User-Centred Sanitation Design through Rapid Community Engagement

2017 - 2018 • Oxfam GB


To understand how to design, implement, and evaluate approaches to user-centred sanitation that incorporate rapid community engagement and are appropriate for the first stage of rapid-onset emergencies


This projects key activities are:
1. Carry out a landscape review of current community engagement approaches and their appropriateness and impact on sanitation provision in rapid on-set emergencies.
2. Develop and test innovative community engagement approaches and tools that can be used in a rapid-onset emergency
3. Develop a framework for monitoring and evaluating the success of community engagement approaches in emergencies and testing this framework in 2 protracted emergency locations and 2 emergency locations.
4. Analyse and translate the findings into good practice guidance on how to design, implement and evaluate rapid community engagement projects to inform sanitation provision in humanitarian emergencies.

This project is being done as part of a consortium of actors Oxfam GB is the overall research and monitoring partner, actives in Bangladesh and Iraq are being carried out by Save the Children, Uganda by Welthungerhilfe
and Lebanon by Qatar red Crescent.

Countries of activity

Location of main activity


The aim of the Challenge is to achieve the following objectives:
1. Understand existing community engagement practice and relevant approaches across a range of fields, as well as their strengths and limitations, and their applicability in an emergency;
2. Develop a robust methodology to monitor and evaluate the impact of community engagement approaches on the overall satisfaction and use of sanitation facilities in emergency situations;
3. Build a body of evidence around the effectiveness and impact of rapid community engagement in making sanitation decisions in humanitarian emergencies;
4. Change existing practice by sharing evidence and learning around designing, implementing and evaluating rapid community engagement in emergencies.

Further information

In 2017, the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) challenged WASH partners to create good practice guidance for rapid engagement with affected communities as end users, to generate actionable and practical solutions for user-centered sanitation in emergencies.

Despite its perceived importance, Community Engagement is often limited in the first few weeks of a rapid on-set emergency. Furthermore, the limited availability of systematic and documented monitoring and evaluation of Community Engagement and sanitation undermines learning on best practice, which results in limited guidance for practitioners to draw upon for rapid-onset emergencies.

Through funding from HIF, Oxfam carried out a landscape review of Community Engagement approaches, looking at their appropriateness and impact on sanitation provision in rapid on-set emergencies. The review identified that poor practice comes from the absence of Community Engagement rather than weaknesses in those who do practice it, but the methods used within the 12-week period following an emergency go little further than conversations with groups of men and women.

As a result of these findings, the HIF is currently supporting three implementing partners (Save the Children UK, Qatar Red Crescent and Welthungerhilfe) working across different emergency contexts; from rapid on-set emergencies in Bangladesh and Uganda to protracted emergencies in Iraq and Lebanon, to test the hypothesis that greater community engagement (including empowerment, trust and mutual respect) leads to improved latrine construction that is timely, appropriate, consistently used and community-owned. Each partner developed their own Community Engagement methodologies and Oxfam developed a common M&E logframe that will ensure comparisons can be drawn across all project locations.

The data gathered from the Community Engagement methodologies will be used to create a short and simple set of guiding principles/standards for Community Engagement in rapid onset emergencies that can be adapted to different contexts. Through a focus on the key outcomes of participation, satisfaction and on-going use and maintenance, these should ultimately lead to appropriate and effective sanitation.

Contact information

Kate Brogan
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Filter tags

Asia & Pacific Behaviour change Capacity development Emergency and reconstruction Health and hygiene Middle East & Nothern Africa Practitioners Sub-Saharan Africa


Oxfam GB
United Kingdom

Oxfam is a global movement of people working with others to overcome poverty and suffering. Oxfam is a vibrant global movement of passionate, dedicated people fighting poverty together. Doing amazing work, together. People power drives everything we do. From saving lives and developing projects that put poor people in charge of their lives and livelihoods, to campaigning for change that lasts.

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