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Safeguarding Background

Safeguarding has come under increased attention and scrutiny since early 2018, when reports of abuses and failure to act correctly in development and humanitarian work sparked intense media attention. This highlighted the importance and urgency to transform the standards of safeguarding practice and capacity in the international development sector. The impact of Covid-19 has also emphasised the need for strong safeguarding measures, as those who are most vulnerable are left exposed to increased risks and with less access to services.

The international development sector was quick to act following the reports and media attention, and the Alliance engaged with national actions.

Scotland’s International Development Alliance (SIDA) was represented at the high level Safeguarding Summit held at Westminster on 5 March 2018, which resulted in a joint pledge to:

  • Demonstrate accountability to beneficiaries and survivors 
  • Demonstrate a step change in shifting organisational culture
  • Ensure that safeguards are integrated throughout the employment cycle
  • Ensure full accountability through rigorous reporting and complaints mechanisms

In October 2018, SIDA participated in the UK government’s international safeguarding conference: Putting people first: tackling sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the aid sector. At this conference, Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt MP announced a range of measures to be introduced by the UK Government. There were key outcomes and takeaway messages of the Summit, and these committed to improvements on the following four long-term fundamental changes:

  • Ensure support for survivors, victims and whistle-blowers; enhance accountability and transparency; strengthen reporting; and tackle impunity 
  • Incentivise cultural change through strong leadership, organisational accountability, and better human resource processes 
  • Adopt global standards and ensure they are met or exceeded 
  • Strengthen organisational capacity and capability across the international aid sector to meet these standards 

Since 2018, SIDA, in collaboration with and funded by the Scottish Government, has continued to play an active part of the movement to transform standards, and has put considerable resources and effort to ensure that organisations in Scotland which are working overseas are supported in their safeguarding approaches.

How has Scotland’s International Development Alliance contributed to transforming safeguarding standards?

Over the summer of 2018, an initial research project* was carried out to establish a picture of existing policies and what support the sector felt it needed. This led to the development of the “Safer for All” Safeguarding Support Package. 

This was followed by our Safeguarding Project October 2019-May 2021. The key aim of this project was to transform the capacity and standards of safeguarding across the sector. Our three aims were:

  1. To strengthen capacity in safeguarding, particularly in leadership of organisations
  2. To develop the capacity of safeguarding training and expertise in Scotland
  3. To ensure that resources and tools are available and appropriate for Scotland based organisations working in international development.

Key outputs of this work include:

  • Research Study (pdf)
  • Development of this Safer for All Safeguarding Support Package
  • Safeguarding Policy Development Guide (pdf)
  • Establishment of Safeguarding Working Group
  • Safeguarding Training for Trustees
  • Series of webinars and information sessions on Trustee Essentials, Reviewing Safeguarding Policies, Investigations, and Safeguarding for Leads and Focal Points
  • Online courses for Safeguarding Leads/Focal Points and on Leadership and Safeguarding Culture
  • Collaboration with Malawi Scotland Partnership in safeguarding support
  • Contribution to developing sector tools such as Bond’s Leadership and Safeguarding Tool small NGO version (Developing and modelling a positive safeguarding culture | Bond)
  • Collaboration and liaison with sector developments, with FCDO Safeguarding Unit, Bond, Funder Safeguarding Collaborative etc.

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