Participation of PWDs in Humanitarian Action
The humanitarian sector has long acknowledged that the participation of people affected by crises (PWDs) in all stages of humanitarian programming can improve accountability and the quality of humanitarian assistance, as well as strengthen the resilience and capacity of those affected (ALNAP, 2003).
Despite lots of policies and guidance that echo the need for participation of people PWDs in Humanitarian Action, there has been slow progress in mainstreaming such practices in humanitarian settings. Where participation does take place it often builds on pre-existing structures and representatives which may exclude the most marginalised and vulnerable, such as older people and people with disabilities.
Although available data on disability is not comprehensive, global estimates suggest that around 15% of people in a given population will have some kind of disability. This may be substantially higher in humanitarian settings (WHO, 2011). Older age intersects significantly with disability as an estimated 46% of those over 60 have a disability (ADCAP, 2018).
Despite representing significant proportions of a given population, people with disabilities and older people are often excluded from decision-making in humanitarian programming. As a result, the rights, perspectives and agency of older people and people with disabilities are frequently overlooked, leaving them to be disproportionately affected by crises.
In recent years, there has been a renewed effort in moving beyond the rhetoric of participation and embedding it into humanitarian practice. Examples of this are the “Participation Revolution” workstream part of the Grand Bargain (2017), the participation commitment within the Core Humanitarian Standards and the Humanitarian Inclusion Standards for People with Disabilities and Older People (2018). Yet examples of mechanisms that enable the meaningful participation of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian programming, as well as evidence around their effectiveness, remain rare in the sector (HIF Gap Analysis, 2020).
The lack of inclusive mechanisms for participation means that people with disabilities and older people often face a range of barriers to participating in decision-making for programmes and activities that directly affect them. Representative organisations such as organisations for people with disabilities (OPDs) and older people’s organisations (OPAs) are also often left out of discussions where their voice and expertise could contribute to the development and implementation of more inclusive programmes.
To enable the sustainable mainstreaming of any inclusive mechanisms for participation, they will need to be backed up by evidence of their effectiveness. However, there are currently few approaches, metrics and tools on how to assess the effectiveness of such participation mechanisms. Our Gap Analysis found that there is a lack of documented evidence on the impacts and outcomes of increased participation of people with disabilities and older people in decision making. There is also a need for increased understanding of the effectiveness of OPDs in enabling meaningful participation.
We are looking for innovative mechanisms to increase the meaningful participation of people with disabilities and older people in humanitarian action, and innovative ways of assessing the effectiveness of these mechanisms.
Projects will be at the Invention or Adaptation stage of humanitarian innovation. Projects at the Invention stage will generate ideas and develop a prototype for early-stage testing. Those at the Adaptation stage will match an existing solution to a new problem and context.
The handbook of the challenge can be downloaded here
Read more on Frequently asked questions and further application instructions via this page