A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

The Analysis Gap

There is a real gap in the availability of good analytical training and resources for NGO security officers. Most NGO security manuals introduce the topic by stressing the importance of good analysis and an understanding of the local context. They might then go on to briefly cover actor mapping, and if we are lucky incident plotting. Beyond that the reader is left to his or her own devices.

Admittedly there have been a number of recent analytical studies that examine the patterns of violence against NGOs. These studies come replete with multiple regression analysis and complex equations like this one; "Sec100k = -1.384 + 1.691*BorderPak + -0.00011*Poppy + 0.036*Homeradio". I’m sure these studies are useful for developing policy and keeping underemployed academics out of the soup lines. However, they are unlikely to provide much solace when the country director wants to know how he can safely keep program running despite the recent spate of IED attacks.

In order to try and address these shortcomings I am opening the conversation on security analysis for NGOs. We’ll start with simple, robust, and inexpensive tools and techniques that can be used anywhere under any conditions. We’ll also examine more advanced tools that take advantage of the latest in ICT.

Anyone who wants to share tips and techniques should feel free to do so. It doesn’t matter to me whether you do your analysis on the back of an empty cigarette package under a sputtering lantern or on the latest networked GIS platform in a brightly light office. The goal is to identify and share best practices and to encourage the development of new tools and techniques.

I'll post the first technique shortly.

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This work by Kevin Toomer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
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