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09/06/2012

Strengthening our acceptance strategy, a daily effort

Security management is first of all a lot of common sense. In addition, humanitarian security needs to be seen as a way to enable a better access to communities, as well as protection to these communities to access the aid system. Each JEN office must adapt a local security protocol which reflects JEN’s Organizational mission, its own specific country mission and includes each of the three elements of the security triangle: acceptance, protection, and deterrence.  An effective local security protocol must balance all three elements.

In a country like Haiti, where main security threats are to be at the wrong place at the wrong moment, or to become a target for criminals, a strong acceptance strategy with supportive protection and deterrence elements is ideal.  Acceptance is never granted and has to be built on daily basis, through the programmes of course, but also through all the networking and the links that are built with the communities where we work and whom we live amongst.

In Grand Goave we live in the countryside, in a nice house above the beach. It’s relatively easy to build strong relationships with the entire neighborhood. Especially that we have implemented projects there over the last 2.5 years and are supported by our guardians who are all from the close area. Acceptance is then the major part of our security there, under the condition to be strengthened every day.

In Leogane, a larger city, our past and current programmes help. Nevertheless new relations built with the neighborhood are strongly needed to ensure other residents consider us as part of them, and so offer the same protection than for all inhabitants. It had been quite well developed by the team, talking with residents, going to the front shop, walking the streets, sometimes sharing some songs of pleasure… This was fortunate: due to the work we are supporting in the streets of Leogane, the surrounding wall collapsed, as it happened for many residents. But this is not a real problem finally. On one hand it showed that we do not have a specific situation towards the construction work: we are like all residents. On the other hand, everybody knows the team; nobody would have the idea to come in without being invited. Of course our guards remain there, as protection and deterrence to support this acceptance strategy, but everything’s fine so far.


Leogane’s JEN Compound’s broken surrounding wall
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In Port au prince, where we just moved in a new area, the acceptance challenge is more important and needs to be tackled with energy: we cannot count on our programs, as we never developed any in the capital. That’s why efforts are done to meet neighbors, to be seen in the street, to be known.
Few hours after we arrived, most of the area already knew that foreigners now lived here, would have they seen us or not. Therefore it would have been a huge mistake, reinforcing eventual rumors or phantasmagorias, to live enclosed within our walls. That’s why, with the support of our guards, we have decided to open the doors during the day, and so to live in true relation with our neighborhood. This is like this Haitians live, so we. Till now it works, and it looks like people understands that, finally, we are not so different and without anything to hide.
The more they will know us, the more we’ll be protected.


Port au Prince’s JEN compound entrance
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September 6, 2012 in Haiti |