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Implementation by phases of the emergency

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • One benefit of the framework is to assist those working in humanitarian settings to consider how to introduce programming strategically—so that efforts are not reactive, based on emergency needs (as is often the case in humanitarian settings), but proactive, based on an overarching goal of developing a comprehensive approach to addressing VAWG.
  •  It is useful to consider how to prioritize the implementation of the strategic framework.  In an acute emergency, the primary focus may be on operational response/ services, because the infrastructure may not exist to support systemic or structural reform.  However, as situations stabilize, efforts must be expanded in order to build the capacity of systems—across all the primary sectors—to monitor VAWG and respond when an incident occurs.    When governments are reinstated and there is a functioning judiciary, it is important to initiate the process of structural reform, to ensure that there is comprehensive legislation that is effectively implemented to protect women and girls from VAWG, and to punish perpetrators when an incident occurs.  Policies (designed by relevant ministries) are also an important part of structural reform, because they reinforce systemic reform across all sectors (i.e. health policy that included medical management of rape as a part of all hospital services). 
  • The following suggests a general outline for interventions according to phases of humanitarian response.  However, it is critical to recognize that every setting will be different, and the process of scaling up interventions may not fit neatly into the categories outline below.  Interventions must be adapted according to local needs.
    • Acute Emergency:  Focus on Delivery of Services
      • Direct health and psychosocial services to survivors
      • Community awareness-raising about services
      • Interagency coordination group
      • Basic SOPs
    • Stable Phase: Add Systemic Reform
      • Agency protocols and systems development
      • Data collection and monitoring
      • Legal Assistance and Court Processes
    • Post Conflict:  Add Structural Reform
      • Policy development for key sectors
      • Government-led coordination
      • Legislative reform
Example:  The implementation of the project funded by CIDA in South Kivu is an illustrative example: Indeed, early in the project (which lasted four years), we focused on the provision / supply of services, including pre-positioning of PEP kits, training providers, management of medical services, and the implementation of psychosocial counseling centers. Gradually, as the situation improved, we have carried out actions in two areas: coordination and legal and judicial support. The coordination has increasingly been asserted by setting up land commissions that fight against sexual violence, and within these frameworks, in which medical providers, police, local NGOs, and traditional leaders were present, we were able to discuss approaches, gaps to be filled, etc. The legal empowerment has taken lots of time because we had to wait until the government could strengthen the judicial system, which also takes time. Currently, the project is underway to receive an extension, and we intend to strengthen government leadership and address the harmonization of the various empowerment protocols.
Example:  In Zimbabwe there was the ‘Operation Clean Up’ which started off as an emergency and transitioned to protracted relief. During the emergency period, community awareness on GBV was conducted using drama and IEC materials. The health system was supported with PEP kits and related drugs. Psycho-social support was also offered to survivors. In the protracted relief stage, survivors and the entire community were assisted with permanent shelter and livelihoods activities. During the distribution of food and non-food items, shelter, livelihoods and health related projects awareness sessions were held. Another entry point used was during the reception of deported migrants at the border posts. Information on GBV and response services were offered in a multi sectoral way. During the ‘Operation Clean Up’ all affected people were relocated and assisted equally. Cases of GBV were handled in a confidential manner by training cadres at community level who assisted in referring cases the appropriated service providers.

  • The checklist below, developed as tool for VAWG actors working in Northern Uganda, summarizes many of the key objectives of comprehensive response programming. A checklist such as this can be used to help local partners envisage the broad goals of multi-sectoral programming.

Standards for Good Quality Response activities


  • The guiding principles on gender-based violence are understood and used by all staff


  • Trainings and sensitizations are conducted on topics of human rights, relevant national and international laws and policies, gender, gender-based violence for actors in all sectors, all organizations
  • “Refresher” workshops and activities are regularly scheduled for all actors to continue influencing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior toward gender equity, appropriate response to survivors, and prevention of gender-based violence


  • Women and men leaders, influential community members, and any other interested people actively participate in programmed planning, monitoring, and evaluation – including decisions, activities, meetings, discussions, and training events
  • The community establishes and maintains volunteer networks for crisis response, peer counseling and advocacy, community education and awareness raising.  NGOs, UNHCR, and host government authorities support these efforts through regular training and ongoing assistance


  • Easily accessible healthcare is provided
  • Treatment is administered by trained staff using appropriate protocols and with adequate equipment, supplies, and medicine
  • All patients are actively screened for gender-based violence
  • Patients are referred (and provided transport) to appropriate levels of care when needed
  • Follow-up care is provided to all survivors of gender-based violence
  • Healthcare professionals testify in court about medical findings, if survivor chooses to pursue police action
  • Healthcare professionals collaborate with traditional health practitioners in their response activities
  • All data on gender-based violence is collected, documented and analyzed
  • Healthcare services are continuously monitored, including access and quality of services
  • The health needs of survivors are consistently monitored
  • Strategies are identified and designed to address contributing factors, such as alcoholism and drug abuse
  • Healthcare professionals advocate on behalf of survivors for protection, security, safety to address laws and policies that may conflict with survivor rights and/or survivor needs
  • Regular collaboration, trainings and sensitizations occur among health staff, traditional practitioners, and the community


  • Sensitizations and awareness-raising activities are conducted on protection, human rights, gender and gender-based violence to raise awareness about assistance available
  • A designated place or places are established where survivors can go to receive compassionate, caring, appropriate, and confidential assistance
  • Crisis counseling for survivors and families is provided with referrals for ongoing emotional support if needed
  • Traditional healing or cleansing practices that survivors perceive as helpful and useful in their recovery are used to respond to traumatic or painful events
  • Advocacy and assistance for survivors is provided with healthcare, police and security forces, the legal and justice system, and other services
  • Group activities are planned for survivors and other women that focus on building support networks, community reintegration, building confidence and skills, and promoting economic empowerment


  • Gender-based crimes are rigorously prosecuted with minimal delays and disruptions to the process
  • Legal advise and support is provided for survivors and witnesses
  • Transportation, meals, overnight accommodation are provided as needed for survivor and witness attendance at court
  • Court proceedings are monitored and key legal actors advocate as necessary to prevent delays and dismissals in criminal proceedings


  • Plans, strategies, and options are in place for immediate protection of survivors
  • Incident data and communication is analyzed with all actors and the community concerning security risks and issues
  • Security workers are present, especially after dark and in high risk areas

If survivor chooses to report the incident to the police:

  • Interviews are conducted in private space
  • Investigations are immediate and alleged perpetrators apprehended as soon as possible
  • Laws, policies and procedures for forwarding the case to the legal/justice system are used appropriately


  • Methods for reporting and referrals among and between different actors are established and continuously reviewed.
  • A Intake and Assessment Form is agreed upon and used consistently by all actors receiving referrals of cases of gender-based violence.
  • Written reports, especially monitoring and evaluation reports and incident data, are shared among actors and stakeholders
  • Regular meetings of key actors and stakeholders are convened to share information, analyze activities for improvement, provide guidance and assistance, problem-solve particularly complex or difficult cases, co-ordinate activities, and build shared ownership of gender-based violence programs.