Community Mobilisation & Support

The case for – and challenges of – faith-sensitive psychosocial programming

Ager, W.; French, M.; Fitzgibbon, & A.; Ager, A., 2019. Intervention, 17(1), 69-75.

This article summarizes both the opportunities and risks of working with local faith communities.  The IASC MHPSS Guidelines 2007 recognize religions as fundamental to the characteristics of communities globally, with the majority of people practicing some faith tradition.  The guidelines emphasize the importance of respecting these belief systems and social organization.  A number of studies are cited about the positive impact that religion has on wellbeing.  Also documented is the common experience of local faith communities being present with people in the first 24-72 hours following a disaster.  This very early response and the deep knowledge that local faith communities have of the individuals, families, communities and culture make them well placed to respond in culturally appropriate ways, providing comfort and resources in the first crucial hours.  The article also however reflects on the risks of working with or through local FBOs with regard to the Humanitarian Code of Conduct.  It then concludes with guidance on managing risks while supporting the wellbeing of the people.  

Safety with Dignity: A field manual for integrating community-based protection acrosshumanitarian programs 

ActionAid, 2010.  

This wonderful manual walks a community through understanding the concept of protection, the laws and declarations behind it and then through their own local process at looking at their own community.  Using a well developed toolkit, they evaluate, map, analyze, prioritize and plan for improved protection for all people in the community.  This is a highly participatory process designed to include all corners of the community in the process of caring for themselves.  

Mainstreaming Psychosocial Care and Support – Facilitating Community Support Structures

REPSSI. 2010.  

This manual from the larger Mainstreaming Psychosocial Care and Support series focuses on the challenges and intricacies of working with communities and their culture.  It methodically reports on the process of building a community based psychosocial support system.  Of note are the many times the program reevaluated their process to come upon a system that was workable for the community and met the IASC guidelines.  Two examples are given of the process.  The steps followed were 1. Identify region of need, 2.  Identify a community organization who will become psychosocial supporters.  3. Assess needs for capacity building among the prospective psychosocial supporters.  4.  Develop a capacity building plan.  5.  Facilitate Interactive Learning sessions with the group.  The same 5 steps are used for groups working at different layers of the IASC Pyramid, with appropriate skill development.  These steps and guides directly follow the IASC MHPSS Guidelines Action sheets 5.1, 5.2, 5.3.

Local to Global (L2G)

SCLR (Survivor Community Led Response).  

These training materials focus directly on encouraging and training local people to become catalysts within their own communities to organize, anticipate, collaborate and LEAD the response to emergencies and challenges in their own communities.  This community led response to an emergency does not exclude the work of INGOs but forms a basis that increases the ownership by the community.  Local groups are the first people on the ground and this system of response helps them develop their local capacity to mount culturally appropriate responses.  CBPS is one of the tools suggested in community response mechanisms (day 4 slides) though the content of the CBPS training is very thin.  Likewise, there are suggestions for how the community might address conflict and protection needs (day 5 slides) though the time to discuss this is very limited.​