Photo credit: Max Slaughter/Saferworld
Photo credit: Max Slaughter/Saferworld

Saferworld's annual review 2018-19

We believe in a world where everyone can lead peaceful, fulfilling lives, free from fear and insecurity. 

Our 2018-19 annual review shares highlights from some of our work including how we are working with partners to put Sustainable Development Goal 16+ into action; tackle gender-based violence in Somalia; use WhatsApp for peacebuilding in Yemen; and push for more progress in controlling the arms trade.

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Paul Murphy
Executive Director


As Saferworld reaches its 30th birthday, I have reflected on our launch in 1989 as a small independent research organisation. I am proud of our international standing in the world today, as an expert and well-respected organisation working hand-in-hand with communities and partners around the world to prevent violent conflict and build peace. This recognition is the result of our efforts over three decades, of building partnerships that have given crucial strength and credibility to our organisation. Read more

A message from...

Jeremy Lester
Chair of the Board

In November 2019, we celebrate Saferworld’s 30th anniversary. As we reach that significant milestone, we have a chance to reflect on our achievements. Today, we are at the leading edge of policy development and practice on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, strongly rooted in the lived experiences of communities we work with – people who face conflict and insecurity every day. We know that we would not be the organisation we are today without the expertise, commitment and exceptional skills of our many partners, who are fundamental to our work. Read more

30 years of Saferworld

As Saferworld celebrate its 30th anniversary, this timeline takes a look at our work over the last three decades and illustrates the global context surrounding it.

Building the best possible partnerships

Throughout Saferworld’s 30-year lifespan we have put people at the heart of our approach, believing that people and communities in conflict-affected countries should lead long-term efforts for structural change and lasting peace. We work in partnership with organisations that work in and with communities affected by conflict, recognising them as best placed to create change. Saferworld has formal partnership agreements with over 60 partners in the countries where we work, and we have affiliations with many others.

In 2018–19, we took forward commitments from our strategic plan and reviewed our partnership approach. We developed a new, more reciprocal Memorandum of Understanding, to ensure our partners hold us to the commitments we make in our partnerships, and to enable partners to have greater influence in decision-making and in determining how funds are used.

To ensure our work with partners supports them to develop as organisations, we provided spaces for peer-to-peer learning and exchange for Saferworld staff and our partners. Last year, this included learning exchange visits for our South Sudanese partners to share experiences on programming, organizational governance, finance and learning from working with communities. We also brought partners to our organizational learning event in Hargeisa. Our regional programmes pooled knowledge and experiences, shared challenges and solutions, and fostered cross-organisational collaboration and learning.

Ensuring a seat at the table: civil society voices in global policy spaces

2030 Agenda in action

Despite efforts to make global policy forums more inclusive and open, they often remain closed and inaccessible to civil society groups. Saferworld is committed to redressing this imbalance, to make sure that those most affected by conflict, injustice and exclusion can reach the decision makers involved in setting policies relating to peace and security. This includes the peace and security-related goals within the SDGs, known as SDG16+.

In March 2019, we launched a campaign together with the International Peace Institute and the Transparency, Accountability and Participation Network to showcase the ‘Voices of SDG16+’ at the international level. The campaign partners invited civil society groups – no matter how big or small – change agents and activists to submit short videos explaining how their work is contributing to peace, security, justice and equality (SDG16+). Over 150 videos were submitted from a range of contexts – from Guatemala to the Philippines, Cameroon and Afghanistan.

"Civil society represents the public and it has a vision that is different from the views of government. Including civil society from the beginning … [and throughout all] global processes makes the Sustainable Development Goals more inclusive, more responsive and based on the needs and the demands of the public." – Guleid Jama, lawyer and founder of the Human Rights Center in Somaliland. 

The 13 winning entrants were sponsored by campaign partners to participate in various events at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York in July 2019. This provided an opportunity for them to share their experiences of tackling conflict, injustice and exclusion, bringing their lived experience to a global policy stage.

The campaign was also an opportunity for us to work with other peace, development and human rights organisations – including the Life and Peace Institute, Article 19, Conciliation Resources and Peace Direct, among others – to maximise our outreach to those working on SDG16+ around the world.



