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Table 4 Summary of gray literature articles

From: Humanitarian health programming and monitoring in inaccessible conflict settings: a literature review

Author Organization Title Location Program details Type of paper Results
Schreter and Harmer 2013 Humanitarian Outcomes Delivering aid in highly insecure environments: A critical review of the literature 2001–2012 n/a n/a Literature Review Literature highlights a range of good practices in remote management, including:
- Establishing highly localized, and static, staffing which may involve an increase rather than a decrease of national staff because reduced mobility results in the need for more staff in more places
- The use of diaspora nationals as international staff
- “Soft” remote management which involves senior international staff having a regular, but not full-time, presence
- Methods to enhance accountability and mitigate quality deficits for remote programming, such as web-based monitoring and project verification through third- party triangulation
Literature suggests that good practice in preparedness and planning involves decentralizing organizational authority. This can bring benefits for improved internal monitoring, beneficiary accountability and acceptance, thereby increasing staff security.
Literature falls short in documenting and providing guidance on implementing program by remote management, particularly to ensure greater preparedness and planning: patchy literature, need for guidance on good practice; lack of evaluations, especially in WASH and protection; limited sharing of knowledge on targeting.
Stoddard et al. 2006 Center on International Cooperation Providing aid in insecure environments: trends in policy and operations n/a n/a Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) Report
Qualitative study
- Remote management = devolution of responsibility to local actors
- Other factors that can limit access to those in need, which are not necessarily related security conditions:
1- Poor infrastructure requiring expensive airlift capacity
2-Political and military controls on movement
3- Weak international support
4- Shift from refugee to internal displacement situations ➔ complex aid efforts that require political negotiations with host state
Motivators to consider remote management:
1- Insecurity; if temporary may close program and resume thereafter
2- Size of program: less likely to hand over large program; need to maintain presence for solidarity/visibility encourages remote management
3- Sector and feasibility of what you are trying to do (if goods will be secure, if subcontractor has the capacity to move them, etc.)
4- Level of vulnerability and need
5- Context: range of local partners, quality of national staff, capacity to operate in a region
- “Soft services” more easily undertaken by local entities (psychosocial) than infrastructure or food aid
- Benefits: avoids complete closure, allows funding to continue to flow, security environment can be better upon re-entry because local knowledge has not been completely lost, opportunity for closer community involvement
- Challenges: establish trust with local staff; cultural and linguistic differences need to be acknowledged in training and support ➔ mobile/email helps, need to prevent overreliance on tech; difficulty maintaining strategic direction due to inability to conduct needs assessments or measure impact
- Challenge: tendency to maintain status quo instead of responding to acute issues; movement and access restrictions, low-profile security approach, cautious remote managers, coordination challenges
- Challenges: accountability, advocacy strategies, staffing capacity
- Most agencies do not have set criteria to assess risk or to guide the decision to shift to remote management; most guidelines and practice do not fully take into account the unique threats, incentives and circumstances faced by national staff
- International agencies need to increase efforts to ensure security of all levels of staff equally, assessing each level’s unique risks and having transparent policies that accommodate them
Stoddard et al. 2009   Providing aid in insecure environments: 2009 Update. Trends in violence against aid workers and the operational response n/a n/a HPG Policy brief
Qualitative study
- Kidnapping of aid workers has increased by over 350% in the past three years,
- Remote management effects that make it difficult to shift back to regular programming: reduced ground-level information, less credibility and trust in the agency, increased risks for local implementing actors
- National staff requires specific security measures that are proportionate to, but not the same as, those provided to international staff.
- Security incidents not documented as systematically for nationals, partly because the risk to the organization varies (different insurance policies and liability).
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) developed tracking system to monitor and report access constraints; being piloted in six insecure contexts.
Collinson and Duffield 2013 Paradoxes of presence. Risk management and aid culture in challenging environments. Humanitarian Policy Group
Global Insecurities Centre
n/a n/a Commissioned report - Lack of common framework to support decision making
- Local staff’s ability to assess risk can be influenced by financial or other competing priorities and incentives that encourage risk-taking; distinct threats rarely acknowledged and have less access to security measures, information, and support
- Pervasive levels of distrust: distrust between people within agencies, between agencies, between agencies and their alleged “beneficiaries”; due to distance, differences in pay, lack of local presence or contact with local people
Rivas 2015 - Integrity research and consulting
- Axiom M&E
No Longer a Last Resort: A Review of the Remote Programming Landscape Somalia, Kenya n/a Literature review
(Part of a DFID evaluation)
- Remote programming is no longer temporary or a last resort, becoming long term
- Literature focuses on international organizations: little information on the experiences of other bodies
- Talk of risk transfer but not other ethical problems, such as: the transfer of beneficiary data to third parties, appropriate engagement strategies in high-risk environments, and how monitoring information is used.
