Tailored Security Support for Transaid

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Gary Forster is Chief Executive of the international development charity Transaid.

Since 2009, RedR UK has been providing Transaid with support and training on safety and security. As a result, Transaid’s Senior Management Team is "confident that we have the tools and understanding to operate in insecure environments without putting our staff at risk." 

Transaid’s relationship with RedR dates back to 2009, when I was head of programmes. In January of that year, I took the Security Management course at RedR’s HQ in London. I'd been with Transaid for two years and was about to go and work for them in Kano, northern Nigeria. The five-day course was very informative, the simulations were realistic, and the take-away materials very practical. The following month, I moved to Kano, where I worked alongside an incredibly capable and passionate local team on a maternal health and immunisation programme.

Putting learning into practice

In July of the same year I was with two colleagues in Damaturu, Yobe State. It was a Monday morning when we heard that Boko Haram had launched attacks in two towns either side of our location. As the wider project team in that state met and discussed options for evacuation, I felt well placed to contribute and indeed refreshed my memory of the security principles using the RedR materials on my laptop. Based on what I had learned about security I was able to contribute to a variety of conversations, including those regarding communications, liaising with security forces, and the logistics associated with our evacuation. 

The Boko Haram uprising of July 2009 killed more than 1,000 people. I am grateful that RedR's training equipped me to help with the management of this situation and provided a certain amount of peace of mind under difficult circumstances.

"We now serve as an example to our partners"

Following my completion of the Security Management course, we have since put two of our other programmes team on the same course. On top of that, RedR’s Security Team have supported us as we developed our security policy and individual country security plans. RedR has also facilitated crisis simulations with our Senior Management Team. Over four years we have conducted two of these and they have proved extremely useful in stress-testing our processes and response. Our security approach is now robust enough that our partners often ask us for our policies and country plans as examples for them to use in the field!

While I think RedR's courses are professionally run, using appropriate and effective training methodologies, I think the added value lies in a) the experience of the trainers, who can give practical, real-world examples; and b) being in a room with participants from other NGOs who can also share their experiences. 

I can categorically state that since developing a relationship with RedR back in 2009, Transaid's security approach has gone from non-existent to comprehensive. As a Senior Management Team, we feel confident that we have the tools and understanding to operate in insecure environments such as Nigeria and Madagascar without putting our teams at risk.