Collaborating to facilitate ‘communities in the driver’s seat’, War Child, DRA innovation fund ’19

How can humanitarian response initiatives make sure that affected communities are in the driver’s seat – particularly when reducing stigma and protecting children? As part of the DRA Innovation Fund 2019, War Child was selected to pilot research two interventions with that question in mind.  This article explores the way in which their collaborative efforts using strong challenge articulation, have helped their project.

The project ‘Communities in the Driver’s Seat’ addresses a number of challenges that are being faced within humanitarian and protracted crises responses. Their project aimed to tackle several different issues, from ensuring that projects were community driven in areas where societal structures have weakened and risks are high; standardising responses that are easy to implement and navigate on the ground; and easily capturing and analysing data concerning stigmatisation of children. Although all these focuses fall under one problem, the many different reaches of this project required several different corners of expertise.

Asking the right questions is not only essential to create the desired impact, but also to collaborate with the right partners. The challenge brief phase of DCHIs Accelerator Programme emphasises the need to articulate problems in a way that can be used as business cards for the outside world. This is to encourage input from partners in other sectors to share their expertise bringing in broad perspectives to tackle the problem.

War Child took full advantage of the opportunity to share their challenge with a wider audience during the Challenge Brief phase. War Child embraced this phase by promoting their challenge briefs on social media and proactively reaching out to other organisations: “we had meetings with multiple parties that were an expert in their field, and discussed how they viewed the challenge we aimed to address. We discussed how the meetings resonated with our challenges, needs and ways of working. After that, decisions were made and the selected parties – now partners – were part and parcel of the proposal development process”.

We asked what their learning experience was from collaborating and their tips for other organisations. Here are their top two tips for collaborating:

  • Communicate clearly & be aware of your jargon: “As humanitarians (and researchers) we tend to get stuck in our vocabulary. It might be challenging to understand one another, even when it appears as if you have. Therefore, it would be good to also involve some of the other disciplines within your own organisation (communications, ICT) to think along and sometimes be the bridge for further understanding.”
  • Embrace the alternative perspective: “Other entities work with other tools and have other experiences, therefore are an add-on to our work experience – be open to be surprised! There is a world outside of the humanitarian field in which we work, full of experience and expertise that can facilitate and improve the quality of the work we do.”

Many thanks to War Child for their insightful contributions, and for more information on this exciting DRA project, see here. You can also learn more about the Stigma Reduction approach, STRETCH, Community Driven Child Protection, or check out the Care System. Do these top tips resonate with you or do you have an experience with collaboration that you would like to share? Let us know!