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Why is communicating with communities (CwC) a critical component of a humanitarian response?

Community Engagement involves a two-way communication process, a dialogue between responders and affected communities and  their community partners.  It should enable people to meet their differential needs, address their vulnerabilities and build on their pre-  existing capacities. It recognizes the role of affected communities as first responders and thus the role of the international system is first  and foremost to support their efforts. Putting community engagement at the center of humanitarian response has several critical  elements.

 Information provision, community feedback and participation

 It requires recognizing that information and communications systems are a life-saving form of aid in their own right, enabling individuals  and communities to make decisions that protect their lives and livelihoods, access assistance more effectively, and express their needs  and develop their capacities on their own terms.

 Appropriate information and communication technologies

 With the continued growth of information and communication technologies, a vast body of technical expertise has emerged.  Governments, NGOs, are joined by civil society and the private sector, especially the media, telecommunications and technology  groups and are increasingly engaging in innovative two-way communications approaches which often relies on both specialized  expertise and local knowledge of capacities and customs.

Augmenting existing capacities and partnerships

An international humanitarian response needs to build on existing response efforts and capacities – whether conducted by national governments or humanitarian NGOs, or by civil society groups, private companies or other actors. It is incumbent on humanitarians to take into account these activities and ensure that the international response is supportive and complementary through inclusive coordination mechanisms. 

For more information, the CDAC Network has reference documents for communicating with communities after disasters: