Risk Management and Security
Our work is conducted in hard and chaotic circumstances - and this presents our staff with serious safety and security challenges. These volatile contexts also demand robust risk management.
Wherever we work we identify, rate and - wherever possible - mitigate all potential risks to our operations. In 2018, all country programmes reported separately on their risks and mitigation measures, which was consolidated in our comprehensive ‘risk matrix’. It has proven difficult to manually consolidate global risks while still maintaining a detailed view on local risks and following up on individual action points.
In order to facilitate this process and professionalize its risk management, War Child intends to roll out a global system for risk management in 2019. A first orientation on available systems has taken place in 2018.
War Child continuously monitors safety and security issues - to uphold the safety of our staff and the children who take part in our programmes.
2018 brought with it some significant challenges. Rising tension in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) brought significant security concerns. The contested elections in DR Congo and the faltering peace process in South Sudan demanded we make rapid adaptations to our programmes.
We foresaw and responded to these changes in context and moved to act with the timely recruitment of a regional security advisor for our African country operations. This was a move to both increase security risk management capacity and improve the training of our staff.
Across 2018 as a whole 13 security incidents directly involving or affecting our work were recorded - fortunately none had serious consequences for our people.
Combatting Fraud and Corruption
Fraud and corruption pose a significant threat to our organisation - not only in financial terms but also with regard to our reputation and credibility. War Child continuously updates and strengthens its mechanisms to combat fraud - and 2018 was no different.
The year saw the rollout of a strengthened anti-fraud and anti-corruption (AFAC) policy across the entire organisation. This policy initiative was introduced with another new policy to intensify our response to any potential incidents of money laundering in the course of our operations and prevent us from working with any sanctioned parties.
Seven suspicions of fraud were reported over the course of 2018. Most of these attempts were detected thanks to the vigilance of our staff - meaning that losses could be prevented or recovered fully - although one incident unfortunately resulted in a US$3,500 loss.
One incident of fraud from 2017 was resolved in court during 2018 with all judgements found in War Child’s favour.
We work tirelessly to combat fraud in order to limit it to the absolute minimum - and have zero tolerance for fraudsters.
War Child is exposed to a variety of financial risks - including risks related to grant funding and exchange rates. A robust system of internal controls is in place to reduce any such risks.
Our organisation is also dependent on political and economic developments, which may impact the availability of financial contributions to our work from governments. We limit the impact of such adverse developments by maintaining a balanced donor portfolio.
Our Fundraising Complaints Policy
Our Fundraising Complaints Policy is robust and outlined in full on our website. War Child strives to respond to complaints within two working days - and we succeed in 99 per cent of all cases.
In 2018 we registered 218 complaints related to our fundraising - 121 more than we received in 2017. This increase can be attributed to our decision to pilot new public fundraising initiatives - not all of which were successful or well received.
We conduct our work in complex and unpredictable circumstances - and this context presents a number of operational risks. We frequently work in partnership with local organisations to deliver our programmes - and we have stringent polices and tools in place to ensure partners share our vision and can meet our performance targets.
Compliance with recognised standards to ensure good conduct and best practice is a vital part of our work - and any deviation can present significant risks. We have compliance-proof operating procedures in place to reduce these risks - even in remote management and emergency intervention contexts.
Our robust recruitment procedures are outlined in more detail in the Our People chapter of this report. Our efforts to combat data and IT security risks are outlined in the ICT and Operational Support section of this report.
The safety of the children and young people who take part in our programmes is of paramount importance. That’s why we’re a member of Keeping Children Safe (KCS) - a global network of organisations striving to ensure children are safeguarded and protected from all forms of abuse.
We strengthened our efforts to uphold the safety of our programme participants in 2018 with the rollout of a new Child Safeguarding Policy during the first half of the year. The policy ensures that War Child staff remain aware of potential child safety concerns and engage in behaviour that prevents abuse.
Over the course of the year 32 child safeguarding concerns in total were reported. The vast majority of reports related to staff from our partner organisations. We received multiple reports of physical and emotional abuse meted out by staff from one of our partner organisations in Lebanon.
We investigated every concern reported - and closed each case with an accurate response.
War Child’s reputation is one of our most valuable assets - yet we cannot completely control how the public perceives our organisation. What we can do is actively engage in and monitor public debate through open and transparent communication. This is reflected in our Statement of Integrity - which you can read at the end of this report.
News in 2018 concerning abuse and sexual misconduct by NGO workers - particularly the sex scandals uncovered in Haiti during February - deeply affected the humanitarian sector. Our response - which saw the rollout of several new staff policies - is outlined in the Our People chapter of this report.