Climate change

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Article

Hurricane Beryl: For hard-hit islands, preparation paid off with rapid response. But recovery is complicated by widespread damage.

Well before Hurricane Beryl made landfallon the Caribbean Island nations of Jamaica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Red Cross volunteers, local authorities and residents had been working hard to prepare for the worst.Anticipating road blockages, power outages and scarcity of clean water and food, Red Cross crews were preparing relief packages and moving supplies as close as possible to the places most likely to be in need after the storm.By the time HurricaneBeryl made landfall in Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados,it was classified as a category 4 hurricane. High winds toppled trees and power lines, tore entire roofs from houses and in some cases, blew buildings completely off their foundations.On the islands ofCarriacou and Petite Martinique, more than95 per cent homes of were either damaged or destroyed, according to official estimates. Aerial photos showed large swaths of destruction where neighborhoods once stood. Nor did the storm spare health facilities, airport buildings, schools or petrol stations.When Hurricane Beryl arrived in Jamaica, it brought extensive damage across the island. Roads were blocked by fallen trees, downed power lines and landslides, while power outages and structural damage to important public facilities hampered response efforts.“This is the strongest hurricane to strike Jamaica in almost 17 years — since Hurricane Dean in 2007,” said Rhea Pierre,the IFRC’s disaster manager for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.On all the islands, relief and rescue efforts were complicated by continued bad weather, power outages, road blockages and damage to infrastructure. In many cases, the hardest affected areas were also cut off from basic services.Thanks to storm warnings, thousands of people gathered safely in shelters. But the storm also claimed lives.Authorities have so far confirmed at least 15 deaths:five in Grenada, five in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, two in Jamaica and three in Venezuela. But the number could still rise as the assessment continues.Preparation paid offDespite the damage, the advance work paid off. In the aftermath, volunteer crews were ready to act, visiting hard-hit communities and making detailed assessments of people’s needs. They handed out supplies, offered first-aid and lent a listening ear to people coping with their losses.“We are out giving out distributions such as tarpaulins and jerry cans, as well as cleaning tapes and food supplies for those families who were affected by the hurricane,” said Zoyer John, a volunteer for the Grenada Red Cross as she stood in front of a badly damaged house.“Most of the damage to our tri-island state occurred in the islands ofCarriacou and Petite Martinique. But here on the main island, on the north of the island, a lot of people were also impacted.”In Jamaica, Red Cross volunteers were also on the ground quickly doing rapid assessments and distributing supplies they had prepared at the beginning of the hurricane season. As the hurricane approached, those stocks were moved to safe storage facilities close to the places where the impact was expected to be heaviest.All this advance work was bolstered by an allocation of CHF 1.7 million from the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF), based on the anticipated needs of people in the storm’s path. This forward-looking outlay meant that communities could count on emergency assistance without having to wait for fundraising after the storm.In the days following the hurricane, the IFRC also launched an emergency appeal of CHF 4 million to provide immediate humanitarian assistance, protection and recovery support to the most affected families. The operation will support 25,000 people (5,000 households) over a one-year period.In the initial days, the focus will be on the distribution of relief items and short-term shelter solutions that will cover people’s immediate needs. Over time, however, the plan is to also carry out interventions that help people ensure access to dignified and safe shelter — focusing on building back better — as well as provision of cash and vouchers for specific goods.It will also offer various supports for restoration of livelihoods. Due to the storm’s impact on infrastructure, many people on the islands have been left without an income. In Barbados, the fisheries industry and small business owners along the southern coastlines were heavily affected by storm surges that caused widespread damage.Health interventions are also planned to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. National Societies will focus on supporting people’s hygiene needs as well as safe water, mainly through the delivery of household water-treatment kits.More storms to comeOn the minds of all Red Cross National Societies in the region is the fact that hurricane season is just beginning. This is one reason the emergency appeal also supports interventions aimed at reducing people’s vulnerability to future disasters and enhancing community disaster response.With Hurricane Beryl now one week in the past, residents must now try put their lives back on track while at the same time, getting ready for whatever might come next.This is the new reality that Caribbean small island nations face as hotter-than-normal water temperatures in the southern Atlantic and Caribbean act as fuel for storms, causing them to intensify quickly into major hurricanes. This gives communities less time in between storms to recover and prepare.“Events like these are no longer a one-off and this highlights the need for local actors to lead the way in preparedness and anticipatory action,” added Rhea Pierre,the IFRC’s disaster manager for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. “We are seeing that kind of preparedness in action right now.”

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Press release

Humanitarian needs ramp up in the aftermath of 'unprecedented' Hurricane Beryl, signaling new reality for Caribbean

