Chidimma Okoye currently serves as Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Director of Widows and Orphans Empowerment Organisation (WEWE). She has over 15 years of professional experience in Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Adaptation. Previously, Chidimma was the Director, Quality Improvement and before that, the Senior M&E Specialist/Advisor with WEWE. She has served for several years as M&E Specialist with various non-governmental organisations.
Recently, the Safeguarding Resource and Support Hub (RSH) facilitated a training for WEWE staff and partners on safeguarding. The training topics ranged from introduction to safeguarding and risk management, to the role of leadership in promoting safeguarding in an organisation. The training also tackled how safeguarding fits into different units/functions of an organisation, including human resources, safe programming, communications, and media and partnership.
The session on risk management made me realise the various safeguarding risks organisations face. As an M&E Director in my organisation, I am interested in how to mitigate the various risks and the role of M&E in the process.
During the training, we participated in interactive group work. I was part of a group that reflected on the risks and mitigation plans for programmes. Together, we have discussed possible organisational risks and proposed mitigation actions. We have come up with the below outcome.
Risk: Aim and objective will not be achieved because the focus groups are not considered in the programme design.
Mitigation: Involve the vulnerable groups and necessary stakeholders in the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation.
Risk: Programme participants will be at risk because there is no complaint and feedback mechanism (CFM) in place.
Mitigation: Provide adequate CFM and ensure it is safe in collaboration with programme participants; create awareness of CFM.
Risk: Poor communication in the right language as well as lack of communication material.
Mitigation: Ensure that proper language including local dialect is used during communication and engaging with community members and program participants. Design pictorial information education and communication (IEC) materials in local language.
Risk: Harms and abuse are not identified early enough because there are no indicators to monitor the programme.
Mitigation: Develop SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound) indicators and ensure adequate monitoring.
The key takeaway for me is that risk management is fundamental to the prevention of safeguarding issues in an organisation. I encourage other organisations to take risk management seriously, as it provides the platform to assess and plan for risks, thus contributing immensely to quality programme implementation and achievement of programme goals and objectives.
There are, however, some barriers that militate against these plans and they include funding, insecurity, natural disasters, and a knowledge gap on safeguarding. I, therefore, use this means to call on donors/funders to commit resources and funding for safeguarding, which will ultimately lead to quality programming and achievement of set goals and objectives.
Have you discussed the risks and mitigation plans for programmes in your organisation? What was the biggest takeaway for you? Share in the comments below!