Safeguarding ToolkitThe Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) created a report to address why aid effectiveness and quality are so important to development goals. Increasing effectiveness is defined as ensuring that the most impoverished populations are receiving quality aid to improve their quality of life. In order to achieve this, donors and developing countries must be mutually respectful of one another in order to achieve the desired development goals. This means countries providing aid and on-the-ground development need to be mindful of and respectful to the communities they are aiming to lift out of poverty. A community-based safeguarding toolkit was launched to ensure that people are aware of their rights and protections when it comes to developmental aid efforts.

Dignity at the Center of Aid

Jonathan Glennie of Open Democracy presents the question, “What if dignity was placed at the heart of all development work, from planning, through implementation, to evaluation of its impact?” Glennie explains the importance of a dignity-centered approach when lifting individuals and communities out of poverty and how such an approach is a more effective way of alleviating poverty. Engaging in foreign aid with dignity for communities experiencing extreme poverty leads to the empowerment of these populations. According to Glennie, when communities are empowered they can reach their real goals, resulting in concrete benefits such as improved health and food security, quality education and higher incomes.

Safeguarding Toolkit

The concept of mutual respect and dignity is now generally accepted as a norm in the development world. However, communities are not always aware of their rights. Given this, Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam International and WaterAid collaborated to launch a “community-based safeguarding visual toolkit” in February 2021, with plans to review and update the toolkit in 2022, resources allowing. The toolkit was created to allow humanitarian and development organizations to give visual information regarding the Six Core Principles Relating to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse to the community members these organizations are working with.

NGOs are continuously evolving and many have recognized that safeguarding measures will be most effective with intentional and focused community engagement. This toolkit was designed to protect and embolden communities in which development is taking place to understand their rights, prevent exploitation and abuse and promote a speak-up culture in the world of development globally. The toolkit has been released in 24 languages so far and can be downloaded for free, making it widely and equitably accessible.

Encouraging Ethical Development

The toolkit contains 11 key messages with 29 corresponding visuals. Some examples of these messages are “aid workers are not allowed to ask for or accept bribes for aid” and “aid organizations encourage complaints — there are safe ways to complain.” Other visuals explicitly state community members’ rights against sexual abuse and/or exploitation by aid workers. These visuals are not intended to be a stand-alone effort in creating respectful and ethical development efforts but are to be utilized in conjunction with wider training and conversations.

Strategic and ethical aid promotes the economic prosperity of developing communities while creating self-reliance. It is important that such communities are aware of their rights and are engaged in the development process. This community-based safeguarding toolkit is working to ensure that efforts to lift people out of poverty respect the basic rights of the communities humanitarian organizations serve.

Tatiana Nelson
Photo: Flickr