Promoting the participation by affected populations in humanitarian action was a key theme for ALNAP. Effective involvement of affected populations is widely regarded as critical to ensuring the quality and relevance of humanitarian action. Ensuring the participation of affected people also plays an important role in NGO accountability. This is especially important given that humanitarian action often takes place in circumstances where local-authority structures are absent.
Although participative approaches are widespread in the development sector, there is a lack of tools and guidance specifically oriented to the humanitarian environment. ALNAP has aimed to fill this gap through its 'Global Study on Consultation and Participation in Humanitarian Action', which was carried out between 2002 and 2005. The project included reviews of available literature and also six country studies of participation in different humanitarian contexts.
The project culminated with the publication in 2009 by Groupe URD of The Participation Handbook for humanitarian field workers.