Closing the gap:A strategy to strengthen community engagement and accountability in Africa (2020-2023)

Despite disasters and emergencies increasing in intensity and number worldwide, research has shown communities are not feeling adequately involved in decisions that ultimately impact their lives. Growing evidence has shown that community engagement and greater participation can enable the building of trust and ownership and improve the quality and sustainability of programming. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) is firmly rooted in communities and has made commitments to be accountable to those it serves. IFRC’s Strategy 2030 proposes an urgent shift of leadership and decision making to the most local level—placing communities at the very centre of change. These commitments have renewed importance in the context of a broader, global shift among donors, policymakers, and practitioners towards increased participation of affected populations in the humanitarian sector. Even with these commitments and recognition for community engagement and accountability, there is still a gap between rhetoric and reality. Red Cross and Red Crescent programmes and operations do not always engage communities as well as they could. Recognizing that it is often challenging to put theory into practice, particularly in humanitarian crises, the Movement has been increasing its efforts to meet its commitments to improve how it engages with and is accountable to people.