Addressing GBV through refugee-led innovation

Organisation: Rethink Relief

Partners: MIT D-Lab; Caritas (Gulu); Oxfam (America); UNHCR Innovation; ITU (Pakistan)

Location: Uganda and South Sudan

Type of grant: GBV

Status: Completed

  • Mustafa (ICT teacher) Marina (Protection Officer for UNHCR) and Gift (GBV program outreach) working together on a light reflector solution for refugee camp. Credit - Rethink Relief


This project seeks to bring together a group of GBV experts, designers and humanitarian workers to develop a customizable GBV-focused curriculum that engages refugees in the design process, and a plan for the roll-out of a pilot program that uses this curriculum as a means of preventing and reducing gender-based violence.

What humanitarian need is being addressed?

Gender based violence is a massive problem in crises and many relief NGOs do not prioritise GBV prevention. There is an opportunity to address GBV from a new entry point – tapping into the creative capacity of displaced populations by teaching them to use the design process to create solutions that prevent and reduce gender based violence in humanitarian situations.

What is the innovative solution and how will it improve existing humanitarian practice?

The consortium’s innovative approach begins with their belief in and respect for people’s abilities to creates technologies, programs and systems that can improve their lives. Engaging refugees in design not only enables them to create innovative solutions but the process itself empowers them by building their confidence and strengthening their sense of agency. This project brings the people most directly affected by gender based violence to the forefront of creating products and systems that reduce and prevent it. Addressing GBV from this point of entry promotes generative discussions that bring new actors into the conversation about short term solutions and long term systemic change.

Expected Outcomes

Through the creation of a consortium that provides a platform for knowledge sharing and bridging the gap between designers and GBV specialists, we propose to:

  • Bring together GBV experts, designers and humanitarian workers to develop a GBV-focused curriculum that engages refugees in the design process and can be adapted for use in multiple contexts. The curriculum will be based on the technical, hands-on creative capacity building (CCB) approach developed by MIT’s D-Lab.
  • Develop a project proposal for piloting this project on the ground in two or three sites. The plan includes formulating a strategy for using the curriculum to train refugees, establishing and equipping physical maker spaces and developing partnerships with host NGOs for on-going support.
  • Create a monitoring and evaluation framework that builds on the principles of participatory evaluation and Lean Research.

Elrha is hosted by Save the Children, a registered charity in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570).

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