Panama City, Geneva, 4 July 2024 – Hurricane Beryl, the earliest hurricane to reach category five intensity in the Atlantic Ocean, has caused unprecedented devastation across the Caribbean, making its destructive path through Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica, Barbados, and Jamaica.This unprecedented early-season hurricane underscores the new reality of the climate crises that Caribbean small island nations face: storms are more likely to rapidly intensify and become stronger, causing severe destruction and giving communities less time to recover in between shocks. The hotter-than-normal water temperatures in the southern Atlantic and Caribbean are acting as fuel for storms, causing them to intensify very quickly into major hurricanes –category three or superior.In Jamaica, the Red Cross has already pre-positioned supplies to all branches in anticipation of a possible humanitarian response. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica and Barbados, local Red Cross teams are already on the ground providing life-saving assistance despite significant challenges in accessing the affected areas, most of which are scattered and isolated."Hygiene kits, cleaning kits, tool kits, kitchen sets, tarpaulins, blankets and mosquito nets have already been dispatched to the hardest hit islands to meet the immediate needs of the affected population. In the coming days, we will have a clearer picture of the full impact of Beryl on people’s physical and mental health and livelihoods. Still, rapid damage assessments show that the devastation is massive," says Rhea Pierre, IFRC Disaster Manager for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.The storm first impacted Barbados, causing severe damage to the south coast and significantly affecting the fishing industry, with over 200 fishing vessels damaged or destroyed. In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 90 percent of infrastructure has been damaged, including houses, roads, and the airport terminal on Union Island. Communication with the Southern Grenadines remains disrupted, and access to basic services is still limited.While in Grenada, Beryl made landfall in Carriacou as a Category 4 hurricane, damaging 95 percent of homes in Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The state of emergency remains in place, with 3,000 people in shelters. The Grenada Red Cross is distributing relief items and coordinating with authorities to restore communication and power services. In Dominica, residents need shelter after being forced to relocate. The Dominica Red Cross has distributed relief supplies to the most affected, especially in the Baytown Area.“By deploying community-based disaster response teams and pre-positioning supplies, we have been able to respond quickly, but we are only on day two of Beryl's aftermath, and more support will be needed in the coming weeks and months. From now on, we will be tackling two challenges at once: responding to the operation and preparing communities for the next shock, as the hurricane season is just beginning," Pierre adds.The IFRC will continue to support local Red Cross teams across the Caribbean and calls on governments, donors and stakeholders to support its response and early action efforts as humanitarian needs continue to grow and the storm season is forecast to be one of the most active on record.For more information or to request an interview, please contact: [email protected] Panama:Susana Arroyo Barrantes: +507 6999-3199In Geneva:Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67

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Podcast

Dyanne Marenco Gonzalez: Saving lives and saving the planet, all part of daily business for the Costa Rican Red Cross

Can Costa Rica’s largest ambulance fleet become completely carbon neutral? How can we better work with the forces of nature to protect our communities from natural calamities? Is it possible to save lives and save the planet at the same time? These are some of the questions that the first woman president of the Costa Rican Red Cross, Dyanne Marenco Gonzalez, tackles during this wide-ranging interview about her 20-year humanitarian career. She also discusses the challenges of being a young woman leader in the male-dominated fields of law and emergency response.   

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Article

Tree-planting champions of Sierra Leone: Leading the fight against climate change, one seedling at a time

With her watering can in hand, Mariam Albert carefully sprinkles each of the many tree seedlings that cover the ground around her. Someday these young trees will bear fruits and nuts, and provide oil, cacao and wood for local communities. Just as importantly, they will help diminish the impacts of climate change and deforestation, while providing a vital source of local income.The tree seedlings were planted by Miriam and others in a community nursery as part of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society’s (SLRCS) Tree Planting and Care Project. As one of the project’s Tree Planting and Care Champions, Miriam sees her hard work as not just a duty; it is a passionate pursuit to secure a greener and healthier future for generations to come.“I take deep pride in seeing my community embrace our initiative,” she says. “The trees not only provide green cover but also benefit families nutritionally and economically. This is because we focus on fruit trees like cashew, oil palm, cacao, avocado, and timber trees such as Gmelina”.Her role as a Tree Planting and Care Champion goes beyond tending for plants. It’s also about inspiring a sense of environmental stewardship among fellow members of the Gbandi community, within the Baoma chiefdom of Bo District, Sierra Leone.Her responsibilities are multifaceted. She mobilizes the community, educating them on the importance of nurturing seeds, transplanting them, and providing ongoing care. Her leadership is pivotal in organizing regular community activities centered on environmental conservation.Funded by the Icelandic Red Cross and implemented with support from the Finnish Red Cross, the SLRCS’s Tree Planting and Care Project aims to combat deforestation, promote biodiversity, and mitigate climate change. It’s a vital response to the urgent need for environmental action in Sierra Leone and beyond.5 billion new trees across Africa by 2030The tree planting in Sierra Leone is part of a larger initiative that spans the African continent. In the face of increasing natural disasters and humanitarian crises in Africa, which are exacerbated by climate change and conflict, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched the Pan-African Tree Planting and Care Initiative in 2021.This initiative tackles these challenges by integrating environmental interventions with traditional humanitarian aid. It emphasizes large-scale tree planting and nature-based solutions to enhance climate adaptation, disaster-risk reduction, and improved food security.With a goal to plant and care for 5 billion trees by 2030, the initiative promotes sustainable practices, strengthens community resilience, and advocates for stronger policies that support environmental protection.Trees play a critical role in absorbing carbon dioxide, thus mitigating the causes of climate change while adapting landscapes to its consequences. They also reduce soil erosion, conserve biodiversity, and enhance water quality.The SLRCS empowers individual women, like Mariam, to lead and facilitate the tree-planting process in their respective communities. These women champions establish and maintain nursery sites, mobilize community members, and ensure the ongoing care of the trees until they reach maturity.To date, there are 52 dedicated women champions in 52 communities actively involved in similar efforts in Sierra Leone. Together, they have planted more than 55,000 trees, roughly 60 per cent of the project’s goal. SLRCS's planting efforts are ongoing, with the expectation that these numbers will continue to grow as champions like Mariam persist in their work.

