PHAP, Caritas and Cash Transfer Programming - Photo: Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Strategic alliances with other organisations are unique opportunities to reflect, learn from each other and exchange experiences as well as to raise visibility about the Caritas family’s important role in humanitarian assistance and in particular in cash transfer programmes.

What is PHAP?

The International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP) is the first sector-wide individual member-based professional association that aims at bringing together all professionals of the humanitarian sector.

PHAP has been designed to support the professional development and networking efforts of its members across the world. It focuses on concrete, practical measures to enhance the availability, experiences, skills, competencies, professional networks and both formal and informal support structures of humanitarian personnel at all levels and in all parts of the sector.

With their vision that “human life and dignity are safeguarded in the face of humanitarian crises, the association’s mission is to empower capable and informed professionals to transform humanitarian action”.

What is Credentialing Programme?

PHAP has launched a new programme in the area of professional standards and recognition of competencies as a response to long-standing concerns about capacity issues across the humanitarian sector.

The PHAP Credentialing Programme combines the established international standard for professional credentials – the ISO/IEC 17024:2012 standard for personnel certification – with solutions that meet the specific needs of the humanitarian sector, structuring the programme around a concept of modular certifications in specific areas of knowledge and ability”.

The PHAP Credentialing Programme currently offers certifications for humanitarian practitioners in three defined competency areas:

  • Humanitarian ecosystem;
  • Legal frameworks;
  • Humanitarian principles.

Each certification requires passing a 60-question assessment delivered in a secure manner with live proctoring via webcam, as well as committing to a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

NGOs need people with knowledge, skills and attitudes to be able to work effectively in partnership and to design, implement and evaluate effective capacity strengthening work. With this Programme, PHAP provides a way for humanitarian actors to demonstrate their commitment to their work, to be part of a community of practitioners adhering to high standards of competence and to benefit from a structure for continuing professional education to maintain and further develop relevant knowledge and skills over time.

In mid-2017, PHAP started the development of certification in three additional areas:

  • Needs Assessment;
  • Monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL);
  • Cash Transfer Programming (CTP).

Caritas Europa Secretariat’s contributions to Cash Transfer Programming

Over the last decade, the use of cash transfers to deliver humanitarian assistance has been growing fast. In Europe, the arrival of a large number of refugees intensified this practice. Cash transfers meet people’s need quickly since the logistics involved are minimal. However, in-kind aid still dominates humanitarian responses and there are many concerns about cash transfers becoming the main solution to humanitarian needs in future. Recently, The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) decided that multi-purpose cash-based assistance will be integrated in all their calls, named Humanitarian Implementation Plan (HIP).

Within this context, PHAP called for expressions of interest to join the Committee of Experts for the development of the PHAP Credentialing Programme certification in Cash Transfer Programming (CTP). As this seemed to be an interesting opportunity for increasing the visibility of the Caritas network in the global humanitarian arena, so I applied and was selected.

As part of the first phase, PHAP delivered through a webinar a briefing on best practices in assessment item development. They also developed and validated the certification scheme and assessment outline.

During the second phase, PHAP assigned to each expert an assessment item to draft and review for the certification assessments and the diagnostic tests. My initial assignment was related to the competency statement “Recognise standards related to CTP in humanitarian response”.

At the end of October, PHAP organised a workshop in Geneva with the Committee of Experts to review, pre-test and finalise the assessment items (questions). Caritas was well represented by Caritas Europa Secretariat and Trócaire. Caritas Europa Secretariat will continue remotely its contribution to the main development process of the certification in Cash Transfer Programming.