He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.


It seems crazy that Chidi’s cooking club may close because she left early to care for her mother. Who could have imagined that that one decision would lead a girl to be attacked, pregnant, and the community to have lost trust in a project designed to prevent girls from situations like these. Again, we can’t fault Chidi for her vision and commitment to this project, but she could have mapped risks to make it less likely that something like this could happen.

Mapping Risks

We can start making a risk map for Chidi. We identify the risk, the likelihood of it happening (low, medium and high), what the impact would be, and then how to mitigate it (prevent it from having this impact).

Chidi loses her job and cannot pay for ingredientsMedium [Chidi is currently worried about her job]High [Chidi is currently paying for all the ingredients]Find other sources of income, so that the financial burden isn’t only on Chidi
Chidi cannot longer deliver club activitiesMedium [Chidi’s mother is sick]High [Chidi currently runs all the sessions alone]Recruit one or two other volunteers/ leaders who can take over if Chidi cannot attend or gets called away
Girl(s) are harmed in some way during the activityHigh [they are using knives and a gas flame for cooking]HighEnsure:
– That there is adequate supervision of  girls at all times,
– that they are not left unsupervised. 
– That all project leaders are aware of their responsibilities
– That the project has written safety guidelines for the kitchen and
– That written child protection guidelines are followed
Election violenceMediumLowMake sure girls know that they should stay at home if there is election violence and that activities will resume once it passes
Parents speak out about the projectLowHighMaintain good relationships with girls’ families so that problems can be addressed before they become too large, and they are keen to ensure the success of the project
Food or water-borne disease outbreakHighLowEnsure good food hygiene is practised and taught to both girls and leaders

Being realistic

There is no need to map the risk of a meteor hitting your project from outer space, or an earthquake destroying your kitchen (unless you live in an earthquake zone!). But do think of the key risks you have. None of us would have imagined that a pandemic would close our activities for over a year! But if you had thought about other risks, and been prepared for them, you would have already had things in place that meant that you could respond quickly to this unforeseen risk!

Get insurance

Prevention is your best insurance, but consider getting insurance for your project, according to the size of your project and local regulations. In some countries, one could expect Blessing’s mother to ask Chidi or her organisation to pay compensation for what happened to Blessing. Or Chidi could have an external funder who will want her to return the money given for her project if she cannot deliver it. Or Chidi’s girls could burn down the church kitchen by mistake, and Chidi could be held responsible. Insurance protects you.

Reflection Questions

  1. Can you make a risk map for your project or organisation? Identify ten key risks and think about how you can realistically mitigate them.

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