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Press release

Deadly heatwaves in Central America – 35 times more likely because of climate change and four times more likely than in 2000

Panama, GenevaDeadly heatwaves which recently hit North and Central America were made 35 times more likely because of human-induced climate change, according to the latest study by World Weather Attribution (WWA). WWA is a collaboration of scientists and analysts including some from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. Heatwaves began in March across parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and the southwest of the United States. Looking specifically at the hottest five days and nights of the most recent extreme heat in early June, the WWA scientists and analysts found that in a world which had not been heated by the 1.2 degrees Celsius of global warming seen to date, the extreme heat would have been very unlikely to have happened. It was made 35 times more likely than it would have been in pre-industrial times, and four times more likely than at the start of this century, just 24 years ago. The researchers say that similar heatwaves would have been expected once every 60 years in the year 2000 but can be expected every 15 years today.The heatwaves aren’t just getting more frequent. They are getting hotter. For the five hottest days (3-7 June) and nights (5-9 June) they studied, the researchers found daytime temperatures were 1.4 degrees higher than they would have been even in an (extremely rare) ‘heatwave’ in pre-industrial times; night-time temperatures were 1.6 degrees more. As the world warms beyond 1.2 degrees on average, heatwaves in the region will continue to get hotter and even more frequent.The extreme heat has had many impacts. At least 125 people in Mexico have died because of heatwaves since March. The number across the region as a whole is likely to be much higher as heat-related deaths are rarely recorded appropriately, or not captured at all, because heat-related fatalities are often attributed to preexisting or sudden-onset health conditions rather than the heat that exacerbates or causes them.One health problem that may be worsened by the heat and other climate-related disasters such as droughts, is mosquito-borne dengue fever. In Guatemala and Honduras, the exponential growth of dengue has forced health officials to declare a red alert. Figures from the Pan American Health Organization show that from 1 January to 25 May this year, cases increased by 622% in Guatemala and 580% in Honduras, in comparison to the same period in 2023. In Guatemala, cases went from 3,738 in 2023 to 23,268 in 2024, while in Honduras they went from 4,452 to 25,859.In nearby Belize, the heatwaves have led to fires. There have been forest fires in the Toledo and Cayo districts with daily temperatures above 100° F (39°C) creating conditions for fires to start easily and intensify swiftly. Across Central America, National Red Cross Societies are dealing with the impacts of extreme heat. In Guatemala and Honduras, volunteers are eliminating mosquito breeding sites, conducting prevention awareness campaigns and providing mosquito nets. Their operations are supported by financial allocations from the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) and they aim to support more than 20,000 people. A DREF allocation is also helping the Belize Red Cross to support 800 people, providing affected families with hygiene kits, cleaning supplies and cash for recovery efforts. Additionally, members of the national relief corps in Belize are receiving personal protection equipment. Karina Izquierdo, Urban Advisor for the Latin American and Caribbean region at the Red Cross Climate Centre, said: “Every fraction of a degree of warming exposes more people to dangerous heat. The additional 1.4°C of heat caused by climate change would have been the difference between life and death for many people during May and June. As well as reducing emissions, governments and cities need to take bolder steps to become more resilient to heat.”Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said:“Extreme heat is a silent threat to the health, economy, and well-being of millions of people in Central and North America. More heatwaves are expected this year and young children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and older adults are particularly vulnerable, as are certain populations who work or spend time outdoors, such as agricultural workers and people on the move. Red Cross teams in the field will continue to assist them, while reinforcing early action and early warning initiatives that help anticipate and protect lives from this and other climate-related disasters.”For more information, see the full report on World Weather Attribution’s website hereFor more information or to request an interview, please contact: [email protected] Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes +50769993199 In Geneva: Andrew Thomas +41763676587

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Article

Heatwaves: IFRC Global Heat Summit to tackle the ‘invisible killer’

