Conference Day 2 – A Holistic Approach to Security Risk Management

Conference Day 2 – A Holistic Approach to Security Risk Management


Jambo Bwana!

The second day of “Global Conference on the Role of Security Risk Management in Effective Humanitarian Aid” provided the 70 participants and 25 speakers an opportunity to engage more deeply in discussions and interactions, discovering a more holistic – and complex – approach to security risk management.

Ms. Barb Wigley from the World Food Program started the day by sharing the good practices in security management, while recognizing that we are still not doing these things well. She referred to the politicization of humanitarian aid, the dissonance between expectations and the field reality, and the competition between stakeholders as well as the shortcoming of aid organizations. Therefore, she insisted on the importance of integrating local staff in the decision process and to be in tune with beneficiaries—recognizing differences, listening and engaging in dialogue to minimize risks and potential impact on organizational effectiveness and the safety of staff.

The following speaker, Ms. Merlie Mendoza from Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN), shared similar messages when she underlined the involvement of local staff and local communities, especially in conflict situations. “As most security situations are complex, it has to be understood in all its facets, and in order to manage the risks, we need to understand the underlying causes,” said Ms. Mendoza. She emphasized the necessity of an integrated holistic security framework addressing the vulnerabilities and enhancing local capacities. A genuine cultural understanding as well as the presence and active engagement at a personal level is required. Local communities and local staff must participate, take the lead, and develop a sense of pride, a sense of ownership on each decision.

The morning ended with a mock simulation conducted by Redr, a great opportunity to get from the theory to practice. The role-play was a great learning experience, giving the participants the opportunity to exchange on concrete situations.

During the afternoon thematic sessions, participants were given more concrete tools such as contingency planning, tool kit for community acceptance, and staff security plan in time of nuclear disaster. The lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan were also shared. For some participants, like Patrick Muhanj, former Security Advisor at Oxfam Yemen, it was the first time they addressed this issue: “I am from Kenya, a country that is planning to build nuclear power plant, and it was great to learn about security risk management in the context of nuclear disaster.”

As an echo to the morning sessions, the day ended with a discussion on how to implement a gender balanced security plan. Ms. Christine Persaud, the session’s facilitator, shared some practical considerations, insisting on the importance to put a “gender lens” on security issues, to improve the accuracy of the risks assessment, and to take in consideration the cultural context and bias that can occur when it relates to gender. As for security matters in general, it is all about creating a gender sensitive culture across the organization, with the right policies and procedures, to make sure every organization respects its staff, its duty of care.


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