- Most common risks: inadequate information management/credibility/quality, corruption, inciting conflict, causalities and fatalities, insufficient impact, poor monitoring, informal taxation, security challenges, and fund diversion
- Most common monitoring methods: third party monitoring, beneficiary feedback forums, evaluations and independent analysis, and community meetings
- Donor accountability expectations often unrealistic in these contexts; donor flexibility and realism required
- Best practices include: remote management planning; on the ground networks to enable accountability; third party M&E; capacity building focusing on tech support, problem solving, and management skills
- Planned site-visits from remote management promote local capacity and autonomy, coordination, information-sharing, and trust
(SAVE), S. A. i. V. E 2016   Briefing Note, April 2016 Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria 3 year research program exploring effective response delivery amid high insecurity Briefing note
Mix-methods study
(850 interviews with aid actors, 4000 surveys of affected people)
- Aid agencies tend to cluster in safer areas; presence can be deceptively shallow
- Local beneficiaries reported that aid received was often not what was most needed
- Concessions included: Paying for access and granting concessions are commonplace, yet generally taboo as subjects of discussion. Practices include paying money at checkpoints and; paying unofficial taxes,; altering targeting criteria,; employing local militia,; and avoiding some areas so as not to antagonize local authority, armed actor or dominant community; zero tolerance on corruption policies are unrealistic in war zones
- Many humanitarian actors are uncertain about whether or how to engage with non-state armed actors; local staff need specific skills in negotiation, context, and networking
Steets et al. 2012 Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) Evaluation and review of humanitarian access strategies in DG ECHO funded interventions n/a n/a Literature Lirt review + qualand Qualitative study
(388 interviews)
- 3 methods to tackle access constraints: persuade controllers to allow more access, mitigate and manage security risks to continue assistance, remote management
- There is widespread agreement that the task of negotiating humanitarian access with non-state armed groups should be left to implementing organizations.
- DG ECHO should consider seven key issues. First, organizations must avoid undue risk transfer to field staff, partners and beneficiaries. Second, partners proposing remote approaches should describe how they intend to build acceptance. Third, they need to specify the level of experience and technical capacity of responsible field staff. Fourth, where projects are implemented in volatile areas, organizations should have contingency plans for how to switch to remote mode when access deteriorates. Fifth, monitoring procedures have to be adapted to the challenges of remote management. Sixth, DG ECHO should give precedence to organizations that have located senior staff as close as security conditions permit to the proposed area of intervention. Finally, DG ECHO should give precedence to organizations that seek to deliver outputs directly or limit the chain of sub-contractors for project implementation.
- DG ECHO needs to improve its ability to monitor projects directly. It should recruit senior staff who can more easily “blend in” with the respective local environment and who are less encumbered to travel by administrative restrictions.
- These approaches entail risks that need to be carefully reviewed in each case by DG ECHO and partners. Remotely managed operations can bring about a loss of control and oversight. Further, remote approaches potentially lead to a transfer of risk to national staff and recipients
- Switch to remote mode can reduce project complexity and quality; should be a last resort
Stoddard et al. 2010 Humanitarian Outcomes Lessons and challenges in remote management of humanitarian operations for insecure areas AfganistanAfghanistan case study with+ comparisons to Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan n/a Report for Center of International Cooperation
Mixed methods study
(58 interviews
field visit to Afghanistan and desk review)
- The most successful examples of remote management found involved coordination structures rooted in the local context, with potential for building sustainable local capacity
- NCCI (NGO coordinating committing in Iraq) Field focal point network: 24 LNGOs across country, share security/political info, receive training on how to collect/disseminate info, advocacy, rights/law; share info and experiences with other
LNGOs; civil society empowerment
- Shura system developed with heads of program and all nation staff members: each member coordinated council for 1 month in absence of expatriate, permanent coordinator eventually agreed on; shura members involved in all important decisions; downside: slow to develop, slow decision making
- Potential pitfalls: remote management trap, risk transfer to nationals with few resources and training; reduced program quality and effectiveness; reduced efficacy and accountability; impartiality of local actors
- Need better/more differentiated risk assessment for national staff, capacity building on implementation and security, and coordination structures rooted in local context
- Reasons for shift to remote mode: security, political, solidarity, visibility, develop capacity of local actors, donor support, sustainability
- Factors that govern shift: range of local partner organizations, quality of national staff, and their freedom and capacity to operate in a given country or region
- Despite being considered temporary, few organizations have exit strategy or criteria to guide shift back from remote management
- Remote management trap shaped by: potentially outdated perception of no-go areas, cost pressures, need to follow protective stance of other organizations, bureaucratic inertia
- Risk issues: transferred to national staff, may change after internationals leave and difficult to assess remotely
- Management and communication in remote operations are helped by face-to-face interactions; important for trust
- Methods to mitigate quality deficits: clear procedures and instructions for monitoring and reporting; maintain regular communication between field staff and external managers; bring implementers to remote area regularly for discussion and planning; spot checks; crosscheck information with other field contacts; third party monitoring; and ensure beneficiaries know what they should be receiving
- Guidelines for improving RM: plan for it, adopt a long-term view, develop practical and policy guidance, avoid risk transfer, invest in relationships with local staff/partners and community authorities prior to shift, coordinate policy development, and share lessons learned among agencies and donors
Herbert 2013 GSDRC Remote management of projects in fragile states n/a n/a Helpdesk research report - Key factors that can foster success in remote management projects include: acceptance of activities by local communities; effective staff recruitment, training and retention; flexibility in programming and budgeting; proximity to beneficiaries; visibility; mobility; and effective preparation for fast changing environments
UNICEF EMOPS 2011a UNICEF Unicef and Remote Programming: Afghanistan case study Afghanistan n/a EMOPS guidance on remote programming background papers
Case study
- Relied on military partners to access southern provinces; impartiality issue
- Selection of credible and competent partners was critical; local accounting party hired to assess all potential and current partners (skills and finances)
- Kandahar risk: had to transfer funds to the government to manage long term capacity strengthening initiatives; government known to be corrupt yet were unable to monitor government activities
- Used remote monitoring capacity of WFP; joint monitoring reduced costs
- Need to consider effective cluster approach in remote programming
- Communication and advocacy efforts should be strengthened when moving to remote programming; critical to pro-actively re-enforce community ownership and acceptance of the program
- Need for constructive dialog with donors to establish realistic benchmarks
UNICEF EMOPS 2011b UNICEF UNICEF and Remote Programming: Iraq case study Iraq - Gradual shift to remote mode triggered by 2003 Canal Hotel bombing; relocated to Amman
- Remote management intensified from 2008 to 2009 as security deteriorated
EMOPS guidance on remote programming background papers
Case study
2004—3rd party monitoring contract signed w Iraqi company (Al-Sami); monitors recruited from communities and able to move around without incident; group assigned to each sectorial priority
2006—monitors role expanded and became facilitators, duties included: service delivery, program planning and coordination with government and other partners;
- Remote mode did not result in increased collaboration between the UN system; cluster system not inclusive to NGOs
- Partnerships: must ensure transparency in selection and terms of employment, involve contractors in planning, and maintain single point of contact
- Communication and Advocacy: implementing partners can be used in practical advocacy on the ground, however policy decision and messaging has to remain within UNICEF control
UNICEF EMOPS 2011c UNICEF UNICEF and Remote Programming: Pakistan case study Pakistan 2009 move to remote mode following kidnapping EMOPS guidance on remote programming background papers
Case study
- KPK and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) highly volatile; 2010 remote program in these regions in response to floods
- Program criticality exercise conducted prior to shift; resulted in decreased activities with a focus on immunization
- Conducted orientation sessions on remote operations to build partner capacity, however, largely learning by doing
- Removed all logos
- Third party monitoring found program to be below standard; resultantly, invested in national capacity building, coaching, and training
- Issues: involvement of military to deliver aid, low collaboration between UN system, lack of formal guidance and checklists to guide programming
- Need for flexible program policy and procedure in changing environment
UNICEF EMOPS 2011d UNICEF UNICEF and Remote Programming: Somalia case study Somalia: protracted crisis with annual flood cycles   EMOPS guidance on remote programming background papers
Case study
- Presence over 18 years, strong partnership with local NGOs and government allows maintenance of good delivery in reduced access settings
- Efficacy and security may be enhanced by a UNICEF system that works closely with that of the other humanitarian agencies, rather than being locked into UNDSS structures
- Issues with large Nairobi-based remote support center: indecisive culture, processes dominate over results and diverts resources from field offices, habit of risk avoidance rather than management, have prevented seizing access opportunities and new implementation modalities
- Opportunity to build independent monitoring system through partners and contractors was not seized when local access would have allowed negotiations; resulted in poor feedback on aid delivery and reliance on external partners to set up smaller/weaker monitoring structures (accountability and reputation risk)
- Lessons: stay focused/do not stretch too thin; be decisive and use strategic opportunities; try new delivery methods; unite and have sectors work together; regular and honest dialog with partners and donors builds trust
Belliveau 2013 MSF “Remote management” in Somalia Somalia - Remote mode following 2008 roadside bomb and deaths of 3 MSF employees
- Country management team in Nairobi
- 2 new hospital wards opened
Humanitarian Practice Network Paper - International staff benefits: bring outside experience and technical skills, increased legitimacy of advocacy, increased ability to resist local pressures for resource diversion
- Risks of remote mode: reduced control over resources, declining quality, limited or no program expansion or adaptation, increased risk to national staff, potential loss of impartiality and ability to witness/speak out on behalf of affected population
- Key concepts of model: centralized decision making, micro-management and cross-checking, support and training (increased frequency and wider range)
- Local administration or community elders aid recruitment of unskilled workers to ensure appropriate clan balance and deflect potential dissatisfaction
- External evaluation concluded that strong remote management procedure and extra scrutiny work well, no systematic leakage or noticeable corruption, high standard of stock management and financial control
- Success due to: rigorous control system, competence of national field staff, their familiarity with MSF’s principles and ways of working, high degree of national staff ownership
Howe et al. 2015 Tufts University Breaking the Hourglass: Partnerships in Remote Management Settings—The Cases of Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan Turkish-Syrian boarder 2013 Remote operations from outset in Syria due to government regulation Historical analysis
Qualitative study
(123 interviews with 46 organizations)
- Access dependent on local networks and reputations; partners identified through contacts, coordination meetings with LNGOs, and LNGOs who reached out to INGO (passive and bias toward LNGOs with skills and contacts, active methods of recruitment preferred)
- Techniques for capacity building: trainings, workshops, partnership focal points, staff secondments, pilot projects
- Innovative M&E approaches: call centers, GPS shipment tracking, debriefing meeting with local partners; local methods: photos and videos of distributions, web-based remote project monitoring, daily verbal reports, peer observations; 3rd party monitoring = gold standard
- Donors can prioritize longer-term sustainability of local partners via: organizational and operational capacity building, a focus on the capacity of the institution, supporting longer-term projects, providing core funds, and supporting alliances among local groups
- Trust building key for local partnerships; build trust via: regular in-person meetings, transparent decision-making, robust feedback mechanisms, joint agenda setting, and openness to partner perspectives
- Need to prioritize security for both nationals and internationals with clear contingency plans and ensuring local security costs are included in budget
