Empress Shôken Fund

Published: 11 April 2011

Jean-Etienne Brodier – Secretary of the Joint Commission of the Empress Shôken Fund

In 2011, the Empress Shôken Fund will award 91,319 Swiss francs to three projects carried out by Red Cross Red Crescent societies on three continents. The initiatives include a food and environment protection project in Burundi, health education for school children in Iraq and a youth empowering project in Vanuatu.

The Empress Shôken Fund was established in 1912 by Her Majesty the Empress of Japan to support Red Cross and Red Crescent activities worldwide. Since then, it has grown thanks to contributions from the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Imperial Family. The annual allocation of grants traditionally takes place on 11 April, the anniversary of the Empress’ death. The most promising and innovative projects are selected by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Preference is given to applications from National Societies in greatest need or from those that have least benefited from the fund in previous years. A reasonable regional balance is also maintained. Despite the global financial crisis since 2008, this fund continues to support new Red Cross and Red Crescent activities to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable. Here is a brief description of the projects supported by the Empress Shôken Fund in 2011. Food and environmental protection – Burundi Red Cross – 26,320 Swiss francs
Environmental protection is one of the climate change disaster preparedness actions conducted by the Burundi Red Cross. The provinces of Kayanza and Ruyigi are regularly hit by bush fires in July, which increase vulnerability linked to erosion, land slides and drought. They further destroy the resources used by community volunteers to help the most vulnerable among themselves, building houses for homeless and collecting heating and cooking wood for the elderly. The project will support the Burundi Red Cross community-based volunteer units in their efforts to prevent bush fires, restore vegetation cover and establish woodlands protection mechanisms. Health education for school children – Iraqi Red Crescent Society – 25,739 Swiss francs
After several years of turmoil, Iraqi children are particularly vulnerable in terms of health. The project will focus on raising health awareness among 6,000 children in 60 schools, focusing on prevention from road and home accidents, influenza, personal hygiene and nutrition. Iraqi Red Crescent health staff and volunteers will visit schools, organize surveys and work with children through group discussions, drawings, storytelling and toy distribution. Youth empowering in vulnerable communities – Vanuatu Red Cross Society – 39,260 Swiss francs
The Vanuatu Red Cross Society will mobilize its staff and volunteers to empower youth in remote communities that are difficult to access. The project aims at creating awareness and providing training on the importance of voluntarism. This will be done through the promotion of safe environments, disaster preparedness in the most vulnerable areas, and dissemination of the Red Cross Red Crescent’s humanitarian principles and values to 3,000 community members.