9. Safety and Security

Programming and security are integrated and interdependent. This interdependence is particularly important in the complex working environments where emergencies take place.  Appropriate safety and security management is essential to implement an effective and accountable emergency response. Humanitarian objectives of the emergency response operation must be balanced with the safety and security risk considerations to ensure that the lives of CARE staff members, contractors, beneficiaries and programme partners are not put at risk.

1.1 CI roles and responsibilities for safety and security management

1.2 Role of safety and security management staff


  • Appoint a Safety and Security Officer.
    • They will work closely with the Country Director, emergency team, and existing CO Safety and Security Focal Point.
  • Undertake context or reassessment.
    • A thorough assessment of the safety and security situation must be undertaken when an emergency occurs to inform programme and operational planning, and ensure clear understanding of risks. See assessment checklist at section 5.1.
  • Undertake threat, vulnerability and risk assessment.
    • The threat, vulnerability and risk assessment involves consulting other actors, open sources, observation and should include participation from all levels of CARE staff so that various perspectives may be considered and information cross-checked. (See CARE International Safety and CARE International Safety and Security Management Plan Guide and Template Guide and Template on how to assess.)
  • Establish CARE security risk level.
    • The risk level can be established according to context and risk assessment, with input from country management, the Lead Member and by mirroring how other agencies rate the situation (e.g. UN phase levels I-V). (See CARE International Safety and CARE International Safety and Security Management Plan Guide and Template)
  • Establish basic safety and security procedures for immediate intervention needs.
    • Basic safety and security procedures covering communication, travel/movement and other critical operational requirements should be implemented immediately. These are interim procedures while the full Safety and Security Plan is being revised or written. Communicate the procedures as soon as possible to all staff.
  • Budget for security.
    • Initial assessment should determine the resources (equipment and funding) required for safety and security. Address this immediately to ensure that sufficient budget covers the needs assessment report and initial proposals. Security needs may appear in different budget categories and could consist of: training, personnel, communication equipment, protection materials or site enhancements.
  • Complete the appropriate CARE Safety and Security Plan.
    • Use the CARE International Safety and Security Management Plan Template in the Security Management Plan to prepare or adapt a plan specific to the emergency. Complete critical information first, then disseminate information.
  • Complete the Contingency Planning Flowcharts.
    • Adapt these instruction flowcharts, which guide dealing with specific incidents of medical emergency, sexual violence, missing persons, hibernation, relocation and evacuation. Add relevant phone numbers and adjust details of flowchart to the particular situation
      • (Part C of Safety and Security Management Plan Template).
  • Complete the Safety and Security Contingency Plans, including the hibernation, relocation and evacuation plan.
    • Ensure contingency planning is conducted to prepare for any critical incident or change in security situation (Part E of the CARE International Safety and Security Management Plan Template).
  • Ensure communication, understanding and acceptance of Safety and Security plans by all staff.
    • All staff must complete the CARE Security Training and should receive a printed copy of the relevant section of the Safety and Security Contingency Plan and a copy of the CI Personal Safety and Security Handbook in the appropriate language. Build security into all orientations, briefings and appropriate meetings.
  • Ensure the Safety and Security Plan is included in new staff and visitor orientation.
    • Procedures should include sign-off by the new staff member that they have received the Safety and Security Plan and appropriate security training for their area of operation. All staff should receive an electronic copy of the CARE International Personal Safety and Security Handbook (if printed copies are not available).
  • Share the Safety and Security Management Plan with the Lead Member and SSCG.
    • The Lead Member is responsible to audit and ensure country office plans are completed and regularly reviewed. The Lead Member and SSCG should be aware of the details of the emergency specific plan and can provide technical advice.
  • Establish an information gathering system to enable ongoing monitoring.
    • Continue information gathering through a network of various interlocutors, and disseminate relevant security information to appropriate persons/offices through briefings, memos, during meetings or via updated procedures.
  • Continually update and revise the plan according to changes in the situation and risks.
    • Continuous monitoring of the context, risks and adapting to the situation is needed to proactively adapt procedures and policy. Updating the plan reduces security threat levels once the situation returns to an acceptable standard.
  • Communicate any changes to the Security Plan.
    • When security changes in scope-even briefly-the safety and security officer must update staff on any changes in policy procedures in the Safety and Security Plan and why they have been made.
  • Create a Security Coordination Committee.
    • If an intervention becomes longer term, the establishment of a committee is good practice. This ensures all perspectives are heard in regards to safety and security matters, and promotes ownership and adherence to security practices. The Safety and Security Focal Point leads the Security Coordination Committee and ensures that senior management is aware of all security-related issues.

CARE’s policy is that the safety and security of CARE staff always take precedence over all other factors.

All CARE staff and operations must comply with CARE’s policies and procedures for safety and security at all times, as outlined in the following documents:

Detailed guidelines and procedures for implementing safety and security management are outlined in:

The ability to communicate in an emergency is critical to ensure and confirm staff safety. At a minimum, every CO must:

  • ensure that CARE offices and/or operations have back-up communications systems in case one system fails, and place them in strategic locations in the responsibility of specific trained personnel
  • establish clear communications procedures before any emergency. If procedures are not in place, establish them as soon as possible after a disaster and at the outset of an assessment mission. The procedures should include phone trees for information sharing, travel and movement communication procedures, and warden systems. These can be used to confirm the safety of staff and to share information or warnings in case of new risks or a crisis.

