Disaster preparedness

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IFRC-DREF Pledging Conference

Leading donors from around the world gather each year at the IFRC secretariate in Geneva, Switzerland to pledge new or renewed funding to the IFRC's Disaster Response Emergency Fund, moving the fund a significant step closer to its strategicambition of growing IFRC-DREF to 100 million Swiss Francs by 2025. 

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Flooding in Nigeria: ‘When the floods come again, we will be better prepared.’

In the Ivrogbo-iri community in Nigeria’s Delta State, Blessing Emeldi lived happily with her children, farming and selling cassava, yams and bananas. That was until devastating floods in 2022 washed away her farm and all her precious crops.“It was a shock, and I felt helpless,” says Blessing, recounting how the floods robbed her of her only source of livelihood. “I struggled to pay my children’s school fees.”Many parts of Delta Stateare prone to seasonal flooding, butthe floods in 2022 were particularly bad and caused widespread devastation. With IFRC support through an anticipatory allocation from the IFRC-DREF fund, followed by an emergency appeal, theNigerian Red Cross Society and its partners provided a wide range of assistance, including multi-purpose cash grants.People such as Blessing could use those cash grants to meet a variety of needs."The cash helped me buy food and basic needs, and I was able to start a firewood business to pay my children’s school fees. Things have gotten better."The cash grants were just a part of the Nigerian Red Cross response. They also provided help with shelter, health services, protection of people in vulnerable situations, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene support. The goal is to both address urgent needs and promote resilience among those most impacted by the inundations.Accessible Clean WaterThe Nigerian Red Cross also helped establish new water points so people in the communities could access clean, safe water. This enabled girls, who are usually responsible for collecting water for their families, to focus on their school.Juliet and Constance Elorghor are 14 and 9-year-old sisters recount the difficulties they faced before the water points were built."Before, we carried basins for very long distances to the river or fetched water from a communal well,” Juliet recalls, as her sister, Constance, nods in agreement.“It was hard, and I often went to school late or missed school, because water was scarce, and the queues were long. We also often fell sick because the water was dirty."“It was worse during the floods because our well was filled with dirty water and our river too. We faced water scarcity, and it was a hard time,” she continues."Now, with the water points close to my house, we don't go to school late anymore, and we don't fall sick because the water is clean. The Red Cross even gave us jerry cans and buckets with lids that make fetching and storing water better."Rebuilding strongerThe Nigerian Red Cross also restored homes destroyed by the floods, which helped families recover and prepare them for the future.In Araya community, Gladys Ajiri, a mother of six whose home was destroyed by the floods, spoke about how hard it was for them to be displaced."My previous house was made of mud and was easily washed away by the floods. We had nowhere to go and suffered greatly, living on the good will from neighbors," Gladys recalls. "The Red Cross helped build this beautiful concrete house for us. My children are safe now, and I am grateful for this kindness."Josephine Onogomohor and Miriam Abide are widows whose homes were also destroyed by the floods and rebuilt by the Nigerian Red Cross. Also receiving multi-purpose cash assistance, Miriam, who lost all her shop items to the floods, used it to restart her business in front of her newly rebuilt home."I was given money in this card, and my destroyed house was rebuilt. Now I have started selling my small provisions again to keep me going. This kind of help, I have never seen before. There was no one to help me, but the Red Cross came to my aid. I am forever grateful," Miriam said. "When the floods come again, we are better prepared."

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Uganda Ebola outbreak 2022: The importance of safe and dignified burials

In countries around the world, burial rituals—whether cultural, traditional, or religious—are an important way of honouring the dead and helping people grieve. For many communities, special burial practices enable them to bid farewell to their loved ones in a respectful and meaningful way.Losing someone is never easy. But what if someone you love passes away, and you’re told that the burial traditions your community holds dear may put you all in danger?This is what happened to people in Mubende, Uganda, in September 2022 when the country declared its first outbreak of Ebola in more than a decade. The government barred communities from burying their loved ones due to the risks involved, declaring that burials should be managed by trained safe and dignified burial teams.Ebola is a cruel disease. Deadly when left untreated, and highly contagious, it’s transmitted from person to person through direct contact and bodily fluids. When someone is infected, their families and friends are unable to provide hands-on care. And when someone dies from Ebola, their body continues to be highly contagious for up to seven days, meaning that safe and dignified burial measures must be followed to prevent further infection.Kuteesa Samuel from Mubende knows this all too well. He lost his wife of 20 years, Monica, to Ebola during the 2022 outbreak. Monica was seven months pregnant at the time, meaning Samuel also lost his unborn child.In Samuel’s culture, it’s customary to wash and wrap the body of the deceased. And if a pregnant woman dies in the community, tradition dictates that the foetus is buried in a separate grave. But during Ebola, these practices would have posed a deadly threat to people’s health.Knowing this, the Uganda Red Cross Society were poised to step in.Local, known, trustedUganda Red Cross staff and volunteers are part of the fabric of society in Uganda. They come from the communities they serve, follow the same local customs, and have a deep understanding of people’s needs and sensitivities when disaster strikes.They therefore understood why Samuel’s community felt scared, confused, and reluctant to abandon their traditions.But following sensitive, patient, and repeated engagement from local Red Cross volunteers—who worked hand-in-hand with local health authorities and community leaders—Samuel’s community agreed to a compromise. Monica’s body was left intact and safely buried by trained Red Cross teams following strict health and safety protocols. While a banana flower was symbolically buried in a separate grave to mark the loss of Samuel’s unborn child. “After the health workers engaged and explained everything to us, we came to an understanding. […] If it wasn’t for Uganda Red Cross, we would not even know where the deceased would be buried. They helped us to bury the deceased to ensure we don’t get infected. So, we greatly appreciate the Red Cross,” explains Samuel.Preparedness saves livesSince the last Ebola outbreak in 2012, the Uganda Red Cross Society had worked hard to improve its preparedness for future health emergencies and strengthen its auxiliary role supporting the Ministry of Health during disease outbreaks.With support from the IFRC through the USAID-funded Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), as well as through an Ebola preparedness emergency appeal (2018-2021) and a Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF) operation (2018-2020), they undertook lots of different preparedness activities across different parts of the country.Emergency preparedness involves planning for the worst, so one of those activities was developing a pool of qualified safe and dignified burials trainers and teams across the country. These teams were ready to be deployed immediately to support communities like Samuel’s when the 2022 Ebola outbreak began.“CP3 was so instrumental to this response. We were only able to respond on time because we had done preparations. We already had prepared teams, and this enabled us to swiftly respond,” explains Dr Joseph Kasumba, Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Officer with the Uganda Red Cross who led the response.Humanity in the darkest of momentsDuring the 2022 Ebola outbreak, Uganda Red Cross teams conducted a total of 512 safe and dignified burials. These efforts contributed to the outbreak being declared over in a record four months.What’s harder to quantify is the emotional support and meaningful care that Red Cross teams provided to communities in perhaps the worst moments of their lives. For that, here’s some powerful testimony from those affected by Ebola, or involved in the response:“When it comes to Ebola Virus Disease, communities always need someone they can trust, people they can identify with. And the fact that the Red Cross is always part of the community... we know what cultural practices are done. We know what the community wants us to do and they feel confident identifying with us, even in that time of grief and sorrow.” - Dr Joseph Kasumba“We really thank the health workers because they taught us how to protect ourselves. We are still grateful for what they did. It was a miracle for us.” - Janet, Mubende resident“Since Ebola started in Mubende, it is the Red Cross that has walked with us. Every community knows Red Cross here. We appreciate you for the work you’ve done. The people of Mubende appreciate you for offering your lives to stand in the gap and save lives.” - Rosemary Byabashaija – Resident District Commissioner in MubendeIf you found this story interesting and would like to learn more:Visit the Uganda Red Cross Society websiteClick here to learn more about the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3). Funded by USAID, CP3 supports communities, National Societies, and other partners in seven countries to prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to disease threats.Sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Newsletter.

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Untold stories: Behind the headlines, hoping for the best while preparing for the worst

