How to find expert advice on accountability and on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse

28 July 2016 | Sphere Project

Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia © EU/ECHO/Anouk DelafortrieYoung Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. Photo © EU/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie

Are you wondering how to implement feedback mechanisms in contexts where communities have different literacy levels? Or if there is an accountability working group near you? Or how best to set up a network of focal points to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in coordination with other agencies? If so, then read on...

These are just a few examples of real questions received and addressed by the help desk set up by the Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).

The goal of the help desk is to share information and best practice on issues related to accountability and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse with staff of humanitarian agencies who need technical advice. The simplest way to take advantage of the help desk is to send your question by email.

An expert will get back to you, usually within three days, and a Skype conversation will be set up if more discussion is needed. While the AAP/PSEA help desk experts cannot serve as longer-term advisers, they will rather give you succinct responses to specific queries and address follow-up questions.

The AAP/PSEA help desk can handle questions in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and additional languages, thanks to the variety of its associated membership.

"The scope of the questions we've received so far is representative of the range of issues faced by humanitarian staff dealing with accountability and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse issues," says Astrid De Valon, Coordinator of the IASC's AAP/PSEA Task Team.

"The AAP/PSEA help desk has been able to provide concrete support by connecting requests to specific experts who can swiftly provide an actionable answer," she adds. "We would like to encourage humanitarian workers to use the AAP/PSEA help desk more."

A few examples of questions addressed by the AAP/PSEA help desk to date are:

  • Do you have standard operation procedures for interagency complaints and feedback mechanisms?
  • Can you advise on best practices and training for staff on managing our complaint mechanism and accountability to beneficiaries?
  • What is feasible when setting up feedback mechanisms in different languages and dealing with different literacy levels and cultural practices?
  • Do you have examples of good practice on raising awareness among beneficiaries, particularly using pictures only?
  • Do you have examples of introducing complaints mechanisms in countries where there is no culture of feedback?
  • Do you have any standard presentation that we could use to organise an information session for all staff on their responsibility in reporting any suspicions of SEA?
  • Can you offer guidance or advice on how to manage a case of SEA brought to my attention?
  • Do you know of any SEA reporting mechanisms by short text messages?

Should you need expert advice, do not hesitate to take advantage of the AAP/PSEA help desk. You are not alone!

Since its launch in April 2015, the AAP/PSEA help desk has received queries from UN agencies, international and national NGOs and individual aid workers. The requests originated from some 20 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific, Europe and the Americas.

The IASC AAP/PSEA help desk is also supported by experts from the Sphere Project and the CHS Alliance.

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