In an emergency context affected populations are likely to experience limitations to their basic rights under national and regional law, international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law.

Protection is the core of any DRC response. DRC’s approach to protection programming in emergencies aims at ensuring that people affected by conflict and displacement can access their rights, live a life in dignity, and be safe and secure. This is accomplished by responding to, mitigating and reducing exposure to threats, and reducing protection related vulnerabilities and increasing capacities of conflict affected populations in relation to violence, coercion and deliberate deprivation.

Our protection approach in emergencies includes protection programming, aimed at responding to specific protection risks – and most often as part of integrated programmes with other sectors; and mainstreaming protection into sectoral programming to ensure the safety and dignity, non-discrimination and impartial access to assistance of affected populations.

Given the centrality of protection to DRC, all emergency response must be informed by a protection analysis.  The protection analysis will be used to develop the subsequent response strategy: defining our protection programming as well as mainstreaming protection throughout the emergency response.


Protection interventions in emergencies

The objective of DRC’s protection interventions in emergencies is threefold:

  • To prevent, reduce, mitigate and respond to protection threats against affected populations
  • To reduce or mitigate protection vulnerabilities and increase protection capacities of affected populations
  • To strengthen the capacity of protection and assistance actors to enhance efficiency, quality and effectiveness in reducing protection risks


The type of protection interventions we will typically engage in can be conceptualized under three interlinked headings:

  • Immediate protection interventions that aim to stop, prevent and alleviate the worst effects of a protection problem.
  • Provision of remedial services that support people in living with the effects of a protection problem and prevent secondary abuses.
  • Fostering changes in attitudes, behaviours and policies that bring about the full respect of rights of all people.


In the emergency phase and based on the above, key aspects of our protection programming can include:

  • Rapid Protection Needs Assessment includes data collection exercises to gain an understanding of the protection issues to inform programme interventions and responses. A useful list of cluster-aligned protection indicators is available from the OCHA managed Indicator Registry.
  • Protection Monitoring seeks to identify and analyse risks, incidents, and trends relevant to the protection and assistance of affected populations with a view to inform decision making, prioritization, advocacy, and programme (re-)design. DRC’s protection monitoring approach includes responses to protection risks via referral and individual protection assistance (IPA).
  • Humanitarian coordination and leadership: Protection Cluster co-facilitation at the national and sub-national level as well as secondment to UN agencies via DRC’s Standby Roster.
  • Information dissemination and risk education: provision of information to affected populations on main risks and services. An example is ERW-UXO risk information sessions.
  • Legal Assistance: Support in the provision of civil documentation, information dissemination, and counselling or legal representation to ensure access to entitlements and rights and/or access to legal processes or recourse.
  • Humanitarian demining: Removal and destruction of mines and other remnants of war.
  • Protection by presence means maintaining a consistent presence and accessibility for affected persons in areas where we work in order to increase trust, deter rights’ violations, monitor, and respond. This includes activities where DRC accompanies affected persons to access services.
  • Community-Based Protection is about supporting and strengthening community actors to identify and respond to protection issues, including support to develop community safety plans.
  • Child Protection: Risk education, information dissemination, and capacity building, provision of child friendly spaces, referral of child protection concerns and non-specialized PSS activities
  • Gender Based Violence: Risk education and capacity building, referral of GBV concerns, non-specialized PSS activities and case management.
  • Psychosocial Support (PSS): In emergencies where DRC is new to the operational context it is advised that PSS activities remain at the basic services and security, and community and family support level. However, depending on the context and capacity we are able to provide more focused non-specialized support. DRC does not provide specialized PSS responses.
  • Advocacy is part and parcel of DRC’s work and is often linked to protection-related information. The purpose of our advocacy work is to ensure the respect and protection of the rights of populations affected by conflict and displacement, by influencing the behaviour of a variety of stakeholders. DRC’s Position Paper on Advocacy and the organisation’s Advocacy Toolbox provides the basis of the organisation’s approach to advocacy.
  • Protection mainstreaming: As part of DRC’s protection-centered approach and commitment to quality programming, all sectors should apply a protection lens to the design, implementation and M&E of their interventions. Protection mainstreaming is the responsibility of project staff supported by protection staff. A final important element to protection mainstreaming is DRC’s accountability to affected populations as described in DRC’s Code of Conduct and the CHS.


Common challenges in Protection interventions

  • Iterative protection analysis – It is important that the protection analysis is updated with a view to always deliver the most relevant programming.
  • Development, and roll out of tools, standard operating procedures, systems and processes for protection programming – As part of contingency planning (under the EPRP process) protection related tools, SOPs and systems should be developed, and staff trained.
  • Ensuring sufficient capacity and resources to implement relevant protection responses – including development of training plans for protection colleagues. All protection projects and programmes should ensure an adequate allocation of staff in the design of protection proposals, ensure capacity building plans are in place prior to implementation, and that staff have the competencies to undertake their respective protection related activities.
  • Pillarization can happen when protection and other sector colleagues working in isolation from each other. This causes insufficient sharing of information, uncoordinated responses and a missed opportunity to benefit from integrated programming and response. Make sure to work in multifunctional teams and to organise all-staff meetings on a regular basis (sometimes on a daily basis during intense phases of an emergency) at both national and area level.
  • Protection activities can be seen as controversial by different stakeholders depending on the context.
  • Sensitive information is often obtained through protection work and this information must be handled in accordance with the highest professional standards. Personal protection data should never be shared except with key partners (such as the UNHCR).


Core guidance and standards


Internal guidance

Protection Analysis Guidance

Protection Strategy Template

Protection Information Management (PIM) INSITE 

DRC – Rapid Protection Assessment Tool


DRC’s approach to protection mainstreaming can be accessed on INSITE’s Protection page: There you will find DRC’s Protection Mainstreaming Package, including:

  • DRC Protection Mainstreaming Package Cover Page
  • A PowerPoint presentationon Protection Mainstreaming which includes facilitator notes, three exercises and links to more materials and guidance on protection mainstreaming
  • A Self-Assessment Toolcomprising indicators to facilitate the self-assessment and stock taking of progress on protection mainstreaming in individual operations and programmes
  • A template for the Protection Mainstreaming Action Plan, based on the self-assessment


External guidance




Need Help?

Further information on DRC’s Protection programming can be accessed at the Protection Page on INSITE. In addition, DRC colleagues are welcome to join our global protection network and access protection material via a Protection Dropbox account and email & Skype groups.

For further sector-specific information please contact Kathrine Starup () or Brennan Webert ([email protected])

For additional information regarding emergency respond and protection issues please contact: [email protected]