Ensuring the quality of mine action has, historically, been based on the accreditation and monitoring of mine clearance organisations.
Accreditation of mine action organisations and monitoring of work need to be extended from mine clearance to all activities of mine action, including non-technical survey, risk education and victim assistance. One of the aims of this revision is to recognise that the principles of quality management – including accreditation – should be applied to all activities undertaken in mine action
Monitoring and accreditation are both parts of Quality Assurance (QA). QA activities are “focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled” (ISO9001:2015).
Accreditation is usually completed before work starts. Monitoring, covered in IMAS 07.40, takes place as work progresses.
Together, accreditation and monitoring help to answer one of the two important quality questions: “Is the work being carried out correctly by competent operators?” There is a depth of knowledge and considerable experience in mine action about the question of how the work is being done. The other important quality question relates to why the work is being done: “Are we doing the right work in the right place to best achieve the overall goals?” In terms of relevance1, cost-effectiveness, and prioritisation this second quality question is of greater importance than the first. Although important for the overall Quality Management of mine action it has been largely overlooked.
Many National Mine Action Authorities (NMAA) apply some form of accreditation process to mine action organisations before they are permitted to start operations. The form and extent of the accreditation varies from country to country, but the aim is similar – to confirm that a mine action organisation is properly established, staffed, and equipped, and has the required systems, procedures and support structures in place, before starting work. As a result of the process an accreditation agreement is reached with the mine action organisation on the standards to which work is to be carried out. This agreement then forms the basis for monitoring. Accreditation answers the questions: “Is the organisation competent to carry out the work?” and “Is the organisation able to carry out the work described in the contract?”– the competence required includes financial, administrative and organisational issues, as well as technical skills and equipment.
The aim of this standard is to provide an internationally consistent framework for the accreditation of mine action organisations as part of a mine action process. The goal is to promote a common and consistent approach to accreditation.
There are clear operational, logistic and administrative advantages to combining some or all of the national monitoring, accreditation and post clearance inspection bodies into one overall ‘Quality Assurance and Control’ body, which should also be tasked with a broader systems level approach to quality management.
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