4. What not to do: Do no harm and other common mistakes

  • Seeing only vulnerabilities and not recognising capacities
  • Overburdening communities-expecting so much participation that it places additional burden on those participating
  • Expecting participation without providing assistance, e.g. spending a lot of time with communities asking questions for assessment purposes without actually delivering relief
  • Making plans and arrangements for participation which make it not possible for certain groups to participate, e.g. holding meetings at prayer time so that certain religious groups can’t attend, or at meal times when women are commonly preparing food for the family
  • Only working with people with the ‘obvious’ participants-those who step forward and overlooking other members of the community. Commonly, men are more willing to step forward to be involved than women. NGOs who don’t make a specific effort to engage women end up with many men participating but few women.