With heatwaves becoming more frequent and extreme — and claiming more lives — they are increasingly being recognized as one of the deadliest consequences of climate change.A global heat summit hosted by the IFRC on Thursday 28 March (13:30 CET)seeks to raise the alarm about the growing urgency of heatwaves and the threat they pose to human health and well-being.Organized in partnership with USAID, the summit aims to stimulate dialogue and investment around solutions that will save lives and mitigate costs through improved preparedness, early warning, coordination and rapid response, among other things.USAID Administrator Samantha Power and IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain will be joined by leaders from across the globe who are developing innovative solutions to lessen the impacts of extreme heat events. The summit is open to all whoregister for the online live stream. Extreme heat is generally defined as prolonged periods with temperatures above 37 C. But recent heatwaves have far surpassed normal expectations. In Brazil, recently, temperatures in some cities topped 60 Celcius. In parts of North Africa and Southeast Asia, heatwaves routinely reach into the 50s.“Parts ofSouth America and Australia are just emerging from their two hottest summers ever,” notes IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain. “Worldwide, 2023 was the hottest on record -by a huge margin. Half the world’s people – 3.8 billion in fact – simmered under extreme heat for at least one day last year.”“And right now, there’s an unprecedented closure of schools across South Sudan. It’s due not to conflict or economic woes, but an extraordinary surge in temperatures to over 42°C (108°F).”For the IFRC, the Summit will also be the occasion to launch a two-month campaign of action on extreme heat ahead ofHeat Action Day on June 2nd. The campaign will include an online toolkit to help guide people spread knowledge and prepare for the northern hemisphere’s summer season, which for many has already begun.Silent killersHeatwaves are sometimes referred to as ‘silent’ or ‘invisible’ killers because the people who succumb often die in their homes and their deaths may not be initially ecognized as being caused by prolonged heat.However, health authorities and climate scientists are seeing a clear correlation between high temperatures and higher death rates in many parts of the world.Heatwavesacross Europe killed more than 60,000 people in 2022; in theUnited Kingdom, roads melted and almost 3000 died.India sees at least 1,000 deaths a year attributable to extreme heat. In the United States, the number is similar. According to The Lancet,China is on track to see between 20,000 and 80,000 heatwave deaths a year. However, it is widely believed by researchers that these numbers vastly underestimate the real impact of extreme heat.Who is most at risk?Heatwaves can be particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, people with disabilities, and pregnant women. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, or respiratory conditions such as asthma are also at elevated risk for suffering health complications due to heatwaves.Additionally, certain populations who spend time outdoors during the hottest parts — agricultural workers, day labourers, road workers and civil servants who work outdoors — are at particularly high risk.People who face housing insecurity, such as people who are homeless and people who live in informal settlements and slums, or who lack access to medical care or places where they can cool down (parks, beaches, cooling stations, air-conditioned spaces, etc.) are also at an increased risk.Urban AreasCities and densely populated areas face a unique challenge in respect to climate change and extreme heat because of their innate urban infrastructure. This phenomenon can be explained by the “urban heat island effect,” in which the construction materials typically used to build urban infrastructures absorb and retain heat more than natural material resources would.This, in conjunction with highly concentrated human activity, informal settlements, dense substructures and populations, and minimal open green spaces, all perpetuate extreme heat.What IFRC is doingBy 2025, the IFRC seeks to help 250 million people become better protected from heat in at least 150 cities and towns. IFRC seeks to do this by enabling climate-smart action to help global communities prepare, respond, and recover from climate disasters.IFRC’s Global Climate Resilience Platform aims to enhance the resilience and build the adaptation skills of 500 million people in the most climate-vulnerable countries. The IFRC’sEarly Warnings for All Initiative aims to provide early warning of extreme weather to everyone on earth by 2027 – this includes extreme heat. And the IFRC regularly raises the alarm through its network of 191 National Societies and via global advocacy and international events such asHeat Action Day on 2 June, 2024.

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Article

Climate change made historic floods in southern Brazil twice as likely – Study

This article was written and published first by the Climate CentreClimate change made the very extreme rainfall that caused destructive floods in Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in late April and early May twice as likely, according to the latest rapid study from World Weather Attribution group issued yesterday.The heavy rains were also intensified by the now-fading El Niño phenomenon, while the impacts were made worse by some failures of infrastructure, the WWA scientists add.The event was “extremely rare” even with global warming – expected no more than once a century – but would have been more rare still without climate change.By combining observations with climate models, the researchers estimated that climate change made the event more than twice as likely and up to nearly 10 per cent more intense.‘Natural protection’Regina Rodrigues, a researcher at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, who took part in the study, said: “The devastating impact on human systems from such extreme events can only be minimized with sufficient adaptation, including well-maintained flood protection infrastructure and appropriate urban planning.“Changes in land use have contributed directly to the widespread floods by eliminating natural protection and can exacerbate climate change by increasing emissions.”The IFRC launched an emergency appeal for 8 million Swiss francs to scale up humanitarian assistance to communities affected by the floods that affected at least 2 million people and were described as the worst disaster in the recorded history of Rio Grande do Sul state.The IFRC global network and the Brazilian Red Cross “will support … 25,000 people who have lost their homes and are in urgent need of assistance, especially single-parent families with children under five, the elderly, and people with disabilities,” the IFRC said last month.The latest WWA study was conducted by scientists from Brazil, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the US.

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Article

Taking action on heat: Getting ahead of extreme heat by taking their message to the streets

In anticipation of the upcoming heatwave season in Lebanon, the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) has embarked on a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness and equip vulnerable people with the knowledge and resources they need to stay safe during extreme heat.The campaign picked up steam on 2 June — Heat Action Day — when LRC volunteers took to the streets, distributing flyers containing preventive measures in numerous communities. They went to construction sites, gas stations, police stations, places of worship, supermarkets and pharmacies. They even left fliers on car windshields.Recognizing the importance of hydration during extreme heat, the LRC also distributed water bottles to residents in targeted communities, prioritizing those most vulnerable to heat-related health risks.The LRC also shared Heat Action Day flyers across its social media platforms, using the hashtag #BeatTheHeat, and encouraging their followers to re-share. The National Society is also actively engaging with the media to disseminate vital information about heatwave preparedness and preventative measures.Beyond heat action dayBut the National Society emphasized that these actions will continue well beyond Heat Action Day, an international day of events aimed at bringing attention to the increasing risk of heat waves.“This initiative is beyond a single action day since as LRC we are actively promoting resilience and anticipation as a core humanitarian call, ensuring our permanent commitment to support communities and vulnerable groups”, said Kassem Chaalan, the Lebanese Red Cross’s Director of Disaster Risk Reduction.Throughout the week just following Heat Action Day, the LRC conducted a massive awareness campaign on heatwaves within the Lebanese Territory. To address the heatwave season, LRC will continue to deliver awareness sessions through October.A global day of actionThe Lebanese Red Cross is just one of many National Societies that joined local and global organizations, private enterprises and individuals around the world to amplify their messages and prevention efforts during Heat Action Day.For many, Heat Action Day is an opportunity to highlight actions they feel compelled to take due to increased number of heatwaves and extreme heat days caused by climate change. These actions are as varied as they are colorful and creative.The Indian Red Cross, for example, used the occasion to put the spotlight on the wide range of work its volunteers do throughout the country, setting up streetside water stations and handing out information about how to stay healthy during a heatwave, among many other activities.The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) co-organized a workshop that centred around ExtremeHeatRisk Study being done in partnership with a leading, Indonesian meteorological society based in Jakarta. It also launched aheat awareness campaign ithat coincided with Car Free Day in the city of Surabaya, encouraging community engagement in various eco-friendly Sunday morning activities, including parades, music and much more.Beyond the Red Cross and Red CrescentMany organizations outside the Red Cross Red Crescent network also got involved.As heat waves swept across mush of the Asia Pacific region, the Asian Development Bank took up the call, issuing statements and sponsoring workshops that promoted heatwave resilience and awareness about "heat stress" and the need for gender-responsive actions.In Dallas, Texas, in the United States, high-school students put together an educational podcast to highlight steps that can be taken to mitigate rising temperatures as part of an environmental architecture class.In Kampala, Uganda, a youth group used football to raise awareness by issuing eco-friendly gifts such as tree seedlings that aim to shift the balance between the number of trees being planted versus the number of trees being cut down.InZanzibar, Tanzania, scuba divers who often entertain tourists do their diving with displays encouraging people to drink more water, check on family members and other small but important preventive measures.And around the world, people created paintings, large outdoor murals and other works of art as part of a global effort to raise awareness through art. These are just a few of the many ways in which people used Heat Action Day to spread the word, share ideas and bring more people to the task of taking action on extreme heat.

