The Risks of Asking Questions

Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) Conversation on Minimizing Risk in Humanitarian Information Environments

The Community Voices for Better Protection (CVBP) project is born out of the well-established mantra that information is aid. And that better informed people are less vulnerable to risk and better equipped to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. But in a crisis, access to information can become extremely difficult, and even when information channels and platforms are available, the information space is increasingly contested and complicated to navigate. As a result, communities impacted by crisis sometimes place themselves at great risk accessing quality information to inform decision making. 

With this project, Internews aims to help protection actors and the wider humanitarian community to better understand the information environment they are operating in. At the same time, civil society, local media and global platforms can also benefit from a better understanding of protection mainstreaming principles to create a safer environment for the people they engage with.  

Because only then, better informed people will be less vulnerable to the risks they face and are better equipped to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.  

Access to information needs to be analyzed from the perspective of affected communities, and with local media and other information providers, including humanitarian actors. Simply providing information is not enough in a world where information can be weaponised, mis- and disinformation undermines trust and people in crisis are increasingly forced to weigh risks and benefits of sharing, creating, or asking for information.  Denial of information is itself a protection risk, and a lack of accurate information or misinformation can also exacerbate other protection risks and create barriers to accessing essential public and humanitarian services. 

With funding from the US Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, the CVBP project brings together expertise from the humanitarian world, including the Global Protection Cluster and combines it with the wider information and communication expertise sitting outside the usual humanitarian circles.  

During the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks 2023, Internews organized a conversation, benefiting from the insights of Caitlin Howart, the Director of Operations from the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab, IRC Anti-Trafficking and Protection expert Marina Solecki, Stijn Aelbers, Senior Humanitarian Advisor at Internews and moderator Kim Scriven, Executive Director, H2H Network. 
Check out a recording of the event below: