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1. Context analysis

Security and safety risks arise from our interaction with our operating context. Being aware of your surroundings, alert to potential changes and developments, and anticipating problems is the first step in the process of reducing risks to staff. 

Analysing the operating context should not be a one-off exercise, but a continual process of review in order to identify factors that affect the security and safety situation. 

[toolbox-standout-box]Good security risk management, like good programming, requires a solid understanding of the environment in which you operate.[/toolbox-standout-box]

A contextual analysis should explore the historical, political, social, economic and cultural background of the area, drawing out key factors that affect the security and safety of staff, assets and programmes. For example, a PESTLE analysis provides a structured framework to help identify and analyse key factors (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental) that may influence that specific context.

In areas affected by armed conflict, organised violence, or significant criminal activity, a deeper analysis of the situation is required due to the heightened risks. It is vital to clearly understand what is happening and why, in order to identify or anticipate factors that might impact on the security of staff and programmes. Without a good understanding of the causes, dynamics and parties involved in conflict, violence or criminal activity, staff and partners may be exposed to unnecessary risks, and programmes and activities may unintentionally help to fuel violent conflict or exacerbate existing tensions.


Securing aid worker safety through effective budgeting

In this article for the Crisis Response Journal, Aisling Sweeney, GISF's Communications Officer, puts forward the case for remodelling funding processes for humanitarian security risk management.