Professionalising NGO Security Risk Management

March 11, 2019

This is a guest blog from Kelsey Hoppe, CEO of Safer Edge.

Humanitarian and development assistance is delivered in some of the world’s most complex and complex environments. The 2018 Aid Worker Security Report, produced annually by Humanitarian Outcomes, reported that 313 aid workers were victims of major attacks and 139 were killed in 2017 alone.1  Ensuring that those delivering aid are safe is one of the most critical links in allowing those suffering from disasters and conflict to receive aid. 

Recognising this, most international NGOs have hired security managers and security focal points to better understand the security environments in which they are working and improve security risk management for staff, their teams, as the seek to serve communities. Most of these individuals wear a number of ‘hats’ meaning that they are responsible for security in addition to their jobs as logisticians, administrators, or project managers. The training and resources available to them varies widely across different INGOs. 

For several years, there have been calls to professionalise the field of security risk management in the humanitarian sector. Various organisations and associations have been created to answer this call, developing research, training, and courses that humanitarians can use to learn from each other and to develop good practice in their fields. 

One of the aims of the International NGO Safety & Security Association (INSSA) is to provide educational and professional development opportunities to NGO staff with safety and security management responsibilities. Feedback from its global membership – now numbering nearly 3,000 people - has indicated that a main constraint for those working in INGO safety and security risk management has been the lack of an independent certification by which they could learn, measure, and evidence their expertise. INGOs wanting to hire safety and security management professionals have had no independent means of verifying the competency of individuals who will be responsible for security decisions.

In response, in 2017, INSSA developed the Security Risk Management Professional (SRMP) Certification, drawing on global expertise to identify good practice in INGO safety and security risk management codified in writing, policies, procedures, approaches, understanding, and frameworks regularly used in INGO security practice. The INSSA certification can be attained at four levels – Country, Regional, Global, and Executive – and provides INGO safety and security management professionals with a way to benchmark their knowledge, and a way for organisations to evaluate the competency in security risk management of those they wish to hire.

INSSA is proud to announce a collaboration with DisasterReady to offer continuing professional development to their certified members. Through a specially developed programme, SRMP certified members can renew their certification by completing credits through DisasterReady. This ongoing education will mean that safety and security professionals will have resources at their fingertips to continue their learning as they progress in their careers and contribute to the overall professionalisation of the humanitarian endeavour.


1. Stoddard, A., Harmer, A. & Czwarno, M. (2018). Aid worker security report: Figures at a glance. Humanitarian Outcomes, 2018.



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