As part of our drive to ensure quality of performance under the DEC Accountability Framework (DECAF), the DEC and its members annually engage in a process of assessment.

The assessment complements our system of evaluations and reporting on specific appeals.

This means that, as well as holding members to account for delivering individual disaster responses, we also encourage them to examine their ways of working across all humanitarian work and to strengthen the systems which underpin their ability to consistently deliver the effective responses that disaster survivors need.

Members assess themselves against the DEC Accountability Priorities to identify areas of strength and weakness as well as make commitments to improve.

The DEC secretariat carries out a parallel process, using a different set of priorities to assess and improve its performance.

Self-assessments are subject to peer challenge and external validation to ensure the processes are robust.

Members learn from each other and also ensure their systems are scrutinised externally.


Accountability Priorities

Member Agencies

We use our resources efficiently and effectively

We achieve intended programme objectives in accordance with agreed humanitarian standards, principles and behaviours

We are accountable to disaster-affected populations

We learn from our experience – taking learning from one emergency to the next


We fundraise effectively

We tell the full story of each appeal

We hold our members to account for delivering quality disaster responses

We work together effectively as a Secretariat and with our members



The report DEC Accountability Self-Assessment Validation 2013-14 (PDF) was prepared for the DEC by consultants from One World Trust who validated members’ self-assessed performance against 21 Ways of Working (PDF) which DEC members are committed to following.
Although this process can seem very abstract and distant from front line aid work, the DEC and its members believe it is extremely important because it helps ensure that the lessons we learn from experience and evaluation get locked into the way we work in future. This is important because it means agencies do not rely exclusively on the personal experience of staff to ensure we learn from the past and it allows for continuous improvement.
This year each member agency had its self assessments for five ways of working closely scrutinised to verify the accuracy of member agency self assessment procedures.  The five ways of working checked for each agency were selected from a pool of eight criteria: 

  • Documented processes are in place at the appropriate level governing the use and management of funds
  • Programme design and procurement processes maximise value for money – balancing quality, cost and timeliness at each phase of the response
  • Programmes respond to clearly defined needs and are adjusted as needs change
  • Staff and partners understand and integrate agreed standards into their programmes
  • A defined and documented accountability framework is in place governing accountability to disaster affected populations
  • Information on agency background, programme timelines, beneficiary entitlements and selection criteria is communicated to disaster affected populations
  • Disaster affected populations participate in programme assessments, design, implementation and evaluation
  • Key learning (including from evaluations) is incorporated into processes and programmes in a systematic and timely manner.

There will be no external validation next year as DEC Trustees have agreed this should become a biennial process. Agencies will however undertake a self-assessment and report on the improvements they have made over the year. The framework is being updated to reflect the outcomes of the Core Humanitarian Standards process.  An earlier review implemented in 2011-12 led to a raising of the bar, strengthening and widening the expectations within the ways of working and the current developments are expected to do the same.


This report [2.8mb Word] validates the self assessments of DEC member agencies against a sample of the 21 ways of working that make up the DEC Accountability Framework.  It was produced by One World Trust and reviews and analyses evidence submitted by the DEC’s 14 member agencies to demonstrate how their work in two emergency responses complies with the following five ways of working:

  • Approach to the management and care of staff reflects People in Aid code of good practice
  • Local structures (including governments, civil society organisations and markets) are consulted and strengthened
  • Agencies participate in established coordination mechanisms and support their partners to do the same
  • Agencies shall work with partners to strengthen their capacity to be accountable to disaster affected populations
  • Key learning is effectively communicated to staff, partners and other stakeholders

The review found that all the member self assessments were accurate and the One World Trust said it was confident that self assessments across the remainder of the 21 ways of working would also be accurate.
The review report said “The One World Trust believes that the DEC accountability framework is a leader in humanitarian standards and by striving to refine and improve both its content and methodology of assessment it will continue to offer a valuable tool for improvement of the DEC member agencies”.
The main innovation in the report this year was that rather than reporting collectively on the level of member agency compliance, the performance of each agency against each way of working is now listed individually. The DEC member agencies agreed to this change to increase transparency.