Long Read

Social inclusion: leaving no one behind

The second paragraph of Agenda 2030 (SDG) resolution indicates: “All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”

At Simavi, we believe that leaving no one behind means ensuring that everyone is able to fully participate in society and enjoy basic health regardless of their ethno-racial background, financial status, education level, physical or mental ability, religious and faith-based beliefs, gender, marital status, geographical location, sexual orientation, age and other socio-economic circumstances.

However, in our experience, people in hard to reach households (who are generally the poorest of the poor) and those living in remote or slum areas are often excluded from development projects and invisible to decision makers and project/programme managers. Reaching out to these people is therefore essential if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals mission of leaving no one behind.

Leaving no one behind (inclusion) is therefore not just about improving access to services for those who are currently excluded but also empowering people to engage in wider decision making processes to ensure that everybody’s rights and needs are recognised.

The Simavi approach

As inclusion is very context oriented, and involves many different aspects, a key part of our inclusion approach is working with local communities and partners to identify the disadvantaged groups within the specific context of the intervention.

Our general approach is a methodology of programme design and programme implementation with two objectives:

  1. Identifying the most disadvantaged group within a community and improving: A) Its participation in the community; B) Its decision making process.
  2. Strengthening the capacity of Simavi and its partners to be more inclusive as: A) An organisation; B) As a programme designer and implementer.

What does our inclusion approach aim to achieve?

Simavi’s mission is to ensure a healthy life for all. We don’t see health as merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Following the WHO’s guidelines, we define health as complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, three diverse values that are strongly interconnected.

Therefore, when implementing our inclusion approach, we aim to:

  • Improve the mental and social wellbeing of disadvantaged people
  • Improve Simavi and our partner organisations’ capacity to be inclusive as an organisation and as a programme designer and implementer

Why do we use the inclusion approach within Simavi’s programmes?

Because it is supports two of our strategic goals:

1. Achieve greater impact by implementing programmes with a focus on inclusion and making sure everyone within a community will benefit from the programme.

  • Increase the number of people reached.
    The most disadvantaged people are often the most difficult people to reach with our interventions. Therefore to fulfil our mission we need to go and reach the unreached.
  • Deepen the impact on people’s lives.
    People’s behaviour has consequences on others. In our experience more inclusive communities are better able to change as a group. Therefore in order to effect sustainable change that is beneficial for all, we need to ensure that every member of a community practices healthy behaviour.
  • Ensure equal rights (and the ability to exercise them) for all
    Equal rights and justice are at the heart of Simavi’s values and mission. To ensure every member of a community is able to fully exercise his or her rights and make his or her own choices, our programmes must pay extra attention to marginalised people.

2. Develop expertise in: A) Designing inclusive programmes, hand in hand with local partners and beneficiaries; B) Strengthening our partners’ capacity to be more inclusive and to implement inclusive programmes

  • Become an expert at designing inclusive programmes using a participatory approach
    At the core of Simavi’s way of working is the idea that programmes should be designed together with the partner organisations. Our inclusion approach pushes this idea further by stating that programmes should be designed together with the target population.
  • Enhance awareness and improve practices regarding inclusion within the partner organisation, and in the way the partner organisation implements its programmes
    Strengthening partners’ capacity is not just Simavi’s role, it’s our expertise and the extra value we can add to a programme. Our inclusion approach is a way to achieve this objective and to ensure sustainable programme results.

We have developed two main tools to help us improve inclusiveness in our programme and our partner organisations:

  1. Leaving No One Behind Through adopting an Inclusion Lens”: this tool explains the WASH Alliance International’s (WAI) ambition on “Leaving no one behind” in our WASH programme and provides background information on inclusion, dimensions of inclusion and exclusion and barriers to achieve inclusion. It also includes a tool to develop “Inclusion Lens” to take into account the important aspects for “leaving no one behind” when designing, implementing and reviewing WASH programmes. This tool can be used by any organisation who’d like to implement inclusive WASH programmes.
  2. “Organisation Inclusion Assessment Tool”: this tool and its manual have been developed to help us and our partner organisations become more inclusive and leaving no one behind, neither in our interventions nor in organisations. This tools looks at eight different “Focus Areas” namely, Leadership and Accountability; Commitment of Resources; Planning, Implementation and Measurement; Services, Citizens and Community Engagement; Human Resource Policies and Practices; Employee Engagement and Education; and Response to Incidents. It also includes suggestions for strategies and action plan to improve inclusion level of the organisation for each of these Focus Areas. This tool can be used by any organisation that is eager to improve its inclusiveness.

For questions and comments please contact Sara Ahrari.



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