COAST Trust with its own initiative, applied for Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) certification. The certification process is currently operated by HQAI (www.hqai.org) based in Geneva, which is a third party that verifies CHS commitments and conformities of the applied organization and announce certification.
COAST, by the initial audit of HQAI in 2017, identified that it has strengths in coordinating assistance with other actors, effective use of financial resources, transparent information provision and its strong organizational values and motivated staff. Weaknesses identified were a lack of clear programmatic policy guidelines overall, with corrective actions required in evaluation policy, identifying and acting upon unintended negative effects, safeguarding of personal information, collection of feedback, complaints handling, learning, staff code of conduct and approaches taken to ensure staff security and well-being.
HQAI found COAST initially conforms to the requirements of the Core Humanitarian Standards and certified for one year (as it is the certification process) on 15 November 2017 with condition of improvement/ corrective action requirement in some weaken areas mentioned above.
However, one year later, HQAI conducted their second (maintenance) audit and found COAST has made significant progress in several areas but insufficiently addressed other weakness, e.g. referral of complaints, code of conduct, preparation of relevant policies, etc. We should say, emergency Rohingya response made our progress slow in improving corrective action requirements by HQAI.
As suspension is one of the basics of international accepted rules of certification, HQAI suspended our certification from the 19 November 2018 to 19 May 2019 (i.e. six months) and gave us time to address the weaken areas. And if improvement happens, suspension will be withdrawn.
Readers can find a letter here from the Executive Director of HQAI. This will clear readers more about the certification, suspension and withdrawn process. In his letter, he described suspension is common in this sector and it is an opportunity too for organization to level it up with the worldwide recognised standards within a given time-frame.