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Press release

Brazil one month on: Red Cross calls for continued support as flooding continues and conditions deteriorate

Rio Grande do Sul / Panama City / Geneva -One month after flooding in southern Brazil affected over 2.3 million people and displaced more than 620,000, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for continued support. Initial damage and humanitarian needs are exacerbated by ongoing rains, cold temperatures and the appearance of water-borne diseases.“Though in many ways it feels like day one, we are four weeks into this emergency. Floodwaters remain trapped in many of the flooded areas, hampering the distribution of humanitarian aid and preventing the lowering of water levels that would allow people to return to their homes. With more rain and colder weather in the forecast, as well as a rise in water-borne diseases, every effort should be made to support the most vulnerable population, whose humanitarian needs continue to grow exponentially”, said Roger Alonso Morgui, IFRC Head of Operations for the Brazil floods response.Since the onset of the floods, Red Cross teams have distributed 648,000 litres of water, 9,800 food baskets, 10,150 bags of clothes, 3,595 blankets, 7,830 cleaning kits, 6,380 hygiene kits, 2,347 mattresses, 810 pillows, 640 diaper kits, 116 kitchen sets and 142,559 medicines. In total, 1,500 people have received medical support. Volunteers have also distributed mosquito nets and water filters to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. The Brazilian Red Cross (BRC) has also made inroads into areas that were cut off by the floods to reach affected communities, including ten groups of some of the most vulnerable indigenous people who had been previously unable to access sites where items were being distributed.“In the coming weeks, the most urgent needs for the most vulnerable population - women, children and marginalized groups - include food, personal hygiene items, blankets, cleaning sets, clean water and water filters, both for hydration and to reduce the risk of exposure to water-borne disease and bacteria,” said Alonso.According to the Meteorological Office of Brazil, heavy rains are expected to continue along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul. This could mean further flooding in the already saturated Porto Alegre, while other areas in which the flooding had receded could see a resurgence. Local authorities have advised the population not to return to flooded areas and have recommended that those who live in areas at risk of landslides exercise extreme caution.In response to the flooding, the most devastating disaster in the history of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal for CHF 8,000,000 to support, for the next 12 months, 25,000 people who have lost their homes and are in urgent need of assistance. Two IFRC relief flights have already transported essential supplies to the affected zones. However, despite concerted efforts, there remains a significant funding shortfall for this humanitarian response, with most of the required funds still needed to fully address the crisis. A recent study from World Weather Attribution revealed that climate change made the floods in southern Brazil “twice as likely,” and the damage was only made worse by infrastructure failures. These impacts on more extreme weather events are only expected to continue.For more information or to coordinate an interview: [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes +50769993199  In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa +41 797084367 / Andrew Thomas +41 763676587 

