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PSEA Community Outreach and Communication Fund

Image above: The NGO Associazione Italiana Amici de Raoul Follereau (AIFO) and community members discuss how to report SEA. Mozambique. @UNHCR.

The PSEA Community Outreach and Communication Fund was launched in 2020 in partnership with the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) as an initiative of the IASC High Commissioner’s Championship on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment.

The Fund provides support to small nongovernmental organizations aiming at raising community awareness and ensuring that victims know where and how to safely report incidents.

The Fund

The Fund aims to support the critical work that Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) do every day to ensure that refugees are fully aware that humanitarian assistance is never conditional on any transaction or exchange of any kind and to prevent situations of sexual exploitation and abuse. The Fund also invests in community-led efforts to help ensure that refugee victims/survivors know how and where to safely report SEA, which is vital to respond to these unacceptable abuses in a timely and victim-centred manner. 

Addressing new realities and challenges

The Fund has generated tremendous interest from NGOs, community-based organizations, safeguarding experts and other humanitarian actors involved in Protection from Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Sexual Harassment activities. In 2020, the Fund financially supported 19 NGOs (see full list here) This financial support was particularly timely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to devastating livelihoods in already-fragile economies, leaving people affected by humanitarian crises at greater risk of sexual exploitation and abuse, the pandemic has led to isolation measures which can make it more difficult to access for victims to report abuse. Evidence indicates that the impact and risks are greatest for women and girls.


Image Left: The NGO GRID engages Women with Disabilities in communities to connect them with SEA Prevention and Response Support Services. @UNHCR.

In 2021, the Fund made grants to 15 NGOs and received the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office (see full list here). The NGO projects supported through this initiative have developed community engagement materials in approximately 30 languages, tailored to reach over 20 different Age, Gender, Diversity (AGD) profiles through 40 types of materials, including print, video, audio, and community discussion guides, amongst others. These materials have been compiled in a searchable database which will make the products available to all IASC members and PSEA stakeholders in open-source for their use and further adaptation as needed. In 2021, all funded projects include dedicated attention to mitigating constraints and risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including with respect to its disproportionate impacts on women and girls. The funded projects emphasized community-led initiatives to support affected people in assuming leadership roles to reinforce PSEA messaging and standards, with particular emphasis on ensuring that community-engagement materials meet local and diverse needs. In addition, a range of projects are harnessing community feedback and input to strengthen feedback and response mechanisms to ensure they are accessible, trusted, reachable and effective.

An interagency Steering Group of PSEA experts carefully reviews all eligible applications, giving priority consideration to proposals that demonstrate consultation with refugees and affected people in the development of their proposals, particularly with women and girls, as well as meaningful efforts to sustain this engagement throughout the lifespan of the project. This includes undertaking regular and ongoing consultation with key groups —such as people with disabilities, members of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) minorities, adolescent girls and people in geographically isolated areas — to ensure that the content of awareness-raising campaigns is appropriate and effective and that the selected communication channels meet local and diverse needs.

This group of PSEA experts includes UNHCR, ICVA as well as organizations that bring specialized expertise in strengthening communicating with communities, including Translators without Borders and the Communications with Disaster-affected Communities Network, as well as organizations that have pioneered work on safeguarding and community-based complaints mechanisms, such as UNICEF, Oxfam, IOM, Care International and Girls Not Brides. The Steering Group also provides technical support to all selected projects.