Online certificate programme in disaster management
The IFRC offers a one-year online certificate programme in disaster management in partnership with theTata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS).
The IFRC offers a one-year online certificate programme in disaster management in partnership with theTata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS).
When Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies help people affected by disasters or crises, they start by conducting emergency needs assessments. These assessments help them understand the extent and impact of the damage a disaster or crisis has caused, as well as the ability of the affected population to meet its immediate survival needs.
The IFRC is committed to supporting humanitarian action that is as local as possible, as international as necessary.Our 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are the lead actors in preparing for, responding to and helping communities recover from emergencies. In times of increased need, our global disaster response system effectively supports and coordinates their lifesaving work.
Disasters are serious disruptions to the functioning of a community that exceed its capacity to cope using its own resources.Disasters can be caused by natural, man-made and technological hazards, as well as various factors that influence the exposure and vulnerability of a community.
Technological and biological emergencies, sometimes called 'CBRN' (short for chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear hazards), can have devastating and long lasting impacts on people's lives and livelihoods. The IFRC supports National Societies worldwide to effectively prepare for and respond to technological emergencies using a multi-hazard approach.
The IFRC and our 192 National Societiesrespond to, and workto prevent or lessen the impacts of, all types of crises and disasters. We do so for all people, with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable.Our priorities are to save lives, reduce suffering and uphold human dignity.
IFRC GOis our emergency operations platform for capturing, analyzing and sharing real-time data during a crisis. It helps our networkbetter meet the needs of affected communities.
By Robert Kaufman, Head of Philippines Country Office, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Imagine getting hit by six typhoons during a deadly pandemic. For millions of people in the Philippines, this is their reality as 2020 comes crashing to a close. Predictions of the increasing severity and frequency of emergencies have come true.It’s heart-breaking, exhausting, and scary. But most of all it’s frustrating as much of this human and economic toll can be prevented.We have known about the brutal effects of climate change for a long time, yet we haven’t been doing enough to fix it. Debates about the effects of climate change or whether partners should support more preparedness are failing people. If your roof blows off three times in one month and this extreme weather happens with relentless certainty, there’s nothing to debate. It is time to prepare more for what’s coming.We know that the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, topping the charts with the most disasters of all countries the past two years. It’s number two for the past decade just behind China.We know the number of climate-related disasters has risen almost 35% since the 1990s. The stuff of Hollywood movies has become a reality for tens of millions of people around the world, as they face bigger, more violent storms and more disease outbreaks.For decades we anticipated another pandemic. Hollywood blockbusters told horror stories of contagious diseases. Since 2008, we’ve seen fantasy become reality with several pandemics, the H1N1 flu virus, SARS and now COVID-19. Yet somehow, the world has been taken by surprise.Let’s make no mistake, we have made inroads. Governments, humanitarian agencies and countless communities deserve credit for helping to save lives. Just seven years ago, the most destructive typhoon to hit the Philippines on record, Haiyan, killed close to 7,000 people. When Typhoon Goni hit in 2020, a storm as strong as Haiyan, less than 70 lives were lost. Still, I’m frustrated.Early on in management, I learned that when you spend significant time and money on something, it is a priority. Most of the time and money in the aid sector is still spent on response, as if we don’t know what’s coming; neither the humanitarian community, the policymakers, nor the big donors.Why are we not using our extraordinary capacity to anticipate crises to prioritize our time and money? What price do we need to place on the lives of people who have died or had their livelihoods ripped apart by disease and disaster before we change our priorities?Today, we largely know the types of risks we are going to face, where they are going to hit and even in many cases, when. Many of the answers are clear as day. Typhoons strike the Philippines every November and December. Floods always follow drought in East Africa.We know the risks and we know what to do about it. The latest study on the value of preparedness confirms what we already knew. Every dollar invested in reducing risks from climate-related disasters saves us $6 when we are fixing up the mess, according to the United States Institute of Building Sciences and the United Nations.Super Typhoon Goni packed the most powerful winds of any storm in the world last year. Together with typhoon Vamco and other major storms, they came at a huge cost, seriously affecting the lives of more than 8.1 million people. More than 425,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.Among the millions whose livelihoods were disrupted, at least 200,000 farmers and fishermen lost their only source of income. The cost of agricultural damages totalled more than ₱12.3 billion (US260m) according to the Philippines Department of Agriculture.Together, the storms were considered the second most expensive typhoons on record, costing more than $US 1 billion.Money normally reserved for responding after disasters strike needs to be made available earlier and for longer-term solutions.We need to stop soil erosion, plant trees and improve drainage. We need to avoid crop wastage with better grain storage and irrigation. We need to build safer houses with stronger and more permanent foundations. We need to protect land rights and strengthen economic development and social protection programs so that people are not dependent on aid when disaster strikes.There needs to be a public accounting of how well resource allocation aligns with scientific prediction and the lessons we have learned.We must put our money where our mouth is. Failing is a dereliction of our responsibility to those most at risk and to ourselves.This past year, millions have faced often insurmountable hardships and heartache. We have a duty to protect the hope and dignity of those we pledge to support by ensuring everyone has a fair chance of a decent life.There just can’t be any more excuses.
