Church in Africa to Benefit from Caritas Internationalis Strategies to Foster Safeguarding

A session at a Caritas Internationalis training workshop in Nairobi Kenya. Credit: ACI Africa

Members of Caritas Internationalis (CI) in Africa are set to benefit from a wide range of educational and funding strategies unveiled by the international humanitarian agency to enhance the protection of minors and vulnerable adults on the continent.

Speaking at a four-day training workshop that was organized in Nairobi, Kenya, to equip participants in Africa with more knowledge on the revised Caritas Internationalis Management Standards (CI MS), Annamária Vrzáčková, the Program Manager of CI MS described safeguarding as an area that is still very low in terms of the level of compliance with the CI standards.

“From what has been shared, I think the area that is still posing many challenges for African organizations is safeguarding partly because it is a new topic,” Annamária told ACI Africa on the sidelines of the workshop that ended on Thursday, November 23.

She added, “We need to tell people what tools to use and how to use the tools to make sure that people from the community who are involved in different programs are not abused and are not suffering harassment, but they are protected.”

The training workshop in Nairobi also targeted CI MS coordinators from Caritas North Africa and the Middle East (MONA).


Annamária said that the humanitarian agency is developing educational materials to create more awareness about safeguarding. 

“We recently launched an eLearning platform that seeks to equip people with safeguarding knowledge. We are also revising some of the policies in order to align our standards with the emerging experiences and other institutional policies in safeguarding,” she said.

On funding, the CI Official said, “We established a solidarity fund to benefit organizations that have already done the assessment and identified areas where they need to improve. We can give them money to implement safeguarding activities and to improve in the areas where they are not compliant.”

The revised CI MS has been in force since 1 January 2021, ensuring that all the 162 member organizations provide services in a professional manner.

It provides sets of policies and guidelines on five areas, which include, Safeguarding, Laws and Ethical Codes, Governance and Organisation, Finance Accountability, and Stakeholder Involvement.

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Karam Abi Yazbeck, the Regional Coordinator of Caritas MONA told ACI Africa that the revised CI MS seeks to strengthen the policies and procedures related to safeguarding.

“The CI MS has always been a sophisticated tool with many questions. It has been revised according to the experiences we had, unneeded questions removed, (and) others responding to current needs added,” Karam said, 

He added, “We have specifically added questions regarding safeguarding. It is a living tool that will be changed every now and then to respond to the realities of the world.”

Karam said that the main expected outcome of CI MS is to have Caritas organizations that are professional in the way they serve.

On her part, the Secretary General of Caritas Africa, Lucy Esipila, expressed her gratitude to the facilitators of the CI MS training workshop, which targeted new Coordinators of CI member organizations.


“As a new regional coordinator, I have learned a lot and I hope I can work together with our members as we get assessed as a region,” Lucy said.

The Kenyan Caritas official added, “About safeguarding for instance, we have seen the importance of having certain policies, procedures and the code of conduct that everyone in management and the staff should sign.”

“We must also have other policies such as complaints handling mechanisms, whistleblowing and related policies to provide for a healthy working environment where there is no harassment or abuse,” she said on the last day of the workshop, November 23.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.