There is broad agreement in the humanitarian sector that communication and community engagement contribute to greater effectiveness and value for money. Despite many organisations and governments committing to this, action to make this happen as part of preparedness and response is not undertaken systematically.
With each sudden onset disaster, many agencies scramble to access resources and bring into line their communication and community engagement strategies, leaving a gap at a critical time. In protracted crises, the issues become more complex due to funding and access constraints. Mid-disaster, agencies often struggle to reach consensus on the approach and coordination of communication and community engagement efforts in a given context. As a result, this critical area of work is often ad hoc, underfunded, uncoordinated and risks being ineffective. The Agenda for Humanity and Grand Bargain, which call for a ‘participation revolution’, will amount to little unless there are intentional, collective efforts to better engage communities before, during and after disasters.
An independent review commissioned by CDAC Network confirms that the establishment of collective approaches to communication and community engagement – at national and global levels – is required to be more systematic and effective and has significant support across the humanitarian sector.
The policy paper also outlines different examples of good practice and lessons learned from multi-agency initiatives have been identified including the establishment of collective platforms in a range of contexts; the establishment of preparedness activities; development of guidance; and use of standard formats and templates for gathering feedback.