The establishment of the Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI) is grounded in the realisation that there is no mechanism within the humanitarian sector to objectively and consistently demonstrate the quality of humanitarian action, which recognises and adapts to its specificities. These include its grounding in humanitarian principles, consideration of the diversity of actors and the importance of applying contextualised approaches.
HQAI builds on more than twenty years’ experience of standards and quality assurance in the NGO, humanitarian and other sectors. It is founded on recommendations of research and analysis defining how standards, policies, practices, and systematic feedback by affected people and other stakeholders can best contribute to improved quality, accountability of assistance and protection for communities affected by crisis.
The trigger for the establishment of HQAI was the launch of the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability, which puts people affected by crisis or at risk of crisis at the centre of the humanitarian response and satisfying situation specific needs. This standard, which articulates nine commitments of humanitarian organisations to people affected by crisis, was developed with the express purpose of being verifiable. Its verification scheme proposes four means of performance review, namely self-assessment, peer review, independent verification and certification. Originally, the idea of establishing HQAI was to offer high quality independent CHS verification and certification services to humanitarian organisations.
As the idea started gaining momentum within the humanitarian community, it became apparent that HQAI could fill in the gap by offering independent verification services against not only the CHS but also against other standards, commitments and recognized good practices. It could also process information from its multiple audits to influence further improvements on standards and practices. As a result, HQAI was established, as a mechanism for independent quality assurance of humanitarian action.