• The Open University

Introduction to Safeguarding in the International Aid Sector

Become a safeguarding specialist and learn how to lead, develop, and implement a strong safeguarding policy in your organisation.

2,174 enrolled on this course

Introduction to Safeguarding in the International Aid Sector

Learn about safeguarding policies and procedures in the aid sector

This course will help those working in NGOs and development and humanitarian agencies to better understand the causes of harm, abuse, and exploitation.

You’ll learn what power and responsibility you and others in your organisation have for addressing these issues, and how to help change organisational approaches to safeguarding.

Discover the key principles of safeguarding

A strong safeguarding policy is key for all international aid organisations and their staff working with and for children, young people, and vulnerable adults.

On this course, you’ll learn about the different forms of harm, abuse and exploitation that may be suffered by those coming into contact with your organisation.

You’ll develop your understanding of the associated indicators of these issues, and identify the safeguarding risks for those you work or come into contact with.

Implement an effective safeguarding framework in your organisation

Using evidence-based safeguarding standards, you’ll learn how to put effective systems and structures in place to reduce the safeguarding risks associated with your work.

By designing preventative, reporting and response mechanisms for handling safeguarding issues, you’ll build the skills to develop a culture of accountability in your organisation and in communities, that encourages people to report and respond to safeguarding concerns appropriately.

Access safeguarding training from international development experts at the OU

This course is created by The Open University and led by a world-leading safeguarding trainer who has worked with many of the world’s leading international aid and humanitarian agencies.

The course material was developed with advisors from BOND and the CHS Alliance, as well as with insights from a senior academic specialist in safeguarding.

What topics will you cover?

  • Definitions and reasons for harm, abuse and exploitation – reasons for abuse, types and indicators of harm, power and privilege
  • Safeguarding cycle – identification, prevention, reporting, response, learning.
  • Prevention of all forms of harm, including sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH), risk assessments, safer recruitment, codes of conduct, use of personal data, and images of children and vulnerable people.
  • Reporting of abuse and exploitation – complaints mechanisms, whistleblowing, confidentiality
  • Responding to abuse and exploitation – appropriate, victim-centred, referrals, investigations
  • Assessment and monitoring of safeguarding policies and learning from safeguarding concerns raised

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the risks associated with those who work for, or are engaged with, your organisation when they are in contact with others.
  • Summarise and explain the different forms of harm, abuse and exploitation and associated indicators that may be suffered by people with whom your organisation works.
  • Apply a safeguarding framework based on international standards and donor requirements to improve on safeguarding policies, procedures, and practice.
  • Design appropriate preventative, reporting and response mechanisms to handle safeguarding concerns.
  • Develop a safeguarding culture of accountability in your organisation and in communities for safeguarding concerns to be reported and responded to appropriately.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for all staff in development and humanitarian agencies working in global development, most likely in international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

If you work in such an organisation in human resources, protection, compliance, or monitoring and evaluation, this course will support you in taking on the role of Safeguarding Lead or Officer for your organisation.

It is widely acknowledged that there is no certified, advanced level, or comprehensive safeguarding training for Safeguarding Leads, and this course will support the career pathways for aid workers looking at becoming a safeguarding specialist.

This course is intended for 18+ only.

This online course has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

Please note: this course is facilitated by Aneeta Williams, Phillippa Ramsden, and Vicky Ferguson from 26 April until 6 June 2021.

Who will you learn with?

An international human rights lawyer and expert in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, gender and sexual violence, and human rights and IHL in the international aid sector.

Giles Mohan is a Professor of International Development at The Open University and has developed many courses aimed at professionals working in international development and humanitarianism.

Vicky currently holds the role of Global Safeguarding Lead at an INGO. She has 15 years' experience in international development and supporting children and young people in a range of settings

Andy Rixon is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University, specialising in children, young people, and families. Andy has a background as a social worker

Philippa Ramsden is an international development professional. She specialises in safeguarding and organisational effectiveness and has worked globally in education with a focus on inclusion.

Lecturer in Global Development at the Open University: Educator, Researcher, Analyst, Advisor, and MOOC maker.

Simon is currently the Transition Officer & Global Safeguarding Lead at an INGO. He has led projects and operations in India, East Africa and Latin America over the past 12 years.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Endorsers and supporters

funded by


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