Essay Sample on Humanitarian Action on Risk Management

Published: 2023-01-24
Essay Sample on Humanitarian Action on Risk Management
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Social work Risk management
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1074 words
9 min read


There are numerous risks that humanitarian organizations face and before they launch operations in a specific jurisdiction across a specified timeline, they must assess them and know how to reduce them or work around them (Jachens, Houdmont & Thomas, 2019). Three sets of pieces in the humanitarian puzzle can get affected by risks; they are the workers, the people requiring the aid and the resources; this includes equipment that the humanitarian crew is carrying and the products planned for distribution to calamity victims. Risks that humanitarian organizations face are not homogenous; they are almost the same that any organization; profit or non-profit face in their daily operations (Metcalfe, Martin & Pantuliano, 2011). Most of these organizations are independent, and they want to remain unbiased so that they can attract many donations when they are needed. This step is one and many others are what are known as humanitarian risk management.

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Types of Risks

All the risks that these organizations face are classified into three. Contextual risks, programmatic risks, and institutional risks. The three have different jurisdictions, and they independently affect the operations of the organizations (McCallum, Liu, See, Mechler, Keating, Hochrainer-Stigler & Szoenyi, 2016).

Contextual risks refer to the factors that the organizations have no or little control and this includes the failure of state organizations to offer security, poor communication, and transport systems to coordinate their operations, immense corruption within a jurisdiction, diplomatic ties between the country that the organization originates from and the country receiving the aid, humanitarian crises (Schneiker, 2018). Sometimes the country receiving dictates the number of organizations that can access the hit area and the kind of operations they can conduct.

Programmatic risks relate to the operations of the humanitarian organizations in the areas that are affected by a calamity. Each organization has a set of objectives, missions, and visions. Sometimes the goals are too high or the surrounding environment that does not allow for timely progress (Green, 2015). This risk displays risks that other parties can suffer due to the programs of a humanitarian company. There is the acknowledgment that there may be numerous humanitarian organizations in a jurisdiction and that the activity of one may affect the programs of the other. In a highly volatile area; especially one that the locals are fighting against each other, one community may attack the other when they notice that they are receiving large amounts of help. This threat is also passed to the humanitarian workers, and this disrupts operations.

Institutional risk refers to the internal risks that a humanitarian organization faces before and during its operations. Part of the problem may be that the organization loses its human resource due to fear or insecurity (Dijkzeul & Sandvik, 2019). As stated in the earlier parts, some donors who give substantial amounts of donations may require the organization to have different objectives from their own, and this confuses. Humanitarian organizations are always under the scrutiny of laws, national security concerns, and politics. When they follow all the rules and guidelines of the various parties, their options are reduced, and they are sometimes forced to abandon their duties. The other risk is that donors may fail to show up due to the complexity or simplicity of the calamity; donors tend to avoid politically volatile circumstances.


Security is always the most pressing risk because, in all environments, the human resource is always facing imminent danger from legal authorities, the communities that they help directly, and the hostile neighbors. Collaboration is the most effective solution to programmatic risks and contextual risks that humanitarian organizations face. Here independent humanitarian organizations are advised to liaise with international organizations like Red Cross and united nation bodies (Ozdamar & Ertem, 2015). Most organizations always want to maintain their independence and impartiality because they want to stick to their objectives. These objectives cannot get achieved when the organizations are new in a new area, and they lack a proper outlay of how the governmental and local systems run (Dencik & Allan, 2017). However, by collaborating with other international humanitarian organizations that have experience with the system by laying down the operation boundaries with the relevant authorities, then they can understand how to manage their risks.

Crowd donations is another solution that organizations can use to reduce the institutional risks where donors are pulling out, and the organization remaining cash strapped (L'Hermitte, Bowles, Tatham & Brooks, 2015). The demerit of this risk management tactic is that it requires a great deal of accountability and transparency, and this brings a band of critics to the organization. In the long term, this tactic may harm the reputation of the organization and lead to its early death. In other times Organizations are also urged to train their workforce on simple defense skills and working under pressure (Heaslip, Kovacs & Haavisto, 2018). This aspect ensures that the workforce endures in diverse environments and stick to the main objective. The organization would benefit if they train their staff and make them understand the types of risks they would be facing while on duty. Before accepting their jobs formally, the staff can sign consent forms to acknowledge disclosure of full information and acceptance of responsibility whenever the risk actualizes.


Dencik, L., & Allan, S. (2017). In/visible conflicts: NGOs and the visual politics of humanitarian photography. Media, Culture & Society, 39(8), 1178-1193.

Dijkzeul, D., & Sandvik, K. B. (2019). A world in turmoil: governing risk, establishing order in humanitarian crises. Disasters.

Green, D. (2015). Fit for the Future? Development trends and the role of international NGOs.Oxfam GB.

Heaslip, G., Kovacs, G., & Haavisto, I. (2018). Cash-based response in relief: the impact for humanitarian logistics. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 8(1), 87-106.

Jachens, L., Houdmont, J., & Thomas, R. (2019). Effort-reward imbalance and burnout among humanitarian aid workers. Disasters, 43(1), 67-87.

L'Hermitte, C., Bowles, M., Tatham, P., & Brooks, B. (2015). An integrated approach to agility in humanitarian logistics. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 5(2), 209-233.

McCallum, I., Liu, W., See, L., Mechler, R., Keating, A., Hochrainer-Stigler, S., ... & Szoenyi, M. (2016). Technologies to support community flood disaster risk reduction. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, 7(2), 198-204.

Metcalfe, V., Martin, E., & Pantuliano, S. (2011). Risk in humanitarian action: towards a common approach. HPG Commissioned Paper. London: ODI.

Ozdamar, L., & Ertem, M. A. (2015). Models, solutions and enabling technologies in humanitarian logistics. European Journal of Operational Research, 244(1), 55-65.

Schneiker, A. (2018). RiskAware or RiskAverse? Challenges in Implementing Security Risk Management Within Humanitarian NGOs. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 9(2), 107-131.

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