In action in Somaliland

In Somaliland, there is a great appetite for civil society engagement in global policy spaces, epitomised by the decision to establish a SDG16+ Coalition of Somaliland civil society organisations. In February 2019, we supported the Chief Justice of Somaliland and our partner, the Human Rights Center, to attend the Global Justice Partners Forum in The Hague. The forum, which brought together 150 justice leaders, officials and experts from around the world, provided an opportunity for a side event on how to increase access to justice in Somaliland. The Chief Justice and Guleid Jama, a lawyer and founder of the Human Rights Center, spoke about recent developments in the justice sector and shared the experience of the SDG16+ coalition.

An integral gender perspective

Understanding the links between gender, peace and security is fundamental to Saferworld’s work.

Our 2017–21 strategic plan identifies five organizational objectives, one of which is to challenge and transform the gender norms that cause and perpetuate insecurity and violent conflict. We have mainstreamed gender sensitivity across the organisation and throughout our work, integrating a strong gender perspective into our community security programming, working with partners to understand the particular challenges faced by women and girls, and supporting women’s participation in public debate, policy-making and peace processes.

Partnering against gender-based violence in Somalia

Following the collapse of the government in 1991, Somalia has endured decades of violent conflict. On top of these dangers, women and girls must contend with a unique set of challenges that include sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), discrimination and lack of access to justice. Despite the hardship, significant efforts by civil society organisations to better the lives of women are making a difference.

In an attempt to restore stability to people’s lives, Saferworld is working in partnership with the Somali Women’s Development Centre and the Somali Women Solidarity Organization. The aim is to address insecurities through community groups that amplify people’s voices, particularly those who are marginalised, and to help build peace from the bottom up.

Salma, a mother of nine and a member of a Saferworld-supported community action group, fled Somalia with her children after violence erupted in her home town: “I’ll never forget at the border in Elwak when we met those who we were fleeing from. With us were injured people, women, children, even leaders. As we rested, we were attacked from all sides.”

In 1995, Salma returned during a period of relative calm. Upon her return, she found her home occupied and no formal legal structures to claim it back. She has since lived in a camp for internally displaced people in the port city of Kismayo, where she faces ongoing insecurity. “Thieves will rape women, mothers and young girls alike, by scaring them with knives, because the houses we live in are not secure; some live in houses made of plastic canvas and iron sheets.”

According to records, each month over 100 cases of SGBV are reported to the Somali Women Development Centre. The centre provides legal assistance and psychosocial support to victims of SGBV and other forms of discrimination.

"I appreciate the efforts of the
community group; they have
helped heal our wounds and we would like them to stand with us until we get justice." – Asha.

Saferworld is also supporting the formation of community action groups which act as champions for their communities’ safety. Made up of 20 men and women members, they act as contact points for communities to get help in addressing their grievances, as well as working to change the attitudes of authorities and communities alike.

Asha, a mother in Mogadishu, came into contact with a community action group after her daughter was sexually assaulted on her way to evening school. “It was when we took my daughter to the hospital for treatment that I met someone who told us he would connect us to an organisation that deals with violence against women and girls. The group helped us to get justice through legal aid and a fair trial. The perpetrator was jailed for six years and fined. The counselling [facilitated by the community action group] has helped my daughter a lot. There were times when she could not even talk; she used to lock herself in the house and not eat well for days. My daughter is much better now.”

Cultural gender norms in Somalia often prevent women from seeking justice. From interference of elders and families in customary law, to the absence of women within the police and judicial systems, women often bear the brunt of injustice.

“The community action groups have successfully advocated for the recruitment of women in the police service and even in the courts to handle issues relating to women in Kismayo. It was not possible for women to get their rights before the community groups got involved and I congratulate them for their efforts,” explains Shukri Abdi, an elder and a member of an action group in Kismayo.

