CommunityFirst MSF TIC: Co-designing Humanitarian Health Strategies with Communities

The joint initiative with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aims to shift the paradigm of traditional top-down humanitarian assistance. Through co-design, the project seeks to center communities on health crisis responses. The goal is to create a community-inclusive model adaptable to diverse contexts within the MSF movement

Years active
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Vulnerabilized communities around the world are facing intersecting and complex crises that will continue for decades to come. Despite increased funding and reach, today's humanitarian system is unable to respond to the growing needs of people facing crisis.

Humanitarians must engage crisis-affected people as active agents in health response

Creating tools for co-designing humanitarian programs

The CommunityFirst Guideline will support humanitarian project teams and community members to put communities at the centre of the design, development implementation, monitoring and evaluation and exit strategies of health programs. The CommunityFirst approach draws on techniques used in Community-Based Participatory Action Research, which focuses on understanding community dynamics and social determinants of health, and seeks to co-create action plans to activate local solutions in collaboration with diverse community-based organizations and key stakeholders.

Download our CommunityFirst Framework

Piloting, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Advocacy in diverse contexts 

The CommunityFirst Guideline is being piloted in partnership with MSF teams and communities in diverse humanitarian contexts, such as complex emergencies, sexual and gender-based violence, and other situations of violence. The initiative seeks to facilitate a Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning process that is driven by the community’s perceptions of health and progress. This initiative advocates for the greater involvement of communities in the co-design of health programs.

Key Impacts of our work

Humanitarian programs align with communities' local solutions and health analyses

Community members lead impactful activities for health and wellbeing

Humanitarian project teams collaborate with communities to co-design projects and develop skills

Humanitarian organizations have a model to standardize co-design as a key element of their community engagement practices

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2 people walking on a frozen body of water