You are here: Home > News > Farm Africa statement on safeguarding

Farm Africa statement on safeguarding

28 February 2018

Following the allegations of sexual misconduct by NGO employees in Haiti and elsewhere around the world, Farm Africa reviewed our records for the last 10 years. In 2009 there were two cases of sexual misconduct by Farm Africa staff. In both cases Farm Africa instigated disciplinary action. One disciplinary investigation led to the dismissal of a staff member, while the other case resulted in resignation before the disciplinary process concluded. In both cases, the locally employed nationals left the organisation without references and the cases were reported to relevant statutory authorities in country. No other allegations of sexual misconduct have been reported.

We have a series of policies and procedures in place to safeguard the people who come into contact with our work, including a whistleblowing policy that ensures that staff, consultants, contractors and volunteers of any level can safely report any incidences of malpractice (including criminal offences, harassment, bullying or attempts to conceal malpractice) to senior management and other key staff confidentially. We have taken this opportunity to actively remind our staff of the whistleblowing policy to ensure that anyone who is aware of any issues involving sexual misconduct past or present feels comfortable disclosing this information and knows it will be comprehensively investigated.

Our policies include clear processes to investigate and take action on harassment, misconduct and other illegal or immoral activity. Where the investigation substantiates any violation this will lead to disciplinary action and/or termination of employment. Violations include sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or discrimination.

When appointing new staff we require two employment references, including a reference from the current or most recent employer, which must be given by an individual currently working at that organisation. When giving references our policy is to ensure references are factually accurate and complete.

As an organisation primarily focused on agriculture, our work in eastern Africa does not directly involve children. However, children are often present in farm settings and so there is a child protection policy in place that requires everyone working with Farm Africa to interact safely with children.

All our policies governing staff behaviour are regularly reviewed and updated where appropriate to reflect our learning, best practice and the legal frameworks of the environments where we operate. We welcome the announcement by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Charity Commission that they will be co-hosting a Safeguarding Summit next week, and we will adopt any ensuing recommendations as appropriate to ensure that Farm Africa complies with best practice in terms of safeguarding policies, procedures and measures.

The UK public deserves to be proud of the vital work carried out in their name by international development organisations. This requires that robust safeguarding measures are in place to prevent a tiny proportion of unscrupulous individuals from exploiting vulnerable people.