In their communities, many women’s primary safety concerns were the assault and abduction of children. Asha in Mogadishu said there was a pattern of kidnapping and killing children to remove their vital organs. “We usually keep our children indoors during the evenings,” she explained. Salma in Kismayo said, “I talk to my children about security. I tell them not to take sweets or money from strangers; do not go to where people are gathered; do not go to other people’s houses.” Concerns such as this are often identified at bi-weekly meetings hosted by the groups with the wider community. These meetings also help to raise awareness of priority concerns and to connect the police with community members to discuss individual cases and plan next steps.

As for Asha, the road ahead to get justice for her and her daughter is a long one, as the perpetrator’s family continue to challenge the prosecution. But community groups have had a lasting impact on her life.

Supporting young peacebuilders to take the reins

In many fragile and conflict-affected areas, young people make up a significant proportion of the population. Young people have enormous potential to build peace in their communities but they are often denied the opportunity. Instead, they are frequently stigmatised, seen as agitators of conflict, excluded from political processes and not given a say in decisions that affect their lives.

Over the last 12 months we have supported young people in leading the work to create safer communities. Young people’s efforts to promote understanding, tolerance and peace – often in areas that are hard to reach – are vital, and their work demonstrates adaptability, pragmatism and creativity. They are laying the groundwork for peacebuilding, and they are contributing to the social fabric of their communities.

Keeping hope alive: WhatsApp peacebuilding for Yemen’s young people

Yemen is facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, after an outbreak of conflict in 2015. Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since the escalation of the conflict in 2015, Yemeni peacebuilders have had to adapt to heightened insecurity and restrictions on movement. The conflict has taken a substantial toll on young people, drastically reducing their opportunities to make a living or participate in politics. Yet across the country, many young Yemenis are working for peace and responding in innovative ways to the impact of the war.

Saferworld is supporting young Yemeni peacebuilders who are piloting the use of a peacebuilding course via WhatsApp – the most commonly used mobile messaging platform in Yemen – to help young activists stay connected and develop creative ways of coping in challenging conditions. The topics covered in the course include building resilience, how to ensure work minimises harm and contributes to peace, and relationship-building.

“It’s important for youth activists to continue to do peacebuilding work – to remind people that peace is possible,” said a participant of our remote peacebuilding course in Yemen. “People are frustrated and fed up with the conflict and its impact on their lives.”

Using WhatsApp has allowed Saferworld to reach remote and often divided communities, and to promote trust between people who usually have few opportunities for interaction. It also places more power in the hands of those communities affected by conflict, putting them at the centre of peacebuilding responses.

"Working to promote peace and helping others is a way of self-resilience; it gives activists a rewarding feeling." – Yemeni youth activist.

After our first WhatsApp training pilot was launched in 2016, we completed a second cycle of the course in 2018. From the pilot, we learnt that it was better to have fewer course participants in each group to maintain involvement – so in the second phase we finished with 51 participants in four different groups.

We also introduced microgrants in this second phase, helping young Yemenis create their own solution-based projects. After completing the course, participants had the opportunity to apply for a microgrant of up to USD$1,200 for a project that would make a difference in their community.

Twenty-two applications were submitted for the grants, and four were selected as winners. In addition to the money, the winners were given technical support on how to plan and deliver their projects. The projects focused on a range of issues, from providing first-aid training to waste clean-up campaigns. In one of the winning initiatives, called ‘With our Hands’, the project team provided psycho-social support for 105 war-affected children in Al-Qahirah district, in Taiz governorate. Away from violence, the project created child-friendly spaces for drawing and playing, also acting as a relaxed atmosphere for psycho-social support.

Not only do these projects fill the infrastructural gaps of the war-torn country, they also enable young people to demonstrate their skills, develop new networks and build their confidence. The project proves that encouraging people to use their skills to take control of issues that affect them and their communities can create a ripple effect. It fosters new relationships and expands confidence and creativity in adverse conditions.

Three aspects underpin the success of the WhatsApp courses: staying local, keeping hopeful action alive through microgrants and connecting it to a ‘system’ that can provide technical support. Based on what we have learnt, we are working with partners in Kyrgyzstan to run a similar training course that will help bring together young people working for peace.

