Janet Anaele is a dedicated and multi-faceted professional with over 6 years of experience implementing developmental and humanitarian programmes. She has supported various organisations to strengthen their safeguarding policies and practices. Janet has worked in different thematic areas such as Gender-Based Violence and Harassment, child protection, safeguarding and psychosocial support. Janet is also a certified member of the GBV Case Management Pool of trainers for Nigeria with UNFPA/UNICEF and a trained safeguarding mentor with RSH Nigeria.
As part of the RSH Nigeria mentorship program, I recently facilitated a two-day Staff Safeguarding Awareness Training for a civil society organisation (CSO) I mentor, Community Support and Development Initiative (CSADI) in Kano State. The aim of the training was to increase the safeguarding knowledge of key CSADI staff members.
Safeguarding is still a relatively new topic in the development sector in Nigeria. Trainings and discussion on safeguarding especially Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Sexual Harassment (SEAH) can be complicated.
SEAH is a sensitive issue in any society and thus requires the trainer to employ strategies to make participants engage in the sessions. To effectively convey safeguarding messages safely, sensitively and strategically to participants, I ensured the training was properly planned and driven by contextual safeguarding trends and practices and not delivered as a “tick box” exercise.
I worked closely with the CSADI safeguarding mentee to contextualise the training resources and issues by developing “real context specific” scenarios, infusing culture, beliefs and motivation while explaining in local dialects to help foster engagements and interactions, and to make sure participants truly comprehend what safeguarding means. The training was highly participatory and generated lots of interesting questions and comments based on the unique context of Kano State.
“Since the mentoring started on safeguarding, we were able to re-develop our policy,” participant Rafiat Mustapha Lawal, the HR officer and safeguarding focal person for CSADI, said after the training. The policy the organisation used to have mostly addressed child protection not safeguarding as a whole, she said. In addition, CSADI decided to go to the communities to further the safeguarding work.
“We have male peer educators, we have ward supervisors, we have community mobilisers that we are going to step the training down to,” Rafiat said.
Facilitating a contextualised training means that participants would ask questions as related to their circumstance. For instance, a question was asked around children having a role to play in contributing to the family’s income; comparing street trading and street begging (called Almajiri, referring to a young person in the local vernacular, begging on the streets who doesn’t attend secular school), with the justification that trading is better than begging. These are major concerns in that state and context. It was however clarified that both are forms of child labour and are not justified even in circumstances of extreme poverty as that work can pose risk to children’s long-term physical or social development.
The participants reflected on the all-day, every day application of the Code of Conduct.
“I understand that safeguarding encompasses everything everywhere, not only necessarily in your place of work, but it involves the community, even your home,” a participant said. They added that child bullying also brings up safeguarding issues.
Another staff pointed out the importance of safe recruitment, “The starting point in ensuring our organisation is safe is making sure we recruit safely,” said Rafiat Mustapha Lawal.
Safeguarding is everybody’s business including the board, and this is reflected by a board member’s statement. “As a board member, I have to monitor safeguarding work in the organisation and make sure safeguarding principles are being adhered to strictly,” said Professor Adetokunbo Adebola.