Community Engagement is a two-way dialogue between crisis-affected communities, humanitarian organizations and, where possible, within and between communities. It should enable affected people to meet their different needs, address their vulnerabilities and build on their pre -existing capacities.
Engaging with affected communities ensures that accurate and timely information is shared with them, and that their feedback and participation are integral parts of humanitarian response. This is based on the principle that communities’ meaningful participation in humanitarian processes is essential and that information is a critical form of assistance. In the case of self -help information, such as how to treat diseases at home, Community Engagement ensures the effective delivery of information as a form of life -saving assistance. Without it, disaster survivors cannot be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves and their communities.
The term “Communicating with Communities” (CwC) is also used to describe this work. However, Community Engagement is now the preferred term, as it implies a more pro -active process that should sit with all response programming, distinct from conventional public information and advocacy. The link between Community Engagement and Accountability to Affected People Community Engagement should be a part of all humanitarian programming; it is the means by which aid organizations attain accountability as an end.
It includes three components: participation, feedback and complaints , and providing information. It harnesses the power of all communication channels, including traditional media, mobile and digital technology and face -to -face exchanges. Relief actors recognize that providing connectivity to affected families is a vital humanitarian service in its own right. To ensure that humanitarian needs are addressed effectively, Community Engagement should be continuous and happen at every stage of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle.
OCHA advocates for Community Engagement activities to be a central component of disaster response, and for the funding of Community Engagement programmes. OCHA also bring s in emerging partners and technology so that communities can be connected and have a say in the international response. As part of its 2014 -2017 Strategic Plan, OCHA is ensuring that its information products, services and data are accessible to response actors and affected people by prioritizing a cross-sector approach to Community Engagement as part of its inter -sector and cluster - coordination role. OCHA is also a founding member of the Communicating with Disaster -Affected Communities network. Since 2010, OCHA has supported many projects in countries such as Haiti, Iraq, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, South Sudan and Sudan.