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Introduction

The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 does not apply overseas, but the RAISE Gambia  policy is to give the same level of protection as if it does. While such work would normally be subject to the Health & Safety regulations of the country concerned, RAISE Gambia cannot allow its volunteers to be at a lower standard of safety just because they happen to be working abroad. We therefore require the same standards to be adopted wherever volunteers are working, as far as is possible.

Safety and Security - Safety usually aims to prevent harm to individuals from unintended occurrences arising from or during the work. Security aims to prevent threats, both to individuals and assets, normally arising from intentional acts. When working overseas, both aspects need to be covered. There have always been security threats to be considered when travelling and working overseas. In the past the type and degree of threat could, to a certain extent, be pre-determined, defined and graded with little or minimal research. In recent years, however, areas of political unrest, terrorist activity and the growing sophistication and boldness of criminal groups have increased enormously. The Gambia is currently governed as a democracy, despite a past unstable non-democratic leadership.  However this situation is to be constantly monitored.  The Gambia is currently perceived as and categorised as low / medium risk by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (F&CO) and Control Risks Group (CRG) / International SOS. In the main this information has only applied to political unrest and terrorist activity.

Besides the normal risks associated with the training work itself, there are numerous other risks when travelling and working abroad including:

Unfamiliar diseases and medical conditions

The possibility of causing offence because of differences in culture

Additional risks in travelling (particularly in less developed countries)

Personal safety, especially in cities and on fieldwork in politically unstable areas

Language difficulties

Poorer communications infrastructure

Lack of immediate back-up in the event of emergency

Suitability and safe use of equipment

Never really being “off-duty”

Preparing for practical work overseas.

You can deal with these difficulties by:

Avoiding the travel or work if the risk is too high or cannot be justified

Detailed planning in advance – which should include knowledge gained from previous experience where appropriate

Limiting the risks as far as possible

Reviewing problems on return to base and adapting  procedures accordingly.

Processes to be Followed for All Overseas Trips

RAISE Gambia’s responsibility is limited to alerting any participants in RAISE Gambia activities to the following:

All overseas work related travel and its associated work activity must be risk assessed in advance of travel commencing.

Individual health assessments should be conducted before all travel and vaccinations must be up to date.  

Ensure that you understand the specific conditions in the Gambia which can impact upon health e.g. air quality, extreme heat etc,

Malaria tablets should be taken as instructed by a GP / travel health professional starting prior to travel.

All personal medicines must be taken on the trip from home in sufficient quantities for the entire trip.  

Take a basic first aid kit, insect repellent and sunscreen from home.

Travel insurance must be taken out by all people travelling.

Details of the travel itinerary and next of kin must be recorded and left with a responsible person.  The travel itinerary must detail flight numbers, departure times, accommodation address, telephone number, and schedule of planned meetings, events, etc. with relevant contact details provided.

Travellers should ensure that they have a mobile phone which is suitable for international roaming, that they have a suitable adaptor to enable them to recharge it and that they have sufficient minutes/credit to cover calls. It is also recommended that a Gambian SIM card is purchased on arrival.

Travellers are expected to make themselves aware of the contact details for the British Embassy in Banjul.  

Before travel ensure that passports have at least six months left before expiry and have two spare pages for entry stamps.  

Take a photocopy of the insurance policy with you and a copy of your passport with you and another form of identification (preferably two).  

Food and Drink

Eat only food that has been thoroughly cooked

Avoid cooked food kept at room temperature for several hours

Avoid food bought from street vendors

Avoid uncooked food, apart from fruit and vegetables that can be peeled or shelled

Only use bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth.

Avoid ice unless you know it is made from bottled or treated and chlorinated water

Other General Advice

Dress appropriately for the culture and temperature.  

Be respectful of your host country’s mores, religion, politics etc.  Avoid offering outspoken opinions on issues such as religion, politics, the position of women etc.

Try to use reliable drivers, know the route you are taking and how long the journey is likely to take.

Do not travel alone at night if it can be avoided.

Be alert for pickpockets (especially in tourist areas).

Do not take anything with you which you are unwilling to lose. Ensure that all valuable items are sufficiently insured.

Keep money securely and not all in one place when abroad.

Never carry packages out of the country on behalf of a third party.

Never leave luggage unattended.

Take a torch for power cuts.

Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.

Marijuana is plentiful and very illegal in the Gambia.  Possession can lead to long prison sentences.

Special Advice on Terrorism

The Gambia has not to date been the target of terrorism.  However, at present, terrorism is a global concern that can occur at any time and British nationals/ex-pats have been the target for such attacks.

The British government consider there to be a heightened threat of terrorist attacks globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

These attacks are most likely to involve suicide attacks, bombings, kidnappings, hijackings, shootings, attacks on commercial aircraft/ships, and / or use of chemical weapons.  The British government have issued the following guidance on how to minimise your threat from terrorism:

Watch and read the news regarding the country or region that you are visiting;

Be vigilant in areas that attract foreign nationals and westerners, such as bars, markets, sports events and restaurants;

Look out for anything suspicious and as you would at home, report it to the police;

Be clear about any routes that you are using and have a plan of action to follow in the event of an incident;

If you can, avoid regular routine as this can make you an easier target. Vary the time and route of your regular journeys;

Keep a charged mobile phone with you that has emergency contact numbers programmed in it;

Be discreet on social media about yourself and your plans

Tell colleagues, neighbours, hotel staff, where you are going and when you expect to be back;

Identify places like police stations, hospitals, official buildings along your route where you could seek refuge in an emergency.

 Generic Risk Assessment Form for Travel Abroad