| Press release
“From satellites to sandbags”: Putting water at the heart of climate action.
Geneva, 22 September 2023 -As proved so tragically in Libya last week, while water holds the key to life, alltoo often it kills.
Whether – like in Derna - it’s too much water leading to floods, or too little water causing droughts, or polluted water resulting in health risks, addressing the dangers that water poses can save lives. As climate change intensifies these threats, there is an urgent need for action.
That is why a new collaboration matters so much.
With funding and support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands ‘Water at the Heart of Climate Action’ is an ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), The Netherlands Red Cross, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF).
This collaboration will combine local knowledge and global technology to help communities understand and act on the water-related risks they face - before they become disasters. The programme is focused on supporting the countries of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan,and Uganda, which make up the Nile River basin. These countries are not only among the Least Developed Countries in the world but are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. To ensure the implementation of this five-year partnership, the Government of the Netherlands has generously committed 52 million Swiss Francs (55 million euros).
The aim of the ‘Water at the Heart’ collaboration is to address climate-related risks that too often fall between the cracks of most country-level water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policies. It will focus on practical, locally-driven action to better anticipate disasters and prepare communities well in advance. It will also use the latest science and technology to monitor and forecast weather and water-related hazards. It furthermore invests in communications technologies to warn communities of what is coming and enable early action. As a result, this programme is a direct contribution to the implementation of the UN Secretary General’s ‘Early Warnings for All’ initiative.
Jagan Chapagain, the Secretary General of the IFRC said:
“Water is life. But too much or too little water can wreak havoc on people’s lives and homes. Almost three-quarters of all recent humanitarian disasters were water related. This initiative makes mitigation of the impact of such disasters an absolute priority. With thousands of IFRC network volunteers across South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, the IFRC network is uniquely positioned to deliver innovative and trusted local action. Through our partners, those actions can be informed by technology including the best forecasting and observation. This really is a ‘sandbags to satellites’ all-encompassing initiative.”
Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the head of UNDRR said:
“To save lives, lift people out of poverty and ensure that development gains are sustainable and irreversible, we must stop hazards from becoming disasters. Water at the Heart of Climate Action is a demonstration of the commitment of the Netherlands to helping some of the most vulnerable countries build their resilience in the face of climate change.”
Maarten van Aalst, Director General of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) said:
“As a national Meteorological Institute, we see the rapid increase in weather extremes in our changing climate, and we realize that we need partnerships all across society to make sure our warnings lead to early actions. The Netherlands’ vulnerability as a low-lying delta is significantly reduced by the power of good data and predictions, and the ability to act on that information — from satellites to sandbags. Water at the heart will strengthen our peers in the Global South to deliver similar services, and KNMI is proud to be supporting those efforts with peer support.”
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said:
“The majority of hazards are water-related, particularly floods and droughts. Climate change will further increase the frequency and severity of these events. End-to-end early warning systems are critical to save lives and minimize the impact of disasters. WMO is working with SOFF to close the basic weather and climate observation data gap and strengthen the foundational element of better data for better forecasts. Water at the Heart of Climate Action will make a tangible contribution to the Early Warnings for All initiative.”
Paul Bekkers, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, WTO and other international organizations in Geneva, said:
“Water should not be posing risks to vulnerable frontline communities! On the contrary, we can empower communities to transform water from a hazard into a valuable resource. By leveraging indigenous knowledge and investing in early warning systems. The Netherlands proudly supports this partnership that places the needs of local communities at the heart of water action!”
REPRESENTATIVES WILL BE TALKING ABOUT ‘WATER AT THE HEART’ AT THE UN PRESS BRIEFING IN GENEVA FROM 10.30AM ON FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER. THE VIDEO OF THE BRIEFING WILL BE POSTED HERE SHORTLY AFTERWARDS.
FOR INTERVIEWS WITH THOSE INVOLVED, PLEASE CONTACT VIA THE DETAILS BELOW
IFRC - Andrew Thomas / [email protected] / +41763676587
CLIMATE CENTRE - Alex Wynter / [email protected] / +447717470855
WMO – Clare Nullis / [email protected] / +41797091397
SOFF - Pauline Trepczyk / [email protected] / +41796407857
UNDRR – Jeanette Elsworth / [email protected] / +41766911020
PERMAMENT REPRESENTATION OF THE NETHERLANDS - Joyce Langewen / [email protected] / +41794486110
NETHERLANDS RED CROSS - Bastiaan van Blokland / [email protected] / +31704455612
Our Resilient and Empowered African Community Health (REACH) initiative, in partnership with Africa CDC, aims to improve the health of communities across Africa by scaling upeffective, people-centred and integrated community health workforces and systems.