Same study   Syria case n/a Modes employed: direct implementation fully or partially by INGOS with hired Syrian staff; Sub-contract, short term and logistical (ex distribution of food aid); Partnerships   - Inability to engage in coordinated response led to disharmonized approach to working with small pool of organizations; negatively affected the absorptive capacity of local organizations and ultimately compromised humanitarian activities
- Partner selection is two-way street; INGOS need to have good relationships with reputable partners if they want to be chosen by LNGOs in future
- LNGOs prefer tailored smaller trainings on mutually selected topics; dedicated focal point person can help to address local partners needs
- Issues with third party monitoring: resource intensive, expensive, repeated use of same firm can compromise objectivity and neutrality, firm accountable to same organization that hired them (limits objectivity)
- Donor requirements can be security risk and prohibitive to programming; to provide international organizations with beneficiary lists from under-siege area, local partners were obliged to pay smugglers to move people and documentation across siege lines
- Sustainability in the face of donor withdrawal: LNGOs switched to less capital-intensive activities when access reduced, diversified, and approached other donors for funding
- Lack of INGO support of core costs (operating, salaries) of local partners inhibits trust and sustainability
Same study   Iraqi Kurdistan Case n/a n/a   LNGO coping strategies to withdrawal: dormancy, downsizing (reliance on volunteers), private sector and income generation,
Hammond and Vaughan-Lee 2012 HPG
Humanitarian space in Somalia: a scarce commodity Somalia - Remotely managed out of Nairobi or Mogadishu since late 90s; increased when security risks significantly increased in 2007–2009 Working Paper - Use of diaspora returnees; advantages: technical skills and more acceptable than westerners; disadvantages: resented by locals for large salaries and being out of touch with realities on the ground
- Have pulled away from conventional coordination mechanism (cluster system) to work independently: some cases improved access but no understanding of what other actors are doing or common standard for dealing with demands
- 2007–2008 development of OCHA joint operating principals for Somalia: never formally operationalized; likely worried that if they followed international humanitarian standards would not be able to operate
IMC 2016a IMC Details from IMC Somalia Programming (e-mail) Somalia n/a Email communication - Increase beneficiary access via: mobile teams, community messaging advertising service availability, demand generation via “spreading word” (discharging patients with literature and simple repeatable messaging), used Community Health Committees (elected respected volunteers) as bridge between IMC and community
- Used nearly 100% local staff with appropriate clan-balance, resulted in good local perception and minimal bribes at check points, confiscations, raids, and threats
- M&E methods: spontaneous visits and planned-capacity-building-visits, third party monitoring
- Transparency: shared reports with employees to validate work and justify visits
IOM 2008 IOM Programme Management by “Remote Control” Iraq - Remotely managed from Amman
- At least 2 implementing partners per program
Book chapter - Coordination with government of Iraq and international community via IDP working group (NGOs, NCCI, UN) to avoid duplication
- Types of monitoring used: direct by IOM staff traveling to sites; IOM staff and third party; IOM-contracted external consultants; monitoring of NGO-implemented projects by external organizations who visit every 2 weeks
- Monitoring procurement system has several filters: program unit goes through checks, logistics unit that double checks prices/contract terms/authenticity of requests, also do unannounced spot checks
Kjaerum 2015 Danish Refugee Council Remote Management in Humanitarian Operations: Lessons learned from Libya and beyond Libya 12 month Armed Violence Reduction program in Sabha
Remotely managed from July 2014 to today from Tunisia
Evaluation and Learning Brief
Qualitative study
- No remote management contingency plan despite ongoing tensions in country prior to planning, resulted in standstill of project activities during shift
- Capacity issue: several activities required presence of international technical expert and were canceled; trainings by local staff (non-experts) not well received
- Bunkerisation contributes to beneficiary mistrust and remote management trap
- Benefits of remote mode: increased local ownership, decision making, increased capacity/sustainability of field staff; continued engagement builds trust among communities/stakeholders making it easier to shift back to normal operations
- Need for country offices to develop remote management plans, training plans for national staff, and assessment of key operational gaps that would occur following shift to remote mode
Cunningham 2016 MSF Emergency Gap Series 02: To Stay and Deliver? The Yemen Humanitarian Crisis 2015 Yemen 2015 Managed from Amman Qualitative study - Remote managers had inadequate risk perception and decreased sense of urgency to the needs on the ground
- Locus of security decision-making misplaced: decision making should be in hands of operational managers rather than security personnel
- Dependence on the UN for logistics is major issue: locks INGOs into decisions made, or not made, by UN, and affects INGO independence, capacity, and mindset
Hansen 2008b NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq Operational Modalities in Iraq Iraq n/a Briefing paper - Need for acceptance: achieved over time through dialog and staff actions
- Need for flexibility: rapidly changing context; rapid decentralization to skilled field staff gives more options for continuing programming
- Need for proximity to victims: increases quality of humanitarian data, safe access, aid effectiveness
- Need for visibility: necessary for acceptance in long term but jeopardizes effectiveness short term
- Need to expand operations: expansion should be gradual and controlled in order to groom partners without becoming a target; sudden increase in resources interferes with team dynamics and contributes to loss of control on how they are used
Hansen 2008a NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq Adapting to Insecurity in Iraq Iraq n/a Briefing note - Withdrawal of international staff and mobility constraints on national staff result in incremental increases in geographic and psychological gaps between beneficiaries and providers
- Flexible management where remote managers play supporting role to skilled teams; authority delegated to field staff to make decisions about operations and safety
- Identification at distributions via removable signage or via media useful for building reputation of organization and acceptance
Oxfam International and Merlin 2009 NGO Consortium Remote Programming Modalities in Somalia Somalia
(Insecurity and drought)
Remotely managed from Nairobi or Hargeisa Discussion paper - Remote control used for distribution of goods; issues: inflexible, limited delegation of authority, increased local staff security risks, loss of access to adequate information about need and context