Since the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Palestine in October 2023, the Egyptian Red Crescent has delivered nearly 18,000 truck loads of medical supplies, food, and other goods into Gaza. ThePalestine Red Crescent Society, meanwhile, continues to provide emergency health services and coordinate the receipt and delivery of the aid.The process has not always been smooth.Aid deliveries were often blocked or delayed. But ultimately, thousands of shipments were able to get through. The Egyptian Red Crescent’s ability to scale up rapidly and respond effectively is largely due to its experience with supporting thousands of people who fled violence in neighboring Sudan.“In the case of the Egyptian Red Crescent, there were many learnings taken from the response to the population movement from Sudan last April,”saysDr. Hosam Faysal, regional head of the IFRC’s Health, Disasters, Climate and Crises (HDCC) Unit in the MENA region. “The learnings were about what the logistics system requires in each case, and how to build it quickly and scale it according to the needs of the response”.But the crisis today in the Middle East is also posing many new challenges, according to Lotfy S. Gheith, head of operations of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society.“We are facing a very different crisis from previous ones,”Gheith says. “We are used to working in Gaza, but now the situation is unpredictable, and we do not know how situations can escalate from one moment to the next, as has been happening.“This operation is a challenge, because we are sending trucks with humanitarian aid, which we have increased significantly. But it is not enough for the great, urgent needs of the population.”The making of an emergency responseThis is one side of the humanitarian equation that is often not told. It’s the story of what is done behind the scenes, before a crisis, to ensure the response is effective because it fits the local situation, culture and dynamics.The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, renowned for its intricate geopolitical dynamics, vast and diverse areas and cultures, is also a region grappling with some of the world's most daunting humanitarian challenges.MENA National Societies operate within this complex and ever-evolving context, navigating a wide range of challenges that span from civil unrest and violence to extreme weather — such as heatwaves, droughts and flooding — as well as technological hazards like the massive explosion that rocked Beirut in 2020.Getting readyNone of this would be possible without prior preparation by the National Societies. In order to provide an effective response, National Societies need to work on their response mechanisms.This means training staff and volunteers, going through simulations, building the capacity around contingency planning, as well as looking into learnings that can be gathered from other emergencies.The Lebanese Red Cross, for example, has several overlapping crises to deal with: the consequences of the August 4, 2020 explosion, the internal economic crisis, the Syrian refugee crisis, and now the conflict in Gaza.About this latest crisis, the National Society already had the mandate from the authorities to provide emergency medical services. The National Society could then improve its readiness by prepositioning stocks, increasing the alert level within their own Emergency Medical Services stations, and mobilizing more staff and volunteers to be ready for deployment.“We saw how it paid off when the escalation started in the south and the Lebanese Red Cross was immediately ready to respond and provide support to the affected and displaced population,”says Faysal.“[The Lebanese Red Cross] was indeed the only trusted entity to access the south to evacuate the wounded,”he adds. “All this has been possible through contingency planning, coordination, and the availability of resources”.In the case of Syria, the National Society is developing different scenarios in the event of an escalation of the conflict. As the context in Syria is one of protracted crises, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society mainly envisions the work it will have to undertake in case there is a need to increase the evacuation of wounded or affected populations.Its contingency plan includes protective measures for staff and volunteers when accessing risk areas, preparing to have more ambulances ready for evacuations, and carrying out more maintenance work to ensure the availability of these ambulances.TheJordan Red Crescent , meanwhile, is aiming to prepare for the potential evacuation of wounded people from the West Bank to Jordan for medical treatment. The Jordan Red Crescent has its own hospital, so its aim is to enhance medical services in order to receive and accommodate those in need for treatment.A need for more investmentThe MENA region has also been hit recently by several disasters, such as the earthquakes in Syria and Morocco, which left thousands of people dead and wreaked devastation in both countries.In the case of Morocco, the National Society had been working for several years on preparedness activities, updating its contingency plans and conducting simulation exercises with local authorities, as well as having a very clear and defined contingency plan at the national level.“The National Society has a well-defined and comprehensive contingency plan, and that's not something we see very often,” says Faysal. “It is very impressive. It includes coordination with other authorities and how to activate [the plan] at the national level”.Nevertheless, it is still necessary to develop and maintain sustainable actions and resources to ensure that National Societies respond adequately to crises and disasters.“In general, unfortunately, we see that in most cases resources only will be available when the emergency is in media headlines,”, Faysal adds.In response to this concern, the IFRC developed a multi-year programme on earthquake preparedness for eight countries in the region, using a multi-hazard approach. But, says Faysal, they received no support from partners and donors.“So, when the earthquake hit, we were in the same situation as we were in Syria [following the earthquake there in February 2023], with no considerations for us to be better prepared”, he says. “This is not about putting pressure on partners, because it's not just about resources, but also about availability and technical engagement.”This is why it’s critical to continually highlight the need for preparation, behind the scenes, before disaster strikes. Krystell Santamaria,Disaster Risk Management Coordinator forIFRCMENA Region, puts it this way: “We must continue to invest in preparedness, to ensure that resources are sustainable: Preparedness efforts must be updated cyclically and maintained over time, to guarantee that National Societies can respond effectively to the growing crises in the Mena region. This is the challenge”.By Olivia Acosta

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Tajikistan: From landslides to landmines, partnership helps keep people safe and healthy

Three kilometres from the Changal village school in Tajikistan lies a minefield.As the summer holidays approach, chemistry teacher Saida Meliboeva and other Tajikistan Red Crescent volunteers warn children to stay away from the danger zone in the border area between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.However, cattle are moving into the minefield and children and herding animals are in danger.No one knows exactly where the mines are, as they are not marked on the map. Frequent mudslides and floods move the mines to unpredictable locations.Information shared by the Tajikistan Red Crescent has helped keep children safe and it has been 15 years without any mine accidents.This is just one of the many critical activities supported by a three-yearpartnership between IFRC and the EU issupporting local communities in Tajikistan to effectively anticipate, respond, and recover from the impact of multiple shocks and hazards.Schoolchildren also learn how to act during an earthquake and other disasters and everyday accidents. In a preparedness exercise organised by the Tajikistan Red Crescent, students learned how to leave classrooms quickly and give first aid to the injured."Our teacher told us what to do in case of a mudslide or an earthquake, or what to do if someone breaks a bone or you need to give first aid," says Manija, a student from Panjakent in Tajikistan."If there is an earthquake, we find a place where there are no houses and sit there. We have to staybrave and calm and go out without rushing."Tajikistan Red Crescent volunteer Azambek Dusyorov still remembers what the mudslide approaching his home in Panjakent, looked like. Spotting the mass of earth falling from the mountains, Azambek told his friends and family of the danger and ran for safety up the hill. Fortunately, the house remained standing.Since then, Azambek and other Red Crescent volunteers have planted trees in the yard, the roots of which help keep the earth masses in place. A wide track has been cut into the hillside, allowing the mudslides to descend into the valley without destroying homes and crops.When clashes intensified along the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgystan, Red Crescent volunteerAbdurahmon Sultanbegan visiting homes in the region to make sure people know how to take care of themselves and their neighbors in case of an injury.One of the homes he visited was that ofMashkhura Hamroboeva, in Khistevarz jamoat at Khujand.Since then, meetings have continued, and discussions have revolved around everyday topics."We meet 2–3 times a month. We talk about everything from how to prevent frostbite in winter to how to avoid infectious diseases," says 17-year-old Abdurahmon.It didn’t take long for Abdurahmon's advice to come in handy. When Mashkhura's three-year-old son accidentally spilled a hot cup of tea on himself, Mashkhura remembered what Abdurahmon had told her.Traditionally, a burn had been treated with a cut potato, but this time Mashkhura dipped the child'shand in cool water.There are just some of the Tajikistan Red Crescent actions (supported by the Programmatic Partnership) that help people and communities prevent future catastrophies and take care of themselves during crises they weren’t able to prevent.TheProgrammatic Partnership between the IFRC network and the European Union, provides strategic, flexible, long-term and predictable funding, so that National Societies can act before an emergency occurs. It is being implemented in 24 countries around the world.

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Stopping a measles outbreak in its tracks in Sierra Leone

Makuma is a remote coastal village nestled in the north-west corner of Sierra Leone, on the border with Guinea. It’s only accessible by one narrow and bumpy dirt track. Its 2,000 or so inhabitants travel by foot or on motorbikes in the drier months. But when waters rise in the rainy season from May to December, the track becomes unusable—cutting people off from their nearest health centre, some 10km away.Its isolated location, coupled with the high risk of infectious diseases in Sierra Leone, means Makuma could be the perfect breeding ground for an epidemic, if it weren’t for one thing: the presence of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society.Momoh Saio Kamara is Makuma’s local Red Cross volunteer. He grew up in the village and is much loved and trusted, thanks to his work supporting people through the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak.In 2019, Momoh was trained in epidemic control and community-based surveillance through the USAID-funded Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3)—acquiring the skills and tools needed to detect, alert, and respond to disease outbreaks early.So when, in early 2022, people in Makuma started noticing strange symptoms of a mystery illness they’d never seen before, Momoh knew exactly what to do.“One day I was in the village doing house visits. I visited my friend who said there is someone—the nose is red, the mouth is red, the nose runs and there is a rash. I go and look and I thought straight away, it is measles,” explains Momoh.Without hesitating, Momoh alerted his supervisor, Jobel, using a digital community-based surveillance system set up through the CP3 programme. Jobel arrived shortly afterwards on his motorbike to investigate. Seeing the symptoms for himself, he escalated the alert in the system—notifying district health authorities in an instant.“After the alert, I rang the local nurse and called a community meeting to tell the people it is suspected measles,” adds Momoh.A highly contagious viral infection, measles spreads easily among the unvaccinated. It’s a serious illness that can require hospital admission, cause permanent disability, and even kill if not treated properly.Local nurses swiftly arrived and started tracing and registering suspected cases, while Momoh and Jobel went house-to-house to tell people how to stay safe.The following day, a Rapid Response Team from Kambia district hospital arrived to undertake testing, conduct a ring vaccination of nearly 800 children to minimize further infection, and tend to patients.“The Red Cross and District Health Management Team they come. It did not take long. When they arrived, again we called a meeting, we talked to the community. We told them these people have medicine and it is free,” explains Momoh.For N’Mah, a woman from Makuma whose young son caught measles, having Momoh by her side was a huge relief.“My son Morlai fell sick. I had no idea what the illness was and I felt worried and restless. Momoh held a community meeting to let people know he thought it was measles. He told us what he knew about the disease and asked people to tell him if they noticed anyone with the same symptoms. He told us to keep our environment as clean as possible, wash our hands properly, and isolate anyone who showed signs of the illness. I felt really happy because the health services came really quickly,” explains N’Mah.Momoh is one of 250 volunteers in Kambia district trained through the CP3 programme. Together, they are the eyes and ears in hard-to-reach communities, making sure no suspicious health event goes undetected.A total of 124 measles cases were eventually recorded during the outbreak in Makuma. The number could have been significantly higher had it not been for Momoh’s early action, the trust placed in him by his community, and the rapid response from local health authorities.“The successful response which prevented deaths and disability is a result of the early detection and reporting by theRed Cross volunteers, followed by a swift response from the District Health Management Team. It is no exaggeration to say that these volunteers help greatly towards the health care delivery system in Kambia district, especially in public health surveillance,” explains Ishmael Rogers, Kambia District Surveillance Officer.For Makuma village Councillor, Yusif, who has steered his community through difficult times such as Ebola and COVID-19 in recent years, the relief at having Red Cross support in keeping his people healthy is palpable.“I feel happy that Momoh is here. He’s always available for our community – any day, any time. He’s very patient. When our people are sick, he makes sure they are taken to hospital. I feel my community is safe with Momoh. God forbid there is another outbreak, we know Momoh is here for us.”--The rapid outbreak detection and response reported in this article were made possible thanks to the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the programme supports communities, National Societies, and other partners in seven countries to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more:Sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness NewsletterFollow the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society on X, Facebook and LinkedInTo learn more about community-based surveillance initiatives within the IFRC please visit cbs.ifrc.org