South Sudan food insecurity: “Holding on to hope the rains will not fail”
Kapoeta, South Sudan has seen a drastic change in recent times. As residents walk by in the hustle and bustle of this small, rural town, you can see it in their faces: fatigue, most likely from hunger.
This is the second failed rainy season for a community that depends on cultivating crops. As I drive by local farmers’ fields, nearly all the crops I see are dry and struggling.
Andrea Loteng, 64, shows me around his farm. He’s the chairman of the local farmers’ association in Kapoeta South county and shares how erratic this year’s weather patterns have been.
“The rains this year came a little early in March. I planted maize and sorghum but the rains disappeared in May. I lost over 5 acres of crops. Now that it’s raining in July, I planted again, this time holding on to hope the rains will not fail,” he explains.
Anyuon Malwan, Area chief of Atarabara, Kapoeta South also describes the situation as dire:
“This is the second round of maize I am planting this year that is now failing. At least last year I harvested once.”
Some farmers have reached breaking point and abandoned farming altogether, turning to mining for gold instead. Travelling long distances, they camp at mines for weeks on end to try their luck at collecting a few grams of gold in the local streams. If they do get lucky, a gram can fetch around 50 US dollars. But this livelihood, too, is risky and highly dependent on the rainy season.
Soaring food prices
Failed harvests in much of the Horn of Africa, coupled with the international armed conflict in Ukraine and regional conflict, have led the price of grain and cereal in Kapoeta to increase drastically.
“In 2021, we used to buy a kilo of maize flour at 300 South Sudanese Pounds (34 US cents), today the same packet goes for 1,300 (1.5 US dollars),” says Anyuon.
Unable to cope with the inflation, many residents in the area have resorted to more affordable cereals, such as sorghum. Those who cannot afford grain at all are forced to scavenge for wild leaves in nearby forests.
Children’s lives at risk
This poor diet is having devastating consequences for children in the Kapoeta region.
Yaya Christine Lawrence is a nurse at a stabilization centre for malnutrition in Kapoeta Civil Hospital. She attends to 3-year-old Lolimo, who was admitted on 22 July with severe oedema (swelling in the ankles, feet and legs) from poor nutrition.
“When Lolimo came he was in a really bad state. We have been giving him treatment to clear the fluids before we can now start building up his weight. His case is one of the many hundreds we see in a month.”
Lolimo’s mother, Joska, is a single parent and doing her best to raise him, but times are hard.
“All I can afford to give him occasionally is sorghum and wild leaves. I have no source of livelihood to offer him a better diet,” she says.
Supporting the most vulnerable
Women-headed households are bearing the brunt of food insecurity in this part of South Sudan. The Kapoeta region is hardest hit with, with more than 274,000 people classed as severely food insecure.
The South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC) recently conducted a needs assessment in the area, giving priority to women-headed households and people with disabilities, with a view to distributing cash to help them boost their livelihoods and put food on the table.
Supported by the IFRC and the Japanese government, the SSRC is also actively training community members in Kapoeta in disaster preparedness, including early warning for drought and floods, in groups called Community Disaster Response Team (CDRT).
To mitigate the negative effects of climate change, SSRC volunteers are also planting fruit trees, and distributing seedlings, in Juba and other branches across the country as part of its ‘green fund’ initiative. Mango and guava trees are more resistant to drought and only take a few years to start bearing fruit, so will provide a more reliable source of nutrients to local communities.
“The needs related to food insecurity in Kapoeta region and South Sudan are great. If we can strengthen localized response capacity and the community structures, we can address the enormous and unprecedented level of humanitarian needs because of the frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards,” says John Lobor, Secretary General of South Sudan Red Cross.
“Beyond responding to immediate food needs, we hope to build resilience, so families don’t have to grapple with climatic shocks year in, year out,” he adds.
Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.
