Upholding Programme Quality
War Child works hard to ensure all our activities are subject to robust monitoring, evaluation and quality checks. These efforts allow us to continuously improve our work while ensuring that every programme remains relevant to children’s reality.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic reinforced the need for an effective emergency response system. We asked ourselves the difficult questions - how to balance speed with quality? - and got to work. All our programmes were adapted in compliance with public health guidance.
Behind the Scenes
A series of guidance notes were produced to provide actionable guidance and tools for staff to implement effective disease control prevention strategies - including risk communication and community engagement and water, sanitation and hygiene protocols. This was followed by a set of standard operating procedures - in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) checklists.
Our ability to maintain quality during an unprecedented crisis was strengthened through the set-up of a War Child Virtual Operations Room - a one-stop location for all information related to our COVID-19 response. A live feed on the main page helped staff stay up to date with latest news on the coronavirus while regular situation reports offered a critical insight into current activities in any given country. Instructional videos, how-to pages and real-time learning opportunities supported these efforts. By the close of the year, we had welcomed 918 new users to our War Child Learning World platform.
Innovation on the Ground
As the pandemic has proven, new threats to children’s safety can strike at any moment. This means we must continuously adapt our programming to respond to these threats in real-time - and 2020 saw some critical steps taken in this regard.
With both health and hunger crises unfolding inside our countries of operation, we extended our activities to include the delivery of food parcels, cash and hygiene kits - in close collaboration with our international partners.
Our global COVID-19 response was also marked by the creative use of digital mediums - overcoming the obstacles of a highly infectious virus to continue to meet the needs of children. For example, in the occupied Palestinian territory, a micro-learning platform was built entirely on WhatsApp. The platform served as a vital tool for teachers and children across Gaza to share materials and stay in touch.
An independent real-time review of our response was conducted in tandem. Findings to date suggest it to be effective, timely and relevant to the changing situation on the ground. A management response was created off the back of the recommendations, prioritising aspects such as the War Child emergencies brand, the role of children as active actors in their own protection and the need for increased visibility of implementing partners - crucial insights that will form the foundation of future emergency responses.
International Humanitarian Standards
War Child aligns with global standards and principles on humanitarian action. We have been a member of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance for three years and counting. The alliance sets out nine commitments that we use to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance we provide. A self-assessment in 2020 revealed key areas of improvement including the revision of policies and tools for understanding culture and diversity in communities, stronger data disaggregation and the embedding of context analysis in various stages of our work.
We also play an active role in a number of global humanitarian coordination bodies including the Global Education Cluster, Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, Global Protection Cluster and the Inter-Agency Committee on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings. In the wake of COVID-19, we joined the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network - led by WHO. The network is comprised of technical and public health institutions, laboratories, NGOs and other organisations that work to observe and respond to threatening epidemics.
In an ever-complex world, standard-setting among humanitarian organisations has become more important than ever. The year saw us produce several key resources on accelerated education during COVID-19 in collaboration with the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action. We also worked with Save the Children to create an online learning course for humanitarian partners. The course reflects the conviction that investing in quality education during times of crisis can and does save lives.
War Child believes that young people in conflict-affected settings should have a say in the actions undertaken to support them. The launch of a youth mentorship programme in collaboration with Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action will help us drive this forward.