Achieving Policy Coherence in Challenging Environments: Risk Management and Aid Culture in Sudan and Afghanistan

  • Duffield, Mark R (Principal Investigator)

Project Details


The past two decades the number and range of aid agencies working in conflict-affected fragile states has increased. Encouraged by donor governments seeking comprehensive solutions, the aid system is now engaged in ambitious programmes of social and political transformation that encompass recovery and reconstruction, political stabilisation, peace-building, state-building, humanitarian relief and development.

While usually taking place in so-called post-conflict situations, aid agencies working in such programmes often experience continuing violence and insecurity. Indeed, it is now widely held that aid work is more dangerous than in the past. While security measures have increased, including the growth of field-security training, the rise to prominence of the security officer and recourse to heightened physical security measures, including fortified aid compounds and restrictive travel protocols, there is little research on the implications of this securitization including its impact on achieving ambitious policy goals.

Project aim and geographical focus
Focusing on South Sudan and Afghanistan, this research investigated how perceptions of threat and actual risk-management practices by UN agencies and international NGOs challenge their ability to achieve key programme aims in fragile states.

Outputs and impact
Existing research on the growing risk to aid workers has tended to focus on external causes; for example, the breakdown of law and order or, alternatively, the politicisation of aid. This approach tends to ignore those factors that are internal to the system itself and the conscious choices and calculations being made by donors, aid agencies and aid workers. In other words, existing research focuses on issues that aid agencies, other than ramp-up security, can do little about while ignoring those that they can.

An International Reference Group representing key agency and policy interests was established as a platform for feedback and discussion. Besides journal articles and conference presentations, other outputs include a synthesis Policy Review published and disseminated through the ODI network, and an interactive Workshop Framework, which was piloted in Afghanistan, and is designed to help agencies explore the issue of risk and security.
Effective start/end date1/10/101/10/12

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Global Insecurities Centre


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