The President of the Iranian Red Crescent Society Karim Hemmati announced yesterday the opening of a financial channel for receiving international humanitarian contributions. In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency, Hemmati said: “According to negotiations and correspondence conducted by the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as the follow-up of our colleagues in the Iranian Red Crescent, the United States Department of the Treasury will not oppose the opening of a financial channel for the transfer of humanitarian aids to the Iranian Red Crescent, provided that the Americans are not one of the parties to the aid provided by individuals and legal entities.” “According to the agreement, in the past few days, part of the aids, which was reserved for the Iranian Red Crescent and could not be transferred for several years, has been transferred to the country,” added Hemmati. The transferred contributions will be used in purchasing medicine, food parcels and other relief items that the Iran Red Crescent might need for its humanitarian response.
Dhaka/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 30 June 2020: Urgent early action is being taken to protect lives in Bangladesh as floods threaten 4.1 million people in large areas across the country that are already grappling with COVID-19.The Global Flood Awareness System (GLOFAS) has issued a flood forecast with a more than 50 per cent probability of a severe 1-in-10-year flood submerging some areas of Bangladesh for at least three days.A 5-day forecast by Bangladesh’s Flood Forecast and Warning Centre (FFWC) has also confirmed the severity of the floods. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society is implementing early actions with forecast-based funds from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to protect the lives, property and livelihoods of more than 16,500 people most at risk in three districts: Kurigram, Gaibandha and Jamalpur.Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Secretary General Feroz Salah Uddin said: “The flood water is rising alarmingly and many areas are already inundated. Our volunteers and staff are on the ground to assist the most vulnerable communities before the water reaches the danger level.“This funding will help us accelerate our early actions when time is running out.”The forecast has triggered the release of more than 230,000 Swiss francs (240,000 US dollars) from IFRC’s designated fund for anticipatory action, Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund.This funding will help support Bangladesh Red Crescent in evacuating people in the most at risk communities to safe shelters with their valuable assets and livestock; providing unconditional cash grants to those affected; and giving first aid treatment to those who need it. Precautionary measures are also being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 by pre-positioning facemasks and hand sanitisers for distribution.IFRC Head of Bangladesh Country Office Azmat Ulla said: “As a potentially severe flood continues to threaten millions of people in Bangladesh, we are taking a variety of preparedness measures to save lives and reduce loss. Together with Bangladesh Red Crescent we are reaching out to the communities in need to help them evacuate and to provide them with cash grants that give people in the path of floodwaters the ability to address their most urgent needs.“The compounding effects of COVID-19 and the floods could be devastating and this funding is crucial to reducing the impact as much as possible.”This is the second time in six weeks that IFRC has released forecast-based funds to support early and life-saving action in Bangladesh, after releasing more than 134,000 Swiss francs (138,000 US dollars) ahead of Cyclone Amphan in May.Early actions and forecast thresholds are pre-defined and agreed in BDRCS’ Early Action Protocol for Floods that has been developed with support of German Red Cross and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.