30 years on . . . progress in controlling the arms trade

Saferworld was set up in 1989 to pioneer work for more effective arms controls. Over the last 30 years, we have made significant progress in this area, advancing the systems necessary for the effective control of the international transfer of conventional arms across the world. Today, with the growing imposition of more comprehensive legal frameworks and pressure from parliaments and civil society, many states now feel under increasing pressure to deny deals that could result in serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

One of Saferworld’s most significant policy achievements to date is our contributions to the signing of the historic Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in 2013, the culmination of over 20 years’ work to bring the ATT into force. The ATT is the first legally binding international instrument for the regulation of the conventional arms trade. It has the potential to bring the global arms trade under much more effective control and reduce the suffering and harm that all too often result from irresponsible and poorly regulated arms transfers.

Through our policy development, research and advocacy, Saferworld is at the heart of work to ensure that the ATT fulfils its potential. Working with civil society partners from around the globe, and drawing on long-established expertise in arms transfer controls, we mobilise and influence public and political opinion to encourage greater participation in, and better implementation of, the ATT.

“The supply of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for use in the conflict in Yemen demonstrates how some states are still willing to ride roughshod over the accepted principles and legal obligations that have taken so long to establish.” – Roy Isbister, Saferworld’s lead on arms transfer control.

Despite the progress made, the ongoing war in Yemen demonstrates the need for more work. “The supply of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for use in the conflict in Yemen demonstrates how some states are still willing to ride roughshod over the accepted principles and legal obligations that have taken so long to establish,” said Roy Isbister, Saferworld’s lead on arms transfer control. We have played a central role in coordinating and mobilising civil society advocacy in the UK, the European Union (EU) and internationally, to increase pressure on states still selling arms at risk of being used in Yemen. Our role in convening the UK Working Group on Arms, the Brussels Group – a network of European arms experts – and co-chairing the Control Arms Coalition puts us at the forefront of civil society engagement in shaping global policies and advocacy on arms control.

This has led to a change in policy from a number of European states – including Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland – which have stopped or restricted their sales of weapons to states involved in the Yemen conflict. But several states, including the UK, refuse to shift their policies and continue to supply weapons, contributing to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

In an environment where international cooperation and moves towards peace are facing strong challenges, it is disappointing that some states continue to either turn a blind eye or actively pursue arms sales that risk intensifying and prolonging violent conflict. If we want to achieve effective regulation of the international arms trade that complies fully with international law, the work that organisations like Saferworld have been doing over the past 30 years must continue at pace for some time to come.

Working with partners around the world in 2018–19: highlights

"Saferworld has formal partnership agreements with over 60 partners in the countries where we work, and we have affiliations with many others."

South and South East Asia highlights


In Bangladesh, we disseminated the learning of our pilot programme Business for Peace with the local business community, harnessing their ability to reduce intra-communal and political violence in the country. We also did scoping research in the context of the refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar district and launched a project that aims to foster social cohesion between the host and refugee communities by empowering women and girls.

"In our engagements with authorities,
we have used findings from the survey
[in south-east Myanmar] to demonstrate
why specific, targeted interventions
are necessary to improve the security
situation for communities."

Central Asia highlights


In Central Asia, we began work with civil society organisations in Uzbekistan to implement a six-month pilot project on community policing and security, and convened a regional conference in June 2018 to promote community policing and security approaches in the five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

East Africa highlights


Our work on Sudan focuses on peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Over the last year, in order to pave the way for peace, we supported partners to sustain community-led initiatives aimed at tackling the underlying conditions that give rise to conflict. Our partners are developing various ways to work with communities, such as through community action groups. In 2018–19 these groups developed plans to address their concerns and they sought community-led solutions to problems in their communities. We also facilitated dialogue and coordination among civil society organisations and communities. Through our policy centres, we made sure that issues around peacebuilding and the causes of conflict in Sudan are on the agenda of regional and international bodies.

Middle East and North Africa highlights

Voices from Yemen

Hiba, 27, is a mother of two from Taiz. She and her husband both suffer from speech and hearing impairments and this, combined with the challenges of living in an area of conflict, has exacerbated their sense of isolation. For Hiba, our women’s project in Yemen has helped her to overcome her fears and to develop new confidence and hope.

