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Child Protection Accountability in COVID-19
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Child Protection Accountability in COVID-19

When delivering child protection programs and services during COVID-19 and other IDOs, it is vital to keep the views, rights and dignity of people at the forefront of our work. The COVID-19 crisis has posed a major challenge to the effectiveness of vital accountability mechanisms.

When delivering child protection programs and services during COVID-19 and other IDOs, it is vital to keep the views, rights and dignity of people at the forefront of our work. The COVID-19 crisis has posed a major challenge to the effectiveness of vital accountability mechanisms.

The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) sets out the humanitarian sector’s core commitments to the people we serve. They play an essential role in helping organizations be (more) accountable to the people they serve.

In IDOs such as COVID-19, the CHS can be used as a guide to:

  • Ensure a principled and people-centered approach when adapting programs and services during an IDO.
  • Ensure accountability in your response during the IDO.
  • Guide adaptations of feedback, complaint and reporting mechanisms.

Feedback, Complaint and Reporting Mechanisms

Feedback, complaint and reporting mechanisms play an essential role in surfacing suggestions, ideas, concerns and (potential) cases of misconduct, including violence, sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), harassment, fraud or corruption.

Recent research found that movement restrictions created many challenges in all stages of previously functioning complaint and reporting mechanisms — particularly where mechanisms were in person or face-to-face:

“In-person and face-to-face modalities were highly affected, especially in areas that were disconnected by phone. More emphasis was placed on remote modalities, but some communities that did not trust their complaint to reach the organization. Furthermore, remote modalities were not always preferred by the communities as they felt more accountability through in-person interactions. Movement restrictions, particularly, impacted more marginalized groups, such as women without access to phones, people with a disability or low literacy, and people in remote areas.”

It is essential to prioritize accountability through all phases of an IDO, including the reception and handling/closing of feedback, reports and complaints.

Strengthening Feedback, Report and Complaint Mechanisms

Review CHS Commitment 3 and Commitment 5 below and explore the actions you can take to strengthen feedback, reporting and complaint mechanisms to ensure continued accountability to affected population during IDOs:

Commitment 3: Humanitarian response strengthens local capacities and avoids negative effects

Local and national actors have a critical role to play in the response to IDOs such as COVID-19. Drastically reduced international travel and supply lines make large-scale international mobilisation impossible.

Increased Child Protection Risks in COVID-19

To avoid negative effects, we need to be aware that the impact of IDOs such as COVID-19 bring changes in behavior that may lead to increased risks of sexual exploitation and abuse, challenges to public safety, fraud and other criminal activity.

We need to pay extra attention to potential negative behaviour, as well as ensure our responses don’t create further harm, with particular attention to stigma, exclusion and xenophobia. We can:

  • Reinforce remote management mechanisms and learn from previous experiences, paying attention to managing risk.
  • Circulate Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) Policy and/or Code of Conduct or Ethics and other safeguarding measures and remind staff of the need to comply.
  • Provide initial or refresher training on PSEA.
  • Pay attention that our programs don’t create further harm by increasing stigma and discrimination.
  • Be extra cautious with people’s data privacy and ensuring careful data protection.

Commitment 5: Complaints are welcomed and addressed

During IDOs such as COVID-19, we must work harder at ensuring reporting and complaint mechanisms are accessible and well managed. Challenges in communication will mean we have to adapt to how people can access these channels to ensure they remain accessible and effective. We must:

  • Update complaint and reporting channels in collaboration with those we serve. Regularly review the available capacity to manage feedback, reporting and complaint channels.
  • Ensure there are updated references for referrals and service providers due to the IDO situation.
  • Clearly communicate what behavior people should expect from aid workers and that any clear breaches of behavior can and should be reported through the available reporting and complaint mechanisms.

Your Task

For more on how to adapt and strengthen feedback, reporting and complaint mechanisms during IDOs such as COVID-19, read the recent research report, COMPLAINT MECHANISMS & COVID-19: THE IMPORTANCE OF PREPAREDNESS AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, CHS Alliance, 2020.

You can review the recommendations for operational actors on page 22 of the research report.

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Protecting Children during COVID-19 and other Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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