Making the Human Security approach work

Publication date: 31 Mar 2017 Organization: ZOA

Evidence from ZOA’s Human Security programming in DRC, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Afghanistan

Instability and insecurity directly affects the lives of many who live in volatile and conflict ridden situations across today’s world. Traditionally aid agencies have been involved in humanitarian assistance or development to address short and long term needs. Working in volatile and confl ict settings has been responded to by working in, around or on conflict. Human security is a concept that regards community security a public good and as essential to address as humanitarian or development needs. Donors have promoted human security as an organising principle for their aid and foreign policy objectives (Brown and Grävingholt, 2016) and in line with those interests have encouraged NGOs, and other actors, to make the concept more central in programme design and implementation. 

This paper reflects on the experience of ZOA, an INGO headquartered in the Netherlands, in putting the concept to work in contexts characterised by volatility and conflict volatile situations across 7 countries. ZOA’s experience shows that human security can be pursued in creative and flexible ways with communities expressing significant improvements in their ability to mitigate conflict and build peace. ZOA’s experience also highlights that important challenges remain to achieve sustainable human security. A key condition is for donors to stay committed to funding flexible programming and to promoting aligned and co-ordinated strategies. This to enable complementary action by multiple actors as required in the creation of human security.


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