“My mother died when I was young, so we moved from Taiz to Aden, but my father was then killed in a road accident. When I heard that someone with disabilities similar to my own wanted to marry me, I agreed. I didn’t want to live alone.

“When the war began, I was so scared. I was hiding all the time. I didn’t want to lose my husband as well. We had very little food. So we left our house, which then got robbed and demolished. When we came back, we had nothing, so we lived in one of the abandoned flats. It’s only one room and the windows are broken. I live in fear of being kicked out.

"Before I would rarely leave the house and I had little experience of talking to people outside of my family. Now I say to myself: ‘I want to work; I want to gain more knowledge; I want to be strong like these other women in my group’." – Hiba.

“I have always lived in fear of everything. When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to go out alone because I cannot hear, and I was bullied at school. I don’t have many friends. I have one friend but she lives far away and I cannot travel to her area alone. My husband’s brother lives in Sana’a and we can’t see him either because of the conflict. My husband misses his brother. Now with guns everywhere, I am so worried something bad might happen to my husband. I don’t let my children play outside. It’s not safe and I can’t hear them.

“My cousin found out about the women’s project and my husband and I enrolled. It was a new experience for me. I was happy to go simply because we got access to free food so I could bring some back for my children. But then I really settled into the group. We had an interpreter who explained everything. I felt important. I realised I was smiling the whole time I was there.

“Before I would rarely leave the house and I had little experience of talking to people outside of my family. Now I say to myself: ‘I want to work; I want to gain more knowledge; I want to be strong like these other women in my group’. When I am sad and alone at home, I think about them and that I can be like them, and I start to smile again.”

Global policy and advocacy

From Saferworld’s conception 30 years ago as an independent research organisation, our policy work has advanced significantly but our central aim remains the same – to build a world that’s safer, more prosperous and where people can live in peace. Today, Saferworld is proud to be at the forefront of conflict prevention thinking, practice and policy development worldwide. The following highlights from our policy work during 2018–19 reflect the significant impact we are making across the globe.

Arms controls

In the past year, Saferworld’s arms control work has focused on increasing pressure on states to stop selling arms that are at risk of being used in the conflict in Yemen. We have played a leadership role among NGOs at the UK, EU and international levels to influence messaging and
advocate for changes in arms export policies. At the EU, we organised a number of events addressing the crisis in Yemen, in combination with feeding into an ongoing review of the EU arms transfer control system. This included an EU-wide conference of NGOs and member state officials, and a series of events in Berlin in recognition of the role Germany is now playing on the export control issue. Read more

Conflict Advisory Unit

Our work on conflict sensitivity over the past year has consolidated our position as a sought-after partner on the subject. We completed 33 helpdesk tasks for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, providing tailored support to its programmes around the world – from water management in Mali to tackling the illicit drugs economy in Afghanistan. We expanded our helpdesk services to support the Austrian Development Agency and the European Investment Bank, helping them understand and adapt to the complicated regions they work in. We also delivered conflict-sensitivity training to staff at European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations; the European Investment Bank; the EU and Europe Aid; Save the Children Syria; and to authorities, civil society and communities across South Sudan. This work has not gone unnoticed: we were invited to feed into the World Bank’s strategy development process for their new fragility, violence and conflict strategy. Read more

Sustainable Development Goals 

We are now more than a quarter of the way towards the endpoint of the SDGs in 2030. While global implementation has not taken place at the speed some would have liked, the past few years have seen increasing efforts to incorporate the SDGs into the policies and plans of some governments. This year, we supported this process by working with civil society organisations in East Africa to increase awareness of what difference the SDGs, particularly SDG16+ for peaceful, just and inclusive societies, can make in practice. We produced various communication materials to support this, including several videos and an infographic showing steps on how to put SDG16+ into practice. We also collaborated with a range of national and international partners to build networks and strengthen their role in driving change through the 2030 framework. As a result, we have seen governments begin to act on SDG16+, for example in Somaliland where the government has prioritised ending female genital mutilation and has increased women’s political participation.

