CDAC Network: Coordinated CCEA in the Tigray refugee response in Sudan

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Photo by CDAC Network: Arriving at Rashid village

As part of the H2H Tigray support package, the CDAC Network found an urgent need for surge support to enable the development of collective communication, community engagement and accountability (CCEA) coordination plan for the Tigray refugee response in Sudan. It began when over 50,000 refugees crossed the Ethiopia border into the Kassala and Gedaref regions in eastern Sudan, between November 2020 and February 2021.

The host community and the National Red Crescent Society in Sudan were the first to provide immediate help and assistance, swiftly followed by international humanitarian agencies bringing additional resources to support the response. The surge in the response was welcome, but the influx of response staff from so many different organizations also led to some confusion. Meanwhile, the host community, despite being the first to respond, felt excluded from the response and were not consulted in decisions being made by international responders. Better community engagement was urgently needed if the response was to be a collective and equitable effort involving all those affected by the crisis, including aid responders, refugees, and host communities.

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Photo by CDAC Network: Umrakubu camp

Building on a previous CDAC Network project supported by the H2H Network, reinforcing coordination in Sudan during the Covid-19 response, CDAC led a consultation with UNHCR, OCHA and other humanitarian actors. The consultation found coordination of collective communication, community engagement and accountability activities were urgently needed, along with targeted skills training.

Communication, community engagement and accountability is a stated priority for many humanitarian agencies, but it requires specific skills to be adequately implemented. With support from the H2H Network, CDAC set about designing and providing targeted capacity strengthening activities using local experts on the ground. This local and global approach is one that has been driving CDAC ground-level support for many years, and harnesses global best practice through local channels, sustainably building capacity within response teams.

The project worked to identify the skills capacity, map the community-based Communication and Feedback Mechanisms (CFM) that had been set up, and examine the consultation practices used with both refugee and host communities. Where there was a duplication in mechanisms, CDAC helped to build cooperation and new connections among partners. By being an independent actor supporting coordination, CDAC identified gaps. One was that NGOs supported by the H2H Network and working in Ethiopia found it hard to connect with colleagues in Sudan. By having access to both response networks, CDAC was able to facilitate these connections.

“By coordinating with other H2H Network members working in the context of the H2H Tigray support package in both Ethiopia and Sudan, we were also able to bring humanitarian actors together from both sides of the border.”

FanMan Tsang, Director of Common Services, Capacity Bridging, and Technology, CDAC Network

Another of the gaps identified was within the host community. With the arrival of the refugees, the host community faced issues with their supply of water and firewood. While refugees’ needs were met through the response, many in the host community felt their needs were being ignored. Recommendations resulting from CDAC’s project have been taken up by the Communicating with Communities (CWC) working groups of the Tigray response in order to better address the concerns of the host community and involve them in the response to which they first responded.

With the support of the H2H Network, CCEA training was freely provided to all response actors so that a common skillset and toolkit could be used by all organisations in the response, which facilitated coordination. The project undertaken by CDAC on the Tigray response in Sudan confirms the importance of knitting together all CCEA activities, in order to build more synergies and deliver more collectively, rather than focusing on individual capacities. As humanitarian contexts become more and more complex, a resilient and interlinked approach is needed that allows for the more efficient use of resources to kickstart responses or to provide surge capacity. Fast funding and coordinated efforts of the H2H Network in response to a humanitarian crisis are indispensable in supporting these endeavours.

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Photo by CDAC Network: ToT training with NGO staff –