And to support people like Andrea, Anyuon and Joska, please donate to our Emergency Appeal today.
| Press release
Sudan: Critical funding needed urgently to continue aid to people affected by conflict
Khartoum/Nairobi/Cairo/Beirut/Geneva, 2 June 2023 – In its seventh week, the conflict in Sudan has depleted the resources of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS), prompting the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to double its Emergency Appeal to 60 million Swiss francs. It is also launching a second regional appeal of 42 million Swiss francs to support the influx of people fleeing to neighboring countries.
SRCS Secretary General Aida Elsayed said:
“Without this support, the people of Sudan will suffer grave humanitarian impacts as they will simply not be able to meet their basic needs and the consequences will be severe. The fighting shows no signs of slowing down and the human toll continues to grow every day."
“If funded, this revised appeal will mean SRCS can continue with evacuations, provision of water, food, shelter, first aid and psychological support as well as reuniting families. It will surely mean the difference between life and death for many people. It will certainly be a deciding factor in whether countless families experience extreme suffering.”
Shortages of medicine, food, water and fuel, destruction of hospitals, residential buildings, energy and water infrastructure as well as the risks of death and injury due to the fighting and lack of access to cash means people are not able to access essential goods and services or move to safety.
With 40,000 volunteers in 18 branches around the country, SRCS is the largest humanitarian organization on the ground in Sudan and has so far provided more than 40,000 meals and food parcels, 24,000 first aid and medical treatments, and evacuated 740 wounded people. SRCS is also conducting safe and dignified burials for those who lost their lives.
“While our SRCS volunteers have been working tirelessly to help people since the start of the conflict despite the dangers and the fact that they and their own families are also affected, much more is needed. But this will only be possible if we receive the funding. Without it, we are leaving the people of Sudan to face impossible situations that many may not survive,” said Ms Elsayed.
Nine million people have been affected by the conflict in a country where 11.7 million people were already in need of food and livelihood assistance.
“With these pre-existing vulnerabilities and lifesaving food aid almost completely stopped, the consequences will be disastrous for families relying on this assistance,” said Ms Elsayed.
The new Regional Population Movement Appeal will support the humanitarian response activities of National Societies in the neighboring countries of Egypt, Chad, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Libya.
IFRC Regional Director for Africa Mohammed Mukhier said:
“More than 330,000 people have fled the devastating conflict in Sudan seeking safety in neighboring countries. The situation is extremely volatile and as the conflict continues, the movement across borders will only increase. These were already vulnerable people, with the majority women and children, and a significant number are fleeing violence for a second time having been displaced from camps in Sudan.”
Outside Sudan the presence of Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies staff and volunteers at border points is crucial. They are operating Humanitarian Service Points to provide people fleeing the conflict with essential services such as psychosocial support, medication, first aid, food and sim cards as well as restoring family links.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact: [email protected]
Rita Nyaga, +254 110 837 154, [email protected]
Susan Cullinan, +61 457 527 197, [email protected]
In Beirut: Mey el Sayegh, +96176174468, [email protected]
Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924
Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367
Sudan crisis: Regional population movement
The ongoing conflict in Sudan has led hundreds of thousands of people—many of whom are women, children and older people—to flee the countryto find safety across borders. Those arriving in neighbouring countries have experienced dire humanitarian conditions. Many have been caught in the crossfire and struggled to access food, water, and health services for some time. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Egypt, Chad, South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), Ethiopia and Libya to provide essential humanitarian assistance to people fleeing Sudan.
Africa: Hunger crisis
Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades—immense in both its severity and geographic scope.Roughly 146 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is driven by a range of local and global factors, including insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability and negative macroeconomic impacts. Through this regional Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Africa to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people.
Empress Shôken fund 100th distribution announcement
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty the Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 16 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, 169 National Societies have received 14 million Swiss francs. To mark the Fund’s 100th year of awarding grants, a short video was developed to highlight what the Fund stands for and showcase how it has supported National Societies through the years.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is evident in the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are usually announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of her death. This year the announcement is being published earlier due to the weekend.
The selection process
The Fund received 28 applications in 2021 covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world.
This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 475,997 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Argentina, the Bahamas, Benin, Costa Rica, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Kenya, Malawi, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.
