People interviewed in the six diverse contexts give a picture of human security from the ground up. Respondents demonstrate an acute awareness of the ways various aspects of security are interrelated. Human security is described as a subjective experience with economic, health, environmental, food, personal, community, and political dimensions. The stories offer insights into the key role of the state in ensuring individual security through public goods and the rule of law. They also demonstrate how states can undermine human security through weak capacity, corruption, and abusive behaviour. Local human security strategies demonstrate that people-powered initiatives are needed to complement and transform the role of the state. The citizen-state relationship emerges as a primary tool and indicator of human security, where context-specific protection and empowerment strategies go hand in hand.