- Remote support: national managers receive additional training that enables handover; senior staff well respected, good relations with communities and decision-making autonomy. Issue: working through specific institutions can be seen as taking sides and has potential to increase security threats
- Remote partnership: strong risk management needed, funding an issue due to donor reluctance, limited number of sufficiently strong partners
- M&E needs: minimum set of clear simple indicators for basic standards; transparency with donors about challenges; build capacity to collect data; verification mechanisms: staff visits, activity monitoring, third party monitoring; triangulation and communications technology
Polio Oversight Board 2014 PGEI Decision Paper: Strengthening Program Leadership & Management in Pakistan Pakistan n/a Decision paper - Primary strategy: negotiated access with community/religious leaders, military/law enforcement, and armed groups
- Used military and law enforcement protected vaccination campaigns
- Increased acceptability via community engagement via media, interpersonal communication
Jeene 2014 Save the Children Integrated Community Case Management In a Pastoral Society Karkaar region, Puntland State, Somalia - ICCM around watering points serving small settled and large transient populations
- Remotely managed from Kenya
Case study with Survey data - High staff turnover and long vacancies contributed to supply chain disruptions and stock outs
- Long time to take action when supply chain failed; need for improvement in quality of support systems
- Issues: increased cost and reduced effectiveness
UNHCR 2014 UNHCR Remote Management in High-risk Operations Good Practice and Lessons Learned Somalia Multiple programs Case study
Qualitative study
- UN country team formed Risk Management Unit: maintains directory of aid and local actors, monitors and analyzes financial programmatic and reputational risks to advise operations of all agencies
- Facilitating face-to-face meetings with local actors and beneficiaries helps to maintain closeness and supervision
- Transparent reporting raised credibility among donors
- Considered unacceptable in remote mode, resulting in suspension or closure of program: direct payment (material or cash) for access to people in need; payment of taxes, registration fees, any form of payment to armed groups; transfer of humanitarian goods to any party to the conflict for distribution
Same study    Iraq    - Recruited and trained national NGOs, vetted using US Provincial Reconstruction team and others’ lists of partners
- Established Project Tracking Database: GPS encrypted and time-stamped digital photographs taken by local partners to monitor programs; data uploaded and payments tied to photographic evidence. Issues: costly, labor intensive, constant maintenance required
Same study    Afghanistan    - Worked closely with Shuras (councils) and Community Development Committees to ensure fairness in implementation of shelter assistance and income generating activities. Ensured local ownership, accountability, checks and balances, but decision making and local capacity building were slow
- M&E methods: beneficiary hotlines, informal contacts with other agencies, implementing partners; changed monitoring partners every 2 months to avoid conflict of interest and collusion
- Community outreach team with mullah established by an INGO to build relations, discussed similarities between Islamic teachings and ICRC code of conduct
- Triangulating monitoring techniques by one NGO: used vendors, local government officials, and community members to monitor project outputs and quality
Same study    Pakistan    - Negotiated with local tribes to deliver aid to remote communities, raised visibility and built confidence with locals
- Methods to address fraud: complaint mechanism for refugees; implementing partner selection and performance review committee; grievance committee of field staff; multi-function team to assess implementing partner processes on procurement, recruitment, and financial monitoring
Same study    Syria    - Relies on local staff and created networks of volunteers to assist with operations
UNICEF 2016 UNICEF (Unofficial title: Syria and Yemen lessons learned) Syria n/a E-mail correspondence - Inaccessible/armed group controlled areas: programs planned and developed jointly with implementing NGOs and local communities.
- M&E via third party monitors who provide weekly reports, data, and photos; telecommunication with inside informants; reports from UN humanitarian convoys when allowed access
Same study    Yemen    - Community midwives in isolated conflict areas set up make shift primary care clinics in their homes; UNICEF supported with provision of supplies
- Empowered female health worker in conservative communities
Oxfam International 2007 NCCI
Rising to the humanitarian challenge in Iraq Iraq n/a Briefing paper - Prepositioning of emergency supplies supports efforts in hot-spots
- Donors must provide flexible emergency programming and overcome reluctance to fund remotely managed programs
- Strategies: using local contact networks to map security situation; making sure staff working in particularly sensitive areas are from appropriate religious, cultural, or geographic background and have experience in insecure environments; and keeping low profile (operating in unmarked vehicles, varying routines, not using permanent offices where possible, and restricting accumulation of assets)
- One NGO relied on personal contacts in different project locations to monitor, evaluate, assess impact of the projects; included surveys of beneficiaries
- Previously established relationships with locals leaders and communities enabled rapid assessments and monitoring
Afghanistan, M. o. P. H. o. t. I. R. o 2015 Ministry of Public Health Afghanistan Annual Report 2015
Polio Eradication
Initiative Afghanistan
Afghanistan n/a Government report - Permanent transit teams (PPT) established at entry points of inaccessible area to vaccinate children coming and going
- At least one district polio officer employed in all conflict affected districts for surveillance and case response vaccinations
- Partnered with NGOs that have access to inaccessible areas for delivery of vaccine and campaign monitoring
- Negotiated through partners (such as ICRC) for full access in high-risk areas
Rogers 2006 University of York Accessing the Inaccessible. The Use of Remote Programming Strategies in Highly Insecure Countries to Ensure the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance. Iraq: A Case Study Afghanistan Program assisted returnees to build a shelter Master’s Thesis
Case study
- Process of transitioning to remote mode: held meeting with community members and supporters; outlined teachings of Qur’an linked to humanitarianism
- Close relationship with communities and operational history increased acceptance
- Unannounced monitoring visits when security improved; no major problems identified, beneficiaries and community members did not report any problems when interviewed individually
- Highly experienced Afghan staff, without whom operation would have been suspended
Same study    Northern Uganda Case study IDP camps   - Community representatives worked in collaboration with the agency to develop program activities and timelines for implementation; guidance on activities provided through use of field journals by community members implementing the work and digital cameras to record activities.
- NGO visited once a week when security improved; found that work was not being completed as expected by community or contractors
- Independent members of community used for monitoring and triangulation; monitoring system proved to be unreliable as they provided information that they thought agency wanted to hear, not reality
Same study    Iraq
Remote programming since 2004
Remotely managed from Jordan   - Lack of face-to-face contact led to misunderstandings and difficulty maintaining relationships
- Need more support departments centralized in Iraq to improve function, coordination, and coherence
- Trainings included: security related courses, administration, project management, finance and conflict resolution; better when shadowed international staff
• Length of operational history in country enabled agencies to move from more directive remote control strategy to more supportive role
• Strong understanding and awareness of local culture and religion required
• Greater use of participatory management styles is required
Faubert et al. 2010 UNDP Assessment of Development Results. Evaluation of UNDP Contribution Somalia Somalia Remotely managed from Nairobi Evaluation report - Insufficient written institutional guidance for programs operating in complex circumstances; country office not proactive enough in seeking guidance and tapping institutional resources.
- Strategic partnership agreement developed with Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), providing resources and technical support
- Increased exposure to operational risks regarding effectiveness, cost efficiency, and accountability
- High travel and per diem costs for limited staff visits, setting up expensive network of NGOs, and liaising with Somali partners; administrative costs need to be more clearly defined and planned
Anonymous 2015 Anonymous Remote Partner Management—Monitoring and Accountability Systems for Limiting Aid Diversion Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan n/a Qualitative study
12 interviews with staff
- Syria: local groups provide support in inaccessible areas (monthly monitoring reports)
- Iraq: involved both IDPs and their host communities in planning and implementation of interventions; eased tensions between the communities and increased uptake of services
- Egypt: deployed Syrians as outreach workers to do referrals and spread awareness; good entry point into Syrian community in Egypt and cultivated trust with community members.
- Capacity of local partners quite low, need to invest a lot in training
Zyck 2012 n/a Remote Control Project Management Afghanistan n/a   - Need for remote mode contingency plan which can be activated when designing programs in order to account for required simplification
- Need to develop accountability networks: establish relationships with stakeholders that can independently verify projects; and build partnerships for third party monitoring and evaluation
- Need to build capacity of local partners to enable daily decision making
- Need for coordination to share good practices and lessons learnt
- Issues with M&E: site visits rare, external monitors not given accurate information, local staff require training on monitoring and reporting, lack of independent beneficiary feedback mechanisms
Benini et al. 2016 ACAPS Information gaps in multiple needs assessments in disaster and conflict areas Syria Syria Needs Assessment Project 2012 Report - In situations of lack of access and patchy indicators, severity of situations and quality of assessment information best measured on simple ordinal scales; assessment gaps and priorities established by comparing the values of governorates, districts, etc. on these scales.
- Assessment information allows for prioritization
Global fund
Central African Republic and RAMP How technology is transforming health facility reporting in a complex operating environment CAR RAMP mobile phone reporting system throughout country Report - RAMP is a monitoring and evaluation tool using mobile phones and simple to use pre-designed forms
- Health care workers trained to send routine health data from health centers via mobile phones
- Rapid field intelligence and communication resulted in the expansion of malaria services, prevented stock outs, allowed for monitoring of malaria prevalence and trends
CDC 2016 CDC CDC remote monitoring summary Variety of countries n/a Excel spreadsheet (unpublished) - Staff required training due to varying capacities and some hired due to bureaucratic/political reasons rather than skill or abilities
- Due to lack of commitment from lead agency, surveillance staff did not receive salaries or funds to carry out activities, and system could no longer function.
- Within survey duplication and duplication over time between repeated surveys should be checked for potential fraud; pre-programmed algorithms are an essential tool in detecting survey quality consistently and rapidly
- WhatsApp allowed for daily communication with teams in Syria; however, communication of more technical concepts was challenging
- Ensuring data quality was the biggest challenge; training and working with staff prior to data collection helps to ensure quality and consistency of data
Balslev-Olesen and Hüls 2011 IRC
Thailand Burma Border Consortium
Consultancy. Strengthening Monitoring in Eastern Burma
Final Report
Eastern Burma n/a Independent evaluation (18 interviews) - Regular and strategic surveys have allowed remote managers to be less cautious; sets programming in reality
- Strong community connections resulted in strong participatory planning, implementation, and monitoring
- Recommendations: systematic but voluntary horizontal data exchange, support partners with common standard in collecting monitoring info; consistent and regular mechanisms for client/community feedback; cross-monitoring; common protocols and global standards; consistently analyze and correlate data; harmonized and coordinated in house support for monitoring; training on humanitarian principles and sample techniques to monitor performance against principles; direct investment in M&E
- M&E methods used currently: web-based (project activities verified through visual evidence, geo-referenced), quality assurance teams (national staff traveling to monitor program activities, indicator-based terms of reference); triangulated local monitoring; third party monitoring
IRC n.d. IRC Project for Local Empowerment (PLE)
Eastern Burma SHIELD program
- 6 local partners
- Thai based office
PowerPoint presentation - Challenges: log books sent to Thai based office, some missing, several languages and format (could not be reviewed from all ethnic health organizations)
- Lessons learned: need for multi-lingual data entry staff, standardized case definitions, and check-lists for log book review; activities should not be donor driven; need to strengthen technical support to partners via team of experts; program implementation team and monitoring team should be separate but work closely
Jansury et al. 2015 International Business & Technical Consultants Inc. (IBTCI)
George Washington University
Findings in Monitoring and Evaluations Practices During Humanitarian Emergencies n/a n/a Situational analysis
Literature review
- Challenges: lack of good baseline data for performance indicators make it difficult for third party evaluators to measure impact; rapid influxes of aid required prohibit M&E practices from being built in from onset; explaining to local staff why M&E is necessary; coordination difficult due to distrust between orgs and lack of transparency (duplication of efforts and hard to ensure accuracy)
- Internal M&E tends to be less rigorous than external consultants, increased transparency and therefore legitimacy
- Building local capacity (ideally prior to emergency) leads to trust and more autonomy by implementing partners
- Need to mainstream M&E and incorporate into planning phase
Zikusooka et al. 2015 Save the Children Simulated Technical Support Visit to Inaccessible locations in somalia Somalia Simulated field visit Oct 2015 PowerPoint presentation - Aims: provide support to inaccessible program, monitor nutrition program and verify existence, assess program performance against quality benchmarks, identify gaps and areas for capacity development; connect with field teams
- Methodology: minimum standards/quality benchmarks agreed ➔ documents and photos provided by field (photos with GPS encryption, scans of patient cards and stock records, etc.) ➔ Skype/phone calls with field ➔ joint review of documents with field ➔ feedback and action planning
- Analysis: was card filled in correctly? Was correct amount of meds provided? Was follow-up tracked correctly? Etc.
