The conditions in which aid workers have to operate are increasingly insecure. A practical way of improving security is through carefully designed and targeted staff training. In addition to improving safety, such training can contribute significantly the effectiveness of humanitarian relief operations.
Security training varies from short half-day workshops to five-day courses. This training might include background briefings on the political and cultural situation workers will encounter, ways to enhance acceptance of the NGO by the local community, as well as training in operating telecommunications equipment and in managing fear, panic and anger.
InterAction has been working with NGOs and international organizations in the United States and Europe to develop its curriculum, which was piloted in the US and the UK with American and European participants and teaching staff. InterAction currently is collaborating with European NGOs on the implementation of their security initiative, which focuses on timely incident reporting and analysis.
The International Rescue Committee security training is based on the concept of a "security triangle": Acceptance by the community; Protection equipment and procedures, such as radios, reliable vehicles, helmets, curfews, and equitable staff personnel policies; and Deterrence, such as the use of guards and diplomatic pressure through the United Nations or diplomatic missions.
NGOs need agreed sector-wide standards that clarify the minimum requirements in terms of awareness, knowledge and skill with regard to security issues for aid workers, and similar minimum requirements for organizations sending personnel to dangerous environments.
Despite the increased risk of violence, security training and guidance for NGOs has been haphazard. There are too few security trainers; many classes are held far away from the field; and many classes are simply too short (one or two days) to cover the required subjects.