User-Centred Community Engagement

Meaningful involvement of crisis-affected people in humanitarian action is a persistent problem for aid organisations. In recent years system-wide commitments on accountability to affected people, e.g., the Core Humanitarian Standard, have spurred much activity in this area. A variety of tools, methods and guidelines are available to humanitarian actors and more people are consulted about the aid they receive, yet these consultations are limited and rarely have a clear effect on response plans, particularly at the design stage of the programme cycle (ALNAP 2014, 2018).

In 2018, a review commissioned by HIF found that in sanitation facilities design “engagement of affected communities ... is patchy and weak [and] is often little more than cursory consultation – or that it often doesn’t happen at all” in the first few weeks of an emergency (Sandison 2018). In response to the HIF WASH Innovation Challenge, Eclipse Experience and Save the Children developed the User-Centred Community Engagement (UCCE) methodology to address this gap.

Engaging displaced communities in a user-centred way can help humanitarian staff gain a deeper understanding of their needs, preferences and issues facing the community members and fosters empathy within the field team. With the help of the User-centred Community Engagement methodology, this can be achieved relatively quickly and with little impact on the scarce resources available in a humanitarian emergency. The gained understanding of the affected population’s needs can form the basis for well-informed child-friendly sanitation facilities that can significantly impact the health of displaced populations.

In addition, user-centred community engagement also has the potential to:

  • Reduce costs in the long term by informing the design of facilities or programmes tailored to the needs prioritised by the affected population.
  • Increase the sense of ownership of the facilities and services among the affected population by involving them in the design.
  • Build trust between affected people and humanitarian agencies by demonstrating how the feedback of affected people translates into action and improved services.
  • Facilitate adaptive programmes by making user-centred engagement an integral part of programme design and involving communities from the early stages.

What can you find on this site?

While the practice of involving affected people in the design of sanitation facilities is not new in humanitarian settings, there is little recorded evidence of methods used and the effectiveness of such approaches. This website presents our learnings from the methodology development process and the two pilots.


Developing the methodology

This page illustrates how Save the Children UK and Eclipse Experience developed the User-centred Community Engagement methodology while following a collaborative and iterative process.


Pilot methodology

This section details the two components of User-centred Community Engagement and the methodology trialled in displacement camps in Bangladesh and Iraq.

Piloting Methodologyjpg

Bangladesh pilot

Here you can read about the outcome of the pilot we conducted with the Rohingya community in the Jadimura Displacement Camp in Bangladesh.

Iraq Pilot Title Image.JPG

Iraq pilot

Here you can read about the outcome of the pilot we conducted with with the Yazidi community in the Sharia Displacement Camp in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq.


What we learnt

On this page we share what we learnt from the pilots in Bangladesh and Iraq based on the team’s own observations and experiences, as well as feedback from the field teams involved in implementation.

Handwashing 2 (1).png

Project resources

Here you can access all resources produced during the project. All resources can be used freely with credit given to Eclipse Experience and Save the Children UK.


Journey to scale

Find out about our journey to scale following the successful pilots in Bangladesh and Iraq, and learn how you can partner with us.