- Lessons learned: prior prep required to ensure complete set of supporting documents are received; must train team to take quality photos; discipline required to set up uninterrupted time to complete whole process
Souness 2011 Tearfund Monitoring & beneficiary Accountability in Remote Managed Locations
An assessment of Tearfund’s Monitoring & accountability practices
(a part of larger Tearfund report, below)
Kandahar, Afghanistan Relocated coordination to Kabul in 2008 following kidnapping of expat NGO worker Independent assessment
Qualitative study
(interviews, observations, document analysis)
- 3 types of monitoring in Kandahar: direct monitoring in the field, operational monitoring and report, and activities to build M&E capacity
- M&E methods: field data collection, monitoring by Afghan Kabul-based specialists, beneficiary feedback, stories of transformation (collected by field staff), monthly program reports, project evaluations, office Shura, weekly progress reports, peer monitoring
- Reliance on national staff resulted in lower quality reporting
- Recommendations: establish clear methodology; improve rigor of qualitative and quantitative methods, KAP survey to track changes over time; peer monitoring
-M&E officer mentors project managers and trains staff to build capacity in monitoring
- Strong relationships with communities and acceptance necessary for security during field visits
- Allowing field staff and communities to tell their stories is important method of monitoring; mixed-method monitoring required
Norman 2011 Tearfund Effective Monitoring and Beneficiary Accountability Practices for Projects Implemented Remotely in Insecure Environments (Interim report) Afghanistant, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan Programs implemented in 42 locations that use some remote mode approach Qualitative Study
(Interviews and focus groups with 28 organizations)
- Remote Monitoring issues: quality, ensuring rigorous monitoring system, reduced regularity of visits to implementation areas, inaccuracy of project data and reporting, limited capacity of staff, weak technical oversight of implementation, poor communication between head office and field, increased risk to staff and beneficiaries, increased pressure on local staff, increased risk of corruption and fraud
Norman 2012 Tearfund Monitoring and accountability practices for remotely managed projects implemented in volatile operating environments
(final report)
Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, Pakistan, Sudan, Sri lanka, Somalia, Programs implemented in 42 locations that use some remote mode approach Qualitative Study
(Interviews and focus groups with 28 organizations)
- Existing good practice confined to single org and not shared
- Remote Project monitoring good practice recommendations: limiting size and scope of programs, building positive community relationships, targeted recruitment of local recruitment, capacity building of local staff, regular face-to-face meetings, promoting organization values, developing a remote management strategy, building micro-management approaches to monitoring, ensuring dedicated monitoring and evaluation capacity, developing an M&E framework, investing in information and communication technologies, peer-monitoring, beneficiary led monitoring, increasing collaboration between humanitarian and development communities
- Essentials for beneficiary accountability good practice: establishing and delivering on commitments, staff competency, sharing information, participation, handling complaints, learning and continual improvement
ACF 2015 Action Contre la Faim Be prepared to switch to remote operations n/a n/a Power point presentation - Lessons learned: focus on building staff capabilities, build relationships with community stakeholders, simplify reporting, transfer reporting responsibility to field staff, formalize current/target roles and responsibilities for all activities
- Better communication with field: promote proactive regular timely communication, make remote supervisors liable to field staff as well, prove utility of monitoring systems to field staff by providing timely meaningful data interpretation, regularly contact all staff to boost morale, communicate face-to-face as much as possible
ECHO 2013 ECHO Instruction note for ECHO staff on Remote Management n/a n/a Organizational guidance note - Building acceptance among governments, non-state authorities, and beneficiaries is most sustainable and effective way of gaining and maintaining access
- Crosschecking local staff assessments through trusted third parties is essential
- Recruit national partners with experience, train and build capacity
- Minimum face-to-face contact between senior staff and field staff/beneficiaries required
- Monitoring mechanisms: photo, telephone complaint system for beneficiaries, triangulation, peer monitoring, third party monitors
IMC 2016b IMC Field practices for remote management n/a n/a Email correspondence - Communication: maintain regular communication by whatever means possible, designate field focal point, communicate value of work to team
- Contingency planning: ensure there is one for both foreseen challenges and potential emergencies
- Training and capacity building: ensure tools and support to implement activities is provided beforehand, training of trainers with key field staff
- Data and information management: triangulate info, third party monitors, explore mobile technologies, develop strong protocols
- Personnel structure: ensure clear field supervision with specific focal points
- Policies and procedure: have written procedures on which to conduct internal training prior to deployment
- National partners: consider working with national NGOs early, have a list of vetted partners
Egeland et al. 2011 OCHA To Stay and Deliver
Good practice for humanitarians in complex security environments
Field research in: Afghanistan, DRC, occupied Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Somalia, Darfur, Sudan   Desk review and qualitative study
(255 interviews, 1100 national staff surveyed)
- Remote management good practices: invest in highly localized field staff, recruit staff in consultation with communities, web-based monitoring, quality assurance teams for accountability, third party monitoring, triangulated local monitoring
- Methods to build acceptance: outreach teams, community memorandums of understanding that stipulates its role in program, local broadcasting and published materials, community co-ownership, positive associations with trusted entities, ongoing local consultations
- Recommendations: address gaps to mitigate risk and ensure duty of care to national staff, ensure strong cooperation that meets the needs of partners, ensure deployed staff understand humanitarian principles and organizational policies, share good practices and lessons learned
