Communication with communities (CwC) has been an essential part of IOM Iraq’s programmes since 2014, when millions of persons were displaced after ISIL took occupation of large parts of north and central Iraq.
The objective of the CwC programme is to address the information gaps and needs of displaced and host communities and ensure they make informed decisions about their current situation and future.
IOM’s CwC unit develops culturally appropriate messages on a variety of topics, such as the availability of services and entitlements, mine risk education, health promotion and protection, among others.
Beneficiaries are an active part of the message development process; through participatory methodology such as focus group discussions and community meetings, feedback is gathered from different community groups on the critical information and communication gaps and needs and what CWC material should be developed. Feedback is also collected on the draft materials that have been developed, to ensure the correct messages are conveyed in a culturally appropriate manner. All information and communication products receive technical endorsement from relevant humanitarian clusters, prior to finalization.
Information is communicated to communities in different ways, including print material, FAQ, audio-messages, or videos depending on the local context and preferences of communities. In some cases, beneficiaries are trained and supported to develop and implement their own CWC activities, such as participatory theatre and community engagement videos. This bottom up-approach ensures the effectiveness of the CWC programme.
Identification of information needs and gaps
Through focus groups discussions involving communities as well as other key stakeholders, face-to-face interviews and partner coordination meetings, information gaps and needs are identified. Communities are asked to identify topics believed to be important for the community and build participatory activities to raise awareness.
Communities’ feedback is incorporated in the development of information and communication products and their dissemination. Through focus group discussions, communities are constantly asked opinions and input during the entire development phase of a CWC product. Feedback is also collected on a variety of humanitarian services delivered by IOM Iraq to IDPs, returnees and vulnerable host communities.
The CWC unit strengthens the capacities of different actors on CWC as well as raises awareness on the importance of CwC as a tool to facilitate Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP). IOM staff, local authorities, NGOs and partners are involved in such activities.
The CWC unit works with different clusters, humanitarian organizations and local governmental authorities. CwC programmes are financially supported by OFDA, ECHO, Government of Germany.