Research on Increasing Transparency on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Aid Sector

All aid NGOs should be encouraged to report sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) when it occurs. Currently there is under-reporting of incidents where people affected by crisis are abused by the very people meant to support them. Even when cases are reported, each NGO working in aid has their own way of recording this information, and not all NGOs make these reports public.

More and better quality of SEA data would mean that we are able to analyse and identify the scale of the problem, as well as the main exploitation and abuse issues that the aid sector needs to confront.

To tackle this problem, CHS Alliance and the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response have started to explore taking a standardised and comparable approach to collecting data on SEA incidents in aid work. The first step is GCPS Consulting’s research report Increasing Transparency on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Aid Sector.

Key findings from the report:

  • Currently aid NGOs do not take a common or comparable approach to collecting and reporting information on cases of sexual abuse, exploitation, or harassment (SEA) that occurs in the course of their work. Organisations are using very different reporting systems and so information is not available or useful for analysis to better understand the extent of SEAH in aid work.
  • The current arrangements of NGOs reporting different SEAH information to different donors can lead to challenges in maintaining confidentiality of the people involved.
  • Humanitarian and development organisations are willing and open to taking a harmonised approach to SEA reporting. Generally, study participants agree that a more harmonised approach to data collection and reporting on SEAH incidents would bring many advantages, if set up with a clear purpose and scope, together with an inclusive approach.
  • Initial principles for a harmonised SEA in aid reporting system were identified as:
    • Protection of victim/survivor
    • Confidentiality and data protection
    • Inclusivity
    • Common definitions
    • Simplicity
    • Transparency
    • Accountability

Next steps:

No one organisation can overcome problem of SEA in isolation. To root out unacceptable behavior in aid work, everyone must engage with creating transparent and effective systems to prevent and protect people affected by crises.

We now need as many aid organisations as possible to engage with CHS Alliance to develop a standardised framework proposal on SEA data collection and reporting system, based on this research.

Join the CHS Alliance member PSEAH Community of Practice to be part of the group working on this important project. If you’re not yet a CHS Alliance member, email our PSEAH Manager Coline Rapneau with your feedback on the research, suggestions for what a standardised framework could look like, any concerns you have, or to find out more about piloting the approach in 2022.

This project is funded with UK aid from the UK government.

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