Red Cross Red Crescent approach to disaster and crisis management

Disasters and crises today

Over the past decades the world has witnessed a significant increase in the number of disasters reported; from fewer than 100 disasters per year reported in 1975 to more than 400 disasters in 2010. Simultaneously, the number of people affected by disasters and the economic damages caused by reported disasters have increased.

We continue to face significant challenges of growing vulnerabilities related to global threats such as climate change. We must be prepared for increases in extreme weather events, environmental degradation and food insecurity; almost half (48 per cent) of disasters reported through the IFRC Disaster Management Information System in 2004-2011 were hydro-meteorological disasters.

Population growth and unplanned urbanization can result in ever-growing numbers of people who are vulnerable. The scarcity of resources - including natural resources like water - is likely to contribute to growing tension within and between communities and may fuel new or sustain pre-existing conflict. These current and future challenges call for scaled-up resilience building, risk reduction, disaster preparedness and disaster response measures.

The foundations of our disaster and crisis management role

With 189 National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies, the IFRC is the largest network in the world delivering humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people. We have an exceptional decades-long tradition in assisting people in disasters and crises and a firm commitment to continue to save lives, protect livelihoods and strengthen recovery from disasters and crises in the future, as outlined in our Strategy 2020.

We are a grassroots network with more than 13 million active volunteers who work within communities in the areas of disaster response and recovery, disaster preparedness and risk reduction, health and development. As community-based responders, the volunteers and staff are often first on the scene of a disaster.

They are capable of going the last mile in reaching out to vulnerable communities to provide early warning, to support them to prepare for disasters and crises, to deliver life-saving assistance, and to remain with the affected people throughout the post-disaster recovery process to build resilience to withstand future shocks.

Away from the world’s media and attention volunteers address thousands of crises and disasters that happen daily at local levels. In 2010, our volunteers provided services estimated as worth more than six billion US dollars and reached more than 30 million people in disasters alone.

In large-scale disasters, such as the Haiti earthquake in 2010, more than 120 National Societies from all continents contributed funds, human resources or goods to the Red Cross Red Crescent response.

Our global representation also allows us to conduct evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy on behalf of our National Societies and the people they serve, giving a voice to the voiceless at the highest decision-making tables, and persuading governments and opinion-leaders to act at all times in the interests of the world’s vulnerable people.