Home Blog & Media SEAH training reimagined: a survivor-centered focus

SEAH training reimagined: a survivor-centered focus

February 14, 2024

Share this Post


Aurélie Gremaud-Laforêt

Associate Consultant, Switzerland

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Aurélie Gremaud Laforêt, a facilitator for the Investigator Qualification Training Scheme (IQTS). With two decades of experience in the humanitarian and development sector, Aurelie brings a wealth of knowledge in protection from sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (PSEAH) and safeguarding. In this insightful interview, she sheds light on the importance of a survivor-centered approach in SEAH investigations. 

In your own words, what is a survivor-centered approach to SEAH investigations, and what does it mean to you? 

Having a survivor-centered approach to investigations is essential. In my experience working with victims of SEAH, it’s about fully caring for the person and first listening without judgment. It involves ensuring their immediate safety and creating a reporting process that prioritizes the well-being of survivors, encouraging an environment of trust and support. This approach recognizes the unique needs of each survivor and emphasizes their safety and agency throughout the process. 

Why should humanitarian and development organizations adopt a survivor-centered approach when conducting SEAH investigations?  

A survivor-centered approach for organizations in the humanitarian sector embodies the essence of humanitarian action; there’s no doubt this is an integral part of our safeguarding approach for the most vulnerable. Despite its significance, this may not be the most instinctive response when such cases arise, underscoring the pivotal role of organizations in enrolling their staff in the Investigator Qualification Training Scheme. This training equips investigators with the essential principles and tools needed to consistently center survivors throughout the investigative process. It is crucial in ensuring a caring and respectful approach. 

How does IQTS center survivors in the investigative process?  

IQTS is centered on the survivor as a person and their needs. It adopts a holistic approach to survivors, prioritizing their immediate needs for protection, medical care, psychological support, and accurate fact-finding. 

But unlike many approaches that focus only on fact finding alone, IQTS marks a shift from a very compliance-based, almost audit-oriented approach, to a more humanistic one. It is a departure from the traditional practices in many organizations today and from what is typically taught in other trainings. 

As organizations are looking to upskill their staff to become qualified SEAH investigators, why should they choose IQTS? How does IQTS differ from other safeguarding training available?  

I’ve been doing this for many years, and I think the most unique aspect of IQTS is that it is delivered by trainers with extensive training and expertise in SEAH investigations, coupled with significant experience in the sector. As IQTS trainers, we have all served as in-country staff, and some of us have been locally hired staff, so we understand the hardships that are faced in practical settings. This experience allows us to understand what duty of care means in action and navigate the complexities of humanitarian action accordingly.  

Can you describe the learning experience and interaction attendees can expect?  

Learners can expect a very rich and well-documented experience. IQTS has a wealth of resources, content, and toolkits that enable investigators to practice a survivor-centered approach. Since this approach is new to most investigators, there is an array of practical examples and discussions to help learners grasp new concepts and ways of working. As we segue to the quality of discussions, there are opportunities for learners to exchange experiences or access short videos that explain complex concepts in a more human-centered way.  

One noteworthy point is that I have always been impressed with the exchanges between humanitarian and development professionals who grapple with these issues. Our training offers a confidential and safe space to share experiences and learn from each other’s contexts.  

What are the key takeaways and outcomes for learners? 

The key takeaway from IQTS is the skill of practicing a survivor-centered approach when investigating SEAH cases. The training offers an interactive, inclusive, and safe environment where learners can exchange experiences and contexts. The knowledge and skills gained throughout the modules are instrumental in equipping the learners to handle, investigate, and address SEAH issues across diverse humanitarian contexts.

What support and resources are provided to investigators to help them continually apply and refine their skills post-training?  

After completing the training, plans are underway to launch a community of practice for survivor-centered investigators later this year. This will provide investigators with opportunities to connect, seek advice, and exchange experiences with their peers.

CHS Alliance, in partnership with Humentum and with the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is strengthening the humanitarian and development sector’s ability to investigate allegations of SEAH.

Start your learning journey today