Monday 30 August 2010

Safety and Protection in Dangerous Places—Part 6

Final Thoughts for Ongoing Threats

Photo ©Adel Yahya/IRIN
(A photo with guns could have been used from any country)
Special sticks.
Of wood and metal.
For young and old alike.
For recreation and crime.
For protectors and predators.
For peace-making and war-making. 
(For a fascinating history about guns, read

How much risk is one willing to take in order to do what is right?
How much force is one willing to use in order to do what is right?
How much peace is one willing to make in order to do what is right?

In these six entries we have looked at a variety of “dangerous places.” The places of greatest need are often the places of greatest danger. We identified five types of environments, often overlapping, that require our best efforts to provide/develop safety and protection strategies.

Physical environments marked by life-threatening hazards including conflicts (war) and calamities (natural disasters), human rights violations, disease, domestic violence, road traffic accidents (1.3 million people/year die from driving-related accidents)

Organizational environments in which work conditions and poor management/governance can wreak havoc on both staff and operational objectives (including unresolved relational difficulties, political maneuvering,  and ongoing organizational dysfunction)

Moral environments contaminated by human corruption which exploits and injures others (Corruption is defined by Transparency International as the ‘abuse of entrusted power for personal gain.’ Covering up or ignoring corruption can be as reprehensible and damaging as the corruption itself.)

•Personal environments whereby an individual's serious problems can significantly interfere with his/her work/wellbeing and that of others (addictions, disorders, unhealthy behaviors)

Poverty environments as reflected in some of the ways to group the poorest of humanity: a) the nearly one billion "slum dwellers"; and b) the “bottom billion” who reside in the 58 poorest countries in the world in which the average life expectancy is 50 years, one out of seven children die before their first birthday, and over one-third of children suffer from long-term malnutrition (see The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier (2007, pp. 7,8).
Here are our final two resources, as we bring this discussion topic to a close.

Resource Eleven
Challenging Choices: Protection and Livelihoods in Conflict (HPG Policy Brief 40, May 2010); Humanitarian Practice Group. People in conflict settings often adopt strategies that promote personal safety/dignity but at the expense of their economic livelihoods, or vice versa. This four-page review calls for aid agencies to develop strategies that deal with these overlapping issues of physical and livelihood protection.

Resource Twelve
Crisis and Contingency Management for Senders and Workers. Four pages of handouts from the Member Caravan website, including: a grid to manage crises (before, during, after), principles for supportive crisis counseling, and short crisis vignettes for discussion.

Reflection and Discussion—Plus Add Comments Below
1. To what extent is safety and protection for the people served by mission/aid workers a relevant focus for member care? Can this be a distraction or a direction for member care?

2. What type of crisis and contingency plans does your organization/setting have?

3. Which of the 12 areas of resources described in these entries are the most helpful for you?

4. Is there another area—environment—in addition to the five listed above--that you think is important to also include in the safety/protection discourse?

5. What questions would you like to ask your organization, your colleagues, or the member care field regarding safety and protection in mission/aid?

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