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Press release

Innovative partnership between IFRC and The Nature Conservancy equips Caribbean communities to combat climate crisis

Geneva/Panama, 21 February 2024: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have successfully prepared over 3,000 people in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Jamaica to adapt to the climate crisis. Leveraging coastal habitats to reduce risk, this initiative merges cutting-edge conservation science with disaster preparedness.Central to this success is the Resilient Islands Project, an IFRC-TNC collaboration that redefines community resilience by utilizing nature’s protective power against the climate crisis. This approach is critical in the Caribbean, where the proximity of 70% of the population to the coast underscores their vulnerability .In Grenada, the project has designed a climate-smart fisher facility, featuring twenty-one lockers, rainwater harvesting capabilities, and solar energy for electricity generation. Additional benefits include a jetty for ease of access to and from the fishers’ boats and the planting of coastal vegetation to enhanced near-shore habitat, reduced erosion and filtered runoff. These solutions make small-scale fishing safer and more sustainable.Eddy Silva, The Nature Conservancy Project Manager, underscores the broader implications:"The lessons learned from Resilient Islands will increase awareness of climate resilience and help scale up efforts at the local and national levels in all small island developing states across the Caribbean. At a time when weather-related hazards and rising ocean temperatures are becoming more extreme and destructive, this program has demonstrated that mangroves, coral reefs, and reforestation can save lives and livelihoods.”Protecting, managing, and restoring these ecosystems is key to limit people's exposure and vulnerability to hazards. The IFRC and TNC show that this should be done through laws, policies, and climate-resilient development plans that promote science-based decision making, improve early- warning systems and anticipate climate-related disasters.In Jamaica, the Resilient Islands program has enhanced the existing national vulnerability ranking index by including ecosystems indicators. This allows agencies to monitor and measure not only community vulnerability levels but also the habitats’ capacity to protect people and livelihoods.Local actors have also played a critical role in ensuring that climate change solutions are responsive to local needs, inclusive and sustainable.Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, highlights the indispensable role of local engagement:“One significant lesson learned by the Resilient Islands program is that there is no resilience without localization. Nature-based solutions are community-based solutions, and local actors, including Red Cross volunteers, should be at the core of its design and implementation. We have also learned that change is more likely when complementary organizations work together. The alliance between IFRC and TNC is a model of the innovation, generosity and vision the world needs to address the climate crisis, arguably the greatest challenge of our time.”Dr. Rob Brumbaugh, The Nature Conservancy Caribbean's Executive Director, reflects on the partnership's unique synergy:“The project is a model approach for bringing together organizations with very different but very complementary capabilities. TNC with expertise in cutting-edge conservation science, data and conservation techniques, and the IFRC, the world’s leader in the disaster planning and response.”The Resilient Islands Project is a five-year initiative collaboratively implemented by the IFRC and TNC with support from the German Government’s International Climate Initiative (IKI). The program officially ended with a closing ceremony and project review in Panama City on February 20, 2024.To request an interview or for more information, please contact IFRC at [email protected] or the Nature Conservancy at [email protected] Geneva:Mrinalini Santhanam +41 76 381 5006In Panama:Susana Arroyo Barrantes +50684161771

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World Radio Day: How radio helps keep communities healthy and safe

Though we’re living in an increasingly digital world, radio remains an important source of information, entertainment, and connection in countries across the globe.This is especially true among rural communities, for whom radio is often the most trusted—or sometimes only—source of news and information for miles around.Imagine you’re living in one of these communities, far from the nearest health centre. You notice people are falling sick and you don’t know why. Seeking answers, you tune into your local radio station.The presenter is talking about the ‘mystery illness’ in a panicked way, saying how gruesome the symptoms are, how many people have died, and how you should avoid infected people at all costs. He’s heard the illness could be some kind of curse, and that apparently drinking salty water can protect you.Hearing this report, and with no other sources to turn to, you’d probably feel scared and unsure of what to do.But imagine you tuned in and heard a totally different show. The presenter calmly offers practical information about the disease—its name, symptoms, how it spreads, and measures you can take to protect yourself. He interviews a local doctor you know and trust who responds to common questions and concerns.You’d feel reassured and have the information you need to keep you and your family safe.In several countries, the IFRC and our National Societies are partnering with local media to do exactly this: provide life-saving information before, during, and after health outbreaks.As part of the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), we’ve been working with the charity BBC Media Action to train journalists and Red Cross Societies from seven countries in Lifeline Programming: special media programming that provides accurate, practical, and timely information in a health or humanitarian crisis.National Societies regularly partner with media outlets to broadcast helpful information that keeps communities healthy and safe from a wide range of diseases. Let’s look at some examples.KenyaIn Bomet and Tharaka Nithi counties, Kenya Red Cross teams up with local radio stations and county health services, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with useful health messages on how to prevent diseases such as anthrax, rabies and cholera.Information is shared in simple language. And listeners can call in to ask questions or suggest health topics for discussion.“At first, media was known for reporting two things, maybe: politics, and bad things that have happened in society. But the Red Cross helped us […] use the media in educating the people about disease,” explains Sylvester Rono, a journalist with Kass FM trained in Lifeline programming.“I am now proud to say that this has really helped our communities. Our people are now appreciating why we should vaccinate our pets, why we should go to the hospital when we have a bite, why we should report any [health] incident, and when you see any sign of diseases, be it rabies, be it anthrax, be it cholera […] the importance of reporting it earlier,” he adds.CameroonIn late 2021, a cholera outbreak threatened the lives of communities in the North region of Cameroon—a rural part of the country where communities are widely dispersed.As part of its response, the Cameroon Red Cross teamed up with local radio stations—launching a series of community radio programmes to share information on how people could protect themselves, what symptoms to look out for, and where to access help if they fell sick.Themes for the programmes were selected in partnership with community leaders. And after the shows broadcast, Red Cross volunteers headed out into their communities to reinforce the messages shared on air through door-to-door visits.“The radio programme is very good, because it has given me practical information. I had a cholera case in my family, but based on the measures I heard on the radio, I was able to save my sister’s child who was sick,” explained Talaga Joseph, a listener who called into FM Bénoué—one of the participating radio stations.Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)In DRC, harmful rumours and misinformation about COVID-19 and other diseases have spread across the country in recent years. For example, some people believed the COVID-19 vaccine was a source of income for the government and had no benefit to society, while others believed the measles vaccine was less effective than traditional remedies involving cassava leaves.To address these rumours, DRC Red Cross volunteers went door-to-door to collect community feedback and record common myths and misconceptions. After analysing the feedback, DRC Red Cross staff took to the airwaves—launching interactive radio shows to directly address and debunk health misinformation and provide trusted advice.For example, in Kongo Central province, the DRC Red Cross partners with Radio Bangu to produce a show called ‘Red Cross School’. Listeners call in to check information on different diseases, ask questions, and discover what support they can access from the Red Cross.“The collaboration with the Red Cross is very good and has enabled listeners to learn more about its activities and how they can prevent different illnesses and epidemics. The Red Cross broadcasts are so popular they have increased our overall number of listeners in the area we cover,” says Rigobert Malalako, Station Manager at Radio Bangu.--The activities with local radio featured in this article are just a few examples of media partnerships developed through the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), CP3 supports communities, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other partners to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more, sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Newsletter.You can also access the following resources:BBC Media Action’s Guide for the media on communicating in public health emergencies (available in multiple languages)BBC Media Action’s Lifeline programming websiteIFRC Epidemic Control Toolkit

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Article

IFRC's Global Climate Resilience Platform channels CHF 100 million for locally-led climate action in 33 countries in 2023