The projects to be supported in 2021 cover a number of themes, including youth engagement, disaster preparedness, National Society development and health, especially the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insights that will benefit the Movement as a whole.
The 2021 grants
The Argentine Red Cross is taking an innovative approach to talent management using new technologies. It will use the grant to develop a talent-management module to be implemented in 65 branches, enabling the National Society to attract and retain employees and volunteers.
The Bahamas Red Cross Society will put the grant towards building staff and volunteers’ capacities and expanding its network on five islands, with a view to implementing community- and ecosystem-based approaches to reducing disaster risk and increasing climate resilience.
The Red Cross of Benin seek to help vulnerable women become more autonomous. The grant will support them in developing income-generating activities and building their professional skills.
The Costa Rica Red Cross will use the grant to enable communities in the remote Cabécar and Bribri indigenous territories to better manage emergencies, holding workshops on first aid, risk prevention and emergency health care in connection with climate events and health emergencies, including COVID-19.
The Estonia Red Cross is working to build competencies in four key areas, including in recruiting, training and retaining volunteers. The funds will support the development of a volunteer database to help effectively manage information, especially against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With widespread COVID-19 transmission in Georgia, the Georgia Red Cross Society is working to help national authorities limit the impact of the pandemic. It will put the grant towards promoting good hygiene and raising awareness of the importance of vaccination.
The Red Crescent Society of Islamic Republic of Iran is focused on building local capacity with youth volunteers by boosting small businesses in outreach areas. The grant will be used for training, capacity-building and development in local partner institutions, generating income for community members.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have affected how the Kenya Red Cross Society does its humanitarian work. The grant will be used to launch an online volunteer platform to encourage and facilitate youth volunteering.
The Malawi Red Cross Society must be ready to respond to disasters due to climate variability and climate change. The funds will allow the National Society to establish a pool of trained emergency responders who can swing into action within 72 hours of a disaster.
The Nicaraguan Red Cross is working to protect the elderly from COVID-19. The grant will be used in three care homes located in the municipalities of Somoto, Sébaco and Jinotepe to provide medical assistance, prevent and control infections, and promote mental health as a basic element of self-care through training and support sessions and other activities.
The Pakistan Red Crescent seeks to improve how it manages blood donations. The funds will enable the National Society to increase the capacity of its blood donor centre and raise awareness of voluntary unpaid blood donation by holding World Blood Donor Day in 2021.
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for All project of the Philippine Red Cross aims to develop WASH guidelines and promote them in the community. The grant will be used for training and capacity-building around providing health services in emergencies.
In Romania, teenagers in residential centres are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence for a number of reasons, including a lack of both psychosocial education and staff trained in dealing with this kind of violence through trauma-informed care. The grant will enable the Red Cross of Romania to reduce the vulnerability of 60 teenagers in residential centres by increasing knowledge and aiding the development of safe relationships.
The South Sudan Red Cross is working to encourage young people to adapt to climate change by planting fruit trees. The grant will support this initiative, which aims to reduce the impact of climate change and increase food production.
In 2020 the Timor-Leste Red Cross launched an education programme aimed at increasing young people’s knowledge about reproductive health. The funds will be used to expand the programme – already active in five of the National Society’s branches – to the remaining eight branches.
The Viet Nam Red Cross aims to further engage with authorities and become more self-sufficient through fundraising. It will use the grant to build its personnel’s capacities by providing training courses on proposal writing, project management and social welfare.
South Sudan Red Cross
National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA): Funding announcement 2020
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) has today announced the National Societies to receive investment from the fund in 2020, with the Steering Committee approving Accelerator funding to:
The Colombian Red Cross Society
The Georgia Red Cross Society
The Mexican Red Cross Society
The Somali Red Crescent Society
The Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Xavier Castellanos, Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Katrin Wiegmann, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:
“We are pleased to announce this second group of National Societies to receive support from the NSIA. We have selected National Societies responding to ongoing crises in some of the world’s major humanitarian emergencies, such as Somalia and South Sudan, as well as Georgia Red Cross Society pursuing an entrepreneurial response to the unprecedented global pandemic that we continue to face.
