World Vision International
Blog • Wednesday, February 6th 2019

Active listening to effective decisions: the importance of locally informed context analysis in humanitarian aid

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By Johan Eldebo, Southern Africa Regional Security Director, World Vision International

One may ask what participating at a UN conference in Geneva has in common with conducting rapid context analysis in a remote province in the DRC.

In most ways, it is not a lot.

Yet I think there is one element that they share, from the perspective of a visiting participant.

To maximise your understanding of either of them you must be a very intentional and strategic listener in order to cultivate good relationships. You must decide what your key priorities of learning will be during your visit, yet also maintain an open mind to change your plans if the circumstances so dictate.

This approach of a flexible, listening and intentional approach to understand a conference, or a context, is a cornerstone to the philosophy behind that lead to the creation of the Good Enough Context Analysis for Rapid Response (GECARR). This week at the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week in Geneva, World Vision is demonstrating parts of its journey of developing and using this approach to listen local communities in order to inform safe and sustainable operations.

GECARR is designed to on the one hand be close enough to the local context, through focus discussion and interviews, to hear what people who live there experience. On the other hand, it is designed to be timely, practical and relevant enough to be of use to busy decision-maker working under significant pressure in dangerous areas. The process is participatory to enable people from different agencies to work together, both to form a good understanding of the context as well as to form good relationships with each other that will outlast the process itself.

In the East and the Kasai region of DRC this approach was applied to listen to the local community as well as those displaced and then through those insights design joint action between NGOs and UN agencies. By listening to the voices of children, this initiative also ensured that the voices of the next generation are heard.

By sharing our experience with more partners at the UN this week, we hope that this journey of active listening and joint actions continue to benefit those most vulnerable in the most difficult of places.

To read more about our GECARR tool in action, take a look at our case studies on the DRC and Burundi.