Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks
HNPW 2024 (29 April - 10 May 2024)

Session title: Local Community-Empowered Social Accountability for better Humanitarian Preparedness & Action
26 Apr 23 14:00-15:30   (Salle Lausanne)

Abstract Summary/ Problem Statement

• While, by 2022, 1.3 bn are reached via cash transfers (763 Mio people via digital transfers) in humanitarian and Government social assistance transfers) (1) and complementary service provision for most vulnerable populations, for more effective leverage of humanitarian & social protection cash assistance, with scaled up cash, voucher transfers in response to and post COVID-19 pandemic, (2) cost of living, conflict and climate change induced disaster impact, there is still continuous need to enhance humanitarian and social protection linkages and underpinning humanitarian and social accountability to ensure effective access, awareness, quality of service provision according to policy commitments, as 2 out of 3 children have no access to any form of child or family benefit, and coverage is lowest where child poverty and vulnerability in Fragile Contexts is highest.

• As humanitarian assistance further moves to leverage national Govt. systems (e.g. cash transfers to respond to Pandemic impact, etc.) also requires humanitarian stakeholders to better understand and work with communities to hold duty-bearers accountable (in this case, more Govt at national and subsidiary levels) to ensure comprehensive referrals and system strengthening, enabling more coordinated predictable and community-led locally effective approaches.

• Accountability to Affected Populations requires clarity on who is the duty-bearer, who can facilitate constructive engagement with duty-bearers.

• Need for practical guidance and advocacy to donors and government for the establishment, reform, expansion and/or improvement of government social protection schemes or improved linkages between government social protection schemes and humanitarian cash voucher programming. To support this aim, social accountability, as a key complement and transition from AAP to ensure targeting and inclusion of most vulnerable children and their families, enhanced access to information and quality services through government cash transfers. How can we as humanitarian stakeholders better support integration of social accountability for monitoring and advocacy of government social protection schemes and linkages between cash voucher programming with government social protection

• Through greater integration of social accountability, what does this mean for humanitarian action, towards advocacy for the establishment, expansion and improvement of government provided social assistance, with greater opportunities for communities to hold government to account for the service of social protection?

• For example, information and opportunities to feedback on eligibility criteria and delivery mechanisms for complementary social services. The application of social accountability in social protection delivery is not new. However, social accountability offers new opportunities to empower vulnerable communities in the push to transition from adhoc use of cash and voucher transfers to more efficient, expanded and permanent government social protection schemes that can respond to future crises. There are complementarities between humanitarian and government provided cash transfers that provide a number of opportunities to collaborate to improve accountability to citizens receiving cash transfers. Some lessons learnt from Cambodia, showcases how emergency response and social protection programming converges, as the Government of Cambodia launched Cash transfer programmes in June 2020, disbursed US$714 million in cash transfers as of July 2022, as largest component of the Government’s support package to vulnerable people affected by pandemic, economic and health impact. Spending on cash transfers rose from less than 0.1 percent of GDP in 2019 to 0.7 in 2020 and 1.4 in 2021. As the result, the cash transfers provided valuable income support to poor households during the pandemic and curbed the increase in poverty and inequality. The program mitigated 40 percent of the increase in poverty. The World Bank estimates about 460,000 households entered poverty in 2020, raising the poverty rate 2.8 pp from the official rate in 2019/20.8 In the absence of cash transfers, around 750,000 households could have entered poverty in 2020. The insights from social accountability approaches in Cambodia before and during this intervention spotlight opportunities as well as current challenges for humanitarian and social protection collaboration, social inclusion, cost efficiency but also community and Government leadership.

Why is this relevant now?

With the significant trend to link humanitarian assistance (e.g, humanitarian cash transfers) to existing national Social Protection mechanisms (COVID 19 scale up data, World Bank, UNICEF) - e.g. GrandBargain donors, UN at onset of Covid-19 pandemic (4)– therefore, transitions and/ or complementarity from humanitarian AAP to SocAcc underpins humanitarian action linkages to more integrated and comprehensive existing or evolving national Systems and Action – change of Dutybearer requires:

- Offering a progressive exit strategy for protracted humanitarian crises contexts (Fragile Contexts)

- Deduplication, speed, cost-efficiency

- Effective referral and feedback mechanisms may often point to gaps and weaknesses of established systems, but humanitarian accountability mechanisms are most often only able to refer system- and Government policy related issues to relevant authorities with limited follow up

- Social Accountability mechanisms enable citizen education, effective empowerment through information provisioning reg. entitlements, (5) policies and referral mechanisms.

- Where national systems already exist, there is evidence of humanitarian responses, when working with and through them, strengthening the underlying system, e.g. by updating and strengthening social/ household registries and the management information systems which underpin targeting systems; and enhancing community engagement and empowerment as part of citizen’s awareness of policy commitments and entitlements provided by their respective government and opportunities to feed back to government. Social accountability practice plays a major role in the effectiveness of strengthening such systems, including the provision of platforms for citizens to directly engage with social protection service providers.

- Working with social protection systems or approaches may facilitate a smoother transition between assistance in normal times and during a crisis and vice versa – for example, allowing national governments to take responsibility for meeting the needs of citizens and refugees, and providing a medium-term transfer and exit strategy for humanitarian aid.

- Do these options always lead to the sustainability of the impacts of humanitarian investments and enhancing Value for Money? What gaps are there, what should humanitarian stakeholders be aware of, take action on? What power imbalances, exclusion paradigms may remain, have to be addressed? (6)

- With disaster shocks oscillating and exacerbating existing inequalities and poverty levels, greater value for money can be created through modular systems or an integrated, Government led system that delivers effectively or enables other actors – like NGOs – to deliver in coordination with or partnership with National Governments, Cash Working Groups/ Social Protection Working Groups and Private Sector. The underpinning accountability mechanisms have to be robust, effectively adapted for each scenario and participatory. Community based accountability and feedback to improve mutual information about systems, procedures, eligibility, enrolment and graduation processes and criteria require strong transition points between humanitarian and social accountability processes.




3) social accountability/





Draft Agenda:

· 1) Introductions and mentimeter audience check-in on the topic

· 2) Setting the stage presentations followed by Q&A with presenters, audience to ensure interactive session, sharing of experiences

· 3) Sharing experiences from Asia, MENA, LAC as part of AAP & Social Accountability Learnings during COVID-19

· 4) 1 Sentence statements from each panelist on gaps/ challenges and recommended pathways, best practise

· 5) Key Take Aways (Moderator summary)


Moderator: Moderator: Dr. Kathryn Taetzsch, Global Director Hum. Partnerships & Cash Voucher Programming


·        Ms Verena Damerau, Social Protection Technical Advisor, GIZ & SPIAC-B WG (Linking Humanitarian Cash & Social Protection)

·        Prof. Thea Hilhorst, Accountability in Humanitarian Action Researcher, Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, Rotterdam

·        Mr. Som Sopheak , Executive Director, Action for Development in Kampong Tom Province/Cambodia, CSO

·        Mr. Ry Sotharith, Deputy Chief of Party for Social Accountability Program, leading nationwide of ISAF program, Cambodia (WV)

This is a public website hosted by the UN OCHA to facilitate information exchange in disaster preparedness and response.
The information on this page is provided by individuals and organizations and does not reflect the views of OCHA or the United Nations.