Thursday, December 20, 2012

PBS Story on Humanitarian Security

Ray Suarez of PBS NewsHour has an interview with Joel Charny of InterAction about humanitarian safety and security. Audio and transcript are here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Afghanistan Abduction and Rescue

Dr. Dilip Joseph, a US citizen working with a small US NGO called Morning Star Development, was abducted in Kabul last Wednesday afternoon, along with two other staff members. Details are still sketchy, but Joseph was rescued on Sunday by special operations forces. One US Navy SEAL Team 6 (DEVGRU) operator was killed during the mission. There are conflicting reports over who was responsible for the kidnapping (Taliban or a criminal gang), but Joseph was taken to a mountainous area near the Pakistan border. The two local staff members were released 12 hours prior to the rescue mission. Officials stated that while negotiations had been started, no ransom had been paid. Update - Mainstream media news stories are starting to appear with more information, including this one.

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Saturday, December 08, 2012

Transparency International Corruption Index

Transparency International recently released the latest version of their most- and least-corrupt countries report (including nifty, interactive map). Just in time for the holidays, see whose been naughty or nice. (The Washington Post has a good executive summary if you're pressed for time.)

This resource is a must for getting a general sense of levels of corruption (and implied cultural acceptance) in different parts of the world. When advising clients who are setting up new programs in places they've never worked before, I always point them toward Transparency International to set some baseline expectations.

Research by Dan Ariely has shown that dishonesty is highly contagious (this will be the subject a future post). Knowing about corruption levels ahead of time can help prevent unexpected and unpleasant surprises.


Monday, December 03, 2012

Threat and Vulnerability Assessments in Seven Questions

Harm – Loss – Disruption* (to an organization, its staff, its assets)

1. Who might want to cause it?
2. Why might they want to cause it?
3. What type could they cause?
4. How much impact could it have?
5. How likely is it?
6. What can be done to decrease the chances?
7. What can be done if it occurs?

Humanitarian safety and security is not rocket science! And assessments don't need to be overly complex or time consuming (most of them don't even need to be conducted by a full-time safety and security practitioner; and that's coming from someone who makes a living in the profession).

Anyone can ask the above seven questions. Just be sure to involve other people (preferably field staff) who can help with answers you don't know or aren't fully clear on. Keep the process uncomplicated and concise and treat it as a conversation that's meant to deepen understanding. After you've finished answering the questions, write up a plan (again, concise) based on your findings. Then implement it.

When it came to building design, the famous architect Mies van der Rohe once said, "less is more." The same holds true for practicing NGO safety and security...

*Harm = Injury or death (people) or damage (property) Loss = Losing possession (property)Disruption = Interruption of normal operations