The IFRC launched its Global Climate Resilience Platform (GCRP) last year at COP27 with the objective of raising CHF 1 billion in next five years to boost locally-led climate action. In its first year, the Platform has mobilized CHF 100 million, providing programming on three focus areas – anticipatory action and early warning, nature-based solutions and shock- responsive social protection – in 33 of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries. Increased investments in anticipatory action and early warning, nature-based solutions and shock-responsive social protection have the potential for transformational change if coupled with unprecedented levels of investment at the local level. Anticipatory action and early action means taking steps to protect peoplebeforea crisis hits, based on forecasts or predictions, to prevent or reduce potential disaster impacts.These types of actions vary from evacuation plans, cash distribution or reinforcement of homes. Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage or restore ecosystems — such as forests, mangroves, coral reefs or urban green spaces — in ways that addresses societal challenges, such as disaster risk, climate change or food security. The role of shock-responsive social protection or safety nets is to reduce vulnerability to poverty and reliance on negative coping strategies. Such measures include adaptative livelihoods, health and social support and inclusive disaster preparedness and response. “This is exactly the kind of solidarity we need to have with communities and organizations like National Societies that locally rooted, in their efforts to prevent and reduce risks so everyone has the chance to thrive, instead of only working to recover from great losses,” said IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain, who announced additional funding pledge while at COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, UAE today. “Just as we must mobilize on the global level to address the causes of climate change, we must also help communities adapt,” he continued. “The Global Climate Resilience Platform offers a great opportunity to do something very concrete and positive that will save lives, livelihoods and even entire communities from the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.” Approach adapted to local threats While the platforms prioritizes early action, nature-based solutions and shock-responsive social protection, the activities will vary depending on the particular climate risks communities face. In some cases, early action means planned evacuations or reinforcing homes. In others, it may mean distributing health protection kits, or in the case of heatwaves, setting up mobile cooling centres. In the Americas, where climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of extreme weather related events – from tropical storms to mudslides, floods and wildfires – the GCRP helps National Societies develop or improve solutions that address those particular risks. In drought-impacted countries in eastern Africa, the GCRP supports National Societies working to help communities adapt through the development integrated water systems and participate in multi-partner initiatives such as The Water at the Heart of Climate Action programme. Across the globe, in countries including Kenya and Nepal, shock responsive social protection has meant including anticipatory work into the national government’s social protection system. This means more people get access to timely information and support. National Societies that participate will integrate these approaches into their institutional planning, priorities and funding strategies. The GCRP will back up these efforts by reinforcing National Society technical expertise through training and operational support. The countries benefitting from GCRP funding thus far include : Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somali, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda Americas: Colombia, Dominican Republic and Jamaica Asia-Pacific: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam MENA: Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Yemen. With the exception of Rwanda, all the participating countries are considered the 100 most climate vulnerable countries according to ND-GAIN Index, an initiative by the University of Notre Dame, in the United States, aimed at helping people understand ways communities are adapting to climate change. For more information,read our technical explainer. You can also visit ourearly action pageand theAnticipation Hub- our anticipatory action platform hosted by the German Red Cross.

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Article

IFRC at COP 28: The impacts are here, the time to act is now

Whether it’s the increasing power of storms, the proliferation of wildfires, worsening heatwaves and droughts – or the displacement of entire communities due to all the above — the impacts of climate change have been with us for some time. This is why the IFRC is once again heading to the Global Climate Summit, COP28, in the United Arab Emirates, with an urgent message: there’s no more time to waste. The time to act is now and the action must be bold. Just as world leaders must agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent even worse humanitarian impacts, they must vastly scale-up adaptation action at the local level in order to reach the most at-risk and impacted people, according to the IFRC. People like Martha Makaniko, a farmer from Chiwalo village in the town Mulanje in Malawi. Earlier this year, Makaniko lost her home and all her crops due to unexpected flash flooding caused by Cyclone Freddy. After that, the normal rainfalls failed to come and now the El Nino phenomenon threatens to make the expected upcoming lean season even leaner. "Year after year, it’s been getting harder to get good yields from farming and get a good earning,” says Makaniko. “We no longer rely on regular weather patterns. I used to get eight bags of maize from my field. Now I would be lucky to get two." This kind of story is increasingly common in communities where the IFRC network is rooted. They are also the reason why the IFRC has been scaling up its own efforts to work with local communities and Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies to alleviate immediate suffering — providing cash, food, water, hygiene and health support — while also preventing and reducing risks in the future. This is also why the IFRC is urging world leaders assembling for the COP 28 Climate Summit to take the following urgent steps: • prioritize local action • increase financing to help communities adapt • scale-up early action and measures that help communities anticipate risks • strengthen climate resilient health systems and to help people avert, minimize and address loss and damage due to climate-related events. Worse before it gets better Much more investment in all these areas is critical to help communities cope as the situation is likely to worsen before it gets better. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that climate change is already contributing to an increasing number of humanitarian crises (with average global temperature at 1.15°C above 1850-1900 average). And now there is a very real threat that temperatures will rise even further. Under current policies the world is on track for 2.8°C global warming by 2050, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. In the short term, this year’s El Niño phenomenon is expected to compound the impact with human-induced climate change, pushing global temperatures into uncharted territory, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Reasons for hope There are some reasons for hope however. If urgent steps are taken, there is a chance we can slow or stop further temperature increases while also making communities far less susceptible to climate-related shocks. Across the IFRC network, which includes 191 National Societies, there are numerous examples of communities working with the IFRC and others to make themselves more resilient so they can avoid the food insecurity, health risks and economic impacts of climate related disasters. In Jamaica, for example, the Red Cross worked with a school for deaf students on a climate-smart project to reinforce their self-sufficient campus farm with a solar-powered irrigation system. In Somalia, the IFRC and the Somalia Red Crescent worked with the village of Cuun to reestablish small farms with the help of a new borehole for clean water and a pumping system to help them cope with multiple years of drought. “We struggled to access clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and livelihood support,” says one of the community leaders, Yasiin Maxamed Jamac. “This had a negative impact on our health and well-being, and it made it difficult for us to grow crops, fruit, vegetables and raise livestock." Now over 100 households have their own small farms — 100 metres by 100 metres — where they cultivate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and crops.

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Podcast

Alexander Matheou: Flipping a common humanitarian narrative about a vast, diverse and dynamic region

In this episode, Alexander Matheou challenges a common humanitarian narrative about the Asia Pacific region being “disaster prone.” Yes, it is particularly vulnerable to climate-related events — and it has more than its share of volcanos and earthquakes — but it’s also leading the way in life-saving prevention, preparedness and humanitarian innovation. As IFRC’s regional director for the Asia Pacific region, Matheou talks about the opportunities and leadership this vast, dynamic and diverse region offers the humanitarian world.

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Article

Panama: Communities are the heart of climate-crisis resilience

In the last fifty years, Panama has experienced an increase in extreme weather events, such as intense and prolonged rains, windstorms, floods, droughts, forest fires, landslides, tropical cyclones and the effects of El Niño and La Niña phenomena.Right now, Panama is facing a major drought. But in recent years there have also been severe storms — such as hurricanes Eta and Iota. Those storms flooded most of Soloy, an area that is part of the Ngäbe indigenous territory, and the Tierras Altas district in Chiriquí.This part of northwestern Panama is also one of the main agricultural areas in the country, and one of the most affected by these hurricanes, which have prompted the community to prepare for possible similar events.Since then, disaster risk management has become a fundamental task, driven by the active participation of indigenous community leaders such as Dalia, Eusebio and Wilfredo from Soloy, and the commitment of neighbours such as Doña María, who lives in Las Nubes, in Tierras Altas. These efforts enjoy the full support of local actors and in particular, the Panamanian Red Cross.At the COP Global Summit on climate change going on this week, the IFRC continues to emphasize that communities must be at the center of disaster and climate crisis preparedness. Here are the three main reasons why:1. It’s going to happen again: Preparing for recurrent disasters"One of the situations that occur during the winter season are the flooding of rivers, because we have a large number of rivers in the community; and also landslides, which leave houses and roads affected", says Eusebio Bejarano, a leader in the community of Soloy.That is why the Panamanian Red Cross worked alongside the community as it prepared an assessment and established Community Response Brigades. In addition, they have begun using something called the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool, which helps to quickly identify environmental concerns before designing longer-term emergency or recovery interventions."It is an environmental assessment tool that has allowed us to understand the context of the activities carried out by the community and, above all, how we can work to protect the livelihoods of this community, which is rural and depends heavily on subsistence agriculture", explains Daniel González, head of risk management for the Panamanian Red Cross.At the family and individual level, actions can also be taken to protect the homes of people like Doña María, who lives near the river bank and has worked on a family evacuation plan. She is now prepared to act in case of flooding.2. It’s local people who are first to respond: Strengthening community response capacitiesPart of the preparedness process requires communities to strengthen their learning, technical and leadership capacities to better adapt to the crisis situations. This is critical because community organizations are the first to respond when disasters occur and often have access to areas where international actors do not.The presence of these community groups before, during and after crises means they can more readily respond while also fostering long-term preparedness and recovery."We must prepare ourselves in First Aid, the authorities must be trained, the teaching staff and the community,” says Dalia, the leader of the Psychosocial Support Brigade in Soloy. “The Red Cross has brought different types of training, in which young people have participated, but we need more communities and more young people to get involved."The implementation of educational projects, such as blue schools, which incorporate learning about water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), recycling and school gardens, are a sample of the actions that the communities are carrying out with the support of the Panamanian Red Cross."We have trained the Fire Fighting Brigade, the First Aid Brigade; but we have also worked on strengthening resilience in three schools in Alto Bonito, Boca de Remedio and Soloy,” says Daniel González, head of risk management of the Panamanian Red Cross. “In addition, we have provided them with first aid kits and rigid boards, along with training for teachers and the educational community."3. Communities know what’s at stake: Strengthening community resilienceCommunities are the heart of climate-crisis preparedness because they know what’s at stake — their environment and the survival of their way of life. In the face of the climate crisis and increasingly uncertain scenarios, this is why the Red Cross works with communities to strengthen local resilience to climate-related shocks."We have worked hand-in-hand with the Red Cross, organizing and preparing for situations that have been occurring with the climate crisis, focusing a lot on the community, working with leadership, working with authorities and visiting communities", says Eusebio Bejarano.Community resilience enables communities to prepare for disasters and create a safe, healthy and prosperous future. To do this, communities must record information on all relevant hazards and their causes, health threats, hazards, conflict, violence, climate crisis, environmental degradation. Only then will they be able to set priorities together and decide how best to address them.Another leader from Soloy, Wilfredo highlights the importance of promoting empathy and collective care and stresses the importance of caring for nature. He emphasizes that the mountains and rivers are fundamental for community life. The Ngäbe indigenous population has also brought to the table the need to take cultural elements such as language into account when planning preparedness actions.A resilient community is one that is experienced, healthy and able to meet its basic needs. It’s a community that has economic opportunities, well-maintained and accessible infrastructure and services, and can manage its natural assets in harmony with the environment. And it’s a community that can focus on moving forward, and on things that bring joy and meaning, rather than continually recovering from the sudden shocks of the climate crisis.Disaster preparedness and community resilience actions are also being carried out in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador, thanks to the Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC network and the European Union, which provides strategic, flexible, long-term and predictable funding, so that National Societies can act before an emergency occurs.

