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Community-based/participatory approach

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • A community-based approach (CBA)—where those who are affected by an emergency are included as key partners in developing strategies related to their assistance and protection—is inextricably linked to both the rights-based approach and the survivor-centred approach.
  • A community-based approach insists that people targeted for humanitarian assistance have “the right to participate in making decisions that affect their lives” as well as “a right to information and transparency” from those responsible for providing assistance. By placing beneficiaries, or those UNHCR refers to as “people of concern” at the heart of operational decision-making, the CBA strives to ensure:
    • Those affected by an emergency will be better protected.
    • Their capacity to identify, develop and sustain solutions will be strengthened.
    • Humanitarian resources will be used more effectively

See UNHCR. 2008.A Community-based Approach in UNHCR’s Operations”.

  • All strategies for implementing VAWG coordination mechanisms and VAWG programming must therefore abide by the principles of participation within a community-based approach, so that women, men, girls and boys affected by an emergency are empowered to be active and equal partners in VAWG policy and strategy development, as well as in programme design and implementation efforts. However, because VAWG can be a socially and/or politically charged issue in some communities, community-based participatory methods should begin with those who are most affected by or vulnerable to VAWG and, according to their insights and recommendations, seek to involve others, such as male community leaders.


Additional Tools

 ActionAid Australia. 2009. Safety with Dignity: A Field Manual for Integrating Community-based Protection Across Humanitarian Programs.

UNHCR. 2006.Tool for Participatory Assessment in Operations.