The International Humanitarian Studies Association is a network engaged with the study of humanitarian crises caused by natural disaster, conflict or political instability.

Tracking progress from a field perspective

Submitted by Elias Sagmeister
For panel Action or Impact: How should we monitor progress in the World Humanitarian Summit?

As noted in its preamble, the Grand Bargain set out to “harness the vast experience and expertise from across the humanitarian ecosystem” for better tackling the emergency needs of more than 125 million people. Our paper argues that monitoring progress after the World Humanitarian Summit must again harness this ecosystem’s experience and expertise, this time for tracking performance and progress on the ground through the eyes of those receiving aid and those providing it.

Through a combination of survey instruments applied at a field level, Ground Truth Solutions is monitoring how people affected by crisis experience the quality and relevance of aid, and how international and local aid providers view current performance. Baseline surveys in six countries have shown that affected people are much more critical in their assessments than those providing aid. While affected people express concerns about how aid is provided, the urgency to change that was palpable in Istanbul and aid agency headquarters is not being felt at the field level.

We argue that any future monitoring of system-wide performance will need to show whether affected people see improvements on the ground. This can be assessed with only three key questions inherent in the Grand Bargain and numerous other reform proposals: First, are we meeting needs and shrinking them? Second, are we improving how we work together? And third, are we moving towards more responsive, demand-driven aid? Our paper will provide examples for how these questions can be answered and discuss currently available performance data from around the world.