The IRC Definition of Community-Based Protection (CBP): The engagement of individuals, groups and institutions from crisis-affected communities in planning and implementing strategies to prevent or reduce protection risks, mitigate and address the consequences of violence, coercion and deprivation, address the root causes, and build community resilience and preparedness through enhanced capacity and effective use of local resources.
CBP integrates the principles of participation, empowerment and resilience of affected communities into protection programming. It acknowledges that affected populations are not passive beneficiaries of external assistance, but are active actors in their own protection with capacities and resources. The central focus of CBP is to seek out local capacities, perceptions of problems and ideas about solutions, and enter into a relationship with community structures who are motivated to support, activate and expand the capacities of community members to achieve positive self-protection 1.
What is the value of the CBP approach to humanitarian response?
- Affected communities already engage in their own protection. Communities, groups, families, and individuals engage in their own protection on a daily basis. They are the first line of protection for people affected by crisis, and an ongoing source of support thereafter. They take measures to reduce or mitigate the threats of violence, deprivation and/or coercion, or to reduce vulnerability to threats. They are often open to doing this better through training and support to planning and implementation.
- Protection gaps and increasingly challenging humanitarian environments. IRC works in numerous contexts where duty bearers are unable to provide protection to individuals and groups. Limited or no access to a reliable justice system, lack of availability of services for vulnerable individuals/survivors of human rights violations are common justice problems worldwide that manifest as protection gaps in IRC’s operating environment. In addition, humanitarian space is increasingly contested, and access to affected communities made ever more difficult for humanitarian actors. Therefore, it is all the more relevant and necessary for humanitarians to work with communities instead of for them.
- Communities have invaluable knowledge and understanding of their own context. Affected individuals and groups have better knowledge and understanding of the risks they face than humanitarian actors do. They can often identify those at risk in a given context or community who might otherwise be invisible or inaccessible to humanitarian actors, and they can prioritize protection risks in a way outsiders cannot. Communities have a better understanding of their own capacities and resources, as well as the preferred solutions to protection challenges. Community-level knowledge (and engagement over time) is essential to understanding the root causes of protection risks that emerge within communities in crisis, in order to effectively tackle them.
What is the value of the CBP approach for affected communities?
- Improve understanding of sources and patterns of risks to better tailor responses.
- Rectify lacking community resources or capacities to effectively address risks.
- Create space for meaningful dialogue between communities and duty bearers.
- Emphasize inclusiveness.
- Strengthen protection systems as a part of a wider, collective responsibility.
Community-Based Protection Guidance
Here you will find guidelines that clarify the meaning and rationale for CBP, provide tools to assess whether CBP is appropriate for the context; and to provide practical guidance on supporting the design and implementation of CBP interventions.