This handbook looks at ways of optimising the participation of crisis-affected people in humanitarian action. Humanitarian situations present particular challenges: the need for a rapid response; the risks of working in insecure situations; and the potential for manipulation in highly politicised environments. It is therefore often difficult for people to participate as fully as they might in other situations. As a result, the definition of participation used here is quite broad.
In this handbook participation is understood as the involvement of crisis-affected people in one or more phases of a humanitarian project or programme: assessment, design, implementation, monitoring or evaluation. The degree of involvement will vary depending on the circumstances, and there will always be debate about what constitutes ‘real’ or ‘meaningful’ participation. However this handbook takes a very pragmatic approach to participation and encourages the reader to involve crisis-affected people in humanitarian responses to the greatest extent possible, and to constantly look for new opportunities to increase the level of participation.
Part 1 provides guidance on developing a participatory approach:
• The basics – what is participation and what are the benefits of participation (chapter 1)
• The factors that will affect how people participate (chapter 2)
• Building mutual respect (chapter 3)
• Developing and using different communication techniques, both informal and formal (chapter 4)
• Making partnerships work (chapter 5)