In 2017, the Whole of Syria (“WOS”) protection sector proposed a shift from a “mainstreaming” approach to a strategy that promotes and supports “Do No Harm” programming across the response, and increases opportunities for a multi-sectoral approach to addressing protection threats and risks experienced by affected communities.

As a step to achieve the above, all sectors were required to carry out sectoral-level Protection Risk Assessments/Analyses (“PRA”) for the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (“HRP”). At the project level, all organizations submitting HRP projects were required to demonstrate evidence of how they reflected upon and ensured efforts to Do No Harm. Each HRP project was required to include a brief paragraph in its narrative highlighting any key protection risks and mitigating measures needed/planned in implementing their specific project.

As requested by the Whole of Syria humanitarian leadership, the PRA was mandatory for all actors involved in the HRP/humanitarian response, but also aimed to be light in terms of process. At a minimum, it aimed to require all sectors to identify and consider the potential protection risks of their strategy/activities (“what could do harm?”) and how they could mitigate those risks. It also aimed to ensure that all humanitarian actors delivering assistance contributed to their relevant sectoral view(s), and also dedicated time to think through the risks and what could be done to mitigate them for their own individual programmes. While many agencies/actors were already doing this, prior to the PRA there was no requirement, per se, and no overarching view or guidance. While acknowledging its limitations (i.e. that the PRA alone would not address the risks), the PRA was a step to resolve this, by outlining a process leading agencies to more systematically ensure a Do No Harm approach.

The review examined the compliance, impact and monitoring opportunities for the PRAs in the Syria HRP 2017, and provides recommendations for how the PRA and related tools (e.g. matrix, inclusion in projects through OPS, trainings, guidance, etc.) can be improved.

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