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Press release

Urgent Aid Needed as Cyclone Remal Ravages Southern Bangladesh

Dhaka/Kuala Lumpur/GenevaThe Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS), supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and others, has a launched an emergency response in the wake of devastation caused by Cyclone Remal. The IFRC launched a CHF 12.5 million Emergency Appeal that aims to assist 650,000 people in the 8 hardest-hit districts with clean water, food, medical aid and cash assistance.Cyclone Remal has left southern Bangladesh in a state of crisis, affecting over 4.59 million people and causing extensive damage to approximately 150,000 households in 19 coastal districts. Making landfall on 27 May near the Bangladesh-India border, the cyclone brought wind speeds of up to 111 km/h and storm surges of 5-8 feet, resulting in severe flooding and prolonged power outages for 27 million people.People were killed, homes destroyed, and the cyclone disrupted infrastructure, including airports in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar, leading to international flight cancellations from Dhaka.Alberto Bocanegra, Head of Delegation for the IFRC in Bangladesh, said,“The devastation caused by Cyclone Remal is immense, and immediate support is vital.Our Emergency Appeal will quickly attend to families with damaged houses, and the provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. Furthermore, critical assistance will be proved to those severely impacted in terms of livelihoods such as agriculture, fish farming, and marginalized groups, displaced individuals living in collective centers, with relatives, or in others’ houses, and families with vulnerable groups.”“We urge the international community to stand with Bangladesh during this critical time.”Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Secretary General of BDRCS, added, “Our volunteers have been on the ground from the onset, providing critical assistance. Support from our partners and the global community is essential for individuals affected and the community system to recover well.”In Cox’s Bazar, the cyclone caused minor landslides and damaged 500 makeshift shelters, affecting 3,000 individuals. In Bhashan Char, heavy rains led to waterlogging and minor infrastructure damage.Further crisis would emerge if we do not attend to all the above to well.”As the cyclone continues to wreak havoc, the Red Cross Red Crescent network calls for urgent global support to provide essential aid to those affected.Notes to Editors:For more information or to request interviews, please contact: [email protected] In Bangladesh:Areefa Sinha, +8801970089077, Al-Shahriar Rupam, +8801761775075,In Kuala Lumpur:Afrhill Rances, +60192713641In Geneva,Andrew Thomas +41 76 367 6587Tommaso Della Longa + 41 79 708 4367

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Article

Heat Action Day: Raising the alarm about extreme heat through art

There is no doubt that heatwaves are getting more frequent and more severe — and that heatwaves can kill. They are in fact one of the most deadly climate-related phenomena impacting people around the world today.But they are not getting the attention and action they deserve. Unlike tornadoes, cyclones or floods or storms, they are relatively invisible. They often start gradually and build and the people who die, or who get sick, from them are not always reported as casualties of a heatwave. As the IFRC’s Secretary General recently described it,extreme heat is climate change’s silent assassin.That’s why the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre decided to go beyond words to get the message out during the lead up toHeat Action Day, Sunday, 2 June. Under the theme of urban art for heat action, the Climate Centre invited people to make and share their art on the theme of extreme heat.To help fuel the creative fire, the Climate Centre commisisoned two artists — Andrew Rae and Ruskin Kyle —to render images on the impact of heatwaves on large population centres.An 'alien invasion'The artists knew they needed to create something that would get people’s attention so they chose to tell the heatwaves story like scenes from an epic hollywood film.“We thought of classic apocalyptic films such as Independence Day or Godzilla and so we decided to personify the warming danger as giant marauding robots,” Rae said in a recent interview.Just as humans havehelped to create this monster of extreme heat, the artists created these monsters to make a point about how the world is responding to the rising threat of extreme heat emergencies.“It struck us that if the world being gradually heated up by alien robots or an enemy state, then governments and people would be very quick to act,”he said. “Unfortunately, as we are causing the problem ourselves, it is much harder to mobilize and to make change. Perhaps if we could visualize the problem as an external enemy robot then it might help to motivate us to action.”Staying cool, taking actionThe idea is to keep raising awareness so that governments, city officials, businesses and individuals understand the threat posed by extreme heat, plan for it and act when it hits. Other forms of art being created also help those impacted by heatwaves, many of whom are already in vulnerable situations because they are elderly, lack access to health care, running water, electricity or other means of staying cool during extreme heat.From the streetside walls of Jodphur, India, to the subways and streets of Honduras, people around the world are creating murals, paintings, and photographic images aimed at bringing home the point that people are suffering and this threat needs to be taken seriously.These very varied works of art are hanging in schools, on streetside walls and they are being compiled in an online photo book being shared by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. New pieces are being added daily as Heat Action Day nears. People are encouraged to submit their own works of art by contacting the Climate Centre through an online form.Many of the artworks submitted to the Climate Centre convey sadness and worry, others express anger or share concrete information about what to do when a heatwave strikes. The art covers every medium, from paint on canvas to marker on paper, photography, digital art — even one piece created by artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, the profiles of the artists involved equally diverse in terms of the background, gender and age of the people creating them.Heatwaves heroesWhile many of the images reflect the harsh reality many communities now face, they also convey a sense of hope, a sense that something can be done. That we still have the chance to be heroes in our own story about heatwaves.Not only can people do things to protect themselves, as shown in the murals in Jodphur India, people can do things to change the narrative and the wider response to climate change and its many repercussions.“It was important to show there are things people can do to fight back against heatwaves,” says Roop Singh, a climate risk adviser with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “In one of the art works, a boy carries a backpack with water bottles and fans. Simple things, but because of them, he’s undaunted. The rays coming from him – blue – contrast with the reds and oranges. They symbolize hope.”

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Press release

New report: Climate change added average of 26 days of extreme heat over last year

