Safer Programming: Programme Management

Safer Programming is ensuring that all CARE’s programmers are safe for men, women and children to participate in. It refers to the preventative, practical actions that we take within our programmes to identify and mitigate risks and prevent potential harm that our programmes could cause to programme participants, either by our own staff, related personnel, partners or by the programme activities. All those who come into contact with CARE must be safeguarded to the maximum possible extent from deliberate or unintentional harms or failings that place them at risk of harm, abuse, exploitation or harassment. Safer programming therefore, is about strengthening and building the protective environments in which programmes take place through comprehensive risk management and designing programmes that contribute to a safer environment for all. It includes building positive relationships with communities, building trust and responding to feedback appropriately to build people’s confidence to report sensitive issues and feel safe when engaging with CARE.

Safer programming is closely connected to programme quality. In the long term a programme that does not prioritize the safety of the participants, or exacerbates existing harmful cultural norms is highly likely to create more harm and be of poor quality. If a programme is determined, through comprehensive risk assessment, to increase or exacerbate risk, and safeguarding risk cannot be adequately mitigated or minimised, or where the inherent risks are too high, CARE should be prepared not to implement.

Safer programming is not about mitigating against every risk. If a project involves working with the hardest to reach communities or supporting women and girls who may be at an increased risk of harm, mitigating against all risks may mean that the programme would not go ahead, or it could be ineffectual. Certain risks are not within CARE’s area of control, i.e., they do not arise because of our programmes or projects. Thus, we must continuously identify, assess and monitor these risks throughout the programme cycle, building mitigations and controls into programme design, implementation and closeout to ensure that our programme and projects are appropriate, system-strengthen and build protective environments thus reducing the likelihood of harm, exploitation and abuse.

Safer programming should be considered at every stage of the programme cycle – from planning and design through to close out. Safeguarding risks must be continuously assessed and monitored throughout the programme and mitigations implemented to reduce the likelihood of harm. Managing risk is an ongoing process. Tools such as the quick and simple risk matrix can help guide and record the process.

The emergency programme manager/team leader must:

  • Make available resources for the implementation of SEA-CA work which would require a budget line for training or awareness-raising on SEA prevention, response and reporting procedures.
  • Must develop and implement plans to create awareness among programme partners, vendors and communities-especially among vulnerable groups such as women and children-regarding information on relief criteria, their entitlements and rights, CARE’s zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse, and reporting procedures for any incidents of SEA-CA.
  • Coordinate and conduct the completion of a comprehensive risk assessment, including a risk mitigation plan for every programme. The mitigation plan must be reviewed as part of every programme review meeting.
  • Carry out assessments to identify specific needs and potential exploitation/protection issues, especially for women and children. Include people with expertise in the area of gender, child protection, psychosocial care, etc. in assessment teams.
  • Ensure that due diligence is undertaken on partners and that CARE programming teams work with partners to understand what they have in place for preventing and responding to Safeguarding: PSHEA-CA concerns.
  • Collaborate with partners on the completion of Safeguarding Risk assessments, drawing on our partners contextual expertise to best mitigate the risk of SHEA-CA.
  • An effective mechanism is implemented for grievance and complaints in the areas/communities we work in. This mechanism should be designed in collaboration with programme participants and community members. This is critical to provide the opportunity for every individual in the community to let us know how we can improve our response, and as part of that they can also report on SEA-CA issues.
  • An assessment of the status of response to SEA incidents and measures taken for prevention is included in the after-action reviews and other evaluations of emergency response. These assessment teams should include staff/consultants with expertise on gender and the topic of SEA-CA.
  • Emphasise the need for staff to be aware of the psycho-social impact of such disasters and exploitative behaviours and respond with empathy.
  • Identify and partner with individuals/organisations to respond to the psycho-social, medical and legal needs for survivors of sexual abuse/exploitation.
  • Conduct awareness-raising activities and display locally appropriate and effective posters that communicate CARE’s values/standards for staff behaviour and incident-reporting options at all prominent response points/camps in communities.
  • Display posters with information on relief criteria and entitlements prominently outside camps/distribution sites. Collaborate and coordinate with other agencies to develop and implement reporting and feedback mechanisms, as well as advocacy efforts on SEA as required.

Ensure that the gender equity and diversity (GED) coordinator or an independent consultant periodically conducts a random survey with staff to find out their knowledge and attitude towards sexual exploitation, the CARE policy and procedures, and their individual responsibility.

For more information on Safer Programming and sector specific guidance please refer to the CARE Safer Programming Guidance.