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Article

Programmatic Partnership to engage even more communities in coming year

A global partnership aimed at strengthening resilience and providing agency to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities will continue into its second year following a decision by Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) and the IFRC in early summer 2023. Through the Programmatic Partnership, [ML1]European Union (EU) money will fund a range of innovative projects into 2024 that focus particularly on local action to prepare for and respond to humanitarian and health crises. With climate change, pandemics and population movements all on the rise, these types of partnerships are crucial for enhancing locally-led anticipatory action and, where necessary, disaster response. “The ride to localization involves having local communities in the driver’s seat from the moment of identifying needs aligned with priorities and strategies, to decision making and implementation,” said Marwan Jilani, director general of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society's (PRCS). The partnership has reached over eight million people so far, helping communities reduce risks and react quickly to sudden-onset crises. With a EUR 70 million boost in year two, the partnership sits at over EUR 134 million and will be able to reach far more people than in the first year. All IFRC work is carried out with close cooperation with national Red Cross and Red Cresent societies, local communities and networks of volunteers. “Humanitarian needs are growing and if we want to prepare communities to be more resilient, we need to join forces with our national societies and public institutions,” Nena Stoiljkovic, the IFRC’s Under-Secretary General for Global Relations, Humanitarian Diplomacy and Digitalization.“Only then we can be more effective and efficient. This programme is the best example we have on long-term and multi-country financing and is an inspiration for similar partnerships to come.” The Partnership focuses of five key areas: Disaster preparedness and response: Preparing communities, National Societies and disaster risk management institutions to anticipate effectively, respond and recover from the impact of evolving and multiple shocks and hazards. Epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response: supporting communities to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks. Supporting people on the move: providing displaced people with their basic humanitarian needs. Cash assistance: often the best way to help people is to give them a cash grant to invest locally, as they choose. Cash assistance gives those in need dignity and agency. Risk communication, community engagement and accountability: the people we support through the Programmatic Partnership are partners in our work. We listen to them carefully and act upon their opinions and needs. A total of 12 EU Red Cross National Societies are involved in implementing the Programmatic Partnership in 24 countries around the world. Here are some examples of Partnership activities: After the fires in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, the world’s largest refugee camp, the Bangladesh Red Crescent and IFRC provided immediate support to families who had lost their houses and provide them with mattresses, blankets and torch lights. They also built 500 shelters in Camp 11. This funding was pooled together with the IFRC-DREF resources to provide a comprehensive response to the fire. More than €300K from the Programmatic Partnership  were allocated and 2,500 people were supported through this emergency intervention.  The Red Cross of Chad responded immediately to the Sudan crisis, providing basic support to those people fleeing the conflict and crossing the border into Eastern Chad. The flexibility of the programme’s funding instrument enabled this timely and critical support.  More than €260K were allocated and 5,883 people were reached through this action.  After Ecuador was struck by several simultaneous disasters — floods, landslides, building collapses, hailstorms and an earthquake – the Ecuadorian Red Cross was able to assist the affected population by providing home, tool, kitchen, hygiene and cleaning kits, as well as mosquito nets, blankets and access to safe water. More than €250k were allocated and 13,020 people were reached in this intervention.  Volunteers across Democratic Republic of the Congo, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama have been trained to use the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT+), to better assess risks and post-disaster needs.  In Guatemala, volunteers have been trained on the use of drones for ‘photogrammetry’ – the modern way to get reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images. The training has significantly improved the ability of volunteers to assess risk and prepare accordingly.  

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Speech

'There is an urgent need to integrate climate adaptation in emergency preparedness and response'

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure to address the 2023 Belt and Road Ministerial Forum for International Cooperation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Management. I congratulate the Government of China for their leadership on this initiative, which has marked significant achievements and efforts on disaster risk reduction and emergency management over the past ten years. The IFRC welcomes our partnerships, including with the Government of China, that supports our Disaster Response Emergency Fund for the most efficient response to disasters and crises. Friends and colleagues, we have witnessed a year of unprecedented disasters around the world, which have been further compounded by climate change and geopolitical conflicts. Global humanitarian needs are rising at an alarming rate. These needs are vastly outstripping the resources available to address them. The human costs of disasters and crises remains unacceptably high. As the world’s largest global humanitarian network, with a unique global and local reach, the IFRC has been supporting the National Societies in impacted countries to respond to the needs of crisis-affected communities. The Government of China and the Red Cross Society of China have also been providing urgently needed humanitarian assistance to our IFRC network. Still, more needs to be done. Today, I have three important messages I would like to share with you. Firstly, the climate crisis is the biggest multiplier in increasing disaster risks. If humanity fails to act, hundreds of millions of people will put in a highly increased disaster risk because of the humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis. There is an urgent need to integrate climate adaptation in emergency preparedness and response. The IFRC is working with our member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the world to strengthen the coordination, preparedness and response to large-scale disasters and crises. Secondly, investing in disaster risk reduction saves lives and livelihoods. Over the last decade, some of the most recent—and often predictable—extreme weather events were the most deadly, costly, and devastating. The IFRC network has been transforming our emergency response mechanisms to integrate early warning approaches that anticipate disasters so that people can act ahead of time to save lives and livelihoods. This helps them recover and build resilience to the next disaster. It is encouraging to see recent efforts in China to reinforce disaster prevention measures and scale up early warning and early action systems. Finally, global solidarity and multi-sectoral collaboration is must to bring the disaster preparedness and emergency response to scale. It will take joining forces to prepare for and effectively respond to the potential mega disasters. No one organization can do this alone. The Belt and Road Initiative on Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Management offers us a platform and opportunity to work together and confront the challenges of today and in the future. I am especially pleased to see that localization and investment in local actors is included in this years’ Joint Statement. The IFRC welcomes collaboration with the Government of China and other countries along the Belt and Road Initiative to reduce the humanitarian needs. I wish you all a successful Ministerial Forum, and I wish you many positive discussions and outcomes from this important event. Thank you.

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Article

A greater push for multi-hazard, people-centred climate risk reduction across Africa

Over the past 20 years, the number of climate-related events and people affected in Africa has risen dramatically. Successive devastating crises, such as droughts in the Horn of Africa and deadly cyclones and floods in Mozambique and Libya, will likely continue as the frequency and impact of climate extremes continue to intensify. Africa´s population is also projected to double in the next 30 years, meaning more will be impacted in the coming years if nothing is done. We cannot allow lives to be lost in predictable disasters. Early warning systems with early action are the most effective and dignified way to prevent an extreme weather event from causing a humanitarian crisis—especially for the most vulnerable and remote communities. Two weeks ago, the Africa Climate Summit 2023 (ACS23) and the Africa Climate Week 2023 were convened in Nairobi. Leaders from governments, businesses, international organizations, and civil society gathered to explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while adapting to the mounting fallout from the climate crisis. Shortly after, the IFRC hosted the 10th Pan African Conference (PAC) bringing together Red Cross and Red Crescent leadership from 54 countries to discuss renewing investment in the continent. The ACS23 had only just concluded when the continent was struck by two major disasters: a massive earthquake in Morocco and Storm Daniel in Libya, both claiming thousands of lives and wiping out years of development. Rapid analysis of Storm Daniel has shown climate change made the catastrophe ‘far more likely’. And while earthquakes are not climate-related, the impact of the Morocco earthquake will linger for years, making affected communities more vulnerable to climate-related risks and hazards. The IFRC network quickly mobilized resources and emergency teams in both countries to support affected people and get urgently needed humanitarian assistance to hard-to-reach areas. But both disasters point to the need to invest in multi-hazard and people-centered risk reduction, adaptation and resilience in communities before disasters strike—a resounding call at the ACS23 and PAC. Africa has a strong network of 54 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the majority of which have signed our Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations which aims to galvanize a collective humanitarian response to the climate and environmental crisis. However, we need to do more to leverage our combined strengths, expertise, and resources to address the complex and diverse humanitarian challenges the continent is facing. While there are success stories to celebrate, fundamentals of National Society Development (NSD), along with risk management, localization, digital transformation, and improved membership coordination remain central to the ambition of African National Societies to deliver the most effective humanitarian, public health, and development services to their communities. These challenges and achievements were reviewed at the 10th PAC, with reflections and lessons turned into a reference framework for new actions and targets for African National Societies over the next four years. At the ACS23, an initiative politically endorsed at COP was launched for the continent: the Early Warnings for All Africa Action Plan. The IFRC, with its long and in-depth experience in disaster management, will lead the preparedness and response pillar of the plan and support the dissemination and communication pillar. The latter involves leveraging digital technology, such as mobile networks, apps, and social media platforms, to reach a wider audience and ensure the delivery of warnings in a timely manner. A huge step in the right direction, the ACS23 also provided space for: African leaders to boldly speak on their climate ambitions, calling for urgent action and showcasing the proactive approach taken by African countries to address the impacts of the changing climate on the most vulnerable.This was clearly summarized in the Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change. Youth and children to reflect on their power as young people to drive meaningful climate action and change in their society. Discussion on ways to boost investments in interventions around women’s empowerment, green growth, and climate action. A call by African leaders for accountability to countries responsible for the highest emissions to honour their commitments to operationalize the loss and damage fund, including the pressure for a shift in the global financing architecture. As we gear up to COP 28 in Dubai, it will be crucial for the African continent to have a joint and common position on key issues related to the climate crisis, especially on prioritizing the most vulnerable communities, unlocking more and flexible financing for adaptation, and calling for further, urgent action around loss and damage commitments made at COP 27. We need to continue dialogue with the most at-risk and vulnerable communities to address the gaps in the Nairobi declaration as we work to mobilize local resources for innovative and tangible solutions to the climate crisis.

