Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI) 2024

Following an internal evaluation of three related organisations (HQAI, CHS Alliance, Sphere) it was decided to discontinue the support to HQAI and CHS Alliance and that a last phasing out support to HQAI would be provided for 2024 to enable it to work on its renewed business proposition in line with its upcoming 2024–2029 strategic plan and ensuring its financial continuity.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Humanitarian efficiency
01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024
CHF  200’000
Background Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI), with the support of Switzerland since its inception, presents humanitarian organizations a measurable tool and audit process to track their progress against the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS). The uptake of this tool and audit process has not been as wide and rapid as initially envisaged. Currently 48% of HQAI’s budget is covered by audit work, which gives it a solid but insufficient financial basis to operate without donor support. HQAI has to prove wider relevance for the humanitarian sector for it to become a viable enterprise and show it can spur the humanitarian sector on to better delivery. On the other hand, donors have to see the value of CHS and HQAI as strategic interventions that help deliver effective humanitarian support. Switzerland supports the overall goals of CHS and HQAI. But with reduced financial means at its disposal, it sees greater urgency in adopting a contextually tailored approach to standards. Switzerland itself does not include HQAI audits as an acceptable standard to replace its own due diligence process. At this stage support for CHS based audits does therefore not provide direct benefit for Switzerland’s operations.

To support HQAI in a phase out period of one year to allow it to:

  • Provide professional and tailored quality assurance services that have a positive impact on the quality, accountability, efficiency and equity of aid in the humanitarian and development sector
  • Develop its new 4-year strategy with a focus on accountability and transparency, recognition for the added value of CHS verification, diversity in quality assurance services and advancing the localization agenda
  • Capitalise on the work undertaken since 2015 to broaden the set of clients, number of local auditors and donor support base to ensure its financial sustainability and relevance
Target groups

Humanitarian practitioners and stakeholders. In particular:

  • Donors for due diligence passporting, ensuring quality humanitarian partners and accountability
  • Humanitarian organization for improved capacities and quality delivery, confidence and visibility towards donors and accountability
Medium-term outcomes
  1. Increased accountability and transparency in the sector
  2. Widespread recognition of the added value of CHS verification and greater diversity in the provision of quality assurance services
  3. Advancing the localisation agenda and more equitable partnerships
  4. Greater efficiency in the sector's due diligence processes
  5. Greater (self-)sustainability of HQAI

Expected results:  

  • Secure and increase external funding (1 more donor), increase own revenues to 50% and increase number of partner organisations to 70
  • Adaptation of HQAI audit to the new CHS
  • Increase the ration of L/NNGO audited partners to 35%
  • Have 5 newly trained local auditors/audit facilitators
  • 1 additional funder to accept CHS audits and 2 new donors looking at reducing DD duplication

Results from previous phases:   HQAI has a unique expertise in bridging the world of auditing with the humanitarian and development sector. It has adapted traditional management system auditing to the aid sector. HQAI audits help audited partners to improve processes and accountability. The sector has demonstrated interest in HQAI audits and services. The number of audit/s and audited partners has increased and audits are more accessible to small national NGOs. But interest by humanitarian organisations and recognition of these audits by funders is below HQAI projections. This has hampered HQAI’s ability to innovate and adapt, become financially self-sustainable and support more localized auditing. In the coming year(s) HQAI has to show how CHS auditing has significant value add for the sector and translate this into greater donor support for due diligence passporting.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
  • Other international or foreign NGO North
  • Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI)

Coordination with other projects and actors HQAI is complementary to the CHS Alliance. HQAI was established to carry out independent verification and certification against the CHS. SDC is ending support to both by the end of 2024.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    200’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    200’000 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   1’650’000
Project phases Phase 6 01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024   (Current phase) Phase 4 01.01.2020 - 31.03.2021   (Completed) Phase 3 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2019   (Completed)