4.1 Confirming staff safety immediately following an emergency or disaster

A thorough assessment of the safety and security situation must be undertaken when an emergency occurs. If the emergency occurs in a country where CARE has no presence, the basics of safety and security will have to be developed. In countries where CARE already has a long-term presence, existing security systems will have to be informed by the new emerging security situation and procedures adapted in response to any new risks. Crisis often changes the security context, and you must be ready to change with it.

The assessment of the security situation involves general assessment; specific assessment of security threats, vulnerabilities and risks; and an assessment of the safety and security operating conditions. The Safety and Security Officer should form part of this general humanitarian assessment team and will feed into the general assessment which that team is undertaking.

During the security assessment, the Safety and Security Officer will need to examine if the current emergency situation has changed the nature of existing threats. They must identify and prioritise the major causes of both security and safety threats, identify the level of CARE personnel’s exposure to them, and determine how well CARE and other aid organisations are accepted in the current situation. The SSO also needs to identify all insecure, no-go or inaccessible areas, and upcoming events (elections, anniversaries, demonstrations, troop movements, etc.) that may trigger a deterioration of the security situation, and communicate these immediately to the team in the field.

5.1 Safety and security assessment checklist

The Safety and Security Officer, with input and/or participation from a diverse cross-section of the CARE team and key actors, can help gain a perspective about the risks faced by CARE. On a routine basis the SSO will:

  • analyse the general evolution of the security situation
  • regularly monitor the quality of CARE’s work, image and relationship with local communities, authorities, other NGOs, beneficiaries, etc.
  • keep track of incidents or other relevant developments, and setbacks within the environment and situation
  • maintain and develop an extensive network of interlocutors and partners
  • ensure that CARE staff and management are regularly updated on the general security conditions
  • issue and communicate policies and procedures
  • inform teams in the field of any changes to operating conditions as quickly as possible (e.g. changes to no-go areas or events that will affect security).

The Safety and Security Officer should also work through various scenarios for anticipating changes in security conditions and possible future triggers for insecurity. These should be developed into contingency planning (refer to section 7.3).

6.1 Information gathering and sharing

The Safety and Security Officer first identifies the main threats, the vulnerability of CARE personnel/assets, and knowing which resources are available or which capacities are limited. The Safety and Security Officer then adapts existing CARE policies/procedures and establishes other needed and sensible procedures appropriate to the emergency situation. Security must be integrated into all aspects of operational management.

7.1 Decision-making

7.2 Security strategies

7.3 Safety and security contingency planning

CARE emergency operations may be affected by crisis or critical incidents (accidents, attacks, kidnapping, medial emergency, etc.). A systematic, planned response for crises will help lessen the impact on individuals and on the organisation, should they occur. Planning for critical incident management is part of the contingency planning process and includes the development of flowcharts, which can help assist decision-making during difficult and stressful conditions.

8.1 The Crisis Management Team

The safety and security officer should advise on the set up of emergency operations to ensure the security of CARE’s infrastructure and assets. This includes:

  • Facilities site selection, location and safety and security management
    • Refer to the CARE International Personal Safety and Security Handbook, p. 186, and Standard operating procedures (SOP#5 of the CARE International Safety and Security Management Plan Guide and Template (coming soon) for CARE’s minimum criteria when selecting and outfitting offices or residences. Location, perimeter, parking, access control, etc. must be inspected and adequate for staff safety.
  • Cash management
    • Consider cash storage, management, transfers and distribution; and implement measures to reduce exposure to theft (see both section 3.10 and Cash Management, p. 41, of the CARE International Safety and Security Management Plan Guide).
  • Vehicle management
    • Drivers of CARE vehicles must hold proper authorisation, licence and training. All vehicles must have proper registration documentation, be regularly inspected/maintained and maintain minimum safety equipment. In coordination with the fleet manager, track movements on movement boards and log these for each vehicle (refer to p. 32-57 of the CARE International Personal Safety and Security Handbook).

Human resource management has a direct link to safety and security issues. As outlined in Human resources, recruitment, hiring, leadership, workplace violence and termination of contracts need to be seen through a security perspective. Preparing in anticipation of potential problems (e.g. disgruntled staff) can allow for proactive risk mitigation. Citizenship, religious affiliation, political adherence, family background or ethnicity can play a significant role in security of the staff.

Female staff will require measures to be in place to manage menstruation while deployed, or while travelling, or due to working outside normal routines. Guidance on this can be found in Annex 13.7. 

While not a direct threat, stress can significantly increase people’s vulnerability, and cause false perceptions and inappropriate behaviour. Security incidents can often be linked back to abnormal stress such as post-traumatic and cumulative stress. Signs and symptoms can be psychological, behavioural, emotional and physical. Immediate attention is required if you notice that a colleague or yourself may be suffering from acute post-traumatic or cumulative stress.

The Safety and Security Officer, along with the Emergency Team Leader and Human Resources, should ensure that all staff are briefed on the types and signs and symptoms of stress, and how and where to seek help. Local and international stress support systems must be identified and accessible. Staff must know how to access critical incident debrief protocols and services provided by the respective Lead Member-details are available in Human resources.

CARE has developed extensive online training with the CARE Academy, which is mandatory security training for all staff; Module 2 training is for specific staff. This can be accessed at https://careacademy.org/. For further information contact your Lead Member.

CARE International Global Safety and Security Hub