HPN, Humanitarian Practice Network,ODI, Overseas Development Institute
The findings of five community-based studies on self-protection in Myanmar, Sudan, South Sudan and Zimbabwe are presented in this network paper. The studies shows how vulnerable people take the lead in activities to protect themselves and their communities, and how local understandings of protection vary from how the concept is used by international humanitarian agencies. Although local understandings and self-protection activities are hugely important for everyday survival, they are rarely acknowledge or effectively supported by aid agencies. Furthermore, the case studies also illustrate that although self-protection strategies may be crucial for survival, they are rarely fully adequate and that local agency cannot be regarded as a substitute for the protection responsibilities of national authorities or international actors. The paper rather suggest two distinct but complementary approaches to protection. To strengthen local capacities for self-protection, and to generate the political will to prevent or stop targeted attacks on civilians.