Participation for Humanitarian Innovation Tookit

Created by ELRHA and MIT D-Lab
Created by ELRHA and MIT D-Lab

Partcipation for Humanitarian Innovation Toolkit



The MIT D-Lab Humanitarian Innovation program worked with ELHRA, a global charity that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation, to develop a new resource to drive greater diversity and inclusion within project design and implementation. The Participation for Humanitarian Innovation (PfHI) toolkit sets out a robust approach to setting expectations for and monitoring the degree of participation within research and innovation projects for, with, and by people affected by crisis.

The PfHI toolkit is composed of five tools

  1. Opportunity Adviser: Identify and prioritise the desired benefits of participation while weighing the potential barriers.
  2. Participation Matrix: Agree on the precise degree of participation to target at a given project stage.
  3. Resource Navigator: Select tools and processes to address the needs of stakeholders, the project objectives and context.
  4. Quality Guidance: Ensure engagements are delivered to the highest standard.
  5. Assessment Matrix: Collectively evaluate the degree of participation achieved during an activity or project phase, learn and adapt.

By applying these tools before, during and after a research and/or innovation project, implementors can ensure that stakeholders/end-users are included and participating at the highest possible degree.

We encourage users of the PfHI toolkit to consider how else to integrate the tools into existing practices. For instance, the Evaluation Matrix could be used to supplement existing MEAL activities to:

  •     Establish baselines to measure changes in participation over time.
  •     Track the degree of participation/engagement of stakeholders.
  •     Regularly assess the degree of participation.
  •     Seek feedback from participants about the degree of their participation.
  •     Monitor the progress of activities related to stakeholder engagement.

Our Participation for Humanitarian Innovation toolkit represents our ongoing commitment to responsible research and innovation across our portfolio of grants and for the humanitarian sector more broadly.

We hope you will consider downloading the Partcipation for Humanitarian Innovation Toolkit and using it on your next project!

More information

MIT D-Lab Humanitarian Innovation Program

Paper: The MIT D-Lab Participation Toolkit: A Suite of Tools for Understanding, Characterizing, and Implementing Participation in Development and Humanitarian Contexts


MIT D-Lab Humanitarian Innovation Team