The Integral Commitments to Quality Standards highlight seven core minimum standards essential to our working together. These standards have recently been updated by the Integral Quality Assurance Task Force to incorporate the Core Humanitarian Standards - the new industry best practice standards. This task force, which formed in 2008 to champion programmatic quality across the alliance, is chaired by Peter Drummond Smith. Here he shares with us more about their important work …
Who is in the task force? What do they do?
The group is made up of six representatives from Integral Member organisations, as well as Jan Eyre, Integral's Disaster Management and Programme Coordinator. Our most important role is to champion quality across the alliance. This involves ensuring that all Members adhere to our agreed minimum Commitments to Quality Standards and are continually striving to improve the quality of their work. We also encourage the use of external evaluations, and provide a platform during our annual meetings to share learning with one another. And lastly, we ensure that any proposed new Members meet our minimum quality requirements through a rigorous due diligence process.
Why are Quality Standards important to Integral?
The simple answer is that they enable our Members to place a high level of trust in one another’s work. This is so essential for our effective working together. Of course, all of our Members have developed their own organisational Quality Standards, however, in agreeing to minimum standards as Integral we are able to share funding and resources across the alliance with confidence. In disasters particularly, this ensures that we are able to serve crisis affected communities as quickly and effectively as possible.
The Integral Commitments to Quality Standards have recently been updated – can you tell us why, and also what has changed?
The big driver for us was the development of the Core Humanitarian Standards which have replaced the previous internationally recognised Humanitarian Accountability Partnership standards. In reviewing our standards, the Integral Programme Group agreed that we should strengthen the wording around our common Christian identity and motivation, as these are so foundational for our work together. So our task force worked on revising our Integral standards to include this aspect and also to reflect current industry best practice.
What we have now includes a new standard on 'Sustainability' and 'Local Ownership', broadened Impartiality to now become 'Neutrality, Impartiality and Independence', and we have updated our standard on DRR to 'Building Resilience'.
How do you envisage they will they be used?
There are numerous ways these standards can be used. For example, to serve as a tool for capacity development, for staff development and training, to inform the work of project designers, for periodic self-appraisal, and also to contribute to project monitoring and evaluation. They will also be used for all Integral reviews and evaluations.
What do you find inspiring about Quality Standards?
I find the statement at the beginning of our updated Commitments to Quality Standards very inspiring. For me, it really outlines the motivation behind the seven minimum standards that we have developed and expresses well why we place such importance on mutual accountability and ensuring that our work is of excellent quality:
‘We believe that more people in need will be helped if relief and development agencies combine their resources, and put their Christian faith into action by working together. We also believe that by working together, expressing organisational humility and servanthood, we can demonstrate the character of God to a world in need. We believe that He cares deeply for people living in poverty, illness, hunger, conflict, alienation and oppression.
As an alliance we want to put people first. We are convinced that God calls us to express His love for the world through practical actions. He calls us to serve those who are the least, the forgotten, the most vulnerable, and the unfortunate to the best of our ability. We therefore want to be intentional in our mutual accountability for the quality of our work.’
The full version of the updated Integral Commitments to Quality Standards can be found here.