As an Environmental and Social Safeguard Specialist, I usually write mostly on environment because I have realized a lot of people are oblivious to the impacts of environmental issues in our world today. However, the happenings of the past week as regards to police brutality, gang rape and the pandemic we are still dealing with has made me understand it is my responsibility to also talk about the other aspects of my job, which is Social Safeguard.
While we focused so much on climate change, politics, education and so many other issues plaguing our world, we have neglected some more pressing issues which are coming back into the spotlight. Although climate change and education are important, it is time we bring social safeguard back into our system.
‘Safeguard’ is “a measure taken to protect someone or something or to prevent something undesirable”. Environmental and Social Safeguards is used by international organizations such as FAO, World Bank, IFC, AFDB, ADB, etc. These organizations use it to identify, avoid, minimize, and mitigate issues – whether environmental or social, that could arise because of development projects.
Environment focuses on where we live while ‘social’ focuses on society – the people living together. There are so many social issues that need to be addressed, such as labour and working conditions in places of work, community health and safety, involuntary resettlement, culture heritage, stakeholder engagement and so much more.
I once took courses on self-defence because it was mandatory to take those courses where I was working at the time. And although I’ve never had to use them, I always reflect on the importance of taking those courses.
With the recent happenings, here are a few safeguard measures we can apply when the need arises:
- Health: Your health should always be a priority for you. Always self-medicate, check your blood pressure, sugar level and cholesterol level regularly.
- Food: Eat healthy, check for expiry dates in processed foods, reduce sugar intake and exercise regularly.
- Safety: Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and it is imperative we look out for ourselves and observe safety measures as much as we can.
- Do not go to secluded places alone. Make sure you go with someone else.
- When stopped by the authorities, oblige and refrain from fidgeting. If you want to record the incident, do not alert the authority to avoid them from getting agitated.
- Mothers should not leave their infants or young children with relatives or domestic staff for long periods of time.
- Be vigilant of your surroundings and the information that you discuss in public.
- Do not leave your food or drink unattended to; it is possible it might have been spiked with aphrodisiac.
- Don’t trust your friend totally, especially one that is of the opposite sex.
- Be physically fit to run in case of danger. Also, learn basic defence techniques online, if you can.
- Land Acquisition: When acquiring land, ensure proper documentation is done and kept. Also, do not meet with the buyers or sellers alone.
- Social Media: Do not post pictures or videos that can affect you later in the future. People mature and grow so only post what you know you can defend in the future.
- Conflict: Always find amicable ways of settling conflicts.
- Financial: Manage your finances well and ensure you always have extra cash when going out, in case of any emergency.
- Career: Have a plan before you resign, always negotiate for the highest pay possible for that position and most importantly, make an informed decision.