A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

More on acceptance

Even active acceptance strategies have their limits as NGO security tools. As a wise friend pointed out acceptance doesn’t work very well with itinerant armed groups. Criminals, and others who make their living by preying on the weak, just don’t care that much about the good work your organization may be doing or how much the local population might like you. You’ll need something aside from an acceptance strategy to reduce the risk from these groups.

Acceptance strategies also have obvious limitations when it comes to dealing with groups and individuals who are fundamentally opposed to the values they perceive your group represents. Whether they object to your organization’s religious values, work with women, or status as ‘foreign meddlers’ it is going to be very difficult to change their perceptions even with two or three years of a consistently applied active acceptance plan.

Other factors that inhibit acceptance:

• rapid staff turnover (or rapid expansion after a disaster as in the Tsunami response or the Pakistan earthquake)

• recipient only programs that do not engage the wider community

• friction between national and international staff

• divisions between national staff along conflict lines or ethnicity

• failure to deliver on promises or perceived promises to communities

Factors that promote acceptance:

• a long term presence in the project area (but only if you have been pursuing acceptance during that period)

• knowledge of local customs and language

• A close relationship/understanding between national and international staff

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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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