Regional Response Unit specialized in Water and Sanitation to travel to Paraguay to support response to record flooding

تم النشر: 26 يونيو 2014 21:37 CET

By: Enrique Jair Guevara

For the second time this year, the Pan-American Disaster Response Unit will mobilize a Regional Response Unit (RRU) to support an emergency operation in the Americas. On this occasion, five members of the RRU (3 from the Dominican Republic and 2 from Guatemala) will travel to Paraguay to support the Paraguayan Red Cross in the actions they will carry out to assist some 200,000 people, who have been displaced by the heavy rains that caused the overflowing of the Parana and Paraguay rivers.

We had the opportunity to talk to some of the members of the RRU before they left for Paraguay to learn a little more about their preparations for this mission and the work they will carry out to support the Paraguay Red Cross. We spoke with Eduardo Isabel Cabrera, Jesus Miguel Vallejo and Eva Maria Hiraldo, who are all part of a specialized water and sanitation team at the Dominican Red Cross, who together with two colleagues from the Guatemala Red Cross, Rosivell Pelico and Adbi Vela, will support the response and recovery operation in Paraguay.

EG: What are your expectation for the RRU’s work to be done in Paraguay?

Eduardo: Our expectation is to be able to coordinate our work with the Paraguay Red Cross in order to contribute to the strengthening of their National Society in terms of water and sanitation. In the Dominican republic we have quite a bit of flooding and therefore we have ample experience in these types of responses and the  assistance we should provide to the affected people in these situations. However, we are very aware that this is a different country with a different culture and that we will have to adapt the way we work in order to cover the needs of those affected.

Jesus: I have a high expectation based on the emergencies that we have been able to respond to in the Dominican Red Cross. I know we are going to be able to help and adapt our methodologies to the context in Paraguay. I am sure that we will be able to contribute to the strengthening of water and sanitation capacities at this National Society and also contribute to the changing of minds in the communities to promote hygiene and healthy practices, prevent diseases and save more lives.

EG: How do you feel before leaving?

Jesus: For us its very meaningful to be the first RRU specialized in water and sanitation to be mobilized to provide support during an emergency. As a National Society the Dominican red Cross, and personally, we are very proud that our institution will be able to provide this important support to another National Society in our region.

Eva: This definitely strengthens our capacities as a National Society. We have a lot of experience working in water and sanitation due to the high level of risk on our island in terms of hurricanes, floods and epidemiological outbreaks. We are familiar with and promote methodologies that involve the community directly in order to provide the best support possible. We know that community leaders are our focal points in order to have a strong impact.

Rosivell: It is an important opportunity to put what we have learned into practice and carry out an effective intervention as an RRU and provide the necessary support to the National Society in terms of water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion. I also hope to gain more knowledge and experiences that will be useful for my own National Society, the Guatemala Red Cross.

Eduardo: For me it’s the simple fact that with this action we are putting one of the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent into action, the principle of unity. The fact that three Dominicans and 2 Guatemalans can unit under one Movement, one emblem, responding to the humanitarian imperative, truly inspires me. With this experience I really feel that no matter where we are, we are one.

What is a Regional Response Unit (RRU)?

The RRU are Red Cross Red Crescent National Society tools established with the objective of supporting other National Societies, that will implement an operational humanitarian response service in the field of a sister National Societies affected by medium-scale disasters or together with global Emergency Response Units (ERU)  in case of large scale disasters.  Essentially RRU’s are meant to mirror the ERU structure but at a regional level responding to smaller and medium scale disasters, helping increase efficiency in surge support to emergency operations.

These specialized and standardized units are hosted within National Societies.  RRUs are deployed at the request of the National Society with the ongoing operational response and the unit’s mobilization is facilitated by the IFRC.

RRUs are directly coordinated by the IFRC’s Pan-American Disaster Response Unit,  together with the requesting National Society and National Society which hosts the specific RRU

Currently there are 8 National Societies in the Americas which host RRU’s specialized in the areas of health, water and sanitation, relief, and shelter.