In the last two decades, we have seen a proliferation of approaches to enhance protection and reach all people affected by crises, including accountability, protection mainstreaming, gender mainstreaming, safeguarding and inclusion of older people and people with disabilities. Over recent years, CAFOD has worked on a joined-up approach, bringing together these workstreams and putting intersectionality at the core. The result has been the development of SADI, an approach that can be applied to any type of programme to ensure that it prioritises the safety of programme participants, that traditionally marginalised groups are enabled to access and participate, and everyone’s inherent dignity is respected in all interactions. SADI is particularly relevant for preparedness, helping organisations take actions ahead of emergencies and ensuring they are able to deliver a high-quality and safe response when the time comes.
The approach operationalises concepts such as inclusive community engagement by focusing on particularly vulnerable groups, including older people and people with disabilities. It is helping to mainstream meaningful participation and accessibility, and reasonable adaptations, and challenging the belief that anything related to disability is the area of specialists only. It does so by enhancing the capacity of staff and partner organisations on inclusion through training and one-to-one support, promoting the use and analysis of sex, age, disability and diversity (SADD) data, promoting the development of practical tools that help staff in the field implement guidelines, as well as capturing their voices in improving them, and not least promoting the set-up of supportive, inclusive structures and processes to enable a culture of accountability to communities in all their diversity.
What is SADI?
SADI is not about what an organisation does, but about how it does it. It is an approach, a framework and a toolkit, built on intersectionality – the understanding that one’s experience of conflict and poverty, as well as privilege and opportunity, is defined by not one but many intersecting identities, determined by one’s age, gender, physical ability and membership of various locally defined domains of diversity and exclusion, including religion, race, ethnicity and displacement status.
SADI builds on the Protection Mainstreaming Package developed by the Caritas Inter-Agency Protection Mainstreaming Working Group (PMWG). It goes further, however, in integrating organisational safeguarding and building in an integral ecology perspective. It can be applied as a self-assessment tool, to guide programme design processes and for quick reference. The framework underpinning it has nine core components (see Figure 2). Each component has a statement of good practice, indicators to establish a programme’s level of adherence, and guiding questions to support practical application and understanding.
Why is SADI important for our work?
- Implementing safe, accessible, dignified and inclusive programming is central to delivering quality programmes.
- SADI supports accountability by addressing power imbalances and responding to the diverse voices of people in the communities served, with attention to those who are traditionally excluded, such as women, youth, older people and people with disabilities.
- SADI is benchmarked against good practices for safeguarding in international development work.
- It recognises the fundamental relationship between human development and environmental protection, thus adopting a holistic approach to people and the environment.
- Finally, inclusionhas gradually grown to be a central focus of our work, and SADI provides the bedrock on which we can build, ensuring that everyone understands adaptive programming and is aware of the diversity of needs within communities, and that our ways of working promote the inclusion of people who might be traditionally excluded.
How does it work?
The nine components, taken together and approached in an intersectional way, are about operationalising inclusive programming. Weaved through each component is the SADD-SAD approach, which requires an analysis of how sex/gender, age, disability and other relevant domains of diversity and exclusion will impact on the safety, access and dignity of diverse groups.
Homing in on the analysis component, the SADD-SAD approach ensures an inclusive data collection process and the collection of SADD- disaggregated data, which can provide information on power dynamics and existing capacities, and on the domains of diversity and exclusion in the local context. This in turn helps break down the idea of a homogenous community, bringing into focus the diverse groups within that community, and their needs, vulnerabilities and capacities.
Bespoke practical tools are being created and adapted at each component level. One example is an inclusive protection risk analysis tool. In a first stage, the programme team, ideally in collaboration with representatives of diverse groups in the community, assesses the risks relevant to their context, under categories such as sexual and gender-based violence, exclusion and lack of access to services and safeguarding, and whether the proposed project design may directly or indirectly increase those risks. This is followed by a reflection on whether specific groups such as people with disabilities or older people may be facing exacerbated risks, what capacities they have to mitigate them and, crucially, what adaptations can be put in place to enable full safe, accessible and dignified participation.
The organisational safeguarding component focuses on the internal systems and policies that need to be in place to deliver safe programming. These cover areas such as safe recruitment, safeguarding policies, staff training and safe and responsive mechanisms for handling sensitive complaints. A safeguarding profile is developed in dialogue with local partners to assess and record what measures are in place and draw up a plan to address safeguarding challenges.