Gender-sensitive conflict prevention

For our work on gender to have genuine and sustainable traction it is imperative we apply it across the breadth of our strategic vision – from policy recommendations to research, funding and community action. This year, in partnership with various other organisations, we launched ‘Beyond Consultations’ – a toolkit to facilitate the participation of women in conflict-affected states in decision-making practices, and to avoid work on gender being reduced to a tick-box exercise in consultations. With our partners in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, we conducted research with women and women’s organisations on what meaningful participation means and on how national and international actors, including donors, consult women in their programmes and use these findings. Read more

"Organisationally, we have prioritised
supporting our staff and partners in
building their skills and knowledge on
gender-sensitive programming."

Security and justice 

Over the last year, our work on security and justice focused on understanding the challenges communities face and supporting them to develop solutions. We sought to bring people’s concerns to the national and sub-national levels, to influence decision makers and advocate for a people-focused approach. We continued research on the effectiveness and legitimacy of informal security and justice systems, looking at how and why people access these services, how they could be more inclusive, and in some contexts how they might better cooperate with formal systems. In Myanmar, we worked with non-state justice providers and civil society to increase people’s access to non-state justice services. We also inputted into donor government reviews of their peacebuilding and development work, including the UK’s Department for International Development’s ongoing review of how it can re-engage on security and justice programming. One of the most significant successes in this period has been the launch of a three-year Strategic Plan for Judicial Reform (2018–21) by the Somaliland Chief Justice.

Peacebuilding responses

Western foreign policy is increasingly preoccupied with ‘combatting’ irregular migration and terrorism. In many countries, this underpins an over-reliance on military tools, support for problematic partners, and aid that focuses more on ‘countering violent extremism’ (CVE) than human security for the local population. In response, we have grown our public profile and policy engagement on peace and rights-based responses to crises and threats. Read more 

"Saferworld has been working to
encourage more collaboration across
the international community working for
peace and human rights in their efforts
to challenge counter-productive aspects
of counter-terrorism, CVE and responses
to migration."

Influencing global policy

Peace Research Partnership

This is the second year of the Peace Research Partnership (PRP), undertaken with our partners Conciliation Resources and International Alert. The three-year programme, funded by the Department for International Development, provides evidence, analysis and recommendations for policymakers and practitioners on how development in conflict settings can be more inclusive. It focuses on economic development, peace processes, decentralisation, and security and justice. It also looks at causes of conflict from a gender perspective, and mainstreams a gender focus throughout the research process. Read more 

"Policymakers face a variety of constraints that often prevent a straightforward response to the evidence. Our aim is to use the PRP research on inclusion as a means to engage officials in grappling with the consequences of the analysis: creatively thinking through how they can be more inclusive in their interventions in conflict settings."

Ivan Campbell, Saferworld's Head of Research and Learning

European Union

The EU is an important player for peace and security. However, political currents are creating an increased focus on stemming migration and reducing terror threats to the EU. The rise of far-right parties across Europe has pushed those in power to prioritise short-term and securitised approaches to respond to external crises, with domestic concerns of member states increasingly impacting all aspects of the EU’s foreign policy.

This year, our Brussels office was registered as a Belgian NGO and, since 1 March 2019, Saferworld Europe has been operational. At the EU, we fed into policy frameworks and documents to ensure they reflect our approach to peace and conflict, including in the areas of: conflict and gender sensitivity; women, peace and security; human security; and Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations.

We briefed officials from the European External Action Service, the European Commission and EU Member States on Central Asia, Lebanon, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen. We also held meetings with them on conflict and gender sensitivity, arms export control, alternative approaches to counter-terror and outsourced migration controls.


Against the backdrop of a turbulent political environment in the UK, we continued to raise issues around conflict overseas and to push for approaches that emphasise peace, rights and conflict sensitivity. We worked with parliament and policymakers to advocate for these approaches to guide the UK’s actions on migration, its approach to the conflict in Somalia and the government’s response to autocratic regimes.

