Award-winning initiatives part of IFRC’s global plan of action for climate change
The Kenya Red Cross Society's response to an oil pipeline explosion and the American Red Cross' contribution to a Green Recovery and Reconstruction Toolkit were recognized with Green Star Awards today.
The biannual awards recognize those who have made remarkable efforts to prepare for, respond to, and mainstream actions to prevent environmental emergencies. The awards are a collaborative initiative between Green Cross International founded by Mikhail Gorbachev, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the UN Environment Programme.
The Kenya Red Cross Society’s response to the September 2011 oil pipeline explosion in the Mukuru Sinai Lunga Lunga informal settlement in Nairobi was recognized in the preparedness category for its efforts in disaster risk reduction (DRR). The blast claimed 121 lives and left 137 families homeless. Staff and volunteers set up tents for registration, re-united missing family members and provided vital psychosocial support for those who survived.
To prevent a similar crisis from occurring in the future, the Kenya Red Cross Society implemented an urban disaster reduction risk programme in seven informal settlements in Nairobi. Red Cross volunteers and staff visit settlements and children’s clubs, explaining the various hazards that exist, and work with residents to find ways of mitigating those risks.
Said Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society: “It is an honor to receive this award which will go a long way in boosting the commendable work that the Society does in alleviating human suffering. The National Society has always lived by its value preposition of Always There and the Sinai fire incident is one of the scenarios where we were the first responders and the last to leave the scene.”
DRR is a major part of the Kenya Red Cross Society's community resilience strategy, which includes food security and livelihood approaches, environmental management and restoration initiatives. For example, the government of Kenya aims to plant 10 billion trees by the year 2030 with community partners.
In response, the Kenya Red Cross Society will plant 5 billion trees and shrubs by the year 2018 through its network of 63 branches and 70,000 volunteers, the majority of whom are young people. Red Cross clubs in and out of school will be involved in the establishment of tree nurseries and in mobilizing communities to plant and nurture the trees, for example in identified water catchment areas and arid and semi-arid areas where livelihoods are based on livestock.
The American Red Cross was also recognized jointly with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) in the category of mainstreaming for the Green Recovery and Reconstruction Toolkit they created together in response to the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people and destroyed hundreds of coastal communities in 2004.
The toolkit is a step-by-step guide to help communities devastated by disasters build back safer by factoring environmental conditions into the recovery and reconstruction phase. The goal is to help communities become more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable – and less vulnerable – than they were before the disaster. Most recently, the training has been incorporated into reconstruction efforts and programming in Haiti.
"Ensuring communities not only recover from disasters, but build a more resilient and safer environment for the future is a priority," said Harold Brooks, Senior Vice President, International Operations, American Red Cross. "We are excited and grateful for this award recognizing our work with World Wildlife Fund."
The award-winning initiatives from the Kenya Red Cross Society and the American Red Cross are part of the Red Cross Red Crescent’s global mandate to build stronger communities through climate change adaptation.
For example, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies aims to plant 2 billion trees as part of its global plan for action on climate change. One billion trees are targeted across ten countries in Africa in support of the Great Green Wall Initiative, a pan-African proposal to “green” the continent from west to east to battle desertification in the Sahel-Saharan region.
Another billion trees are targeted across Latin America, Middle East and Asia Pacific to support mitigation and adaption to climate change, improve livelihoods, and promote environmental values and practices.