This paper summarises the webinar and online discussion held by the Interaction Results-Based Protection Programme and the CDAC Network on ‘Communicating with Communities: Analysing the role of information and the flow of communication with affected populations to address protection outcomes’.
A number of key points emerged from the discussion about how effective communication with communities can contribute to reducing violence, coercion, exploitation, and deliberate deprivation experienced by people in times of crisis:
1) We need to assess how information is accessed, controlled, shared and used within communities to identify opportunities (formal and informal) where information can be safely received and acted upon by diverse members of the population.
2) If communities have access to the right information, they can make informed decisions and take practical measures to reduce risk, and are less vulnerable to misinformation and propaganda.
3) Access to reliable information from a trusted information source is especially important in conflict situations, where information needs are fluid and people are reliant on accurate information to keep themselves safe.
4) Communication efforts need to take into account that communities are not homogenous, and formal and informal opportunities should be created to encourage dialogue with different members of the population, especially those most vulnerable to risk.
One example from South Sudan was setting up an unbranded tea tent for discussion, as formal feedback desks were rarely used by women and children.
5) Being well informed supports good protection outcomes – but information must be relevant, useful and useable. If messages are created/co-created with people at risk, this ensures they will be understood by the target group, and contribute to protection outcomes.
One example from Uganda was former child soldiers developing radio messages for other children who were living in captivity.
6) Coordinated information management between humanitarian actors is critical in ensuring protection issues articulated by community members reach the appropriate cluster, and can be acted upon.