Daily bulletin - 25th November 2011

Published: 26 November 2011 8:00 CET

Building community resilience

Participation and ownership are two key elements of successful community resilience, according to a workshop on the subject yesterday. Jo da Silva, a consultant working with the IFRC, echoed the views of seven National Societies who agreed that empowering communities to take charge of their own development and preparedness is vital. "It is better to teach somebody how to fish than to give them a fish,” said Zamir Muca, Albanian Red Cross secretary general. Attendees emphasized that even when a community is willing to take responsibility for its own resilience, it needs support and training. Da Silva recommended that National Societies should partner with government departments and local NGOs to support community action.

South Sudan Red Cross anticipates future IFRC membership

Following Wednesday's admission of the Maldivian Red Crescent into the IFRC, an eager National Society from the world’s newest country expressed its strong desire to be the next member of the world's largest humanitarian network. Since South Sudan became an independent nation on 9 July, the country’s government has crafted laws that would create the South Sudan Red Cross as an independent auxiliary to the State. Mark Akio, interim chairman of the South Sudan Red Cross, said the organization was new, but fortunately didn't have to start from scratch. “We have 4,000 volunteers who have been assisting the most vulnerable during many years of conflict," he said. "The transformation of our country poses many challenges, but with support from the Movement, we will meet them.”

Fulfilling the promise of young leadership

Recognizing the potential of young people to innovate and take a leadership role in humanitarian action, the General Assembly approved the IFRC Youth Policy, and called on National Societies to increase the extent and effectiveness of their youth engagement. Since the Solferino Youth Declaration in 2009, 72 National Societies have pledged to enhance the role of youth in governance, promote young leaders, support them as agents of change, and strengthen youth networks. Ashanta Osborne-Moses from the Guyana Red Cross Society is chair of the IFRC Youth Commission. Commenting on the launch of a report based on consultations with young humanitarians, she said: "Now the challenge is to put our good intentions into real action."

Addressing challenges of volunteering

“We learned from the Bam earthquake that we needed better access to well prepared and trained volunteers,” said Leili Khaleghi of the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, during a volunteering workshop Wednesday. The National Society has recently set up more than one thousand volunteer centres across the country. These centres enable networking and training and allow volunteers to participate in decision making. During the workshop, Mukesh Kapila, USG National Societies and Knowledge Development, remarked on challenges facing volunteering today: remaining relevant, retaining volunteers and measuring quality and results. “Volunteers expect something in return,” he said. “They need to grow personally and gain professional skills.”

Planning the best response to nuclear incidents

Improving the preparedness of communities living near nuclear plants was discussed in the wake of this year’s nuclear catastrophe in Japan. This topic is particularly timely as this year also marks the 25 year anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. National Societies were asked to commit to developing and improving their response plans to assist affected populations in coping with the humanitarian consequences of nuclear accidents. The Japanese Red Cross admitted that plans which had previously seemed robust could be improved, and invited all National Societies to attend a conference on the issue in Japan in 2012. With over 400 nuclear plants in 30 countries, the Red Cross Red Crescent may one day face another nuclear accident.

Learning from the past, building for the future

In the past decade, the world has witnessed an upward trend in the incidence and impact of natural disasters. The IFRC and National Societies have been at the heart of the increasing numbers of response operations, and Friday’s lively plenary discussion offered an important opportunity to evaluate lessons to be learned from these experiences. “We should have the maturity to examine self-critically whether we are working as effectively as we can,” stated Matthias Schmale, USG for Programme Services. Interventions encouraged multilateral approaches and a focus on core strengths. It was also agreed that the IFRC would evaluate its role in shelter.

In the community

Inspired by Wednesday's workshops on road safety, we asked our Facebook community what they felt was the biggest threat to road safety in their communities. Here's how they voted:
Aggressive drivers 50.7%, drivers using mobile phones 42.3%, hazardous road conditions 5.6 % and wildlife 1.4%.

A speakers’ corner has been set up on the ground floor of humanitarian village to give participants a chance to give short speeches on relevant topics and debate issues with others. Topics have included youth, road safety, volunteering in Burundi and more. New topics will be presented daily.