Training - When Disaster Meets Conflict

Cover of Security guidelines for field research in complex, remote and hazardous places

Security in fieldwork

Security guidelines manual

Together with Lucy Hodgson and Bram Jansen, Dorothea Hilhorst and Rodrigo Mena have developed a manual to assist researchers in conducting their field-based research or fieldwork in hazardous, remote or complex environments as safely and securely as possible.

The first section of the publication deals with the particular security considerations posed by field-based research and suggests a set of ethical guidelines for field-based research.

Section two is about fieldwork and details how to conduct context analysis and risk assessment as well as how to plan and stay healthy during the course of field research.

The final section is largely comprised of checklists and key considerations to assist researchers in managing their own personal security, both in terms of preventive and reactive measures.

The Manual is available in English, French, and Arabic. A Spanish translation will be available soon. 

Training events

In addition to releasing the manual, we have teamed up with ISS and the Erasmus University of Rotterdam to raise awareness of individuals about safety in the field, as well as to develop institutional measures which can and should be taken to increase the safety of researchers during the fieldwork.

A first successful ISS internal training was conducted in October 2018. A new training will take place in October 2019.

Advocacy for safe fieldwork

Universities have long lagged behind in creating a security system for researchers including a policy, training, and insurance.

This blog post by Dorothea Hilhorst looks into the difficulties associated with ensuring the right for researchers to conduct their research safely - 'A Double Message about Safety and Security for Field Research: “Protection Is Crucial” and “Don’t Overdo It”.

MOOC: disaster response in conflict situations

We are currently developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on accountable, high-quality and ethical responses to disaster in conflict-affected areas. The MOOC is meant primarily for practitioners, but also open to students or otherwise interested people. Publication date: 2020

The MOOC consists of two parts:

  • an E-trajectory that stimulates participants to think about humanitarian aid in contexts where conflict is ongoing, lingering, or has characterized the setting in recent times, as well as about the hard choices and dilemmas faced by humanitarian actors in conflict settings.
  • an interactive forum that stimulates shared reflection and discussion between peers. As such, the MOOC offers participants a unique online learning and sharing opportunity and aims to build an intra-organizational community of reflective practitioners and students of humanitarian aid.

 The main contribution of this platform, in comparison to other E-courses that are currently offered in the humanitarian field (including open access, free and/or paid courses) is:

1)    this MOOC moves beyond theoretical, politically correct and/or normative frameworks of what aid should be or should look like, instead shifting focus towards realistic cases and urgent problems that actually characterize humanitarian aid in on-the-ground conflict settings.

2)    the MOOC draws attention to a situation that is as common, as it is neglected in current research and policy making: the nexus between disaster and conflict, and the impacts thereof for effective aid in these settings.