OCHA plays a strategic role in advancing the principle that disaster-affected people should be at the centre of humanitarian response.
To establish a people-driven response, it is imperative that community engagement includes following components:
Ensuring that disaster affected communities have accurate and timely information enables their meaningful participation in humanitarian response. Built around effective community engagement, part of OCHA’s work is to integrate these components into the Humanitarian Programme Cycle as well as within the inter-cluster coordination mechanism.
Community Engagement in the Philippines
Since 2012, the Philippines has been a pilot country in mainstreaming an integrated and coordinated approach on communication, accountability and community participation. Community Engagement was previously referred to as Communications with Communities (CwC) and Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP). In the Philippines, OCHA focuses on the following areas:
- Supporting clusters and operational agencies to ensure two-way communication or feedback mechanism (including the use of media), contextualizing accountability frameworks and supporting participatory approaches for the affected populations (including maximizing the Common Service Projects).
- Identifying information, communication and accountability gaps. In 2013, OCHA introduced the Rapid Information Communication Accountability Assessment (RICAA) as part of assessing the immediate information needs and preferred communication channels of the affected communities. RICAA was used by various agencies and is complemented by the community feedback form and the closing the communication loop tools.
- Establishing a Community of Practice (CoP) which coordinates and strengthens capacities of humanitarian organizations undertaking various levels of community engagement. The network was active during the response to the Zamboanga conflict and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 as well as preparedness during Typhoon Hagupit in 2014. Part of the CoP’s function is to facilitate partnerships in emergency response preparedness and emergency response.