Integrating science into humanitarian and development planning and practice to enhance community resilience

Manual and Guideline
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Purpose of the guidelines

These guidelines are for humanitarian and development practitioners looking to effectively integrate relevant scientific understandings of risk within their humanitarian/development planning and practice, for the purpose of enhancing community resilience. Beginning with an introduction to what science is and how it might be used, followed by a breakdown of the key components for integrating science these guidelines encourage practitioners to think about the types of scientific information and expertise that they may need, how to access and use them, and how to ensure that they are applied in an ethical and accountable manner. Each section concludes with a checklist of key questions practitioners should consider throughout the process.

These guidelines are not exhaustive or prescriptive instead the aim is to enable practitioners to ask useful questions that will ultimately help them to apply science in their planning and operational decision-making.

While the authors acknowledge that invaluable knowledge resides in communities at risk, the draft guidelines are about how to utilise scientific and technical expertise from external institutions.
The intended audience is those practitioners looking to integrate science information at any stage of the project cycle. Discussed are the wider scale application of science and some of the organisational challenges in fostering partnerships with scientists, thus this document is also of interest for management and across different departments within an organisation.

The objectives of the guidelines are as follows:

  • to describe what science is and how it can be applied to humanitarian and development planning and practice in order to build resilience;

  • to provide some initial guidance to NGO practitioners upon how they can access and use science;

  • to demonstrate that engagement with scientists is through multi-stakeholder co-production of knowledge;

  • to emphasise the need for ethical, credible and mutually beneficial engagement with science and scientists;

  • to emphasise the need to monitor and evaluate the impact of integrating science;

  • to highlight how to overcome the common pitfalls NGOs face when integrating science into their activities and how to overcome them.

The internalisation of science within NGOs is important; thus it is the recommendation of the authors that to complement the guidelines, NGOs need to incorporate scientific training within the professional development of relevant staff.