The Mongolian disaster and climate legal landscape has taken big steps in the last decade, including revision of Disaster protection law and establishment of disaster risk reduction councils nationwide. The 2017 Disaster protection law and implementing regulations marks a paradigm shift from response to risk management. Mongolia is now putting concerted efforts into ensuring these new frameworks are implemented and well understood, particularly at the community level.Mongolian Red Cross Society, as auxiliary to the Mongolian government in disaster risk reduction, relief, response, recovery plays a critical role in this regard. Since mid-2019, the Red Cross has been working in partnership with Mongolia’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at national and subnational level to develop and roll out a, “Disaster Law Dissemination – Know your 3Rs – Rights, Roles and Responsibilities”. The project aims to raise awareness and understanding of rights, roles and responsibilities of organisations and individuals to ensure effective DRM and compliance with the new frameworks throughout the country. So far, over 200 Local Emergency Management Agency (LEMA) and Red Cross Branch officers have been trained using the module, with more planned in 2020.The interactive training brings the law to life and uses a mixture of role plays, games and fun teaching aids to help raise awareness and support better implementation of the law. A video has also been created to support communication and advocacy efforts nationwide.Red Cross looks forward to continued work with communities, partners and government to ensure better awareness and action on disaster and climate law in Mongolia!
Jakarta, 20-21 November 2019. The IFRC and AHA Centre organized a 2-day workshop on the “Management of International Assistance” for Southeast Asia governments and Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies (“NS”). It was the first collaboration between the IFRC Disaster Law Programme and AHA Centre, and the workshop was graced by Ms. Adelina Kamal (AHA Centre Executive Director), Mr. Joy Singhal (IFRC Myanmar Head of Country Office), Mr. Ky-Anh Nguyen (ASEC Director of Sustainable Development). The activity was generously supported by the governments of Switzerland, Germany and the Australian Red Cross.Three major disaster events that triggered the receipt of foreign international assistance in Myanmar (2015 nationwide flooding), Viet Nam (2017 Typhoon Damri), and Lao PDR (2018 floods in Attapeu and other provinces) have prompted officials from national disaster management offices, foreign affairs ministries, and national societies in Southeast Asia to sit down and talk about challenges and lessons learned from these disaster responses. Among those identified is the importance of clearly identifying the government office responsible for declaring the request for or acceptance of international assistance, which office/s may accept offers of international assistance, and establishing standard procedures for reaching such a decision. There was consensus that in the region practice leans towards accepting offers of international assistance rather than direct requests for such support by the disaster-affected state.Mr. Singhal emphasized that “as auxiliary to their public authorities in the humanitarian field, Red Cross Red Crescent NS with the support of IFRC are on hand to support their governments to strengthen their national preparedness, and facilitate dialogue between international actors and national authorities on how to better prepare together.” This includes support on strengthening national legal preparedness of international humanitarian assistance. Basic principles espoused by the IFRC Guidelines for the Domestic Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance, what is usually called International Disaster Response Law (“IDRL”), was shared by Ms. Pauline Caspellan, IFRC SEA Disaster Law Adviser. She emphasized that the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response perfectly embodies the IDRL principles, and is a model guide for states and NS not only in ASEAN but in other regions. Ms. Gabrielle Emery, IFRC AP Disaster Law Coordinator, presented the new Checklist on Domestic Preparedness and Response as well as the proposed resolution on “Climate Smart Disaster Laws and Policies That Leave No One Behind” which was adopted by states and national societies at the 33rd Red Cross and Red Crescent International Conference.The workshop was formally closed by Mr. Xavier Castellanos, IFRC AP Regional Director, and Ms. Kamal. Both IFRC and AHA Centre are keen to continue partnership on disaster law issues, and further discussions on the outcomes of the workshop are expected early next year in order to continue the momentum of strengthening domestic and regional legal preparedness for disasters in the ASEAN region.
