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As part of its Gender Based Violence (GBV) innovation programme supported by SIDA, and drawing on global consultations and literature reviews, the HIF identified interest and potential opportunities for synergies between those with humanitarian GBV expertise and those from beyond the sector working in various aspects of innovation and design practice.

These cross-sector conversations were initiated late last year by hosting a workshop in London convening leading research and practitioner experts in GBV, as well as those working with creative approaches to solving problems, such as human-centred design actors applying agile thinking and behavioural science approaches to humanitarian challenges.

Leading on from this inception workshop, seed funding has been made available to foster the creation of new, cross-sector collaborations to tackle GBV in humanitarian settings. Proposals needed to be exploratory in nature and could encompass any area of GBV in emergencies.

Five £10,000 grants have been initially chosen to be awarded to cohorts with diverse skills and approaches.

Here, we introduce the first three teams, with more to follow!


Introducing the teams…

Formative research to explore a mobile phone-based platform to address gender-based violence among adolescent Syrian refugees


Lead partner: Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA)
Main location: Turkey

The Team

The humanitarian problem:

The Syrian conflict has led to widespread displacement with two million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey. In Izmir, there are an estimated 150,000 refugees, with the majority living in informal settlements. Women and children are at risk of gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual, physical and psychological violence, with adolescents also at risk of abuse and exploitation and early marriage; however, there are few interventions focused on adolescent refugees. Innovation is needed to facilitate data collection, mapping and reporting and referral in this context.

The innovative approach:

GBV response programming in refugee contexts typically comprises facility-based service provision; however, these services may not target or be accessible to adolescents. Furthermore, restrictive cultural, gender and social norms may limit utilisation of GBV services. Innovative approaches using mobile phone-based or online platforms may be relevant for young people as end-users of technology, and for collecting data on sensitive topics such as GBV.

The project:

The proposed consortium aims to address GBV among Syrian adolescent refugees in Izmir, Turkey, by conducting formative research to develop and pilot test a GBV response intervention.

Activities will include:

  • Determining GBV risks among Syrian adolescents and exploring opportunities for using a mobile phone-based platform (Phase 1). Approach: observational research, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with adolescents and community members.
  • Conducting a youth-led community mapping exercise of local GBV danger zones and safe zones for adolescents in the community (Phase 2). Approach: participatory methods, observation and piloting of rapidPro among adolescents.
  • Assembling key partners to share knowledge about Syrian adolescents and GBV in Turkey, including identification of GBV referral networks in Izmir. Approach: half-day workshop in Izmir with in-country organisations.

This project brings together a promising breadth of expertise and experience in:

  • GBV, public health innovations, and mixed research methodologies and participatory methods related to GBV and refugees, including Syrian refugees
  • Providing health and social services to refugees
  • Human-centered design process focused on the end-user and formative research approaches to inform design thinking


Supporting refugee-survivors of SGBV who have a communication disability

Lead partner
: Manchester Metropolitan University
Main location: Rwanda

The Team:

The humanitarian problem:

by their nature, communication disabilities make the reporting of GBV challenging or impossible. UNHCR and other humanitarian stakeholders in Rwanda have identified an urgent need for social models of support that involve sensitising and training front-line workers to increase awareness of, and sensitivity to, the particular issues of persons with communication disabilities in reporting, accessing legal redress and receiving psychosocial/medical and safety support.

The innovative approach:

this project has potential to support the further understanding of the intersectional nature of GBV and the multifaceted vulnerability of persons with intersecting inequalities. The relative stability of the Rwandan context provides a good opportunity for exploration, and the results of the analysis may be able to be applied further afield.

The project:

a consortium will be developed to understand and describe the nature and size of the challenge of supporting GBV-survivors with communication disabilities in refugee contexts in Rwanda. Activities will include a literature search, a workshop, field visits and the elaboration of recommendations to develop adequate responses to ensure that, like others, persons with communication disabilities are able to disclose instances of GBV and benefit from equitable access to appropriate safety plans and psychosocial and medical services, thereby exercising their right to legal redress and support.

This project brings together a promising breadth of expertise  and experience:

  • Communication Disability and Development
  • Speech and Language therapy and disability/social inclusion
  • Operational SGBV experience
  • Inclusive Design

Addressing GBV through refugee led innovation

Lead partner: Rethink Relief
Main location: Uganda – South Sudan

The Team

The humanitarian problem:

Gender based violence is a massive problem in crises and many relief NGOs do not prioritize GBV prevention. We see a real opportunity to address GBV from a new entry point; innovation, tapping into the enormous creative potential of the displaced to participate in developing solutions to improve their lives. We can adapt our experiences in engaging and training NGOs, refugees and displaced in the design process around ways to prevent and reduce GBV while sparking generative discussions among different actors. The technical hands-on creative capacity building (CCB) approach developed by MIT’s D-Lab can be used to teach refugees the design process. Engaging them in design empowers them and enables them to create innovative technologies, products and systems that are better suited to meet their needs. This proposal seeks to create a core group of stakeholders to develop an effective approach for this work.

The innovative approach:

Empowering refugees to have a say in the products and services they use. A design process will be put in place to create generative discussion about GBV, bringing different actors into the debate from new entry points.

The project:

GBV-focused curriculum that engages refugees in the design process and that can be adapted for use in multiple contexts. We will have an understanding of the possible mechanisms for NGOs to support and follow up with solutions that have been designed and created by the refugees and displaced. The consortium will have a strategy for piloting and refining the training, including a plan for developing tools for monitoring and evaluation. We will have a fully developed proposal for carrying the work forward.

This project brings together a promising breadth of expertise  and experience:

  • Inclusive design, humanitarian innovation, training, networks humanitarian innovation
  • SGBV programs in humanitarian situations, humanitarian experience, gender focus
    collaboration with SGBV and innovation
  • Psycho-social work IDPs and refugees
  • SGBV in humanitarian situations

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