Safety and security: a priority to protect implementers and improve program outcomes

date Published on 17/01/2023

In West and Central Africa today, HIV programs and their implementers are still too often the target of attacks, threats, and intentional violence. The impact of these security incidents is not insignificant - not only do they damage the physical and mental health of staff, but they also reduce the effectiveness and reach of the actions taken. 

It is in this context that the Civil Society Institute for Health in West and Central Africa, in partnership with the Global Fund and FHI360, implemented a pilot project to build the capacity of actors in the area of safety for programs working with vulnerable populations. The goal was to help stakeholders develop skills to assess the risks they face and to systematically incorporate safety measures into Global Fund-supported grants. 

"I was exposed to safety issues that I had never thought about." *

The pilot project took place over nine months and involved organizations from four countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Together, the different organizations attended several training workshops and cascade training sessions, followed by regular personalized coaching to develop and implement safety strategies. As the project drew to a close and in view of the success of this collaborative work, the Civil Society Institute developed a Toolkit that brings together all the safety tools used and adapted by the pilot project partner organizations. Such a comprehensive and popularized document not only broadens the scope of the project but also ensures accessibility to the tools needed to create better safety conditions within organizations and for their workers. 

"The safety self-assessment tool is vital and relevant to our operation."

The Toolkit can be read as an instruction manual for using five tools to assess and improve safety strategies in AIDS programs. Each of the five tools can be used independently, for example, to strengthen a specific area or activity, or they can be viewed as chronological steps in a planning process that will lead to the effective integration of safety into Global Fund applications and grants. 

"The safety plan is very revealing and easily adaptable to our own context."

In order to disseminate the Toolkit, a first webinar was held in December 2022 for French-speaking organizations in the region. In January 2023, two webinars will be held - one in English and one in Portuguese - to disseminate the Toolkit in these respective languages. You can find the Toolkit under the Resource Center tab in the Publications section, or by clicking here for the French version or here for the English version. 

"We were suffering, but we didn't know what we could do. Now we feel like there are concrete steps we can take."

*Extractsfrom the self-assessments completed by the participants of the first safety training workshop