When a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society receives a forecast of an imminent extreme weather event, one of their most urgent tasks is to decide what action to take in anticipation of a possible disaster.In the case of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, this decision-making process has become clearer and more straightforward, thanks to its improved use of scientific information, as was shown in recent weeks before the arrival of Cyclone Fani.Since 2015, the Bangladesh Red Crescent has been using a Forecast-based Financing (FbF) approach with support from the German Red Cross. As a result, when Cyclone Fani approached, decision-makers could rely on an established system which provided them with robust forecast information and served as a basis to decide, when and where to act and with what resources.The Bangladesh National Society, with support from the German Red Cross and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre, had developed an Early Action Protocol for cyclones. This plan clearly defines forecast thresholds and details which early actions are needed, and where, to protect the population.In the days before Cyclone Fani made landfall, the Bangladesh Red Crescent set up an Activation Committee in line with its established procedures for activating the Early Action Protocol. Its role was to continuously review the meteorological data and decide if according to the forecast information the trigger for activation was met. The Activation Committee is chaired by the Deputy Secretary General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent and also includes experts from the Cyclone Preparedness Programme, the Climate Centre, German Red Cross, and IFRC. Activation of the Bangladesh EAP is being funded by the IFRC’s financial mechanism to support early action, the Forecast based Action by the DREF, which was created in May 2018.Based on the forecast information, the local branches in the coastal districts activated their control rooms, mobilized their resources, volunteers and officials for early warning and preparation of evacuation shelters. Eight members of the National Disaster Response Team were deployed in four districts (Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat and Barguna) to support the activities being conducted. In two districts, local branches with German Red Cross support also undertook a rapid stock-taking of local markets to ascertain if they were able to supply the food and relief items that would be required in case of an activation.In addition, a database of the cyclone shelters, markets and accessibility was used by all stakeholders in preparation for Cyclone Fani. The database had been developed by the FbF project and proved to be very useful in preparing districts in the cyclone’s path for evacuation, and in obtaining real-time information from the shelters through the contacts listed.The Activation Committee met several times before deciding not to activate the Early Action Protocol, as the forecasts did not meet the trigger that had been defined in the EAP and all the data and analysis suggested that the forecasted impact could be managed with resources from the local branch. Had the Committee decided for activation, the EAP Implementation Committee was there to coordinate and implement the EAP and districts were ready.Thanks to the work on FbF, there was a clear framework for decision-making and the systematic monitoring of forecasts allowed the preparations to focus on those districts that were later affected by rains, using resources efficiently.All these actions as well as the structures for coordination demonstrate the importance of forecast-based financing in supporting readiness activities and bringing all affected parties together to take anticipatory action.
Red Cross volunteers in the Indian state of Odisha are ramping up efforts to warn 20 million people of the imminent and potentially deadly arrival of Cyclone Fani.Fani is predicted to make landfall on India’s east coast on 3 May. It is expected to bring heavy rainfall and strong winds which could lead to loss of life and injuries, as well as damaging houses, infrastructure and crops. An estimated 1,500 Indian Red Cross volunteers are working within communities to warn people at risk.The Indian Red Cross is packing emergency kits (with instant rice, tea, sugar, biscuits, candles, matches and water) ready to distribute to people who will seek refuge in the state’s cyclone shelters. Clothing, hygiene kits, buckets, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting are also being prepared. In the event of a disaster, Red Cross will prioritize support for displaced families, older people, women-headed families, breast-feeding mothers and people living with a disability.In Bangladesh, an estimated 12.8 million people are at risk given Fani’s current predicted path which takes it across four inland districts on its journey east. Volunteers of the joint Bangladesh Red Crescent/Bangladesh government cyclone preparedness programme are alerting communities about the potential impact of the storm and the possible need to evacuate using megaphones and loudspeakers as well as social media.In Cox’s Bazar – where an estimated 700,000 people who have fled violence in Rakhine are living in camps – Red Crescent volunteers are going household-to-household to warn people of the risk potentially posed by Fani.
23 March 2019, Iraq Red Crescent volunteers joined the local authority and community to rescue passengers from a sinking ferry on the Tigris river in Iraq’s city of Mosul. Nearly 100 people are reported to have died in the accident. Iraq Red Crescent volunteers pulled 58 passengers –half of whom were children- from the water. “This is a tragic incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families who lost their loved ones,” said Dr. Yassin Abbas, President of Iraq Red Crescent Society. “Our volunteers joined the local authority and community in the search and rescue operation. The Injured received first aid services and then were transported to the nearest hospitals.” The ferry was heading towards Umm Rabaen island, as part of Nowruz, new year celebrations. Footage of the incident on social media showed the overcrowded ferry flipping over and being dragged swiftly downstream by the river.
