Publication Date
Publication Date: 
January 1, 2017

"CEA supports those involved in programmes and operations to adopt innovative approaches to better understand and engage with people and communities and help them address unhealthy and unsafe practices."

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have published this guide and toolkit on ways to effectively and systematically engage communities as a means of improving programme quality and building safer and more resilient communities. The motivation is the concern that aid organisations often overlook the capacities of local communities in their haste to deliver assistance, or they apply participatory approaches inconsistently, with little impact.

The guide provides International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners with practical and adaptable guidance on ways to integrate tested communications and participation approaches into any programme, at any point in its cycle, and offers tools, templates, and examples to support implementation. It does not present a new activity but, rather, seeks to add value by offering advice and support to improve community engagement and accountability (CEA) across all programmes or operations. CEA involves: community participation and feedback; providing information as aid; behaviour and social change communication; and evidence-based advocacy. The benefits of adopting a more systematic approach to CEA within the Movement were highlighted in a number of disaster response operations, ranging from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami through to the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak. "In each of these operations, CEA approaches and activities (previously known as beneficiary communications) have helped to improve programme quality by increasing their reach, impact and levels of accountability to communities....Ultimately, this helps communities take an active role in building long-term resilience by enabling them to become more knowledgeable, skilled, connected and to bring about the behaviour and social changes needed to address risks and underlying vulnerabilities."

The guide also points to the rapidly changing ways that people across the world communicate and includes ways that local organisations can take advantage of the explosion of new technology and connectivity to better engage with communities, governments, media, and each other to improve humanitarian action.

Following a list of abbreviations and acronyms, a foreword, and an introduction (What is community engagement and accountability? Why is community engagement and accountability important? How can this guide help me? What about additional resources?), the resource examines integrating CEA into the programme cycle (including a list of minimum actions for CEA for programmmes and operations). Its core sections then focus on:

  1. "Programme Phase 1: Assessments
    • Step 1: Search for existing information (secondary data review)
    • Step 2: Engage the community
    • Step 3: Decide what information needs to be collected
    • Step 4: Analyse CEA assessment data
    • Step 5: Sharing your findings
    • CEA tools to help you during the assessment phase
    • The CEA library
  2. Programme Phase 2: Design and planning
    • Step 1: Involve the community in the planning process
    • Step 2: Define CEA objectives and audience
    • Step 3: Plan CEA activities and approaches
    • Step 4: Develop key messages and frequently asked questions
    • Step 5: Plan for community feedback
    • Step 6: Timeline and budget
    • CEA tools to help you during the design and planning phase
  3. Programme Phase 3: Implementation and monitoring
    • Step 1: Do you need a baseline?
    • Step 2: Carry out training
    • Step 3: Deliver activities
    • Step 4: Adjust activities based on monitoring, feedback and learning
    • Step 5: Develop an exit strategy
    • Tools to help you during the implementation and monitoring phase
  4. Programme Phase 4: Evaluation and learning
    • Step 1: Decide what to evaluate
    • Step 2: How to involve the community in the evaluation
    • Step 3: Share evaluation findings with colleagues and learn from them
    • Tools to help you during the evaluation and learning phase
  5. Community engagement and accountability in rapid-onset emergencies
    • Step 1: CEA in emergency assessments
    • Step 2: Information as aid
    • Step 3: Participation and feedback
    • Step 4: Working with other agencies
    • Tools to help you during a rapid onset emergency

Institutionalizing CEA: Tools to help you institutionalize CEA
Annex 1: CEA tools matrix
Annex 2: Useful resources
Annex 3: Movement commitments to CEA

Meant to be used in conjunction with the guide is a toolkit designed to help National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - as well as other organisations - to assess, design, implement, monitor, and evaluate CEA activities in support of programmes and operations. The toolkit is available as a single download (as a Zip folder), but individual elements can be downloaded separately. They include:

  • "Tool 1: CEA Assessment Checklist and Method Overview
  • Tool 2: CEA questions assessment and monitoring evaluation
  • Tool 3: Steps to analyse CEA assessment information
  • Tool 4: National Society Capacity Assessment
  • Tool 5: Guidance on running a focus group
  • Tool 6: Q&A for volunteers and staff
  • Tool 7: Guidance to develop a CEA plan of action
  • Tool 7.1-7.3: Template CEA plan, indicators and budgets
  • Tool 8: Communication channels
  • Tool 9: Checklist info for communities
  • Tool 10: Message development and library
  • Tool 11: Tips on holding community meetings
  • Tool 12: Template Terms of Reference with Community
  • Tool 13: Template, leaflets, posters
  • Tool 14: Training - Communication skills training materials (zip)
  • Tool 15: Setting up and managing complaints and feedback
  • Tool 15.1: Complaints and feedback tracking table
  • Tool 16: Exit strategy guidance
  • Tool 17: Options for sharing evaluations
  • Tool 18: Guidance for lessons learned workshop
  • Tool 19: Guidance to add CEA to the EPoA [emergency plan of action]
  • Tool 20: CEA in MRCS [Myanmar Red Cross Society] Strategy 2016-2020
  • Tool 21: CEA responsibilities for job descriptions
  • Tool 22: Briefing on the Code of Conduct
  • Tool 23: CEA training pack (coming soon)
  • Tool 24: CEA brochure"
Number of Pages: 

108 (guide); various (toolkit)


ICRC website, February 8 2017, and IFRC website, February 9 2017.