Access to Protection: The Role of Community Protection Actors – Case Studies, Challenges, and Opportunities

Humanitarian access is a two-pronged concept, comprising both humanitarian actors’ ability to reach populations in need and the affected populations’ access to assistance and services.This concept focuses primarily on the latter, while making substantive links to the former, with the intention of complementing and cross-referencing other sessions in the GPF. The humanitarian community currently tends to focus primarily on access of humanitarian actors to populations in need of protection, versus communities and affected persons’ ability to access services and protection, placing humanitarians, primarily international, at the centre of the discussion.

This session seeks to put a spotlight on the second part of access, expanding the understanding of access that is about crisis-affected communities’ access to protection services and support, to raise awareness of the role of community-based actors including national and local organisations, civil society, and community protection structures and leaders in this element of ‘access’. For these community protection actors, many of whom work within the communities where they live, concepts of ‘access’ are indeed quite different. They support communities and individuals in addressing “every day” access challenges, such as supporting a woman and her children to pay safely through a checkpoint or speaking to a police unit about their conduct in the market making it a safe place to buy and sell goods. Community actors negotiate for and enable access by external protection actors such as INGOs; support and enable access to protection services for members of their communities and carry out a myriad of advocacy, negotiation and influencing actions with duty bearers to better protect their community and address safety concerns.