A learning process: what leaders say about safeguarding

Oge headshot

Oge Chukwudozie is a safeguarding/protection professional, with over 15 years’ experience in the aid sector. She has worked with different organisations, including Africare, Christian Aid and Save the Children. Oge has worked in various thematic areas such as education, HIV/AIDS, livelihoods, nutrition and emergency response. She is currently the National Associate for the RSH Nigeria Hub.

The RSH Nigeria Hub has recently had a roundtable meeting with leaders of civil society organisations (CSOs) and asked about the benefits of having a good safeguarding system. The participants also discussed challenges and their own role as leaders in strengthening and promoting safeguarding systems. This blog post captures some of their experiences and recommendations.

“I think this is a learning process,” said Bose Ironsi, Executive Director of the Women Rights and Health Project at the meeting. She added that she was happy to be part of this process.

And we are promising that we are going to take safeguarding beyond just developing policies. We have a responsibility to ourselves, to our organisation and to the community we serve and to the country, Ms Ironsi said.

For benefits of a good safeguarding system, participants said that a friendly atmosphere for the staff and other representatives was needed as well as accountability and improved organisational integrity. On the other hand, promotion of respect and dignity for community, Accountability to Affected Persons and inclusion were of benefit for communities.

Group discussion at roundtable meetingGroup discussion at roundable meeting

Leaders have a role to play in creating efficient safeguarding systems. Some of these roles include setting the right tone by having an effective organisational safeguarding culture and reducing risks by risk assessment and mitigation. The participants also identified some essential steps for promoting safeguarding in organisations, and these include

Ensure that all-inclusive and robust policies are in place and see to the implementation,

Mainstream safeguarding in all organisational processes including HR, monitoring and evaluation, program design and implementation.

Roundtable attendees also talked about challenges, which include limited understanding of the concept of safeguarding and a lack of political will and buy-in by management team. To overcome these challenges, participants recommend ensuring that safeguarding is on the organisation’s front burner and developing safeguarding-sensitive proposals. Proposals should include clear budget lines for safeguarding to ensure that funds are available for safeguarding activities.

As participants voiced commitment for boosting the organisational safeguarding culture, they highlighted practical steps too. “I commit to making safeguarding a major component of the on-boarding training for new staff,” said Mshelia Wayuta Birma, the Executive Director of Hope Interactive. He also committed to strengthening the feedback and accountability mechanism of his organisation.

Leaders also emphasised the importance of transparency and the motto of “Do no harm.”

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