The risk and complexity of delivering aid in highly insecure environments

The risk and complexity of delivering aid in highly insecure environments

Humanitarians operating in highly volatile environments face a wide range of institutional, operational, access, and security challenges that necessitate carefully designed responses and mitigation measures. These challenges and good practices were analyzed and subsequent recommendations provided in a landmark study, entitled To Stay and Deliver: Good Practice for Humanitarians in Complex Security Environments, commissioned by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2011.


Presence and Proximity, To Stay and Deliver, Five years On, a new report released today by OCHA, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Jindal School of International Affairs, reviews and analyses the impact of the landmark study To Stay and Deliver (published in 2011) on policy and operations in highly insecure environments.

The 2011 study, the title of which became a motto for many humanitarian organizations, provided advice and recommendations to practitioners on critical issues, such as risk management, responsible partnerships, adherence to humanitarian principles, acceptance and negotiations with relevant actors. Five years later, it was important to take stock of progress achieved, persisting difficulties and emerging challenges.

More specifically, the present study examines the following questions.

  • How have the threats and risks facing humanitarian action in highly insecure environments shifted or developed since the publication of To Stay and Deliver, and what other contextual changes have emerged?
  • What institutional, operational, and cultural changes – with a focus on those recommended in To Stay and Deliver – have occurred since 2011, and what factors (e.g., institutional, cultural, financial, contextual, etc.) have enabled or impeded the adoption of these recommendations? Similarly, what persistent challenges appear to have remained over the past half-decade?
  • How have humanitarian organizations changed the ways they manage security risks, and what effects – to the extent discernible – have these strategies had on operational security, presence/proximity, and programming?
  • What factors have enabled or discouraged such changes? Have humanitarian organizations adopted new ways to maintain presence and proximity and conduct operations on the ground, and what results in assistance and protection have these achieved?
  • Building on the successes and addressing the complications that have emerged since 2011, what steps could be taken to further the objectives of To Stay and Deliver?

In addressing these questions, the authors consulted headquarters, regional, and country stakeholders in New York, Nairobi, Amman, and Geneva. They undertook field-based case studies in Afghanistan and the Central African Republic (CAR) and carried out desk-based case studies on Syria and Yemen. The research team also designed an online survey. These methods provided the researchers with access to a large cross-section of humanitarian actors – more than 2,000 individuals – operating in highly insecure environments. Despite the broad sample size, this study was undertaken over five months and the case studies were limited in number. As such, the study does not necessarily reflect all areas where progress has been made and all challenges that remain; nor can it overcome the deficits in existing data, which are outlined in the full report.

Source: UNOCHA. Read full article here.
22 June, 2017