NGO Security Coordination

Collaborating and working interdependently on security can be beneficial for NGOs, but also carries some risks. Reasons to coordinate on security include: 

  • Capacity for security management may be low;
  • Cost-effectiveness/economies of scale;
  • Challenges of security management for many agencies;
  • Benefits of common systems and procedures;
  • Safety in numbers; and
  • Funding to support a number of agencies can be provided by a donor through one source


 Possible risks include:

  • Creation of dependence on others that may not be reliable, especially if funding declines;
  • Undermining or failing to build agency capacity;
  • Shared arrangements could leak out and undermine security; and
  • Danger of one weak link destroying the chain.


Possible security coordination tasks or functions include:

  • Coordinating phone/SMS security tree
  • Supporting general security communications
  • Liaising with governmental authorities, international and national military forces, including a UN peacekeeping or political mission, and private security companies, (therefore allowing the NGOs to keep themselves at arms’ distance from military and political actors, where necessary)
  • Contingency planning
  • Facilitating evacuation planning (security and medical)
  • Convoy planning and coordination
  • Collating and analysing security incidents and trends and producing security threat reports and data
  • Sharing hardware and providing technical support, e.g., for radio networks and handsets
  • Undertaking incident management and investigation
  • Creating and supporting a full security management system including safe house or locations, technical support
  • Maintaining a database of security experts, or links to global information on security experts and trainers
  • Sourcing or developing and making available guidelines and standard operating procedures for security management
  • Providing introductory security briefings for new managers or senior staff of agencies, as well as technical assistance and advice to individual agencies
  • Conducting or coordinating/arranging security training
  • Crisis management: providing support with contingency planning; and facilitating in-extremis support, e.g., if an agency suffers a critical incident such as the kidnapping of staff, the platform might be able to provide additional analysis and support through local networks
  • Creating a consolidated set of security positions and advocacy messages to feed into local and country platforms, influencing key stakeholders on security matters


Additional resources

ECHO (2006) NGO Security Collaboration Guide , Brussels, commissioned by DG ECHO

Humanitarian Outcomes (2014) Aid Worker Security Report 2014: Unsafe Passage: Road Attacks and their Impact on Humanitarian Operations, Humanitarian Outcomes,

Humanitarian Practice Network (2010) Humanitarian Security Management, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine, Issue 47 June 2010, Humanitarian Practice Network

Humanitarian Practice Network (2010) Operational Security Management in Violent Environments (Revised Edition), Good Practice Review No. 8 December 2010, Humanitarian Practice Network (original version by Koenraad Von Brabant 2002)

Stoddard, A. & Harmer, A. (2010) Supporting Security for Humanitarian Action: A Review of Critical Issues for the Humanitarian Community, commissioned by the conveners of the Montreux X conference, Humanitarian Outcomes


Relevant Websites


Basic Security Training in the Field II – e-learning course by UNDSS on security, 2011

Advanced Security Training in the Field - e-learning course by UNDSS on security advanced, 2011


There are also some country-specific examples of NGO security coordination and associated documents in the library – search security