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Published: April 11, 2014

NGO Safety and Security Training Project: How to Create Effective Security Training for NGOs

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In the late 1990s, InterAction, along with RedR and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), developed a curriculum and course materials for safety and security training. These materials quickly became the basis of NGO security training. However, it has been over 16 years since then and some of the course materials are outdated. With funding from USAID/OFDA, InterAction in partnership with the European Interagency Security Forum (EISF) undertook a project in 2013 to update existing curriculum and course materials, as well as to address gaps in current NGO security practices. This report is the product of that project.

The NGO Safety and Security Training Report provides a narrative of the research findings, an updated curriculum, and guidance tools for training. It is based on extensive research and interviews with members of the NGO community. The report draws upon existing training materials, community consultations, survey responses, job descriptions, as well as relevant trends in humanitarian and development practice. It captures good practice and global understanding in regard to quality and consistency of NGO security training.

The material contained herein should be considered only as a guideline. Organisations must develop specific training based on many considerations, including their mission, internal structures, finances and risk appetite to name a few. The NGO Safety and Security Training Project is intended to assist organisations:

  • Assess training needs and choose the best ways to meet those needs.
  • Design their training courses and determine which topics to include.
  • Select the best ways to present the training materials.
  • Communicate with internal and external trainers to maximize learning results;
  • Educate others about the importance of security training to the organization’s overall operational success.

The document is comprised of three sections:

  • Section A provides key findings based on the research and outreach. It offers guidance on developing a security training framework within an organization, based on existing NGO good practices. It also provides recommendations on how to improve security training in the broader NGO community.
  • Section B is the NGO Security Training Reference Curriculum and lists core and elective topics for each of the four levels. Organizations should use the curriculum to design their own training courses based on their own security management needs. It should be used in conjunction with the narrative report in Section A. The Curriculum is divided into four levels:
    • LEVEL I – Personal Security: This level is designed for all NGO staff working in or travelling to the field, and operating environments ranging from low to severe.
    • LEVEL II  – Operational Security: This level is designed for NGO staff whose day-to-day responsibilities include implementing security policies and procedures such as security focal points, drivers, guards and program staff.
    • LEVEL III – Security Management: This level is designed for NGO staff with a decision-making role in developing and implementing risk management policies. Typical staff in this category would include members of a global, regional and/or country security management team.
    • LEVEL IV – Global Strategic Security: This level is designed for headquarters staff with decision-making authority and responsibilities related to the organization’s legal duty of care and/or its global operations. This includes persons involved in corporate governance (e.g., board members, CEOs and presidents), as well as headquarters-level technical senior managers (e.g., security directors, human resources, operations, administration, finance and communications).
  • Section C provides guidance tools for the user that compliments Sections A and B. These tools include:
    • Assessing Security Training Needs
    • Learning and Development Strategies
    • Learning Methodologies
    • Selecting and Working with Training Providers
    • Evaluating Training Effectiveness

InterAction and GISF would like users of this product to give us their feedback. It will be collected by InterAction, and used to update the report and ensure the security training reference curriculum continues to reflect changes to NGOs’ operating environment, their evolving operational habits, and emerging security threats.

Please send your feedback to: securityadmin@interaction.org

Suggested Citation: Persaud, C. (2014) NGO Safety and Security Training Project. How to Create Effective Security Training for NGOs. InterAction and European Interagency Security Forum (EISF).


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