Protection and HFA
In this section we will see why considering protection in humanitarian food assistance programmes is important, and how protection can be mainstreamed and integrated into humanitarian food assistance.
What is protection for the Commission?
The Commission defines humanitarian protection as addressing violence, coercion, deliberate deprivation and abuse for persons, groups and communities in the context of humanitarian crises, in compliance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence and within the legal frameworks of IHRL, IHL and Refugee Law.
In the context of humanitarian crises, the fundamental objective of protection strategies is to enhance physical and psychological security or, at least, to reduce insecurity, for persons, groups and communities under threat, to reduce the risk and extent of harm to populations by seeking to minimise threats of violence, coercion and deliberate deprivation, reduce vulnerability to such threats, and strengthen (self-protection) capacities as well as enhancing opportunities to obtain safety and dignity.
Why is protection important in Food Assistance programming?
Alongside food assistance measures that directly address food consumption requirements, complementary or supporting measures are considered vital. Protection is one of these complementary response options. In particular, the EU aims to ensure that, protection risks and protection opportunities are properly evaluated in considering the consequences of both intervention and non-intervention. See more details in the Thematic Policy Document No. 1.
This means that protection must be mainstreamed in all HFA programmes and that where protection risks may trigger, or arise from, acute food insecurity an integrated approach to HFA and protection should be applied.
How can we ensure that this approach is adopted in the framework of humanitarian food assistance programs?
First, it is essential to conduct an in-depth contextual analysis, because it will allow us to understand who are the persons or groups at risk, which are the threats they face, who are the perpetrators and how to design the action in a way to overcome, minimise and respond to these threats.
A protection analysis will therefore offer a more nuanced understanding of threats, vulnerabilities and capacities of the population in question, while at the same time allowing for more appropriately targeted interventions, helping to enhance the safety of the target group and minimising the risks resulting from the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Once done the analysis forms the basis for mainstreaming as well as integration.
Prioritize safety and dignity, and avoid causing harm
Prevent and minimize as much as possible any unintended negative effects of your intervention which can increase people’s vulnerability to both physical and psychosocial risks.
– Food, cash, vouchers or livestock interventions may make people more vulnerable to certain protection problems, such as attacks. The ownership or management of these types of assets,which may be particularly valuable in an emergency, may place people at greater risk of violence, abduction or abuse. Analysis of the local security environment including in relation to ownership patterns, recent history of looting or raiding, husbandry practices and the need to access livestock services or markets is necessary to identify highrisk practices and activities.
– Beneficiaries may face problems, particularly with sexual assault and robbery including at official or unofficial checkpoints while travelling to and from a distribution point. The environment through which beneficiaries must travel must be safe for all the people concerned. If safety is a problem special efforts should be made to move the point of delivery close to a beneficiary’s home or provide transport to ensure safety.
Participation and empowerment
Support the development of self-protection capacities and assist people to claim their rights.
– Make sure beneficiaries know they have a right to equitable and safe assistance, and where and how to obtain it.
– Consult men, women, boys, girls, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to understand their needs and preferences for location, design, and methodology of assistance. Direct observation and discussion groups with representatives of the community to identify the adaptions that are needed for the most vulnerable.
– Ensure that food or livelihood committees are representative of all groups within the community (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic group, etc.). Include targeted measures to ensure the effective and meaningful participation of representatives of the all groups in the community.
If an integrated approach is considered appropriate the following should be considered
How can protection objectives and activities best help to achieve a HFA outcome and how can HFA objectives and activities best help achieve a protection outcome?
Key questions to discover this include:
– What is the violation or abuse faced by the persons/groups/communities; who is causing the violation or abuse; what is driving the abuse? Does the search for food security or livelihood opportunities increase the risk of succumbing to violence or abuse – e.g. using roads, going to the fields, etc. and/or does it increase resorting to dangerous coping mechanisms (such as begging, transactional sex)?
– What are the individual characteristics making people vulnerable to the threat? Livelihood activities, age, gender, length of exposure, location, ethnicity, disability, family status, health, local customs and regulations, etc.? Are certain groups at particular risk to food insecurity due to discriminatory practices?
– What capacities are there to build on to reduce the threats and vulnerabilities? Community organisation, alternative livelihood skills, relations with local authorities, etc.?
How to address – some examples
ECHO, Children in Emergency and Crisis Situations
ECHO, Communication: A special place for children in EU external actions
ECHO, Funding Guidelines: Humanitarian Protection
ECHO, Gender-Age marker toolkit
ECHO, Gender and Age sensitive aid webpage
ECHO, Gender in humanitarian aid: different needs, adapted assistance
ECHO, Guidelines for funding School Feeding
ECHO, Guidance for Integrated Protection & Food Assistance Programming
The European Union, Action Plan on Children’s Rights in External Actions
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What is protection in Humanitarian Assistance programs?
Protection has to be taken into consideration