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Press release

Libya floods: Climate change made catastrophe ‘far more likely’

Geneva/New York19September 2023- What happened in Derna should be a ‘wake up call forthe world’ on the increasing risk of catastrophic floods in a world changed by climate change, saysJagan Chapagain,Secretary Generalof the International Federation of Red Crossand Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).Chapagain was talking in the light of a reportsaying climate change made the disaster in Libya significantly more likely. Rapid analysis by theWorld Weather Attribution group– a group of scientists supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - analyzed climate data and computermodel simulations to compare the climate asit is today, after about 1.2°C of global warming, with the climate of the past. Thescientistsfound that human caused climate change has made heavy rainfall in north-eastern Libya up to50 times more likely to occur than it would have been in a world not experiencing human-caused climate change.They also found there was up to 50% more intense rain than there would have beenin a comparable rainstormin a pre-climate change world. The scientists are clear that, even in a 1.2°C ‘warmed’ world,therainfall that fell on Libya was extreme. It was an event that would only be expected to occuronce every 300-600 years.Even so, that frequency is much higherthan would be the case in a world that had not warmed. Rainfall alone did not make the Derna disaster inevitable. Enhancedpreparedness, less construction in flood-prone regions and better infrastructure managementof dams wouldhavereducedthe overall impact of Storm Daniel.Nonetheless, climate change was a significant factorin causing and exacerbatingtheextremeweather event. Julie Arrighi, Interim Director at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre which hadresearchers working on the World Weather Attribution report said: “This devastating disaster shows how climate change-fuelledextreme weather events are combining with human factors to create even bigger impacts, as more people, assets and infrastructure are exposed and vulnerable to flood risks. However, there are practical solutions that can help us prevent these disasters from becoming routine such as strengthened emergency management, improved impact-based forecasts and warning systems, and infrastructure that is designed for the future climate.” Jagan Chapagain, SecretaryGeneralof the International Federation of Red Crossand Red Crescent Societies said: “The disaster in Derna is yet another example of what climate change is already doing to our weather. Obviouslymultiple factors in Libya turned Storm Daniel into a human catastrophe; it wasn’tclimate change alone. But climate change did make the storm much more extreme and much more intense and that resulted in the loss of thousands of lives.That should be a wake upcallfortheworld to fulfill the commitment on reducing emissions, to ensure climate adaptation funding and tackle the issues of lossanddamage.“ More information: To request an interview, please contact: [email protected] In Geneva: Andrew Thomas: +41763676587 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06 Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67

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Press release

IFRC, Republic of Korea National Red Cross and Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sign a landmark agreement to strengthen humanitarian efforts

Geneva/Beijing/Seoul, 18 September 2023 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Republic of Korea National Red Cross (KNRC), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (MOFA), have officially signed a partnership agreement. This agreement focuses on providing help and support to countries affected by climate-related disasters and humanitarian emergencies. Started in 2012, the IFRC, KNRC, and ROK MOFA have maintained a strong partnership focused on building skills of national societies to prepare and respond to disasters. This foundational agreement serves as a cornerstone for the newly expanded cooperation. Key areas of work outlined in the agreement include helping local communities better handle disasters and emergencies. This includes early warning systems, anticipatory actions and expanded disaster response activities. Support for IFRC’s emergency appeals and for international collaboration are also part of this agreement. This partnership addresses a wide range of global challenges, such as climate change, health emergencies and food insecurity. It outlines a comprehensive plan for work in areas like adapting to climate change, responding to crises and disasters, improving health and well-being, securing food and livelihoods, sharing knowledge and humanitarian work. Xavier Castellanos, the IFRC Under Secretary General said: "The Republic of Korea is the first country to transition from an aid recipient to a donor country, and its rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has captured the world's attention. Through this agreement with the MOFA, we look forward to implementing the factors and strategies that led to this achievement in countries affected by disasters.” Park Jin, Minister of MOFA said: "Our government and the Korean Red Cross have been actively working together to support temporary settlements for displaced people in Turkey. We look forward to working with the IFRC, which has a global humanitarian aid network and capabilities, to provide more efficient and country-specific support." As Chul-Soo Kim, President of the Korean Red Cross said: "In the context of evolving disasters and conflicts caused by climate change, we expect that the revision of the MOU will expand the cooperation and coordination with the MOFA and the IFRC. The Korean Red Cross will strive to fulfil its humanitarian responsibilities in conflict and disaster situations around the world." As the global community faces increasing humanitarian needs, this collaboration aims to make a substantial impact. The IFRC, the KNRC, and the ROK MOFA anticipate that their combined efforts will result in more effective responses, increased resilience to disasters and better support for vulnerable communities worldwide. The signing of this partnership was one of the key highlights of the IFRC Under Secretary General, Xavier Castellanos' recent visit to the Republic of Korea. In addition, he also took part in the World Knowledge Forum and held extensive dialogues with the KNRC, governmental representatives and other important collaborators. More information For photos from the signing ceremony: link For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: [email protected] In Beijing: Kexuan TONG, +86 13147812269 In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, +60 192713641 In Geneva: Mrinalini Santhanam, +41 763815006

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Article

El Salvador: Red Cross supports communities before, during and after disasters

Rosa Cándida is a farmer from Las Maravillas village on the outskirts of Ahuachapán, western El Salvador. She and her husband, two daughters and two young granddaughters live off the land—growing maize, beans and sorghum in the lush countryside close to their home. In stark contrast to the idyllic setting, in recent years, Rosa has seen tropical storms, landslides, heavy rains and earthquakes devastate her country. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but it faces big disaster and climate-related risks. In 2022, Rosa was one of more than 1.7 million people who needed some form of humanitarian assistance or protection in the country due to disasters. An earthquake in January of this year damaged her home, creating big cracks in its mudbrick walls and forcing her family to sleep outside while they found the money needed to repair it. Half a day’s farming only generates just enough income for Rosa to feed her family for the day, meaning disasters like the earthquake have a drastic impact on her family’s finances and wellbeing. Thankfully, help arrived in the form of the Salvadoran Red Cross. Their teams quickly conducted an earthquake damage assessment and provided cash assistance to more than 600 families in the region—including Rosa’s. “Support from the Red Cross reached us and helped us buy food, medicines and other household items," she says. Red Cross teams completed two cash transfers, making sure the money got to the people who needed it most: "We prioritized households which were the most heavily affected by the earthquake and which included older people, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five," explains Fatima Evora from the Salvadoran Red Cross. Cash assistance is one of many ways in which the Salvadoran Red Cross is helping local communities across the country to prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters. Their volunteers have also been setting up early warning systems to prepare communities for droughts and floods, as well as helping people to adopt climate-smart livelihoods. And as part of the Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC, National Societies, and the European Union, the Salvadoran Red Cross organized community workshops earlier this year so people could learn about their disaster risks and know how to prepare. “We learned that there are green, yellow, orange and red alerts, and that each one indicates a different level of risk. We can be prepared and warn people via megaphones to evacuate and seek help,” says Juana Santa Maria, who attended a workshop in San Luis Herradura. “The most valuable thing has been to know that, as a community, we are able to seek help from the mayor's office, community development associations and civil protection personnel. Today we have more information to prepare for and respond to disasters,” she adds. -- In 2022, we reached 3,000 people in El Salvador through the Programmatic Partnership with the European Union. Implemented by 24 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world—including in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador in the Americas—the Programmatic Partnership helps communities to reduce their risks and be better prepared for disasters and health emergencies. With the coordination of the Spanish Red Cross, Italian Red Cross and Norwegian Red Cross and support from the IFRC, the Salvadoran Red Cross is: Building community knowledge Providing assistance to people on the move Preventing and responding to health outbreaks Ensuring community perceptions and concerns are taken into account and used to improve their humanitarian assistance

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Article

Polish Red Cross runs Poland’s largest ever international rescue exercise to prepare for disasters

“One minute is a lot of time.In a rescue, one minute can be decisive,” says Agata Grajek from the Polish Red Cross Medical Rescue Group based in Wrocław. She’s one of 300 rescuers from seven Red Cross Societies in Europe who gathered last month in Malczyce, a small village in south-western Poland, to take part in the largest Red Cross rescue exercise ever held in the country. The exercise took place in an abandoned factory to simulate an urban disaster requiring an urgent and complex search and rescue response. Running for 30 hours non-stop, in both day and nighttime conditions, the gruelling exercise tested Red Cross volunteers and rescue dogs to their limits. Real people, rather than mannequins, posed as citizens injured in a collapsed building to make rescue efforts as realistic as possible. “We mainly practised the skills of searching the area, coordinating search and rescue operations, and evacuating victims from upper floors,” said Marcin Kowalski, head of the Polish Red Cross rescue team. The exercise was the 7th national gathering of the 19 specialized Polish Red Cross rescue groups based across the country. For the first time, they also welcomed fellow rescue teams from Lithuania, Germany, Croatia, Hungary, Spain and Finland to practise working effectively together during a response. “If a humanitarian, construction or natural disaster occurs somewhere, we are always ready to help,” says Pasi Raatikainen, a Finnish Red Cross rescuer who took part in the exercise. Like almost all Red Cross rescuers, Pasi is a volunteer. He leads a four-person rescue team in Helsinki and takes part in exercises – all in his spare time. “In Finland, there aren’t many training sessions dedicated to urban rescues with the use of rope techniques, so the exercise scenarios in Poland were very instructive,” he says. It wasn’t just search and rescue teams who got put to the test, though. 60 recent volunteer recruits from the Polish Red Cross’ Humanitarian Aid Groups initiative also took part in the exercise to practise setting up shelters, distributing aid and providing psychosocial support to people affected. “It warms my heart to see hundreds of people so committed to the idea of ​​the Red Cross.” said Polish Red Cross Director-General, Katarzyna Mikołajczyk. Based on the experience and learnings from the exercise, the seven Red Cross Societies who took part have now developed a cooperation framework so that they can work together more effectively on search and rescue in future whenever disasters strike across Europe. No rescuer or volunteer ever hopes for disaster, or hopes they’ll need to put their training into action. But in a world of increasing and increasingly complex disasters, it’s more important than ever that we take time to practise and prepare – so we can be there for people, whatever the disaster, and as soon as they need us. -- Find out more about how the IFRC prepares for disasters on our disaster preparedness page.

