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Building a quality framework: issues and challenges
Véronique de Geoffroy and Domitille Kauffmann

This article is based on Groupe URD’s experience developing the Quality COMPAS and the M&E system for the Working Group on Early Recovery in Myanmar as well as evaluations and methodological support that it has been involved in. It outlines the main issues and the key steps involved in developing a quality reference framework for the humanitarian sector.

The DAC quality reference framework was designed by donors in the early 1990s to be used in the evaluation of development aid. With regard to humanitarian aid, a body of work has been undertaken over the last few years concerning evaluation and Quality. However, very little work has been done on the use of a quality reference framework for project management.

The notion of Quality itself is rarely defined. The same can be said of the concept of ‘Accountability’, which needs to be defined more clearly if it is to be anything more than a buzzword (Stobbaerts et al, 2008). A universal definition of Quality has been established by ISO, which describes it as ‘the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated and implied need’ (ISO 8402:1986). This definition states that the word ‘quality’ only makes sense in reference to a whole range of characteristics specific to a certain product or a service.

Based on Groupe URD’s experience with humanitarian actors from different sectors, this article discusses the issues at stake in clearly defining the quality of humanitarian action, using a reference framework made up of criteria. It then suggests what the key stages should be in developing a quality reference framework, highlighting the similarities and differences between some existing frameworks.

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