On Tuesday (28 May), Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, World Weather Attribution and Climate Central released a report looking at the role climate change played in increasing the number of extreme heat days around the world over the last twelve months. It was already known that 2023 was the hottest on record. The report confirmed that almost all the world’s population was affected by extreme heat days caused by human-induced climate change. Across all places in the world, an average of 26 days were ‘excess’ extreme heat days which would probably not have occurred without climate change. (Methodology below)Heat Action Day – organised by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre – draws attention to the threat of extreme heat and what can be done to mitigate it.National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are sharing ideas via a dedicated website. As part of a ‘Heat Action Sprint’ - organised alongside USAID and launched at a Heat Summit in late March – people are being urged to hold events and share artwork to highlight the danger of extreme heat to lives and livelihoods.Attention is needed this year more than any other.Why?There is an ongoing extreme heatwave in Asia – across Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Malaysiaand The Philippines.Across Bangladesh alone, the extreme heat has hit 57 of 64 districts, well over 120 millionpeople. In Myanmaran extreme temperature of 48.2°C was recorded on 28 April – the highest ever in the country.In Nepal, the city of Nepalgunjisin the grip of weeks of temperatures of more than 40°C.There have been long-lasting recent heatwaves this year across swathes of Africatoo.Extreme heat is known to have killed tens of thousands of people over the last 12 months, but the real number is likely in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. Unlike sudden ‘event’ weather disasters, heatwaves kill more slowly and less obviously; they are often exacerbatorsof pre-existing medical conditions.Heatwaveshit the vulnerable the hardest – the young, the old, the poor and those obliged to work outdoors.National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are at the forefront of actions to mitigate extreme heat. In Bangladesh, for example, a first-ever ‘Early Action Protocol’ was launched last month, targeting 123,700 people with early warning messages, safe drinking water and oral saline solution,and cooling stations. In Nepal, a three-year collaboration (between the IFRC, the Nepal Red Cross Society, city authorities and others) in the city of Nepalgunjhas culminated in a detailed Heat Action Plan which is serving as a best-in-class example for cities around the world. Cities are where extreme heat is most dangerous so that’s where efforts are focused. Locally-ledplans and adaptation, early warning systems, information campaigns and efforts focused on the most vulnerable are what saves lives. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary-General, said:“Flooding and hurricanes may capture the headlines, but the impacts of extreme heat are equally deadly. That’s why Heat Action Day matters so much. We need to focus attention on climate change’s silent killer. The IFRC is making heat - and urban action to reduce its impacts - a priority and remains committed to working with communities that are at risk of extreme heat through our global network of National Societies.”Aditya V. Bahadur, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre said:“This report provides overwhelming scientific evidence that extreme heat is a deadly manifestation of the climate crisis. This wreaks havoc on human health, critical infrastructure, the economy, agriculture and the environment, thereby eroding gains in human development and decreasing wellbeing- especially for poor and marginalized communities in the global South.”At 4pm on Tuesday 28 May, authors will hold a webinar briefing on the details of the report. Register here.For further details or requests for interviews:[email protected] Thomas +41 76 367 6587Tommaso Della Longa +41 797 084367CLIMATE CENTRAL METHODOLOGY – summaryPlease use contacts above for the full report.Climate Central looked at the years 1991 to 2020 and worked out what temperatures counted as within the top 10% for each country over that period.Then Climate Central looked at the number of days between May 15 2023 and May 15 2024 (‘the recent year’) when peak temperatures were within, or beyond, the previous top 10% range. As a next step, they applied their Climate Shift Index (CSI), which uses peer-reviewed methodology to quantify the influence of climate change on daily temperatures. Where the CSI level was 2 or above (meaning climate change made the heat at least twice as likely), they counted the day in question as an excess heat day due to climate change. They compared the recent year's temperatures with counterfactual temperatures - the temperatures that would have occurred in a world without human-caused climate change. They counted the number of days with temperatures within or beyond the 'top 10%' band, and where the CSI said climate change made the temperatures at least twice as likely, and subtracted the number of times the counterfactual temperatures reached or exceeded this level.The conclusion? Over the last 12 months, human-caused climate change added — on average, across all places in the world — 26 more days of extreme heat than there would have been without it.6.8 billion people – 78% of world’s population – experienced at least 31 days (about one month) of extreme heat.

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Emergency

Zambia: Drought

Zambia is currently experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis due to frequent droughts, floods and heat waves driven by climate change. These disaster risks are affecting the country’s poorest communities, especially in rural areas, which rely on rainfall for agriculture. These dry spells, compounded by the El Niño effect, are driving overall increasing severity of food insecurity. The IFRC and its membership aim to reach 476,448 people with actions aimed at improving food security, encourage positive hygiene and health behaviours, and improve nutritional status of children under the age of five.

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Podcast

Dr. Asha Mohammed: From dentist to humanitarian leader, her passion and leadership now focused on Africa’s biggest challenges

Dr. Asha Mohammed began her career as a dentist in low-income communities in Kenya. Her passion for helping others and her evident leadership skills led her to key roles battling HiV/AIDS and, eventually, to the role of Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross. She now serves as IFRC’s Permanent Representative to the African Union and International Organizations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From there, she’s taking on climate change, a massive regional hunger crisis, and outbreaks of infectious diseases, among other challenges. In this episode, she talks about the solutions to those challenges. And what it was like being a pioneering woman leader in public health. “When I mentor young women, I tell them, ‘You can be what you want to be. It's really about understanding that you have these different roles to play and that you can find the right balance.”

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Podcast

Ana Gabriela Mejía Silva: Psychologist and Red Cross volunteer explores the mental health costs of climate change

Eco-anxiety is a relatively new term in the lexicon of psychology, but it’s gaining more attention. In a world facing an existential threat from climate change — and many communities already facing tremendous upheaval — the mental health impacts of climate change are impossible to ignore. People who rely on farming, fishing, or whose cultures are connected to natural cycles, are being deeply affected. Livelihoods are drying up, or being washed away, and in many places, suicide rates are rising. Psychologist and Red Cross volunteer Ana Mejía unpacks what’s happening and explains what we need to do, collectively and individually, to help people cope.