Rolling out SADI was a multi-level process, which required assembling a distinct team to design a product that marries global best practice with internal ways of working, the investment of time and resources across the organisation and strong leadership. A steering committee, bringing together department heads across the organisation, provided critical organisational buy-in and governance. In a first stage, more than 300 people participated in week-long SADI training sessions globally. Following these workshops, local partner organisations and CAFOD teams developed action plans to work on over the following months. The establishment of an internal programme development and MEAL fund was a key component. Where the action plans revealed areas needing further investment, partner organisations could apply for grants as well as access technical expertise. Another key component was the establishment of a SADI focal point network. In each country programme, one person was identified to be further upskilled in the various tools that form SADI, to continuously support the team and partners locally, induct new staff members into the SADI approach from the start and, perhaps most critically, lead on the contextualisation process.
An example from the field: the Democratic Republic of Congo experience
Implementing SADI across all country programmes is an ongoing process, with tools still being designed and adapted, people still being trained and brought on board with the approach, and a continuous process of reiteration.
One of the most valuable lessons has been recognising the importance of encouraging and facilitating a process through which SADI can further develop and adapt to the local context. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, CAFOD DRC worked with a local partner organisation, the Centre Olame in Mwenga, to establish an inclusive feedback and complaints mechanism as part of an initiative to engage the community in the Ebola response. As we see now with Covid-19 as well, risk communication and community engagement will only work if supportive, inclusive structures and processes are put in place to ensure that people, particularly those who may be disproportionately disadvantaged, such as women, girls, children, young men, persons living with disabilities and older people, take a lead. As part of the response, picture books in Swahili explored the ‘how’ of engaging with the organisation to provide feedback and complaints, using gender-, age- and disability-inclusive displays. This encouraged people with disabilities to participate in the project committee, and contributing to the programme helped them to feel empowered, included and valuable in their community. According to the Centre Olame: ‘The feedback we receive is … a way for us to improve ourselves and allow others to improve the way they work and integrate into the community. Feedback and complaints can also allow us to change the strategy of our interventions and adapt them to the customs and habits of the communities we serve’. Being inclusive was at the core of dispelling rumours, engaging in a continuous dialogue that spoke directly to the specific questions people in small communities had, and helped stop the spread of the disease in target areas.
To support the age, gender and diversity analysis and promote the inclusion of people with disabilities, in DRC CAFOD partner organisations started using the Washington Group questions to improve the quality of SADD data. However, through this process it became apparent that it can be difficult to identify and calculate the number of persons with disabilities in a target population, to some extent because targeting in many humanitarian projects happens at the household level, whereas global-level guidelines tend to be at an individual level. Equally challenging has been to move inclusion as practice away from a numerical and statistical approach. The focus often rests on disaggregated data, instead of adaptations, a process that requires either more flexible budgets, which account for ‘reasonable accommodations’, or an openness to introducing such programme adaptations at a later stage. It became apparent that it was necessary to develop localised and context-based guidance and tools, building on global ones.
This process identified gaps in the targeting process. In early 2020, CAFOD DRC secured a grant from the Start Fund to create a tool to facilitate a consistent approach to targeting and data collection. As inclusive community participation was the starting point of the design, the tools and processes coming out offer exciting opportunities to reach people in all their diversity by including variables relating to groups with specific needs. The tool combines social vulnerability criteria with food consumption scores and material vulnerability, enabling programmes to better capture intersectionality. The approach integrated ‘data-driven’ targeting with consultations with diverse groups at each stage of the process. Selection committees included representatives of women’s associations, associations of people with disabilities and the elderly. We are now looking at how to broaden the scope of this work and use the learning from it to improve targeting practices in other regions where CAFOD partners operate.
Inclusion of groups such as older people and people with disabilities requires a shift in the way we work, where we place our attention and the processes and tools we use. Mainstreaming inclusion cannot come at the expense of other workstreams, such as gender mainstreaming or safeguarding. With its focus on intersectionality, SADI is one attempt to do this.
Mirela Turcanu is Emergency Response Officer, Protection, in the CAFOD London office. Yves Ngunzi Kahashi is Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Advisor with CAFOD in DRC.