Our Work

Delivering excellence in social development consultancy and research


Why we work on safeguarding

Data on the extent of misconduct perpetrated by individuals associated with organisations delivering development and humanitarian aid is currently limited, though initial research suggests that this is very high. Sexual, physical and emotional violence, exploitation and abuse can both take the form of happening within international development organization but is also perpetrated by staff, contractors and volunteers targeting beneficiary populations, especially women, girls and boys.

Our approach and experience

Our approach to safeguarding is grounded in structural power analysis, such as gender inequality, social exclusion and age differences. We recognize that the majority of individuals who experience violence perpetrated by individuals employed in the international development sector are women and children, particularly girls, and that this is reflective of wider social norms in our community where forms of gender-based violence and violence against children are frequently accepted.

We also support organisations to understand the spectrum of violence: recognising that different forms of violence are all interconnected and constitute a form of coercive control, we believe violence needs to be addressed holistically. 

We help our clients understand the root causes of the type of harm that they may see within their organsiations and programmes, helping them develop strategies to mitigate these and to respond to safeguarding concerns that may emerge.

Our services

We offer support to develop and review an organization’s or programme’s full safeguarding framework, including developing relevant policies, and procedures including in relation to human resources, operations and programme implementation. In particular we can offer the following services to support your safeguarding work:

  • Development and reviews of safeguarding policies and procedures in relation to both child safeguarding and protection from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment
  • Support to senior management teams and boards to understand their safeguarding responsibilities, promote positive organizational cultures and address gender discrimination
  • Development of safeguarding frameworks for programmes and fund managers
  • Safeguarding research and evidence reviews
  • Safeguarding due diligence reviews
  • Training and capacity building  

Some examples of our work include:

  • Safeguarding diagnostic tool for senior management/boards: We have developed a diagnostic tool to help senior executives to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their organisation’s safeguarding approach. This tool is delivered through a one-day workshop for your board/senior management team.
  • Safeguarding support on the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC): We lead the safeguarding work conducted on the GEC. Our experts have developed the overarching safeguarding framework and policies for the Fund Manager to address both child safeguarding and prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, and currently support 41 projects on meeting safeguarding standards.
  • Support to the DFID Safeguarding Unit: Desk research through the Violence against Women and Girls Helpdesk to summarize evidence, lessons and best practice on safeguarding globally to inform policy development.
  • Safeguarding due diligence for DFID Sierra Leone: We conducted a comprehensive safeguarding due diligence for a new adolescent girls project delivered by an organisation that had previously not worked with DFID. The review included making recommendations for both the implementing organisation and DFID on strengthening approaches.

Recently completed projects

School violence guidance note:

In 2018 we were contracted by DFID to produce an evidence-based guidance note for advisers on how to address school violence. The guidance note supports advisers to integrate safeguarding into their education programmes with different types of delivery partners. It also proposes entry points to address school violence when working with:

  • Children
  • Teachers and school leadership
  • Parents and communities
  • National and local authorities

The guidance note includes a specific focus on working on school violence in fragile and conflict affected contexts and offers advice on how to programme to prevent and manage attacks on schools, including attacks on both pupils and teachers.

The guidance note integrates a gender and social inclusion lens throughout to support advisers to ensure approaches to address school violence are focused on addressing drivers of violence and that response is tailored to those most likely to experience school violence.

Review of national educational strategies to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation in East Asia and the Pacific for UNICEF:

In 2018, SDDirect was contracted by UNICEF’s regional office in Bangkok to conduct a literature review of national educational strategies to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE) in East Asia and the Pacific. The report looked at both online and offline CSAE, arguing that these forms of violence are closely intertwined and cannot be distinguished from each other. The report looked at four main ways that online CSAE takes place:

  • Production and dissemination of child sexual abuse material
  • Live streaming of sexual violence against children
  • Online grooming for CSAE which can start online and can continue to remain online or also take offline forms
  • Non-consensual sharing of self-generated sexually explicit material

The study found that these forms of violence, as well as other forms of CSAE, are widespread in East Asia and the Pacific.

The study found much of the evidence of educational strategies to address CSAE is from high income countries and tends to focus on addressing offline CSAE, with only a small number of programmes addressing online CSAE. Few initiatives were identified specifically in East Asia and the Pacific. Of the programmes identified the majority of the initiatives identified were part of broader educational efforts to keep children safe online and took place primarily in countries with high internet penetration. Most of these initiatives tend to be focused on primary and secondary school students, teachers and parents, helping them to identify the risks of the internet, promote safe and responsible internet use and keep children safe online. They are often delivered at the school and complemented by online resources, and are typically public-private partnerships between Ministries of Education, technology providers and child rights organisations.

Overall, the evidence base on what works to tackle CSAE in educational programming is at an early stage and there is very limited robust evidence on the effectiveness of CSAE-focused initiatives within the region. Few comprehensive assessments or evaluations of education programmes tackling CSAE have taken place.