Security policy

Akvo’s security policy is intended to ensure the safety and security of Akvo employees, contractors, family members authorised to accompany Akvo staff during work activities and third parties.We aim to provide the same level of security and protection for our partners and third parties as we do for our own staff.

The policy consists of several components:

  • Travel policy (including a checklist for travelling Akvo staff)

  • Crisis management protocol

  • Incident report format

  • Evacuation plan for staff that are abroad

  • A roadmap meant to help make decisions concerning travelling to foreign countries.

1. Basic Risk Factors

There are 11 basic risk factors which have been proven to influence the probability of an incident. It is necessary to discover the underlying causes of accidents at an early stage, and to implement appropriate risk reduction measures, in order to reduce the effects and chance of an incident. Every factor is analysed for its relevance to Akvo. Some basic risk factors are merged in this policy and others have been omitted, because they are unrelated to Akvo’s work processes.

The eleven basis risk factors that affect the risk of an accident are:

  • Design of equipment and tools

  • Quality of equipment and tools

  • Presence, comprehensiveness and accuracy of instructions and procedures

  • Physical operating conditions such as temperature and noise

  • Daily maintenance (order and cleanliness) of the workplace

  • Proficiency and experience of staff

  • Conflicting goals (safety versus production)

  • Communication

  • Roles and responsibilities

  • Management of maintenance

  • Presence and operation of controls and protections.

The seven risk factors that are described in this policy are:

  1. Design and quality of Akvo equipment, tools and vehicles

  2. Presence and comprehensiveness of instructions, policies and protocols

  3. Physical operating conditions including workplace conditions

  4. Proficiency and experience of staff

  5. Safety versus production

  6. Communication

  7. Organisation structure.

Akvo will keep analysing and updating these factors according to our own experience.

1.1 Design and quality of Akvo equipment, tools, vehicles and road safety

Akvo does not use machines with moving parts in its processes. The only machines Akvo uses regularly are computers and mobile phones and they do not present a relevant security risk to Akvo’s employees.

However, when Akvo personnel travel abroad, vehicles (taxis, buses, trains, etc.) could cause dangerous situations if they are not properly driven or maintained. Drivers can cause dangerous situations if they do not respect local traffic laws. Akvo staff should be aware of the state of the vehicles in which they travel, and if possible, avoid using poorly maintained vehicles. Paying attention to safe travelling by car really reduces the risk of an incident because car accidents are the greatest risk to aid workers in developing countries.

Regarding office safety, Akvo equips its offices throughout the world according to local laws. If there are no local laws (or laws are incomprehensive), the minimum level of safety of an office will be based on Dutch regulation.

1.2 Comprehensiveness and presence of instructions, policies and protocols

Akvo will always take responsibility for its staff members. This means we will provide clear procedures and instructions to staff. All documents should be clear and understandable for every team member and partner. Every Akvo employee will be instructed on how to execute their work in a safe and secure way. Akvo has a crisis management and evacuation plan in place so that there can be an accurate response in case of an emergency situation. In case of a crisis, everyone should know his or her role. And after such a situation, everyone should know what steps to take in order to get back to normal working conditions.

1.3 Physical operating conditions including workplace conditions

Akvo prioritises team members’ health above work commitments and takes responsibility for its members’ health during work and work-related travel. Akvo will ensure its staff are protected as far as reasonably possible against diseases or other health-endangering factors.

Staying healthy while traveling requires more than just getting vaccinated. When you are in an unusual environment the probability of getting ill is higher than when you are in your home environment. The main causes of illness are bad hygiene, bad food and getting bitten by mosquitoes. 

1.4 Proficiency and experience of staff

Akvo team members should be aware of the risks they encounter when they travel for work. Akvo takes responsibility for the security of its team members. This means that Akvo recommends team members who often travel to developing countries for Akvo should participate in security training. A security refresher session will be held at each Akvo Team Week in order to update and remind team members of security issues and how to deal with them. Every year, the Akvo management team discusses the incident reports of the previous year and any security problems encountered. New staff members should read the Security policy and will receive a short presentation about the risks of travelling.

1.5 Safety versus production

The safety of Akvo staff always comes first. This means that no unnecessary risks will be taken and Akvo will support decisions made by team members to prioritise safety above production and assets. This applies not only to the safety of our own staff and contractors, but also to third parties. Akvo will try to prevent unintended harm to other people. 

1.6 Communication

Akvo staff communicate with other team members, partners and the outside world using various different media such as email, Skype and Twitter. In case of emergency, the Akvo Crisis management team will deploy a controlled communication strategy to provide proper and thorough communication to Akvo team members and outside parties. Every team member should be aware of the sensitivity of information in crisis situations and should handle information with care. Akvo team members should only share information about a crisis situation after being granted permission by the Communications manager of the Crisis management team. Important decisions in a crisis situation will be recorded and made available for future reference.

1.7 Roles and responsibilities

In case of a duty trip, working time will usually be considered to be beyond the actual working hours. Therefore this Security policy applies 24/7 to Akvo members when they are on a work-related trip.

Whenever Akvo team members go to an area of their own choice, which has no relationship with Akvo working activities and is not part of their work for Akvo, Akvo will not take responsibility for any incidents. If an employee wants to combine a holiday with a work trip, a clear moment in time needs to be agreed upon that separates the holiday from the Akvo trip. 

Akvo holds the right at all times to withdraw a member from an area or country.

2. Evacuations

In the case of a sudden dangerous situation, staff may need to be evacuated. In such a case, they will be brought to a safe location nearby, or in case of a longer-term situation, to a suitable Akvo office. Local staff members and their families will be evacuated to safe areas within the region.

3. Travel decisions

Akvo staff should not travel to any location unless it meets the basic security requirements described in the Akvo travel decision model. 

4. Code of conduct

Akvo’s Code of conduct ensures our standards of efficiency, mutual respect, professional conduct and safety. Every member of Akvo should be aware of the following points outlined in the Code of conduct and take them into account in their work:

Respect and care for our partners

Akvo has a professional approach to partners and clients. We respect foreign cultures, religions and other habits and provide an open working environment in which everyone can develop themselves. All team members act as representatives of Akvo and should be aware of this in their behaviour, especially when they are travelling for Akvo. Team members should always put their own safety and that of their companions above work obligations.

Respect for culture and customs

Akvo team members should respect the laws, culture and customs of the country they are in. In particular, dress codes, religion, alcohol usage and other restrictions. Some topics that can be seen as controversial (e.g. narcotics, abortion, faith and politics) must be treated with sensitivity.