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What humanitarian need is being addressed?

Incontinence is often considered a condition related to age or disability, yet best estimates indicate that almost 1 in 10 children aged seven will leak urine during the day; and up to 1 in 5 children aged five will wet the bed. Prevalence rates may be higher in emergency contexts as exposure to stress can contribute to bedwetting in children.

If children with incontinence face barriers to accessing facilities and services to manage the condition, their physical health can suffer (rashes, infections, pressure sores, dehydration). They can also miss out on educational opportunities, and have increased protection risks due to stigma.

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

There is little guidance specifically applicable to children participating in research and programming in emergency contexts. Researchers can therefore feel overwhelmed by the decisions that need to be made to determine whether and how children participate in research being conducted in such complex settings. But very little is known about how displaced children understand and experience health, and particularly sensitive conditions such as incontinence.

The Leeds-led partnership will therefore co-create qualitative participatory data collection tools to better understand the toileting behaviours of children aged five to 11. The project will also seek to understand child and caregiver awareness, understanding of and attitudes towards incontinence.

What are the expected outcomes?

  • To understand better the scope and scale of children living with incontinence in humanitarian contexts and how it affects those children living with it and their caregivers.
  • To make recommendations for next steps including how to support such children and their caregivers.
  • To develop a methodology that can be used in humanitarian context to discuss sensitive issues with children to improve programming across multiple sectors.

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