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Article

Together we can #BeatTheHeat

Did you know that heat waves are becoming more frequent, longer, hotter, and deadlier due to climate change? Every year, they put millions of people at risk of heat-related illnesses and claim the lives of thousands of others. But the threats heat waves pose are preventable. And the steps that we can take to protect ourselves, our friends and our families from extreme heat are simple and affordable. Here’s what you need to know about heat waves, what you can do to #BeatTheHeat, and some inspiration from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. What is a heat wave? A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Exact definitions of a heat wave can vary between countries depending on what temperatures and conditions are normal for the local climate. Heat waves can cause people to suffer from shock, become dehydrated, and develop serious heat illnesses. Heat waves also put people with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases at a high risk. People living in cities and towns tend to be the hardest hit by heat waves because urban areas are generally hotter than the surrounding countryside. What should I do to prepare for a heat wave? We can reliably forecast heat waves in most places, so you usually have time to prepare. Make sure you keep an eye on your local weather forecast and remember the following: Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty Avoid being out in the sun. Find shade or a cool indoor space where possible. Tip: you can use shades or reflective materials on your windows to help keep the heat out of your home. Wear loose, lightweight and light coloured clothing Check on your family, friends and neighbours – particularly if they are elderly or unwell – to make sure they’re okay Eat enough food, ideally smaller and more frequent meals Look out for symptoms of heat-induced sickness - breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps – and seek medical help if needed Watch this short video to learn more or visit our dedicated heat waves page for even more advice. Inspiration from National Societies on how to #BeatTheHeat Last June, in Satmatha, Bangladesh, volunteers from the Bangladesh Red Crescent set up a stage in the heart of the city where they gave creative public performances inspired by heat for Heat Action Day 2022. From poetry to comedy, dance to drama, volunteers performed their hearts out – all in local dialects – to catch people’s attention and teach them all about heat risks. Their performances caused so much of a stir that they made it into national news in print and digital – spreading the word on how to #BeatTheHeat even further! You can watch some clips of their performances here. In the town of Kandi, in West Bengal, India, Indian Red Cross Society volunteers took to the streets last year when temperatures soared. During a severe heat wave that struck the region, they set up purified drinking water points at their branch office, at bus stops, and outside hospitals so that members of the public could rehydrate during the difficult conditions. Making themselves known with big, colourful parasols and giant barrels of water, they brought shade, refreshment and smiles to their local community. In Spain, the Spanish Red Cross has a long history of supporting communities across the country to stay safe during the summer heat. Their volunteers conduct a lot of outreach – through social media, phone calls and street mobilization – to share tips on how people can stay cool. They also check in on older people and people with chronic illnesses who are at particular risk when temperatures rise. And in some regions, volunteers venture out into their communities on really hot days to hand out water, paper fans and caps. Extreme heat doesn’t just put people's health at risk, it can take a big toll on people’s livelihoods, too. In Uruguay this year, prolonged periods of extreme heat and a lack of rain have led to droughts, which are causing huge damage to farming and agriculture. To help communities cope, Uruguayan Red Cross volunteers have been sharing information on how people can protect themselves and their livestock during heat waves. With support from the IFRC’sDisaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), they’ve also been providing water and sunscreen and are offering cash assistance to families who are most affected. Find out more here. Helpful resources to learn more about heat City heat wave guide for Red Cross and Red Crescent branches Extreme heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the future – a joint report from the IFRC, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) Heat Toolkit – a collection of posters, social media assets and videos about heat waves produced by the Global Disaster Preparedness Centre

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Article

Nevado del Ruiz volcano: Preparing for an eruption

On 30 March, the Colombian Geological Service increased the alert level of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in central Colombia from yellow to orange, signifying a probable eruption in a matter of days or weeks. While it is not possible to know exactly when or how a volcano will erupt, it is possible to monitor a volcano’s activity and take early action to minimize its potential impact on communities living nearby—which is exactly what IFRC network teams are doing right now. Nevado del Ruiz is an explosive volcano. Its eruptions involve the fracturing of rock and rapid expulsion of gases and fluids—called ‘pyroclastic flows’—at high speeds and temperatures. But there’s also one quite unique additional risk: as one of the highest volcanoes in the region, standing at 5000+ metres tall, it is covered snow and has a thick ice cap. The concern is that this ice cap melts, as it did during the 1985 eruption when avalanches of water, ice, rocks, and clay ran down the volcano's sides, erasing the nearby town of Armero and killing more than 25,000 people. To prepare for this risk, the Colombian Red Cross has activated its general plan of action. This plan defines the preparedness actions they need to take in response to different levels of volcanic activity, including if the alert level changes from orange to red—indicating that the volcano is in the process of erupting or is going to erupt any time. With anticipatory funding from the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), Colombian Red Cross teams have been working hard to get their volunteers and communities ready for the worst-case scenario. They’ve been re-training volunteers in first aid, evacuation, and emergency coordination, and restocking essential emergency response items such as first aid kits, identification items for first responders, and emergency signal equipment. They’ve also been sharing as much information as possible within local communities around Nevado del Ruiz: warning at-risk families to evacuate; talking to them about how and where to evacuate safely; and handing out radios and batteries to people in hard-to-reach areas so they can stay informed. But some families are reluctant to leave and are dismissing evacuation advice from local authorities and the Colombian Red Cross. On the surface, this can be difficult to understand—why wouldn’t you want to move away from a volcano that’s potentially about to erupt? There’s no simple answer. For the many farmers who rely on the rich volcanic soils surrounding Nevado del Ruiz, they may not want to leave their properties or animals and abandon the livelihood upon which they rely. Other people simply cannot, or choose not to, believe something as horrific as the 1985 eruption could ever happen again. Right now, Colombian Red Cross, IFRC and partners are gathering in the region to step up preparedness efforts. This includes an increased focus on community engagement to understand people’s thoughts and fears and convince them to evacuate. They are also preparing for, and trying to reduce the risk of, mass displacement should the volcano erupt. Through the DREF operation, they are taking early actions such reinforcing critical infrastructure, providing people with cash assistance, and pre-positioning food and safe drinking water. We will share more about these vital efforts in the coming weeks. In the meantime, click here to read more about the anticipatory action funding we have provided through the DREF. Further information: What are volcanic eruptions? How the Anticipatory Pillar of the DREF works Disaster preparedness Follow IFRC Americas @IFRC_es and the Colombian Red Cross @cruzrojacol on Twitter

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Press release

Cyclone Mocha: Access and time of the essence to help affected families in Bangladesh and Myanmar

Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 16 May 2023 - The strongest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in the last 10 years has affected families already internally displaced in Myanmar and living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Cyclone Mocha crossed the coast between Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Kyaukpyu township, near Rakhine’s capital of Sittwe, Myanmar on 14 May with winds estimated as strong as 250 kph, bringing heavy rains, storm surge, flash floods and landslides. In Myanmar, the cyclone has caused significant damages: houses destroyed, electricity lines down, and power and water services disrupted. Resulting storm surges have also knocked out bridges and inundated homes. To date, based on early reports,around 355 households in Yangon, Magway and Ayeyarwaddy Region are reported affected,while initial reports from Chin State also highlight damages,and more than 130,000 people were evacuated to temporary shelters.Widespread devastation has been reported in Rakhine State, impacting public and private infrastructure, destroying homes and livelihoods. While reports from the field continue to come in, and rapid assessments are carried out, needs are expected to be high and affected people will require immediate relief items, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene needs, emergency healthcare and psychosocial support. Families who have been separated will need to be reconnected.The potential for communicable disease outbreaks is high, while landmines and other explosive remnants of war pose further risks as flooding and landslides can carry the devices to locations previously deemed safe. More than 800 Red Cross volunteers and staff have respondedaround the country and emergency response teams have also been deployed. Pre-positioned relief stock items are beingsent to the Myanmar Red Cross hub inRakhine to cover 2,000 households. IFRCand its members aresupporting the Myanmar Red Cross Society in scaling up disasterresponsemeasures to support affected communities along Cyclone Mocha’s path, as well as those affected by storm surges all along the country's extensive coastline. Nadia Khoury, IFRC Head of Delegation in Myanmar said: “The potential scale of the devastation is overwhelming, covering a huge area of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people will have been left in a highly vulnerable situation, just as the monsoon season is due to start.We are working withthe Myanmar Red Cross,our partners in-country and the International Committee of Red Cross regarding areas that need access and resource mobilisation for a coordinated response, providing strategic, operational, financial, technical, and other support. With its presence in every affected township through its branches and volunteers, the Myanmar Red Cross will be providing multi-sectoral assistance to seek to best meet the needs of affected populations." Access in Rakhine and the Northwest remains heavily restricted, while the level of damage inruraland other hard-to-reach areas, especially camps for internally displaced people, is still unknown due to the interruption of phone and internet lines. In Bangladesh, while the cyclone caused massive destruction on Saint Martin Island and the adjacent coastal area of Cox’s Bazar, it was less impactful than anticipated. While assessments are ongoing, it has been reported so far that nearly 3,000 households are affected and 10,000 households partially damaged. More than 8,000 Red Crescent volunteers were deployed to support the affected community in Bangladesh before Cyclone Mocha made landfall and 76,000 Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers were prepared in coastal areas for any complex situation. Volunteers are currently on the ground in affected areas, rescuing people, providing emergency relief items, medical support, safe drinking water and other support. Sanjeev Kafley, IFRC Head of Delegation in Bangladesh, said: “The IFRC and its wide network have been supporting Bangladesh Red Crescent in its rescue and relief activities, working closely with the national society to ensure that the people affected by Cyclone Mocha receive the necessary assistance. Our teams are on the ground in affected Cox’s Bazar camps and other coastal areas and assessing the evolving situation.” The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal focusing on relief provisions and early recovery assistance in Myanmar's hardest-hit areas of 7,500 most vulnerable households (37,500 people) particularly in Rakhine, Chin, Magway, Ayeryawaddy, and Sagaing. For more information or to request an interview, please contact: [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, +60192713641 In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924 Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367

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Press release

Cyclone Judy wreaks havoc across Vanuatu, Red Cross ready to respond

Port Vila/Suva, 2 March 2023 – Cyclone Judy has left a massive trail of destruction in its path across Vanuatu as over 160,000 people are estimated to be affected. A category 4 cyclone with destructive winds of up to 150 km per hour and gusting to 200 km per hour, has also caused severe damage to infrastructure, buildings, connectivity, and crops. Port Vila and Tanna felt the brunt of the cyclone with power outage and water cuts in some of the worst affected communities. Vanuatu Red Cross is working with authorities to ascertain how many households require immediate assistance as well as provide first aid to individuals. Vanuatu Red Cross Secretary General, Dickinson Tevi said: “We are trying our best to reach the worst affected communities. The disaster was massive and as a result, some roads leading to communities have been damaged while some roads have been blocked by fallen trees and debris.” “That’s how much of an impact this cyclone had. Our Red Cross volunteers are on the ground and working with authorities to reach these communities as we are yet to find out the full extent of damages in these places.” Immediate pre-positioned relief items such as tarpaulins for shelter are ready to be distributed to 2500 affected households. In addition, hygiene kits for washing and cleaning, solar lanterns, mosquito nets and cooking items are also ready for distribution. Head of the IFRC Pacific Office, Katie Greenwood, said: “We must act swiftly as people are in urgent need of short-term relief especially with basic needs such as temporary shelter and access to clean and safe drinking water. "A disaster of this scale is too big for one country to deal with. It will need a coordinated regional effort to first provide immediate relief, and then help communities rebuild their lives and livelihoods in the longer term." Hours after cyclone Judy caused havoc, another tropical low pressure system has entered Vanuatu's area of responsibility as of today and is predicted to follow the same path as TC Judy. The potential for this tropical low to develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours and move towards Vanuatu is high. The increased frequency and intensity of these cyclones is a reality our Red Cross Societies and the communities they work with are facing due to the impacts of climate change and shifting weather patterns. Vanuatu was last affected by a cyclone of this scale in 2015 when category 5 Cyclone Pam caused widespread damage across Port Vila, affecting at least 166,000 people. For more information, contact: In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected]

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Press release

Heatwaves account for some of the deadliest disasters and are intensifying, warn the IFRC and the UN humanitarian relief agency ahead of COP27

Geneva, 10 October – Record high temperatures this year—which are fueling catastrophes in Somalia, Pakistan and around the world—foreshadow a future with deadlier, more frequent and more intense heat-related humanitarian emergencies, a new report warns. Released a month ahead of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), Extreme Heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the futuresays that, with climate change making heatwaves ever more dangerous, aggressive steps must be taken now to avert potentially recurrent heat disasters. “As the climate crisis goes unchecked, extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and floods, are hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest,” says Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Nowhere is the impact more brutally felt than in countries already reeling from hunger, conflict and poverty.” The report—the first to be published jointly by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)—offers concrete steps that humanitarians and decision makers can take to mitigate extreme heat’s worst effects. 2022 has already seen communities across North Africa, Australia, Europe, South Asia and the Middle East suffocate under record-high temperatures. Most recently the Western United States and China have buckled under severe heat. The report, notes that, in the coming decades, heatwaves are predicted to meet and exceed human physiological and social limits in regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South and South-West Asia. Extreme heatwaves in these regions, where humanitarian needs are already high, would result in large-scale suffering and loss of life, population movements and further entrenched inequality, the report warns. “The climate crisis is intensifying humanitarian emergencies all around the world. To avert its most devastating impacts, we must invest equally on adaptation and mitigation, particularly in the countries most at risk,” says Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC. “At COP27, we will urge world leaders to ensure that this investment reaches local communities that are on the frontline of the climate crisis. If communities are prepared to anticipate climate risks and equipped to take action, we will prevent extreme weather events from becoming humanitarian disasters.” Heatwaves prey on inequality, with the greatest impacts on isolated and marginalized people. The report stresses that the urgent priority must be large and sustained investments that mitigate climate change and support long-term adaptation for the most vulnerable people. The report also finds that, although the impacts of extreme heat are global, some people are hit harder than others. Vulnerable communities, such as agricultural workers, are being pushed to the front lines while the elderly, children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are at higher risk of illness and death. The world’s lowest-income countries are already experiencing disproportionate increases in extreme heat. These countries are the least to blame for climate change, but they will see a significant increase in the number of at-risk people in the coming decades. Building on a growing body of knowledge and good practice around early warning, anticipatory action and response systems to heatwaves, the report suggests the following five key steps to help the most vulnerable people: Provide early information on heatwaves to help people and authorities take timely action. Support preparedness and expand anticipatory action, especially by local actors, who are often the first responders in emergencies. Find new and more sustainable ways of financing local action. Adapt humanitarian response to accelerating extreme heat. Humanitarian organizations are already testing approaches such as more thermally appropriate emergency housing, ‘green roofs’, cooling centres and adjustments to school timetables, but this will require significant investments in research and learning. Strengthen engagement across the humanitarian, development and climate spheres. Addressing the impact of extreme heat in the long-term and helping communities, towns, cities and countries adapt to extreme heat risk will require sustained development planning. The full report is available here. Note to editors: Videos and photos are available at this link and this linkfor use by the media. For more information, please contact: IFRC (Geneva): Jenelle Eli, +1-202-603-6803, [email protected] OCHA (New York): Jaspreet Kindra, +1-929-273-8109, [email protected]

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Press release

IFRC urges governments and humanitarian partners to protect lives ahead of an active hurricane season in the Americas

Panama/Geneva, 31 May 2022 —The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is ramping up preparedness actions ahead of another above-average active Hurricane Season in the Atlantic Ocean. The IFRC urges governments and humanitarian stakeholders to protect lives by investing in early warning systems, forecast-based solutions, and coordinated disaster response plans. From 1 June to 30 November 2022, North America, Central America, and the Caribbean expect between 14 to 21 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes, including three to six hurricanes of category three or higher. The IFRC and its network are working to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with the effects of heavy rains, landslides, and floods that these weather events may cause during the next six months. Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said: “The region may face up to six major hurricanes, but it takes just one single storm to destroy communities that are already grappling with poverty, inequality, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, hundreds of local Red Cross teams in more than 20 countries are sharing early warning messages and coordinating preparedness measures with local governments and community leaders. In parallel, the IFRC is combining weather forecasts with risk analysis to take early actions ahead of hurricanes rather than simply responding to events. This approach allows us to anticipate disasters, decrease their impact as much as possible, and prevent suffering and the loss of lives and livelihoods.” The IFRC is paying special attention to the needs of women, children, migrants, and returnees, who are suffering from overlapping crises in Central America. This region is still recovering from the pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota, which left 1.5 million people displaced in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala alone. In Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti, vulnerable communities exposed to hurricanes and storms are also at highest risk of food insecurity due to the current global food shortage crisis. In this challenging scenario, the IFRC is advocating for regulatory frameworks that favor the agile delivery of humanitarian aid to areas affected by disasters. It has also prepositioned humanitarian goods in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and across the Caribbean to provide immediate response to the humanitarian needs for up to 60,000 people in both the Pacific and Atlantic coastal zones. According to the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, the 2022 hurricane season in the Atlantic, and the Caribbean Sea is predicted to be more active than normal due to the influence of the La Niña climate pattern. This phenomenon is active for the third consecutive year and causes sea temperatures in this basin to be above average. This condition allows for more active development of hurricanes, as seen in 2020 and 2021. For more information, please contact: In Panama Susana Arroyo Barrantes - Comms Manager Americas,[email protected] María Victoria Langman - Senior Comms Officer Americas,[email protected] In Jamaica Trevesa Da Silva - Comms Officer English & Dutch Caribbean, [email protected]