A number of lessons from our research on counter-terror and stabilisation were reflected in the UK Stabilisation Unit’s new official guidance and, as co-chair of the Bond Conflict Policy Group, we led a process of feedback to the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund on transparency, monitoring and evaluation, and contracting. We continued to work with a range of parliamentarians and organisations, including the Campaign Against Arms Trade, calling for a halt to the sale of arms that are at risk of use in Yemen and for a long-term strategy for peace.


In the US, we pushed for the US government to take up people-centred approaches to conflict prevention and non-violent conflict resolution. Under our new strategy, we focused on the changing contexts in Central Asia, Somalia and Sudan; Sino-American peace and security implications of the Belt and Road Initiative; and on the localisation and gender, peace and security agendas.

Staff and partners from our policy team and from our Sudan, Somalia, Kyrgyzstan and China programmes travelled to the US to strengthen policy recommendations by providing evidence-based research grounded in their experiences. They spoke on panels, hosted roundtables, and briefed congressional staff, State and Defense Department officials and staff from the United States Agency for International Development.


In China, we worked with government agencies, companies and other organisations to improve understanding of and compliance with international laws and good practices that limit the risk of weapons, and sensitive goods and technologies being used or diverted for illicit or irresponsible purposes. We held seminars and roundtables in Vienna and Beijing, and organised study visits to Germany and the UK. The aim was to improve national practices and encourage the sharing of international experiences and learning on strategic trade controls and compliance – bringing together government representatives, businesses and civil society experts from around the world. With assistance and input from an international expert working group, we also developed a resource manual supporting government outreach and industry compliance on strategic trade controls.

We worked with Chinese policy experts and companies to understand how China’s policies and actions in countries affected by conflict could either contribute to peace or worsen conflict. We also facilitated discussions and conducted analyses on China’s role in international conflict and peace issues, including through its Belt and Road Initiative.

Learning and adapting

Saferworld is committed to adaptive monitoring and evaluation and a culture of learning across the organisation. Over the past year, our country programmes involved more partners in our bespoke monitoring, evaluation and learning approach, known as ‘outcome harvesting’. This approach looks at achievements, or ‘outcomes’ – usually changes in behaviour, policies or relationships – and encourages staff to come together to talk about them, learn from them and share them with other teams. Even in Yemen, where we faced challenges bringing staff and partners together, we managed to organise outcome harvesting with partners and we conducted one session in Ibb via WhatsApp. We rolled out our outcome monitoring software, the Kwantu Results App, to all teams, helping us to collect outcomes across the organisation. The app runs reports for each team, project and strategic objective. This can be displayed visually to help staff adapt their projects.

We were invited by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development to run a learning session on our theory of change and outcome harvesting systems in South Sudan. The UK’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) asked us to lead a session on outcome harvesting at their annual learning conference and to support other CSSF grantees to introduce the approach to their work. Other civil society organisations including Humanity & Inclusion, Integrity Action, InterNews and Peace Direct also asked us for training and support to introduce outcome-focused monitoring.

Our commitment to organisational learning led us to establish our Community Engagement Lab to foster cross-organisational learning from Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan. In July 2018, we held our first lab event in Hargeisa, Somaliland, for 43 staff and partners to share knowledge, experiences, challenges and solutions to issues around community security and partnerships.

Policy and regulations

In 2018–19, Saferworld responded to changing policies and regulations around reporting, data protection, safeguarding and terrorism.

Saferworld has a zero-tolerance policy for any type of abuse, exploitation or harassment. This year, we have made significant progress in strengthening our safeguarding policies and practices.

Financial update

This is a top-line summary of Saferworld’s income and expenditure in 2018–19, taken from our full audited accounts. You can see our full accounts in our Report and accounts available here. You can also download them from the Charity Commission website.

Organisations we worked with

We work hard to maintain long-term partnerships with organisations in conflict-affected contexts. Our approach is based on building trust, mutual challenge and two-way learning.

See here for a full list of our partners.

We thank all of the donors who kindly support us, and who make our work possible. We receive generous funding from a range of supporters, including governments, multilateral and bilateral donors, trusts, foundations and individuals. This enables us to work with those who are most affected by conflict and violence to help achieve lasting change. 

See here for a full list of our donors.