In a report published by the Global Interagency Security Forum (GISF), security risk management professionals recently discussed the need to embrace agile risk management techniques and focus on “preparedness rather than prediction.” Recent global events – such as the COVID-19 pandemic and violent conflict in Ukraine – have shown that this has never been more important, and is something that Integrity has a great deal of experience in.

Whether working in complex environments such as Afghanistan and Syria, or supporting USAID/South Sudan through the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Support  (MELS) activity, Integrity is committed to putting the safety of our project delivery teams front and center. However, we also know that situations can change quickly, and there is a need to build robust resilience into all aspects of our programs.

Risk management has always been a core capability underpinning our work. We are adept at designing processes that enable us to look at interactions between context, operations, and delivery to identify and prioritize specific risks, limit uncertainty, and generate manageable and impactful responses.

Employed in a number of complex interventions, this approach enables us to identify ways to protect and maintain our core delivery and propose ways to adapt projects to meet arising needs and changing funding priorities. A clear example can be seen in the risk management approach taken in the five-year small business set-aside MELS activity awarded to Integrity in October 2021. As part of its Strategic Framework 2020–2024, USAID/South Sudan assists the South Sudanese people through a network of implementing partners who deliver a range of development and humanitarian interventions across the country.

Through the MELS activity, we are providing a suite of services that includes monitoring, evaluation, and learning technical assistance for the mission and all implementing partners. We aim to strengthen knowledge management and organizational learning, whilst also improving data-driven decision making through the efficient use of digital mapping, including geographic information systems (GIS) and innovative spatial analysis. The program is ambitious, but it must also be safe and sustainable.

Such is the dynamic nature of the South Sudanese operating context that risk management is essential. In practice, this means that most of our project personnel are locally recruited, coming from the same areas in which they work. This strengthens project resilience and contributes to high-quality programming. Locally recruited personnel also have a better understanding of the local context, which can in turn support improve access to hard-to-reach areas.

Connections with local communities and stakeholders also have the potential to improve understanding and can lead to better decision making around fieldwork, feeding into robust and dynamic risk management. Clear and regular communication between the field and field office is open and essential.

At the field office level, our dedicated Security Risk Advisor is responsible for ongoing security risk management for the whole project. They are also responsible for maintaining contact with both project decision makers and field teams. This staff member ensures risk management procedures are always followed, reducing the risk exposure that project personnel face to an acceptable level.

At the wider project management level, periodic internal reporting includes standing updates on live risks, both new and existing, tracked and managed on an iterative basis. Meanwhile, at the head office level, dedicated staff with risk management responsibilities oversee developments. The Security Risk Advisor meets regularly with the operations team and checks that established internal and client-side reporting procedures are respected. For a worst-case scenario, the South Sudan program has crisis management plans in place.

We have found that our approach is effective at both surfacing risks not previously considered and exposing unseen opportunities. This has allowed us to engage early with our clients and partners to

jointly manage risks, reduce the negative impacts, and rapidly pivot to new opportunities, adjusting plans and allocating resources.

Get in touch to discuss how Integrity can support your program delivery through robust risk management in times of crisis.

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