These investments build on those made in 2019, and we are already seeing how such funding can have a catalytic effect, such as in supporting the Lebanese Red Cross’ efforts to mobilize support in response to the double impacts of Covid-19 and the recent Beirut port explosion
As we begin to see the value of the NSIA on the ground, there continues to also be demand from National Societies thinking strategically about their development during unprecedented uncertainty. We call on our partners in the Movement and beyond to join us in expanding this important mechanism for supporting strong and principled local humanitarian action.”
The IFRC and the ICRC jointly manage the NSIA to provide substantial, multi-year development support to National Societies, especially those in contexts with heightened humanitarian needs. The NSIA helps strengthen the organisational and operational development and capacity of National Societies so they can increase their impact.
To respond to the varied development needs of National Societies, the NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from the NSIA or elsewhere.
To date, NSIA has been supported by generous contributions from the governments of Switzerland, The United States, and Canada.
Second Round of NSIA Funding
This second call for proposals received 49 applications from National Societies across all regions, with a range of contextual challenges and organizational development needs. The application process was adapted to take account of exposure to Covid-19 related risks and again involved an independent and objective process of consultation and review against the criteria, working with colleagues from the IFRC and the ICRC at the national and regional level, as well as National Societies themselves.
The selected applicants will undergo further due diligence steps, which in the case of Accelerator investments will include the Federation’s Working With Project Partners approach, as well as the meeting of certain conditions linked to their specific applications, such as securing sufficient co-funding.
Selected National Societies
The Colombian Red Cross Society will receive funding to build on the resource mobilsation work conducted under their ongoing Bridge Award, including individual giving and digital fundraising.
The Georgia Red Cross Society will receive funds to support the commercial production of sanitizer products at the national level. This funding is conditional on securing loan-based co-finance.
The Mexican Red Cross Society will receive funds to invest in systems for Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting, as well as learning, as part of their wider NSD strategy.
The Somali Red Crescent Society will receive funds for the redevelopment and commercialisation of their national HQ, as part of a wider NSD strategy, and contingent on co-funding.
The Lesotho Red Cross will receive funds for the development of a Resource Mobilsation strategy and investment plan exploring national level income generating activities
The South Sudan Red Cross will receive funds for the initial investment in IT capacities at HQ and branch level, to support remote management, and focused on longer term branch development efforts.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent will receive funds to roll out a new approach to branch development.
| Press release
East Africa: Red Cross raises the alarm over a “triple menace” of floods, COVID-19 and locusts
Nairobi/Geneva, 20 May 2020—A series of mutually exacerbating disasters is unfolding in East Africa, on a scale rarely seen in decades, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Ongoing heavy rain—which has killed nearly 300 and displaced about 500,000 people—has slowed down operations aimed at controlling the worst locust crisis in decades and increased the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Simon Missiri, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa said:
“The ongoing flooding crisis is exacerbating other threats caused by COVID-19 and the invasion of locusts. Travel and movement restrictions meant to slow down the spread of COVID-19 are hampering efforts to combat swarms of locusts that are ravaging crops. Flooding is also a ‘threat amplifier’ with regards to the spread of COVID-19 as it makes it hard to implement preventive measures.”
Flooding has left thousands of people homeless, many of them now seeking shelter in temporary accommodation centres where it is not easy or not possible at all to observe physical distancing. As a result, thousands are now at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or waterborne diseases and need emergency food assistance.
“We are facing an unusually complex humanitarian situation. We are worried that the number of people who are hungry and sick will increase in the coming weeks as flooding and COVID-19 continue to severely affect the coping capacity of many families in the region,” added Dr Missiri. “Harsh weather conditions are having a multiplier effect on an already difficult situation and this could potentially lead to worrying levels of food insecurity in the region.”
Red Cross teams in the affected countries are rushing to respond to multi-faceted and overlapping crises. To respond to flooding, COVID-19 and locusts, the IFRC has provided over 7 million Swiss francs to Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in East and Horn of Africa.
Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda are helping communities mitigate the negative impacts of the triple disaster through community awareness and direct food and non-food support. In Kenya, the Red Cross is conducting assessments in 16 counties, using drones and satellite images. Red Cross teams are also airlifting household items to families that have been marooned by floods.
“Flooding is a recurrent phenomenon in the region. To break this cycle, we call upon Governments and partners to invest more in preparedness and flood control methods,” said Dr MISSIRI.