Analysing problem-solving in the ICRC’s Water and Habitat Department: A humancentric approach
Keywords:WatHab, ICRC, humancentric design, problem-solving
The Water and Habitat department (WatHab) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an engineering department dealing with technical problems in humanitarian contexts. This paper outlines research that used humancentric design (HCD) as a framework to analyse the problem-solving process in the WatHab department. The project took a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis, with 16 interviews conducted with WatHab engineers in five countries. Viewed through a HCD lens, the research found that there are a lack of clear systems within WatHab to include beneficiaries in the problem-solving processes, issues with departmental planning processes, which focus on yearly plans, rather than the longer-term planning needed to respond to the root causes of issues, and a tendency for WatHab staff to think more with their technician hats rather than their humanitarian hats. The research advocates for the importance of creating new and more inclusive solutions, while keeping in mind the realities on the ground and the impossibility of satisfying everyone.
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