By Mirabelle Enaka Kima, IFRC
With the commitment to foster continuous and effective cooperation, the Ninth General Assembly of the Association of French, Spanish and Portuguese speaking African Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (ACROFA) currently being held in Libreville, intends to bring more dynamism into the group by reaffirming its commitment to improved disaster response and vulnerability reduction in Africa.
The ACROFA General Assembly is taking place in a particularly worrying context for many African countries faced with growing humanitarian challenges, epidemics and natural disasters. Violence in countries such as Central African Republic and Nigeria, refugee crises in Cameroon, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa are among the many challenges that National Societies face.
The desire to respond is shown every day through the mobilization of volunteers, whose actions have been essential in the fight against Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Cameroon, Niger and Chad, the National Societies continue to provide humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of Central African and Nigerian refugees thanks to support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other partners.
“Our mission is to promote a spirit of solidarity in the exchange of expertise between National Societies, but also to increase efforts in the search for new partnerships to support actions for the mobilization of financial resources in favour of a more rapid and effective disaster response," said Dr. Abdourahamane Cisse, President of ACROFA.
However, in addition to the development of foreign partnerships, National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies must work towards financial autonomy, supported by the multiplication of projects and local income-generating initiatives, which offer opportunities for technical and institutional capacities building.
IFRC President Tadateru Konoé said: "It is important to provide external assistance to stimulate the activities of African National Societies. Nevertheless, this assistance must be compatible with their ambitions and should be based on an open and honest dialogue between them, their sister Societies and other partners outside of Africa. A well-coordinated approach of Participating National Societies should also be sought. We are certainly ready to provide support, if necessary, in the effort done by ACROFA."
The Libreville forum provides an opportunity for National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to reiterate their commitment to continue working through a stronger partnership, in reducing suffering among vulnerable communities. The forum also channels the humanitarian challenges of the continent to the highest level of governments and the international community, so as to generate greater commitment in efforts to mobilize the resources necessary for an effective response.