CHS Alliance’s last Training of Trainers (ToT) on the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) for 2017 took place from 7-10 November in Dublin, with the generous support of Irish Aid. The event brought together 15 participants from seven Irish organisations including ActionAid Ireland, Brighter Communities Worldwide, Concern Worldwide, Comhlámh, GOAL, Oxfam Ireland and Trócaire.

The attendees’ diverse backgrounds created a good atmosphere to share thoughts on some of the challenges humanitarians face, as one of them put it at the end of the first day:

"The workshop is an excellent opportunity to have honest discussions about the topics covered by the CHS, conversations that otherwise you wouldn't have with your colleagues.”

For these lively exchanges, the first two days provided the right setting while learning about the commitments. One of the highlights of the introductory sessions was the accounts provided by CHS Alliance members about the CHS verification scheme at the end of the second day.

Deirdre McArdle, co-facilitator of the workshop, shared Trócaire’s experience in carrying out a CHS self-assessment, while Carol Morgan, Regional Director for the Horn of Africa at Concern Worldwide, gave a presentation about their recent certification against the CHS by the Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI). In order to roll out its self-assessment process, Trócaire had the CHS self-assessment tool translated into Spanish, which is now available on our website, and thus becomes an invaluable resource for Spanish-speaking humanitarian and development organisations. “Although the self-assessment was an exhaustive exercise, it is necessary for Trócaire to develop a cross-organisational improvement plan in order to improve and strengthen accountability across the organisation”, emphasised Deidre.   

Concern also decided to go through the self-assessment process in all the countries in which they are active. Carol explained that they took on a different approach, as they adapted the CHS Alliance’s tools to their needs. After the self-assessment, Concern pressed on to certification, as they had already been certified under HAP. "It was a huge undertaking but the process is fair, and Concern was fully committed to seeing it through,” said Carol. It helped them with identifying gaps, and highlighted the need for systematically documented proof of conformity with the CHS for the audit. Nina Gehm, also from Concern, added that the process unleashed a lot of positive energy, and colleagues really enjoyed identifying areas in which they need to improve in order to enhance their organisation’s efficiency and accountability.

 

On the third day, the workshop continued with training methodologies and gave time for participants to prepare for the fourth day, on which they had to deliver sessions that they have developed themselves.

Participants shared that they are planning to apply the learnings in different ways. For example, Áine Lynch, who is a Project Officer at Comhlámh working on the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, is getting ready for their upcoming consortium meeting in January, where they will have a refresher session on the humanitarian principles. “As many of the organisations with which we work do not operate in a humanitarian setting, it’s important to have a discussion on the main guiding standards in the humanitarian sector, such as the CHS, and to link it with our own working standards under the EU Aid Volunteering initiative”.

While for Comhlámh the training session was an opportunity to explore the links with the CHS, Siobhan Kennedy, from Brighter Communities Worldwide, came to the sessions with concrete aims. She joined the organisation as a volunteer HR consultant to harmonise their HR policies with the CHS. Soon she will co-deliver training for their staff team in Kenya on the CHS, and thus her objective was to pick up techniques and tips on how to design and deliver such training.

 

Experienced humanitarians like Colm Byrne, Humanitarian Manager at Oxfam Ireland, also felt they gained from the training. “Although I am very well aware of the CHS, as quality and accountability are very important to Oxfam, sometimes we get so engaged with our own internal documents, we forget parts of the CHS. I believe that the training provides an excellent opportunity to re-familiarise ourselves with the commitments”. Also, Colm would like to increase his participation at field level by being able to use the CHS as a reference tool when conducting a real-time review of a humanitarian response.

“I really enjoyed working with our friends and partners in Dublin, the group dynamic was excellent and we learned a lot from each other”

- says Karen Glisson, the facilitator from CHS Alliance, summarising the workshop. “As 2017 is coming to an end, we are wrapping up this year’s training programme. A big thank you to all those who joined us at one or other of our training events, and we look forward to continuing to work with you in the future. If you weren’t able to get involved this year, our 2018 training programme is out now and can be accessed here. If you need further information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at kglisson@chsalliance.org