A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Complacency Management

"Complacency Management" is a great term that I just ran across at World Changing. It is a term that accurately describes what many NGO security advisors end up spending much of their time doing.

Security Tip: Increasing Your Visibility

After a recent series of lethal ambushes and Claymore mine attacks against civilian vehicles we were warned by local subject matter experts to increase our visibility. They pointed out something that is blindingly obvious in retrospect. People conducting an ambush or Claymore attack will generally be laying down so they'll likely see something like this:

NGO Vehicle front - low visibility
NGO Vehicle - Low Visibility

Believe it or not there is a large flag mounted on this vehicle. Now imagine the vehicle is travelling down a dusty road just before dusk. What would you be able to see if you were laying near the road? Would you be able to distinguish this vehicle from a police vehicle, a 4x4 full of combatants, or one of the infamous "white vans" that plaque parts of Sri Lanka?

The Solution:

Taking the warning to heart one of the teams designed a short portable flag mount for attaching to the front bumper of NGO vehicles. They are also in the process of putting logos on the bumpers of their vehicles.


Flag Mount

Flag Mount Closeup
Flag Mount Close-up

Thanks to Cader and his team for passing this tip on.

Unreported World - Sri Lanka Killing for Peace 2007

This video by Sandra Jordan and Siobhan Sinnerton is an excellent summary of the security situation in Sri Lanka.

Widgets, Advocacy, and Human Security

John Bell’s post, “Nonprofit Widgets in the Age of OpenSocial” got me thinking about how to use widgets to support advocacy for human security, humanitarian access, and the security of aid workers. I’m not a coder but luckily many websites can help generate widgets based on content selected by the user. The “Selected News” sidebar on this page is an example of such a widget.

The people search engine Spock lets you create similar Flash and JavaScript widgets based on the search results you use. On my Demo page you can see three widgets based on the search terms “death by firearm”, “murdered aid worker” and “murdered journalist”. The content is a little sparse for the last two terms but I’m hoping to work with Spock to change this. These ideas only scratch the surface. How about a widget that rotates images of detained activists... missing persons... great humanitarians,,, kidnapping victims? The possibilities seem endless.

Of course there are other widget options. If you’re looking to do some fundraising organizations like the Network for Good can help you create a custom widget. They call them badges. Beth Kanter used one to help her raise funds to send young Cambodians to university. If you go to her blog and scroll down a little you can see the widget in the sidebar.

If you have any ideas you want to share please leave a comment.

The Security Implications of Global Climate Change

"The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change" is must reading for NGOs and others doing long term security assessments. It examines the security implications of three climate change scenarios. The consequences of even the most moderate scenario are alarming:

* Large-scale human migration due to resource scarcity, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and other factors, particularly in the developing countries in the earth's low latitudinal band.
* Intensifying intra- and inter-state competition for food, water, and other resources, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
* Increased frequency and severity of disease outbreaks.
* Heightened risk of state failure and regional conflagration.
* Significant shifts in the geostrategic roles of every major fuel type.
* Increased U.S. border stress due to the severe effects of climate change in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.
* Increased uncertainty over how China's political leadership will respond to growing domestic and international pressure to become a "responsible stakeholder" in the global environment.
* Strain on the capacity of the United States -- and in particular the U.S. military -- to act as a "first responder" to international disasters and humanitarian crises due to their increased frequency, complexity, and danger.
* Growing demand for international institutions to play new and expanded roles in the management of refugee crises and in providing forums for the negotiation of climate agreements.


The chart on page 104 summarizes the potential impacts succinctly. It would serve as a very good starting point for any longer term planning discussions by NGOs and other stakeholders.

The report is the result of a joint Center for Strategic and International Studies and Center for New American Security project.

Smart Clothes for Disaster Relief

Disaster relief workers may soon benefit from a new 'smart' suit being developed by I-Garment. The suit is intended to help remedy safety and communications problems faced by fire fighters but I can see its utility for humanitarian disaster response as well.

project_objective_image_2_404

The suit is intended to address three familiar problems;

1. the unavailability of standard communications means during disasters,
2. the lack of information as to the whereabouts and safety of relief workers during emergency efforts, and
3. the problem of acquiring and distributing timely geospatial data during an emergency.

Features_hi-res

If one were to combine the suit with CSIRO’s proposed power generating shirts it could even be self powered.

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