Lutheran World Relief’s (LWR) and IMA World Health’s (IMA) identity is deeply rooted in dignity, justice, inclusiveness and accountability. To that end, the agency makes decisions, allocates resources and carries out its responsibilities in ways that are mutually transparent and answerable to affected populations. LWR and IMA demonstrates the highest standards, flexibility and practicality in program implementation, balancing accountability towards the affected population and the expectations of partners and donors.
In line with this commitment, LWR and IMA’s Accountability to Affected Populations Framework ensures that those who are the primary group being served are taken into consideration during all phases of intervention. This accountability extends beyond projects however, to manifest as a fundamental principle of how we operate. This Framework uses the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s 5 commitments to affected populations as its outline.
Guiding Principles for Our Commitments:
- We are guided by the principles of dignity and justice, inclusiveness and participation, accountability and transparency, compassion and commitment.
- We have zero tolerance to any form of abuse of power, sexual exploitation, fraud and corruption, physical and psychological abuse.
- We take complaints seriously and positively and shall address all issues of sexual exploitation, abuse of power, corruption and breach of the LWR and IMA policies and standards.
- We are committed to having an effective process for conveying information regarding our programs and their impact and using it to uphold our commitments to remain accountable to affected populations.
- We respect appropriate cultural and local practices in the development of feedback mechanisms.
Commitment 1: Leadership/Governance
LWR and IMA provides appropriate and effective services to the communities it serves and is accountable to members of those communities. In the context of emergencies, several international standards act as guides in this process:
- We adhere to Sphere standards where feasible and appropriate;
- We are an active participant and contributor to the initiatives taken by the international humanitarian community, such as Interaction’s working group on safeguarding;
- We are working towards becoming compliant with the Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS);
- We have signed on to the UN Global Compact, articulating our responsibilities in upholding human rights, environmental safeguarding and the prevention of corruption; and
- We are developing a policy on environmental stewardship, to convey our beliefs about the importance of protecting creation.
To achieve the goal of quality programming and its aims of accompaniment, LWR and IMA provide capacity building to national agencies and local organizations with an obligation toward poor and marginalized people to support and encourage their efforts to fulfill their responsibilities. LWR and IMA sign on and strictly adhere to various standards in the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.
These include the Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and non-UN Personnel and the ICRC Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief. Both agreements are not only included as attachments to LWR and IMA’s Cooperation Agreement with partners but are also referenced within the agreement itself as a requirement for project implementation. LWR and IMA staff are required to complete training on safeguarding, prevention of exploitation and abuse, prevention of trafficking, and ethics (anti-fraud and anti-corruption).
Commitment 2: Transparency
LWR and IMA remain committed to openness and transparency in our work. We make available on our website the latest evaluations of selected projects. We produce an annual organizational-level snapshot report about our work worldwide, including the number of countries we work in, budget breakdowns, and numbers of direct and indirect project participants.
Our Cooperation Agreements with implementing partners include a branding and marking clause with various requirements aimed at providing transparency to local communities through public signage that includes key information on project objectives, implementation period, implementing and funding partners, and contact information. These signs list contact points and a phone number so that project participants can have direct access to voice concerns or ask questions.
We are committed to publishing organization and project information to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data standard, enabling affected populations (as well as constituents, media, etc.) to have current, easy to use information on the performance of our activities, as well as the performance and forward-looking funding picture of our organization. Additionally, LWR and IMA shares information with InterAction’s NGO Aid Map regarding projects we are completing worldwide, and InterAction shares that information publicly and in the IATI Registry.
We have endorsed the Digital Principles for Development, which include the principle of designing projects with the user as a paramount consideration.
Commitment 3: Feedback and Complaints
LWR and IMA always involves project participants in the project cycle for enhanced ownership and sustainability. Staff carry out consultative planning, implementation, monitoring, and regular reviews of activities with the communities where we work. Feedback forums with community leaders and staff are organized and plans of action are developed following such meetings. In LWR and IMA’s proposal template, partners are asked about how the community will remain engaged and how the organization will remain accountable to them. Questions include how information will be shared (including how participants were selected), how the community was consulted during the design phase, how they will continue to be involved and how feedback will be received, responded to, followed and incorporated into LWR and IMA’s responses.
LWR and IMA has implemented a system called “Convercent” which collects and tracks complaints for everything related to the organization such as projects or HR issues. The system allows anyone with an issue to register their complaint via phone or email, and it is then reviewed and tracked until it has been resolved. Where applicable, project participants also have access to external donor hotlines where they can report to the directly to the donor about suspected fraud, corruption, abuse or other malfeasance. Internally, IMA and LWR offices have suggestion boxes where staff can anonymously submit comments, feedback and complaints in order to improve the organization and its programming.
Commitment 4: Participation
LWR and IMA historically has centered its overseas work in a philosophy and framework called “accompaniment.” Rooted in the Lutheran tradition that believes empowerment and justice happen only by ‘standing with’, rather than ‘doing for’ others in need, accompaniment is a dynamic relationship between diverse partners with complementary resources and skills working together to empower poor communities to improve their lives. It recognizes that these communities already have resources and assets that can be harnessed to improve their own wellbeing. Building on these pre-existing assets, accompaniment is based on shared principles and objectives, and uses jointly developed strategies with flexibility and openness to achieve sustainable results. Characterized by mutual trust, respect, accountability, and transparency, the relationship contributes to each partner’s growth and learning while carrying out its primary goal of improving the well-being of the poor.
Commitment 5: Design, Monitoring and Evaluation
As noted in Commitment 4, we place significant emphasis on working through partners. We encourage the most inclusive participation possible by all project stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle, from design to evaluation. This position can be found throughout all the tools and resources included in the DMEL (Design, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning) Framework. The tools and resources in the DMEL Framework are oriented toward guiding project staff (both country office staff and partner staff) and helping them organize, document and analyze the information and data that logically flows from an inclusive participatory process. This entire framework is available online and is open to any person or organization.