Involving affected populations in operations to ensure their survival is one of the most difficult challenges confronting the humanitarian world. There are few recorded examples of affected populations participating in humanitarian action and little guidance material directly related to the humanitarian sector. The engagement of affected populations in programmes that concern them creates linkages between relief, rehabilitation and development. Most importantly, it demonstrates respect for members of affected populations, as social actors, with insights on their situation, and with competencies, energy and ideas of their own. It is against this background that this handbook has been produced which has the following objectives:
to assess consultation and participation practice in a range of emergency contexts;
to identify examples of good practice, and gaps or inadequacies in current practice and contributing factors; and
to improve understanding of consultation and participation.
The lessons that are revealed through various case studies on good practice in regard to participation, as well as potential benefits, constraints and risks, are presented here in the form of a handbook for humanitarian practitioners.