HNPW 2021: Accountability to Affected Populations


The Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW), co-chaired by UN OCHA and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, provides a unique forum for humanitarian networks and partnerships to meet and address key humanitarian issues. One of the largest humanitarian events of its kind, it brings together participants from the UN, NGOs, Member States, the private sector, the military, academia and beyond to discuss and solve common challenges in humanitarian affairs. Over the HNPW weeks, many networks and partnerships hold their annual meetings and consultations, share expertise and collaborate on best practices to address common problems.

This year, HNPW took place virtually between 19 April - 7 May 2021.

One of the 9 priority topics at this year's event was Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP), co-led by the H2H Network and IASC Results Group 2.

HNPW 2021: Accountability to Affected Populations

Accountability to affected populations is essential to ensure that humanitarian work and programmes are effective, of high quality and safe. It's is also an integral component of a rights-based approach. The past year has disrupted accountability efforts, forcing the humanitarian sector to rethink, rework and adapt proven working methods. In this changing landscape, accountability to affected people – as an active commitment to use power responsibly – has never been more important.

Will business as usual resume once the vaccine is rolled out? Or is this moment of crisis a genuine opportunity to rethink and reset? How are international humanitarian actors changing their ways of working, addressing inherent power imbalances, listening and learning based on the views of people affected by crises? How are they documenting and sharing what they learn? Will the operational challenges brought about by Covid-19 drive more accountable and equitable partnerships between international responders, local actors and host governments, to better serve people affected by crises?

In 2021's HNPW, the expected outcomes of the discussions under the AAP Priority Topic were as follows:

  • Discussion on changes that needed to ensure that accountability commitments are met.
  • Collective exploration of adaptation challenges and opportunities that have emerged in 2020.
  • Focus on the localization agenda.

Please scroll down to watch the recorded sessions.

High-level panel: delivering on AAP Commitments

22 Apr 2021 09:00-10:30 (Geneva time, UTC + 2)

Session lead: IASC Results Group 2

Drawing from the findings of ODI operational research and the outcome of earlier sessions at HNPW, the objective of this high-level panel was to identify key building blocks and changes necessary to ensure more systematic and predictable collective approaches to community engagement and accountability.


Mr Oliver Lough, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

Ms Vasiti Soko, NDMO Director, Fiji


Ms Kristen Knutson, Head of Office, OCHA Burkina Faso

Dr Emanuele Copobianco, Director for Health and Care, IFRC

Facilitated by MervatShelbaya, Chief, IASC Secretariat

Feedback data is useless! (Until someone acts upon it)

22 Apr 2021 11:00-12:30 (Geneva time, UTC + 2)

Session leads: Ground Truth Solutions and IFRC

Last year at HNPW we heard data, data, data. There was an example of a feedback mechanism around every corner. But then what? What's the point of a fancy dashboard if nobody is using it? Hear from the people systematically adapting to community feedback data; how they’re doing it, and what it means for their work. This interactive session will steer away from rhetoric and frameworks - we'll simply share some honest lessons learned on turning feedback data into action. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard, sometimes it doesn't work. We hope it will inspire some thinking, discussion and action on how we can better cooperate to ensure the feedback from crisis-affected communities is utilized as the powerful tool it can be.

Towards more effective accountability to affected people: Six stories of adaptation and anticipation

26 Apr 2021 14:00-15:15 (Geneva time, UTC + 2)

Session leads: Ground Truth Solutions and Sphere

In this technical meeting, six organizations will tell their stories of adaptation and anticipation, and learning for improving accountability to affected people at all stages of the humanitarian programme cycle. The CHS Alliance, Translators Without Borders (TWB), Sphere, Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI), Ground Truth Solutions (GTS) and World Vision International invite HNPW participants for this storytelling session followed by an open discussion with the audience.

Localization is imperative for Accountability to Affected People

27 Apr 2021 11:00-12:30 (Geneva time, UTC + 2)

Session lead: CHS Alliance

In this session, we will show the vital role of national and local organizations in driving accountability to affected people. We will discuss recent good partnership practices, share learning and encourage scale up. We will also analyze remaining challenges for aid actors to be fully accountable to people affected by crises.

Peer Pressure: How deepening digital access is transforming communication as aid

29 Apr 2021 15:30-17:00 (Geneva time, UTC + 2)

Session lead: CDAC Network

Today, refugees have smartphones. Disaster survivors can mark themselves safe on an app. Conflict is live streamed on YouTube. Messages, hashtags, images and videos shared by response survivors can gain traction in minutes drastically shaping people’s perception of a context and their response to it. The traditional vertical humanitarian communications structure is rapidly being replaced by a horizontal model in which local, digital peer-to-peer channels consistently outperform institution-led messaging in terms of both receptivity and trust.

The widening access to digital communication channels means humanitarians are no longer gatekeepers of information - while still being the gatekeepers of aid.

So, what does Communication is Aid look like when the affected population is not a communications monolith? Is this a communications catastrophe waiting to happen? Or localization in action? Why are we failing to heed and utilize horizontal communication?

PSEA: Strengthening Inter-agency efforts to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse across the humanitarian response.

4 May 21 (15:30-17:30) (Geneva time, UTC + 2)

Session lead: IASC

The objectives of the session are:

  • Raise awareness on the PSEAH Championships; Where do we stand on PSEA? What have we learned from the 2020 Championship? What lessons can be drawn from collective efforts to prevent and address SEA at the country level?
  • UNFPA presentation of the GBV/PSEA mapping analysis on linkages to existing inter-agency GBV referral mechanisms highlighting a number of gaps and challenges related to improving safe and ethical access for SEA survivors to GBV support services.  
  • Presentation on the UN Protocol on Victim Assistance and associated efforts to address the implementation of the protocol. 
  • Understanding the mechanisms of collaboration between PSEA networks, GBV sub-cluster coordination with a focus on Victim Assistance and linkages with GBV support services. 

Strengthening Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Accountability Mechanisms

4 May 21 (13:00 – 14:00) (Geneva time, UTC + 2)

Session lead: International Rescue Committee

This panel discussion organized by the International Rescue Committee will bring together experts in disability inclusion and accountability mechanisms to explore how to strengthen inclusion of persons with disabilities in feedback mechanisms. The panellists will highlight the importance of inclusion of persons with disabilities in accountability mechanisms and identify current challenges and best practices.

The session will feature speakers from:

  • CHS Alliance
  • Ground Truth Solutions
  • International Disability AllianceI
  • International Rescue Committee