Assuring Quality for the Frontline Disaster Response

Partners of the V4 initiative held a two-day expertise discussion in Budapest on 24 and 25 November 2023. They agreed to operate on “minimum standards” in human resources, response performance, alerts, requests, and qualifications. Over 12 participants from Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland attended the event.

They discussed the stages of disaster, crisis or incident response and key functions required to assess needs, save lives, minimise property damages, and support the recovery of the affected community. To ensure that response and humanitarian NGOs are provided and managed properly, training and development for their staff should follow collectively agreed minimum protocols of professionalism, ethics, standard operational procedures, and building trust for relying on the experience of others in life-saving situations of response.

All outlined the importance of working in a network of trusted and qualified partners who shared common values, qualifications, and approaches to work. Partners outlined the following issues as essential elements of the “quality” response that count for interoperability and operational coordination of the NGOs in the event of disaster responses: (1) organizational competencies, (2) non-human resources, (3) external relationships, and (4) impact. However, many current NGO disaster response/relief networks are generally large-scale and catastrophe-focused, neglecting small and medium-scale natural/man-made/technological/climate-prone/urban hazards (CBC) that have a higher occurrence frequency and a greater need for sustainability. The dynamic and complex nature of crises does not allow for a static framework of response protocols. Interaction networks change dramatically during an emergency, and some actors could assume the role of informal leaders.

The existing institutional protocols for information management in case of emergency seem incapable of adapting to this changing interactional situation. However, NGOs can create a responsive approach based on a qualified, trusted code of conduct. The NGO in frontline/first response and humanitarian sector in V4 has grown rapidly and is increasingly recognized as an important player in our country/region/EU’s well-being. But this growth is not without its problems.

  • Sometimes, we are embarrassed by some of our failings.
  • Sometimes, we see unethical behaviour in our sector.
  • Sometimes, we are open to accusations and do not have the instrument to respond to them.

In light of this disaster and emergency response, humanitarian actors need to adopt, develop and implement a common framework similar to Quality Assurance Provisions in the form of guidelines and a code of conduct.