Community engagement and two-way communication with affected populations are critical to understanding refugees and internally displaced persons' needs and how they want UNHCR and its partners to address them. It also allows UNHCR to inform displaced communities and individuals about how to access services. It supports communities to strengthen pre-existing capacity and their own resilience to shock, such as conflict, natural disaster or epidemy, notably COVID-19. Listening and talking to the communities it serves is inherent in UNHCR humanitarian response and an integral to UNHCR community-based protection approach.
In Yemen, community engagement has been an essential part of UNHCR's response to the crisis. UNHCR and its partners engage and communicate with communities using both physical and virtual modalities, including face to face meetings, posters, leaflets, hotlines, text messages, and social media. It is essential for emergency responders to understand different groups and individuals' information needs, their preferred channels, and trusted sources. Any engagement with communities must also take into consideration socio-cultural norms and traditional practices that may impact specifics groups' – such as women, children, elderly persons, and persons with disabilities – access to information and opportunities to impart information to other members of the community or humanitarian partners.
In June 2020, UNHCR conducted a survey to assess the quality and impact of its engagement with communities and identify areas for improvement. This abstract presents the key findings of the study and recommendations to address the gaps identified and better support effective two-way communication between UNHCR and its partners and the communities they serve in Yemen.