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Security for those who collect data and for those from whom data are collected is yet another ethical issue. There are many issues concerning security which managers must consider before implementing a data collection:

  • Managers must judge whether or not the benefit derived from the data collection outweighs the potential injury or death to those directly involved in data collection.
  • Managers must decide how valid conclusions may be from a data collection which is incomplete due to insecurity. In some emergency situations, large geographic areas or large portions of the emergency-affected popuation are inaccessible because of security concerns. Is it worth collecting data from only secure areas when you already know that secure areas will be better off and a lower priority for interventions than the insecure areas?
  • Managers must try to anticipate the consequences of data collection for those from whom data are collected. In some situations, providing information to strangers may not be a socially acceptable thing to do.
  • Managers must provide the best possible protection for all concerned with a data collection.
  • Managers must determine how to provide adequate supervision of and communication with data collection personnel in the face of insecurity.

A full discussion of the topic for humanitarian aid workers is not possible here. For a relatively complete set of security recommendations, refer to Generic Security Guide for Humanitarian Organizations, published by ECHO in 2004 (Click here to open this document).