Simply providing humanitarian services and facilities does not guarantee they will adequately and effectively meet everyone’s needs. A participatory approach at all stages of a project is essential for a positive impact on the affected population. The response must be gender-, age and diversity-sensitive, and involve women, girls, boys and men of different ages equally. Yet, in the rush of responding to the most urgent needs, insufficient analysis and attention is given to these issues that largely determine what role you play in society and how you are affected by the emergency. Lack of capacity on how to take gender, age and diversity issues into account, considered too complex, too abstract or too time consuming, needed to be addressed.
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The minimum commitments are a tool meant to make gender sensitive and inclusive programming tangible, simple and practical. First used by country clusters, they became a key resource for the global WASH cluster that developed minimum commitments for the safety and dignity of affected people.Care has been involved from the start in the piloting of the tool and is now working on widening its uptake.
Commitments should reflect key priority issues in a specific sector. They are grounded on a combined analysis of the needs or barriers certain groups may face based on gender, age or diversity, on an understanding of gender dynamics that may lead to vulnerabilities (e.g. discriminatory access to food within the household) and on an analysis of existing challenges on the quality and appropriateness of the assistance provided (what sector teams don’t do well), such as limited access and use of services by all.

The commitments help place affected people at the very centre of the response, supporting a collective reflection on quality and inclusive programming with questions such as:
  • “How well do our needs assessments capture the distinct impact of the crisis on women, men, boys and girls of all ages?"
  • “How consultative are we when planning, implementing, and monitoring our interventions? Is participation inclusive enough? “
  • “Do we give voice to groups at particular risk of violence or who might be unable to access facilities, such as adolescent girls or persons with reduced mobility?”
  • “Are our facilities and services of sufficient quality to meet dignity and safety needs?”
  • “How do we ensure our interventions are on track? Can women and men, the young and the old, equally provide feedback and place complaints?”
  • “What do we do well and less well? How do we deliver a safe and accessible response? How can setting minimum commitments help us collectively address these challenges?”

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The minimum commitments cover core actions or approaches (maximum of five) which sector members should systematically apply in their operational response at each phase of the project cycle. They must be practical, realistic and focus on improving the way the sector teams operate rather than on drastically reorienting programmes. Commitments must be clear about the value they add to current programming and the concrete actions needed to meet them. They should also be measurable for the follow-up and evaluation of their application.
The WASH sector is currently working on widening the uptake and enthusiasm in the minimum commitments and ensure a systematic roll out of the tool. It is taking stock of what have been the benefits and limitations of the tool in pilot countries, namely in Niger, Vanuatu and Nepal.
The food security, nutrition and livelihoods sector is developing minimum commitments and will engage in a consultation within its sector and with selected country offices to ensure that the tools developed reflect common priorities and understanding of what the most efficient approaches would be to improve programming.
You can find below the global WASH minimum commitments, along with the self-assessment questionnaire and traffic light to be used for monitoring, as an example of the tool.