Capstone Projects Africa (CPA) places the utmost importance on ensuring the safety of students who participate in their international project placements. Extensive safety protocols and risk management procedures are in place to minimize dangers and protect students’ well-being during their time abroad.
Before selecting any project placement locations, CPA conducts thorough security and political risk assessments of the proposed host countries and communities. Up-to-date information is gathered from a wide range of sources including the U.S. State Department, international NGOs, and local credible news media reports. Any areas deemed to pose unacceptable safety or security risks are avoided. Locations selected must meet stringent criteria including a stable political climate, low crime rates, access to emergency services, and a supportive community environment.
Once placement locations are selected, CPA works closely with established local host organizations that have a proven track record of safety management. Rigorous vetting is done on all potential host supervisors and organizations to evaluate their emergency preparedness plans, policies, insurance coverage, incident response procedures and overall student support systems in place. Only hosts that demonstrate robust capacity and commitment to ensuring student safety are selected as partners.
Comprehensive safety briefings and trainings are provided to students both before and after arriving at their placement sites. Students receive in-depth information on potential risks specific to their host country/community as well as strategies for avoiding dangers and responding to emergencies. Topics covered include first aid, road/transportation safety, recognizing and avoiding areas of civil unrest, basic self defense, malaria/disease prevention, and more. Students must demonstrate proficiency in safety protocols before travel is permitted.
Once onsite, host organizations are required to provide 24/7 emergency contacts for students and maintain radio/cellphone communication systems to facilitate rapid response in case of incidents. Housing and work placement accommodations are subject to health, fire and structural safety inspections by CPA. Hosts must ensure students have access to necessary emergency services and plans for dealing with natural disasters, epidemics or other crises that may arise.
To enable effective incident management and crisis response coordination, CPA establishes communication protocols requiring regular safety check-ins from students as well as status updates from hosts. Any incidents involving risks to students are to be promptly reported. In the event of a significant emergency, CPA works closely with host and government officials, private security/evacuation firms when necessary, to coordinate an appropriate response and ensure student protection measures are enacted.
In addition to protocols managed through host partners, CPA directly implements several oversight and support measures. For example, GPS tracking devices and satellite phones are provided to students where infrastructure allows, enabling real-time location monitoring and emergency communication capabilities independent of local systems. A 24/7 emergency hotline is staffed by CPA personnel to handle calls from students or hosts regarding any urgent issues that arise. In such cases, CPA takes appropriate action which may involve direct liaison with international security/consular contacts as needed.
Robust security is also in place during student travel. Ground transportation between project sites is only permitted through pre-approved operators with stringent vehicle inspection and driver screening/training standards. Travel routes, schedules and end destinations are closely monitored. Flights are booked through reputable airlines and travel advisories are closely followed to avoid unstable areas as situations evolve over time.
A mandatory medical and travel insurance policy is provided to all students, protecting against costs of medical evacuation, hospitalization, disability or loss of life. Policy details grant students access to emergency assistance services including security extraction capabilities if deemed prudent by the provider’s global security specialists monitoring the context.
Through methodical planning, stringent partner and site vetting procedures and multilayered ongoing oversight and emergency support mechanisms, Capstone Projects Africa strives to minimize risks so students can carry out their international placements safely and with full peace of mind. Safety is the organization’s number one priority in facilitating these impactful global learning experiences.