HPG – Risk in humanitarian action: towards a common approach?

HPG – Risk in humanitarian action: towards a common approach?

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There are important differences in how humanitarian actors understand, prioritise and manage risks – whether contextual, programmatic or institutional. The manner in which different actors manage these risks can have a secondary impact on risk levels for others in the sector. 

Given the risks inherent in humanitarian action, all humanitarian actors – including donors, NGOs and UN agencies – must ensure that risk management is an organisational priority in both policy and institutional practice, for example by developing an organisational policy on risk management as a clear statement of management commitment, including roles and responsibilities in job descriptions and performance appraisals, embedding risk management in all aspects of programme design and implementation and ensuring training for all staff on risk management.

At a minimum, a common approach to identifying and assessing risk would enable more comprehensive understanding and more effective management of risks across the sector. One step forward could be to ensure that risk assessment is integrated into common needs assessments and analysis.

The attached paper explores the range of contextual, programmatic and institutional risks involved in humanitarian action, and how these risks are viewed and managed by the humanitarian community. The underlying assumption of this paper is that adopting a common approach to risk may enable a more sophisticated under-standing of the risks inherent in a particular context, and more effective management of those risks.

This paper is located here: HPG 2011 Risk in humanitarian action – towards a common approach