User-centred Community Engagement


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. We consulted children aged 5 -12 years and their primary caregivers regarding the camp sanitation facilities through our user-centred community engagement methodology. You might also want to read up on what we learnt conducting this pilot and the one in Bangladesh.

Pilot context

Location: Sharia Displacement Camp (Block E), Kurdistan, Iraq

Camp population: 5,657 (865 children)

Community engaged: Yazidi community

Type of response: Chronic, medium-term displacement

Scope of pilot: Informing rehabilitation (alterations)

Number of affected people engaged:

  • 407 Children

  • 167 Caregivers

Where data was collected:

  • Interactive Survey I and II: Households of affected population

  • Co-creation sessions: child-friendly space within camp block E

Participation of Children


Participation of Caregivers


Field Team


  • WASH Project Manager

  • Two WASH Engineers

  • Four Hygiene Promoters

Capacity & Skill

  • All team members had sufficient capacity to fulfill all required activities of the project.

  • All field staff had a good understanding of English and were able to communicate with affected community in Arabic.

  • Three Hygiene Promoters had no previous experience of facilitating community gatherings or conducting data collection (for paper surveys).

Relationship to the affected people

  • Some field team members were recruited from the affected population.

  • No language barrier between field team and affected population.

  • All team members had sufficient digital skills to interact with the tablet.


Informed design changes

The following are the issues identified via the interactive surveys and the actions agreed on with the community in the co-creation sessions.

Identified Pain Points Agreed Actions
1. Lack of soap at handwashing facilities. 1. Repair of all handwashing stations and inclusion of built-in soap dishes.
2. Latrine block corridor area is dirty, wet and dark. 2. Cleaners to be re-trained. Hygiene promotion to increase focus on effective latrine use using both adult and child HP activities. Lighting to be considered in future budgets.
3. Lack of waste bins and existing bins full. 3. Purchase and installation of bins outside of latrine blocks. Ensure regular emptying undertaken.
4. Cleanliness inside of latrines dirty. 4. Increase HP focus on effective latrine use. Ensure regular cleaning undertaken.


The following are indicators collected during interactive survey I before constructions of the new design and interactive survey II after the new facilities were constructed.

Children’s satisfaction with latrines


Caregivers' perceptions of latrine appropriateness for children



Due to challenges with this pilot we did not see as great an increase in satisfaction with latrines as we would have hoped for - though we did see a reduction in the proportion of caregivers and children reporting that latrines were inappropriate.

Reasons mentioned by caregivers when explaining why the latrines were better than before included: addition of ceramic components, including how this made it easier to keep them clean; that the latrines were cleaner than before; that there was sufficient soap; and that some child-friendly latrines had been built. People were very happy with the new child-friendly latrines, though some people were dissatisfied because they were a long way from  their homes. Some respondents reported that the toilets were sometimes not clean and there was not enough water. Some reported that wastebaskets had been broken or stolen.


Caregivers' change over time of latrines opinion

Iraq_Caregivers_over time.png

Caregivers' satisfaction with design of latrines

Iraq_Caregivers_satisfaction design.png

Caregivers' confidence that Save the Children would listen and act on feedback

(Children were not asked this question during the digital surveys due to the focus on the young age group and it being a challenging concept to explain during a survey)

(Children were not asked this question during the digital surveys due to the focus on the young age group and it being a challenging concept to explain during a survey)

There was an increase in confidence that Save the Children would listen to and act on feedback over the course of the project.

Despite the increase in confidence shown in interactive survey II, the evaluation found that, "some respondents felt that their feedback did not have an impact as the primary need (increased latrine numbers) was not listened to."  This demonstrates that there were weaknesses in the community engagement process; the limitations to what Save the Children could do should have been discussed transparently to help manage expectations and explain why not all feedback could be acted upon.



As Research and Evaluation partner, Oxfam interviewed field team members and affected people involved in the pilots for feedback. These are excerpts from a report that will be published in October 2018.

Affected Population Feedback


Satisfaction: Overall, participants were satisfied with consultation, and mostly felt listened to. The children recalled the co-creation and interactive surveys and enjoyed them.

Methodology: The children recalled the co-creation and interactive surveys and enjoyed them. Both, girls and boys felt they were consulted about the latrines and they liked the participatory process, including the tablet use.

Participation: Overall, people perceived the methods of participation as meetings. Most said it was easy to participate, but examples were not given. Feedback was often, though partially, listened to and acted upon. The children were more aware of the co-creation and digital surveys and enjoyed participating in this way.


Outcome: Many respondents felt that their feedback did not have an impact as the primary need (i.e. increased latrine numbers) was not listened to because the project focussed on rehabilitation and new latrine constructions were not possible due to lack of space and budget.

Information sharing: Caregivers felt that most of the information exchange was via camp management and that they were not always informed. A lot of information was shared via camp officials and although people were happy with this, they said that more people should have been invited to meetings.


Field Team Feedback


Methodology: Teams feel that improved participation, specifically the co-creation and the interactive surveys are useful and hope that Save the Children will use similar participatory approaches in other locations in Iraq.

Participation and community engagement: Learning from this evaluation should help Save the Children to inform project design and operational approaches in strengthening and highlighting participation. Further, this project can be an operational model in mainstreaming/conducting child participation across our design and implementation.



  • The digital tool lacks the capacity to indicate gaps in the distances to latrines. This was only raised at the co-creation sessions but at this point it is too late.

  • The co-creation sessions lack the follow-up mechanisms to respond to new issues not previously raised in the digital survey before implementation.

  • Teams were very frustrated with their inability to respond to the community needs and being forced (due to budget and space limitations) to respond to other problems with the latrines.

Information sharing and consultation: This has been one of the bottlenecks in the project both internally and within the community. Within the project limited consultation contributed to the level of understanding of the team about the project. Information sharing within the team such as about budget was limited. The consultation was successful to a certain degree as the community has been given the opportunity to be engaged. However, there should have been a larger gathering held so that people could be informed about the activities and project. The project also could have involved more people in the process.