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Implementing projects in risky places

""Flooded areas of Gonaives, Haiti after Hurricane Jeanne, where roads are inaccessible, Sept. 15, 2008. Selecting the image will take you to the original on a third party site.

One important aspect of governance for disaster organisations is risk management, as by their very nature, organisations whose remit is to implement disaster-related interventions face a range of risks.

Those risks to operations may be from various external sources, such as environmental hazards or political or financial conditions. Risks may be directed towards different facets of an organisation: for example, operational continuity; staff and beneficiary welfare and safety; or organisational reputation. Therefore, disaster organisations need robust and resilient risk management processes to protect their operations and their staff.

Projects need to be managed in such a way that risks are known and controlled where possible. This is not a concept which only exists in disaster intervention (DI) organisations, but in fact it is found throughout most sectors – the process of project risk management is often applied to construction projects, for example. Its emphasis is on risks to the successful completion of the project in terms of quality, completion and costs.

Risks that need to be considered and controlled with respect to disaster interventions are conceived somewhat differently, but the outline process of risk management for projects given below is relevant:

  • Risk identification
  • Assessment and analysis of risks
  • Prioritisation of risks
  • Plan mitigations for risk
  • Planning for the occurrence of residual risk
  • Monitoring and evaluation

No matter what the focus of an intervention, it is also now recognised that all potential hazards and impacts are considered across the ‘boundary’ of the intervention in order to ensure a do-no-harm approach. Organisations need to take a holistic and long-term view of their projects.

Your task

Considering our water supply and flood scenario for the two contrasting country contexts Haiti and Bangladesh, identify three to five potential operations or project risks faced by the implementing agency as they develop and carry out projects. How might risks to projects be reduced or controlled?

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This article is from the free online course:

Disaster Interventions and the Need for Evaluation, Accountability and Learning

Coventry University