Analysing problem-solving in the ICRC’s Water and Habitat Department: A humancentric approach


  • Ahmad Kazouini



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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Author Biography

  • Ahmad Kazouini

    Ahmad is a Syrian citizen. He has three master’s degrees—in structural engineering, an MBA, and a Masters of Humanitarian Leadership. For the last 10 years he has worked for the International Committee of Red Cross in Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia.


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How to Cite

“Analysing problem-solving in the ICRC’s Water and Habitat Department: A humancentric approach” (2023) The Humanitarian Leader, 5(1), p. Working paper 039, September, 2023. doi:10.21153/thl2023art1882.