PSEA Community Outreach and Communication Fund
Launching the PSEA Fund
In February 2020, UNHCR and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) partnered to launch the PSEA Community Outreach and Communication Fund (PSEA Outreach Fund). This initiative of the High Commissioner’s IASC Championship on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment (SH) was established to support the critical work that NGOs do every day to ensure that people we serve 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 victims/survivors know how and where to safely report SEA, which is vital to respond to these unacceptable abuses in a timely and survivor-centered manner. The initiative is rooted in the recognition that local capacities and expertise, including that of affected communities themselves, are indispensable to effectively reinforcing protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.
Addressing New Realities and Challenges
The PSEA Outreach Fund has generated tremendous interest from NGOs, community-based organizations, safeguarding experts and other humanitarian actors involved in PSEA activities. The Fund received over 1,600 grant applications from NGOs worldwide, operating in all regions and humanitarian contexts.
This financial support is particularly timely as there is increasing concern among humanitarian workers about 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 SEA, 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.
Many of the grant applications featured innovative approaches to mitigate the specific risks and operational challenges posed by COVID-19. Some projects, for instance, plan to fully integrate awareness-raising on PSEA issues in tandem with public health messaging on COVID-19. Others are using digital engagement and meetings with small, targeted community groups to ensure that their projects remain firmly grounded in consultation with affected people, whilst maintaining social distancing and other measures to minimize risks of infection. In addition, a range of projects aim to strengthen community awareness and seek community feedback on whether complaint mechanisms require updating or improvement to be accessible, trusted, reachable and effective.
Contributions from PSEA Experts
A group of PSEA experts carefully reviewed all eligible applications, giving priority consideration to proposals that demonstrated consultation with 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. These consultations aim 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 (TWB) and the Communications with Disaster-affected Communities (CDAC) Network, as well as organizations that have pioneered work on safeguarding and community-based complaints mechanisms, such as UNICEF, IOM and OxFam. Key members from this group have also offered to provide targeted technical support to projects selected for funding in 2020.