Chidi had been running the cooking club for a year, regularly having twenty girls aged 13-16 attending each week. All the girls who attended were doing well in school, and three or four regularly sold baked goods in their schools. Parents who had initially been reluctant for their daughters to attend when they could have been studying or helping at home could see the difference the club was making. In fact, one of Chidi’s guests was so impressed that she offered a scholarship to one of the girls.

One week Chidi turned up as usual, already tired from a long day of work. Her boss was being difficult, and she was worried about her job. If she didn’t have a job she would need to do more fundraising to cover the costs of the cooking club, let alone her own expenses.

No one arrived on time. Half an hour later a 15-year-old girl, Blessing, turned up with her mother and aunt. She had been crying. Blessing was pregnant. She said that the church’s night watchman had attacked her one evening when Chidi had had to leave early to look after her mother and Blessing had volunteered to finish clearing up. Her family was angry. They had told everyone they knew what had happened and blamed Chidi.

If you run activities for women and girls, ensuring that your staff, volunteers and the young people attending your activities are safe is essential.

Identifying Risks

Identifying risks to your project is important to save you worry and to help you address challenges in advance. Think about risk when planning all activities or developing your organisation’s strategies. Think about:

  • Your board and managers: corruption, self-interest and conflicts of interest, failure of leadership.
  • external risks: such as changes to the law, requests for bribes, public complaints or damaging the reputation of your project.
  • regulatory or compliance risks, eg. failure to meet necessary standards. 
  • financial risks, eg. loss of major income source.
  • operational risks, eg. loss of key staff or volunteers (both those with skills and local connections), failure to deliver the project satisfactorily and meet your goals.

Chidi is currently the leader and the main funder of the cooking club, responsible for planning activities, buying and paying for ingredients, cleaning up afterwards, and ensuring the girls’ safety.

Reflection Questions

  1. Could Chidi have seen this risk in advance?
  2. What would you have done to prevent this from happening?
  3. Was the mother right to blame Chidi?

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