By Maude Froberg, IFRCThe sound of digging echoes over the mountain slope in the early morning. It is a slow arduous digging, as the soil is becoming more frozen by the day. Choe Gwang Chol, volunteer from the Red Cross, leans against his spade and pauses.“There is still a lot of mud in the gardens and next to the houses,” he says.It has now been months since the double disasters of floods and a landslide hit North and South Hwanghae province in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In Kumchon county the traces are still visible. The landslide, caused by heavy rains, has left a scar where when it came crashing down, ripping houses and families apart. Shards of what were homes are still scattered in the mud: pieces of clothes, part of a roof, a broken teacup.“The volunteers dug out the trapped residents from their houses and helped move household items from the debris. When the first landslide happened, 12 people were buried under the mud and the rescuers searched also for them,” recalls Choe Gwang Chol.Tested by the responseChoe Hwa Sok, DPRK Red Cross Branch Leader, is dressed in a warm black jacket and extends a welcome by apologising for the temporary location of the organization. It is chilly inside and rays of sun find their way through the dusty window. The previous training room of the Red Cross was washed away in the floods that struck this community in the end of August.This was not the first time floods have happened in this area, but people were not prepared for a second danger “On the day of the disaster, people evacuated from the flood-affected area, which was according to plan. After all, we are situated downstream. Meanwhile, people at the foot of the hill thought they were safe. Then the landslide came crashing down. It has never happened before,” she says.It started raining on 28 August, but the rain did not seem heavy, Choe Hwa Sok recalls. Then came the downpour in the morning of the following day. In just a few hours, 678 mm rain fell. She led some 250 volunteers in performing early warning, while helping some 10,000 people to evacuate. The volunteers also carried out search and rescue, and transported injured people to hospitals.People here had experienced floods, but never landslides.In all, 242,000 people were displaced, 42 were killed and 31 went still missing in Kumchon County.In response, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) released 383,123 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the DPRK Red Cross with distribution of emergency supplies such as cooking sets, blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene sets and water containers.Daniel Wallinder, IFRC Disaster Risk Management Delegate, says, “The floods are part of a general and worrying trend in the past years of extreme and highly volatile weather that need further improvements in early warning systems and greater community training. Although geographically dispersed, the damage to land and to infrastructure often happens in areas that we could predict would be high-risk.”This time, the response was not without challenges.“The Red Cross volunteers had to walk 16 kilometres to reach people in the flood-affected area of Ryanghap-ri. What normally takes four hours to walk took eight hours. It was a rocky road, partly closed,” he says.This action was noted by the authorities.Yu Sun Hong, Vice Chairperson of County People’s Committee says. “We are very grateful to the Red Cross. I saw many volunteers engaged and I also got to know about the IFRC. In the past we have seen the Red Cross do good things, but during the disaster the organization performed lots of relief activities. Red Cross volunteers carried medicines and emergency relief items to six affected rural communities. They also distributed water to people living in temporary shelters.”The inhabitants of Kumchon county are now stepping up preparedness and awareness about the new danger. They are mapping disaster risks, ensuring people are aware of early warning systems and running evacuation drills. The double disaster has brought home the importance of preparing for the unexpected.Learning to heed to early warningsThe small white house with a thatched roof is located on a side street. One by one, children in colourful jackets pass by on their way home from school. This is the temporary home of Ho Song Ran, a single mother of three.A bed with warm quilts covers almost the entire living room.“The house is not big, but I am happy about it,” she says in a soft but confident voice.In the morning, the heavy downpour started and the children were just about to go to school.“I had received an early warning about heavy rain the night before. Even though I had noted it, I didn’t think of going to a shelter, because I had never experienced anything like this before,” she says.“Then I saw people evacuating and being swept away by the torrential rain. Quilts, pillows and debris were being washed away from the houses and it was only then that I felt terrified. The upper parts of my house were torn off. The first thought that came to my mind was that the kids would die in the house if we stayed there,” she says.The family then moved into a tent, then to a middle school.The DPRK Red Cross with the support of IFRC has provided her with household items such as cooking utensils, quilts and a hygiene kit. The only thing she is missing is a chopping board.With winter just around the corner people like Ho Song Ran and her children remain highly vulnerable, but the community has come closer. Many people affected by the double disaster moved in with neighbours and for this single mother to pay back is essential.“Today I am a victim without a house, but with shelter. In the future I will remember all the experiences and urge others to follow the early warnings so that people can evacuate at the right time.”