Participation in fragility and Do-No-Harm

Before putting into practice your participation activities, consider asking yourselves crucial, context-specific questions to mitigate any potential adverse effects or heightened risks, particularly in fragile contexts.

Some guiding questions while setting up your participation process:


⦁ Are there any conflicts, significant levels of hostility between groups, or patterns of discrimination in the project context that could play a role in the participation process that you would like to implement?

⦁ What is the track record of participation in the context? What is associated with participative processes?


⦁ Are conditions given for participants to freely voice their opinions?

⦁ Could participation in the process increase the risk of violence or discrimination for any of the participants?

⦁ Does the participative process strengthen the power of social, environmental, human rights, gender, political, etc. activists, touching existing power structures and therefore endanger these participants?

⦁ Are civil society actors who represent the population recognized as such?

Digital participation

⦁ What kind of data produced during the participation process could be considered sensitive or could be misused?

⦁ Do all envisaged participants have access and are familiar and literate with applied digital tools and platforms?

⦁ Can applied digital tools or platforms be used with bad intentions (e.g. online harassment?)


⦁ Are women, girls and LGBTQI+ people adequately represented in the participation activity according to the context?

⦁ Could the participation activity unintentionally contribute to gender-specific risks?

Methodology and facilitation

⦁ Could women, girls or LGBTQI+ be negatively impacted by the chosen participation method?

⦁ Does the chosen method facilitate dialogue on eye level and equal participation and voicing of opinions?

⦁ How far is the process facilitation experienced and sensitive in ideally impeding but also dealing with conflict escalation and participants’ potential trauma due to sensitive topics?

⦁ May the chosen methodology discourage relevant individuals / groups from participation?

Misuse of the process

⦁ Could an actor or group seek to highjack or instrumentalize the participation process or its results to escalate the conflict, gain legitimacy, or justify existing patterns of discrimination?

⦁ Could the participation activity be affected by corruption / misuse for one group’s own purposes?

⦁ Could the participation activity or the outcome of the activity unintentionally increase tendencies to adopt radical positions/mobilize people against certain social groups?


⦁ Are there incentives for participation directed only at one group (e.g. paying travel expenses)?

⦁ What may be unintended negative impacts on climate and environment through the selection of the setting, the location, use of land or resources, the required travel or any specific activity related to the action?

⦁ What may be unintended negative impacts regarding the security of the participatory process through the selection of the setting, the location, the required travel or any digital application?

Suggestions and inspirations for mitigating measures, please click here.

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