)

Thus, disaster risk reduction includes a) Prevention or mitigation of hazards; b) Reduction of vulnerabilities to hazards; and c) Strengthening capacities to withstand or cope with disasters.

Risk Analysis
Risk analysis during a humanitarian operation considers vulnerability analysis, capacity analysis and situational analysis answering questions such as:

  • What are the disaster hazards for a community? What is the likelihood of the community being impacted in the future? How can these hazards be mitigated?
  • What are the vulnerabilities of the community? How can a response to the disaster mitigate the impact of the disaster to the community and limit further vulnerability?
  • What are the capacities (human assets, physical assets, social assets, political assets and financial assets) of the community to withstand a disaster? How can the response strengthen these capacities?

Advocacy
ACT Humanitarian Advocacy is a critical and complementary means of ensuring effective protection for communities in humanitarian response contexts. Advocacy may be used in humanitarian responses to amplify people’s voices, ensure that responses are appropriate to people’s needs and rights. Often ACT Alliance advocacy focuses on highlighting unacceptable humanitarian situations causing adverse impacts on the populations. This may relate to protection, access, promoting good practice in humanitarian service delivery and prevention of escalation of violence. ACT Alliance advocacy methods and approaches may involve public or private communications with the ACT Alliance role being either direct or indirect (facilitating or supporting advocacy by others).

Fragile States & Protracted Humanitarian Crises
ACT Alliance humanitarian operations are consistently taking place in fragile state contexts. Often in complex conflict environments, humanitarian needs arise directly due to a conflict or by a natural disaster context (or a combination of both). Increasingly, these humanitarian contexts are also impacted by the effect of climate change. Challenges that ACT Alliance humanitarian responses face in these contexts are innumerable but usually include:

  • Deliberate violent targeting of particular populations;
  • Difficulty discerning perpetrators of violence from disaster vulnerable groups;
  • Exploitation and abuse of humanitarian resources;
  • Sexual exploitation;
  • Humanitarian access challenges;
  • Legal restrictions by donors linked to counter-terrorism restrictions.

Increasingly, ACT Alliance humanitarian operations are taking place in fragile state environments where there is a protracted humanitarian crisis. The implications for the ACT Alliance are that there is therefore a requirement to consider in operational responses integrating conflict sensitive programming that addresses protection, gender, the prevention of sexual exploitation and robust safety and security practices.

References and Templates
ACT Gender Justice Policy

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Purpose
Humanitarian coordination seeks to leverage collective humanitarian action thereby increasing the effectiveness and impact of humanitarian agency programming. Common standards and approaches are combined with the collective prioritisation of needs, identification of gaps in humanitarian assistance creating a more robust response and increased accountability to the communities served. Critically, humanitarian coordination seeks to avoid duplication and do no harm. For ACT Alliance external donor engagement, active participation in humanitarian coordination is an indicator that donors use to determine if a recipient agency is deserving of funding.

Humanitarian Coordination Mechanisms
ACT Alliance operations should engage with a range of prospective humanitarian coordination mechanisms. These may be international coordination mechanisms, particularly the cluster system, usually led by United Nations agencies or coordination mechanisms established by the host government or other NGO coordination fora.

The cluster system at the country level aims to strengthen the collective humanitarian response by establishing sectors of humanitarian work while also defining roles, responsibilities and targeted communities within a sector. Current cluster lead agencies by sector are:

Cluster Lead
Camp Coordination and Camp Management IOM/UNCHR
Early Recovery UNDP
Education UNICEF and Save the Children
Emergency Telecommunications WFP
Food Security WFP & FAO
Health WHO
Logistics WFP
Nutrition UNICEF
Protection UNHCR
Shelter IFRC/UNHCR
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) UNICEF

 

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AAP                                                         Accountability to Affected People

CAHO                                                     Capacity Assessment for Humanitarian Operations

CHS                                                        Core Humanitarian Standard

DRR                                                        Disaster Risk Reduction

EOM                                                       Emergency Operations Manual

EPHR                                                     Emergency Preparedness and Humanitarian Response

EPRP                                                      Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan

ESC                                                         Emergency Steering Committee

FIFO                                                       First In First Out

GBV                                                        Gender Based Violence

GHOM                                                   Global Humanitarian Operations Manager

HOM                                                      Humanitarian Operations Manual

IASC                                                       Inter-Agency Standing Committee

ICR                                                         Indirect Cost Recovery

IT                                                            Information Telecommunications

MCA                                                      Membership Cooperation Agreement

MCAT                                                    Member Capacity Assessment Tool

MEAL                                                     Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning

MNC                                                      Membership & Nomination Committee

MOU                                                     Memorandum of Understanding

M&E                                                      Monitoring & Evaluation

NGO                                                      Non-governmental Organisation

PII                                                           Personal Identifiable Information

PMEAL                                                 Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning

PME                                                       Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

PMER                                                    Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting

PSHEA                                                  Protection from Sexual Harassment, Exploitation & Abuse

QAF                                                       Quality and Accountability Framework

RRF                                                        Rapid Response Fund

SOGIESC                                               Sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex  characteristics

ToR                                                         Terms of Reference

USD                                                        United States Dollar

WASH                                                   Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

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