“INSO’s achievements and impact on improving wider humanitarian coordination on safety and security issues have been positive.”
External Strategic Review, (DFID, June 2015 p.33)
The International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO) is a British charity that supports the safety of aid workers in high risk contexts.
INSO provides registered NGOs with a range of free services including real-time incident tracking, analytical reports, safety related data and mapping, crisis management support, staff orientations and training.
INSO services help NGOs with their day-to-day risk management responsibilities and improve their overall situational awareness to support evidence-based humanitarian access decisions.
Contemporary armed conflict poses unprecedented challenges to humanitarian organisations in delivering aid to vulnerable populations.
Whereas in the context of international armed conflicts aid workers are attributed formally recognised protection under international humanitarian law; today the changing nature of conflicts and the proliferation of non-state armed groups often mean that this assurance is no longer guaranteed.
While many NGOs take individual measures to mitigate the risks, coordinated action between agencies - seen by many as the more important requirement - has lagged behind with no common system at field level prior to INSO.
INSO was designed to fill this gap and today serves as the primary safety coordinating mechanism for NGOs operating in high risk contexts.
Humanitarian access is the ability of NGOs to reach populations in need as well as the ability of those populations to reach the aid and protection they need. It is a complex and ever changing dynamic involving a host of considerations and challenges.
INSO works to support the first side of this equation - NGOs accessing populations in need - by improving situational awareness and enabling humanitarians to make more evidence-based access decisions.
Of course, situational awareness alone does not create humanitarian access - and can do the opposite - but where NGOs are seeking to expand access high quality, relevant and up to date safety information has been shown to play a vital role in the process.
Any co-operation mechanism is only as good as the participation it enjoys from its members, which is why all INSO platforms are started and monitored by the humanitarian communities they serve through a voluntary Advisory Board.
Each Advisory Board represents the NGO community towards INSO in that country and holds concrete powers to set the services and monitor INSO's performance in delivering them.
This simple yet highly effective mechanism guarantees transparency, participation and accountability even as the context changes.
ensures the confidential management of information and registration processes
and provides a comprehensive internal policy environment that guarantees accountability and protects against risk.
Since 2011, INSO has revolutionized the humanitarian safety coordination sector by introducing a robust and high quality field safety platform model that has been deployed in some of the world’s most high-risk settings.
The strong focus on humanitarian principles and exclusive NGO-only membership criteria have caused INSO to become generally accepted as a standard component of modern humanitarian response offering independent frontline reporting and coordination services that save lives, strengthen operational practice and enable humanitarian access.
"Across all contexts, INSO’s reporting has improved upon the reliability, scope and depth of information previously available to NGOs. In all countries where INSO has established a platform, there was no comparable organization previously providing the same scope and quality of services that INSO provides. In providing member NGOs with access to timely, relevant and accurate safety information and analysis, INSO has elevated NGO awareness of security risks and mitigation measures."
(June 2015) Independent Strategic Review - Building Global Capacity in Humanitarian Safety: How the International NGO Safety Organisation is impacting the Humanitarian Safety Coordination sector - (Jackson, A., p.29)