Co-design (sometimes known as participatory design) is a design approach that actively involves you as a stakeholder in the 121 design process. During co-design sessions, we want to hear from you, but also actively involve you and your ideas in the design process. We do this in the context of Human Centered Design (HCD).


Co-designing helps all of us to understand each other’s needs and the different environments we find ourselves in when using 121. It enables you to be part of a diverse group of people with real experience with disasters to make a contribution to the formulation and solution of a problem. It also ensures that you as the user have access to a 121 system that meets your needs and is easy to use.


In order for the 121 system to succeed, it needs to meet your needs as a stakeholder belonging to the following three potential user groups:

1. People Affected (PA)
2. Aid Workers (AW) In situ & In HQ
3. People Donating (PD) In country affected and Globally

This is why we aim to involve all three groups equally in the 121 co-design process.


121’s goal is to provide Cash Based Aid (CBA) to your community when you are in need of it. The system will need to work when you are affected by any type of disaster, both natural and man-made, and whether you belong to a highly digitally connected society (familiar with digital solutions), or a society with little to no digital connectivity (unfamiliar with digital solutions).


121 will also facilitate the registration, inclusion and distribution of CBA, processes that you as an aid worker assist with on a regular basis. To achieve this, the system will need to meet your needs and the protocols you use while working for your humanitarian organization in a particular disaster context.


If you are a local or global donor to CBA programs, 121’s goal is to facilitate your donations by making them faster and easier.


Each Co-design session is set up in the same way, regardless of which stakeholder group you belong to. This is done to ensure your insights and feedback and those of other stakeholders will weigh equally on the final system design, especially on the functionalities intended for your part of the system. To maintain your privacy, we use responsible methods of capturing the data. This means that no quote can be mapped back to you as an individual. We also state at the beginning of the session that there are no right or wrong answers. We are simply interested in what you think and need so that we can make the best 121 for all to use.

PART 1: Establishing Your Digital world (10 minutes)

In the first ten minutes of the session, we ask:

“Do you have a digital device?”
“Do you have access to a digital device?”
“How do you use your/proxy digital device?”

It will give us more insight in the following aspects:

-Digital Literacy
-Digital Familiarity
-Social Network
-Information Sources

This way, we learn about the (digital) resources you access in your day-to-day life, how you use them online and offline and with whom. It is possible that you have little or no digital tools at your disposal, which means that the 121 system also has to respond to this. By understanding what you use, we also understand your digital literacy/familiarity.

PART 2: Establishing your experience with aid (10 minutes)

You have joined the co-design session because you have received, given, or donated to aid in the past. This is why we ask you:

“Can you tell us about the time before, during and after your particular touchpoint with aid?”

This question allows you to reflect on your experience, giving you the time to describe how you transitioned across the aid cycle. For the designer working with you, it gives direct insight into the experiences of the different potential user groups of 121. This allows them to understand the multiple-user journey and varying touchpoints that exist both off- and online.

This part of the session also ensures that you, as a co-designer, are primed for the last part of the session.

PART 3: Establishing solutions (40 minutes)

In this section, we give you as the co-designer three pieces of card. We refer to the experience with aid that you just shared, and then ask you:

“If anything was possible, what could you create that could have helped you before, during or after your touchpoint?”

The goal of this part is not to have a perfect design, but rather to hear about what you see as functions needed for your design. When you create something, we will often ask you why you need it. This way, we can also understand the rationale behind your needs. You may think of many things, or you may just think of a few specific things. Regardless of what you create, it will be valuable to 121. It means we can bring it together as real insights and real needs that will bring 121 forward.


After the co-design sessions, we will cluster your quotes in multiple ways to establish common needs and themes. These themes are then used to create and, as an iterative process, update the latest 121 system.


Every disaster brings its unique set of challenges. Although it is nearly impossible to design for all situations, it is possible to find out together what the base commonalities are. Since 2018, we have co-designed at 5 different locations and with different stakeholder groups. Click on the location to read more about the pilot.

-St. Maarten (Hurricane Irma) PA, AW
-Ukraine (Internally displaced due to conflict) PA, AW
-Malawi (Floods & systemic poverty) PA, AW
-Ethiopia (Internally displaced) PA, AW
-The Netherlands (Undocumented Migrants UDMsPA, AW, PD

121 is still under development. Do you want to read more about what 121 can do for you? Please find the situation below that applies to you. We will be continually updating the website.

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