Red Cross says humanitarian organisations in the Pacific must do more to empower communities in crisis

Published: 30 June 2015
A consultation with Tuvalu communities in which they provide feedback to the Met Service on their understanding of weather updates they have heard on National radio. Photo Credit: IFRC

26 June 2015, Suva - The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on humanitarian actors in the Pacific to ensure affected communities have increased decision making power. The announcement came ahead of the Pacific regional consultation meeting for the World Humanitarian Summit, taking place from 29th June to 2nd July 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand.

In preparation for the meeting, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement held consultations with men, women boys and girls in disaster and conflict affected Pacific communities to understand how humanitarian organisations could improve the way they work.

“The Red Cross has spoken with nearly 500 people across 8 Pacific countries, many of whom were recently affected by cyclone Pam and typhoon Maysak” said Aurelia Balpe, IFRC Head of Delegation for the Pacific.

“The clear message is that while humanitarian assistance is useful and appreciated, aid organisations in the Pacific still need to do more to fully act on the opinions and feedback of affected communities” she continued.

The Pacific consultation meeting in Auckland will be attended by the IFRC Secretary General, Mr Elhadj As Sy, and is the seventh in a series of regional consultations leading up to the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. The goal of the summit is to bring the global community together to commit to new ways of working together to save lives and reduce hardship around the globe.

A critical issue the Federation will raise at the consultation meeting is the need for humanitarian organisations and governments to work more closely with communities to help them prepare for disasters. In Vanuatu communities requested workshops to help communities understand the weather alerts they receive, demonstrating the continued importance of face to face contact and the simplification of scientific climate and weather information into user friendly messages.

To help respond to these challenges, the Red Cross is partnering with 12 national Meteorological Services in the Pacific to improve weather and climate messaging. Working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Red Cross National Societies in the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga and Samoa have organised community based workshops to ensure early warning messages are timely and effective.

“The most important aspect of this programme is that we have facilitated a direct conversation between the met office and communities. When met officials visit communities they can see for themselves how people want to receive information” said Lesu Waqaniburotu, IFRC Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Manager.

Note to Editors

  • IFRC consulted a total of 565 people to help inform its recommendations to the Summit regional meeting. 494 were from 33 disaster and conflict affected communities in eight Pacific countries, comprising 257 men and 237 women, including 46 young people below the age of 18. Seventy-one staff, members and volunteers in 14 countries responded to the one line survey.
  • The World Humanitarian Summit Pacific regional consultation process was guided by a regional Steering Committee, including the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, Pacific Governments, the United Nations, Academia, other civil society actors and the private sector.

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