UNHCR 2016 UNHCR Remote management in high security risk operations n/a n/a Part of 4th edition of UNHCR Emergency Handbook - Guidelines: conduct thorough risk assessment considering needs of all parties, weigh whether partners fully understand and accept risks, build partnership networks
- Monitoring guidelines: exploit tracking and information technologies; keep methods and messages simple; explore peer monitoring, monitoring by communities, national and local staff, local authorities, private companies, consultants, other agencies; set up clear and simple monitoring and reporting procedures; communicate frequently with partners
- When regular programming starts, build on increased capacity of local partners and do not replace them with internationals
- Risks: less able to monitor needs and understand local perspectives, assistance may not reach those on need, difficult to detect fraud, donors may be unwilling to fund due to lack of direct monitoring, UNHCR less visible in communities and among donors
UNICEF EMOPS 2012 UNICEF Remote Programming in Humanitarian Action    Program guidance - Steps toward decision to switch to remote mode: security risk assessment, political context/conflict dynamics and stakeholder interests analysis, cost analysis or options, map non-security risks, exit strategies
- Incorporate exit strategies into program management cycle; must reassess situation on ground to determine when to return
- Implementing Remote programming: partner mapping and assessments of capacity and position in conflict should inform partner selection
- Must engage partners in security management and planning activities, budget for appropriate logistical and security communication, and establish clear procedures for reporting security incidents
ECHO 2015 ECHO ECHO’s Approach to Remote Management n/a n/a Organization guidelines ECHO funding for actions involving remote management is based on seven questions:
- Is there an access problem due to security or administrative obstacles?
- Does the proposed action include acceptance-building measures?
- Is it a direct life-saving action or an action aimed at preserving livelihoods?
- Have all possible measures been taken to reduce the risk of losing the lives of those undertaking the work on the ground?
- What is the source of the needs assessment in a remotely managed action?
- Have robust systems been put in place to allow staff on the ground to provide all of the relevant information to those who are ultimately responsible for the management and the quality of the action?
- Are monitoring arrangements adapted for remote management?.
GOAL 2016 GOAL Remote Management Guidance v0.4 DRAFT General, examples in Sudan and Syria n/a Draft guidance document GOAL uses seven minimum criteria when determining whether to use remote management:
- Access restrictions or the risk to staff in the project area is unacceptable
- Risk faced by staff or partners is acceptable to the organization and individuals implementing the activities
- Context analysis and needs and security assessment justify remote management
- Sufficient capacity among staff and/or partners to deliver the program (or training to build capacity)
- Program activities can be implemented following humanitarian principles
- GOAL provided added value to meeting the humanitarian needs
- Minimum standard of monitoring can be implemented
- Strategies for mitigating risks: planning, risk analysis, program and policy adaptation, prioritizing staff training and development, increasing resources for monitoring and evaluation, clear communication and strong information management tools, and community accountability procedures to strengthen acceptance and program support
Hüls 2011 n/a Remote Management of Humanitarian Assistance n/a n/a Essay - Risks include: shifting risk to local staff, reduced quality assurance and timely action, decreased knowledge transfer to local staff,
- Methods of risk mitigation: third party monitoring or verification, information and communication technology, community involvement
UNICEF n.d. UNICEF Compendium of best practices: UNICEF approach to Comprehensive Risk Management and Due Diligence in Complex and High Threat Environments n/a n/a Minimum standards guideline The Minimum Components of the Comprehensive Risk Management Approach:
- Assessing the non-security risks for UNICEF programs;
- Linking security planning with the SRA and the inter-agency program
- Comprehensive multi-source monitoring with capacity to triangulate and analyze information
- Internal management measures such as training, partner screening, audit and risk management working group
Additional components of risk management may include:
- Capacity building for staff, partners, facilitators and contractors
- Agreeing on and implementation of common UN risk management tools
- Conflict sensitive programming
- General strategies for reducing residual risk: building stronger community relationships, actively managing security risks, weighing short versus long-term risks, coordinating with and gaining support of partners, employing qualified staff, and ensuring records on all decisions are maintained
Bally et al. 2005 European Space Agency, Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes Remote Sensing and Humanitarian Aid—A life-saving combination n/a n/a Review article - European Space Agency is utilizing satellite imagery to assist the European Community Humanitarian Office to obtain information regarding the impact and needs of both slow and sudden onset humanitarian emergencies: development of a database for use in GIS, up-to-date topographic maps for responders, identifying appropriate locations for camps and fulfilling camp-setting criteria, and aiding food and supply distribution
- Satellite imagery also used to identify hidden water sources and site new camps, and estimating available wood and allocating cooking fuel resources
Meier 2011 n/a New information technologies and their impact on the humanitarian sector Haiti earthquake, Russia forest fires, Libya humanitarian crisis, Somalia complex emergency Crisis mapping and digital volunteer networks Review article—case studies - Article focuses on use of information and communication in Haiti, Russia, Libya and Somalia, particularly crisis mapping and crowd-sourcing information
- There are still concerns over the ethical and security concerns of mapping user-generated content during conflict, the liability of volunteers, data protection protocols, verifying information in real time, and the capacity of humanitarian organizations to respond to all information added to the maps