Aid workers often face enormous risks as they work to support those in need. In 2021, 461 aid workers were the victims of major attacks, with 141 sadly losing their lives. 98% of these are national staff, often working in even more under-resourced organisations than their international counterparts. This insecurity poses a threat to the lives of aid workers and presents a significant barrier for humanitarian access for communities affected by crisis. Still, ‘it is fairly common that staff with direct responsibility for other colleagues in high-risk environments have not received any security risk management (SRM) training’ (Shaun Bickley, Humanitarian Security Risk Management Consultant and Trainer).
The need for humanitarian SRM
Effective SRM helps organisations to identify the greatest threats to their staff and programmes and puts in place adequate mitigation measures to ensure their work can continue despite these risks. It’s not about being risk averse but about reducing the risk so that humanitarian and development programmes can continue working with communities affected by crisis and delivering programmes.
You may think that it’s just a security manager’s responsibility to keep staff safe. However, every person involved in humanitarian programmes has a part to play. Staff working in Human Resources (HR) need to consider the personal characteristics of staff and the opportunities and risks these might face throughout the recruitment and training processes. IT staff need to consider security threats as they provide technological support. Leadership needs to ensure their policies and organisational culture supports effective SRM and meets their duty of care toward employees.
That’s why Disaster Ready, Global Interagency Security Forum (GISF) and Insecurity Insight created the Security Risk Management Essentials Certificate to enable aid and development workers to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to keep themselves, their colleagues, and their programmes safe.
Regardless of your current SRM knowledge, this certificate provides a foundation that can help you and your organisation make better-informed decisions regarding staff security. Starting with exploring what SRM is, the course continuously builds on your knowledge so that you’re able to carry out basic processes involved in SRM but also understand what digital security, people management, and security incident information management (SIIM) have to do with keeping humanitarians safe and enabling access. Even if you aren’t a security manager, a strong understanding of SRM inevitably helps you to do your job more safely and effectively.
Accessible, affordable professional development
All staff across an organisation must have a solid understanding of SRM if they hope to implement safe, sustainable programmes. That’s why one of the greatest advantages of this certificate programme is its accessibility.
The programme is entirely free and mobile-compatible. From senior leadership to local staff or volunteers working directly with communities, staff across the world can access the content, improve their skills and knowledge of SRM and add a professional certificate to their CV. As local action has become a priority for the sector, ensuring that staff in local and national NGOs across the world can access learning tools free of charge is crucial.
What’s in it for NGOs?
For those in the aid sector, developing their understanding of SRM is not just important on an individual level but also helps organisations meet their duty of care towards their staff. Duty of care is an organisation's moral and legal responsibility of an organisation to adhere to a standard of reasonable care when working in situations that present a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to others. SRM plays a crucial role in fulfilling this responsibility.
By including such training in staff inductions and staff development programmes, leadership and people management teams ensure that every staff member has the necessary foundation of SRM knowledge to stay safe, improving performance, retention, and skill development. Especially in small or medium-sized organisations with a lack of dedicated security staff, providing staff with these professional development opportunities facilitates learning and growth, helping them to work better and more safely with colleagues, and partners, ultimately providing sustainable assistance to communities.
Accessible, free online courses such as the Security Risk Management Essentials Certificate offer great opportunities to individuals and organisations. For individuals looking to develop their skills and knowledge on SRM, this certificate provides the foundations necessary to work safely and pursue a career in humanitarian security. For organisations, implementing this certificate within existing training and development frameworks helps keep staff safe, meet their duty of care and support staff’s career growth.
GISF is proud to partner with Disaster Ready and Insecurity Insight to create a certificate helping aid workers stay safe and maintain sustainable access for the crisis-affected communities they seek to assist.
Scarlett Moore is the Research & Communications Assistant at Global Interagency Security Forum (GISF).