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Press release

Deadly heatwave in the Sahel and West Africa would have been impossible without human-caused climate change

The recent deadly heatwave in the Sahel and West Africa with temperatures above 45°C would not have been possible without human-caused climate change, according to rapid analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists from theWorld Weather Attributiongroup.In late March and early this April, extreme heat impacted countries in the Sahel and West Africa. The hottest temperature occurred on April 3, when Mali recorded 48.5°C. In Bamako, the Gabriel-Toure Hospital announced a surge in excess deaths, with 102 deaths over the first four days of April.Around half were over the age of 60 and the hospital reports that heat likely played a role in many of the deaths. A lack of data in the countries affected makes it impossible to know how many people were killed, however it’s likely there were hundreds or possibly thousands of other heat-related deaths.“Year-round heat is part of life in the Sahel and regions of West Africa," said Kiswendsida Guigma, Climate Scientist at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in Burkina Faso. "However, the extreme temperatures were unprecedented in many places and the surge in excess deaths reported by the Gabriel-Toure Hospital in Mali highlighted just how dangerous the heat was.“For some, a heatwave being 1.4 or 1.5°C hotter because of climate change might not sound like a big increase. But this additional heat would have been the difference between life and death for many people.”Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas, and other human activities, is making heatwaves more frequent, longer and hotter around the world. To quantify the effect of human-caused warming on the extreme temperatures in the Sahel and West Africa, scientists analysed weather data and climate models to compare how these types of events have changed between today’s climate, with approximately 1.2°C of global warming, and the cooler pre-industrial climate using peer-reviewed methods.The analysis looked at the five-day average of maximum daily temperatures in two areas: one that includes southern regions of Mali and Burkina Faso, where the heat was most extreme, and a larger area including regions of Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, where temperatures were widely above 40°C.To investigate hot night time temperatures, which can be dangerous when the human body cannot rest and recover, the researchers also analysed the five-day average of minimum temperatures for the Mali and Burkina Faso region.The scientists found that both the daytime and nighttime heatwaves, across both regions, would have been impossible if humans had not warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas, and with other activities like deforestation. Climate change made the maximum temperatures 1.5°C hotter and the nighttime temperatures 2°C hotter for the Burkina Faso and Mali region, and the five-day daytime temperatures for the wider region 1.4°C hotter.A heatwave like the recent one is still relatively rare, even in today’s climate with 1.2°C of warming, the researchers found. Across the wider West Africa region, similarly high daytime temperatures can be expected about once every 30 years. However, daytime temperatures like those experienced in Mali and Burkina Faso, where heat-related fatalities were reported, are expected around once in every 200 years.More common, more dangerousBut events like these will become much more common, and even more dangerous, unless the world moves away from fossil fuels and countries rapidly reduce emissions to net zero. If global warming reaches 2°C, as is expected to occur in the 2040s or 2050s unless emissions are rapidly halted, similar events will occur 10 times more frequently.The researchers also quantified the possible influence of El Niño on the heat, but found that its effect was not significant when compared with the influence of human-caused climate change.The study highlights factors that worsened the impacts of the heat across the region. The heat occurred at the end of Ramadan when many Muslim people fast during the day. The Sahel region has a large Muslim population and while high temperatures are common in April, the researchers say the relentless day and nighttime heat would have been overwhelming for many people who were abstaining from food and water.They also note that conflict, poverty, limited access to safe drinking water, rapid urbanisation and strained health systems likely worsened the impacts.Heat action plans that set out emergency responses to dangerous heat are extremely effective at reducing heat-related deaths during heatwaves. However, neither Burkina Faso or Mali have one in place. Given the increasing risk of dangerous heat in the Sahel and West Africa, the researchers say developing heat action plans will help to save lives and lessen the burden of extreme heat on health systems.Finally, the researchers say the Gabriel-Toure Hospital’s rapid reporting of heat-related deaths was a valuable illustration of the dangers of extreme heat that would have likely acted as an effective warning for people in the region.The study was conducted by 19 researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, including scientists from universities, organisations and meteorological agencies in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa, The Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.For further information, media may contact:Andrew Thomas, IFRC Senior Media Officer, Media RelationsMob: +41 76 367 6587

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Press release

Global Summit announces ‘sprint of action’ to tackle consequences of extreme heat

Summit was co-hosted by the IFRC and USAIDExtreme heat is a silent, yet formidable adversary that – without action – will kill thousands in coming years.But, as participants at the first-ever Global Summit on Extreme Heat heard, there is plenty that can be done. Countering the worst of extreme heat’s impact will take action from the local to global level. The Global Summit on Extreme Heat, held on Thursday, was co-hosted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It brought together political and civil society leaders, representatives of the private sector and those from the world’s most affected communities to discuss best practice and ideas.Besides the co-hosts Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General and Samantha Power, USAID Administrator, speakers included John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the [US] President for International Climate Policy, His Excellency Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of Djibouti and Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, among others.The keynote address was delivered by IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain. He said:“While hurricanes and floods often capture the headlines, extreme heat quietly exacts a toll on lives and livelihoods . . . In 2024 we declare extreme heat a priority . . . Let us be the architects of resilience, the enablers of hope.”Chapagain laid out four key actions that need to take place. The first is protecting the vulnerable, particularly those in urban areas and in marginalised communities. The second is investing in early warning systems and anticipatory actions. The third is forging partnerships across borders, and the fourth is putting local communities in the driving seat of change.Samantha Power, Administrator of USAID, said:“At a time when some have grown numb with increasingly familiar headlines about ‘hottest days on record’, we absolutely need to resolve never to get used to the scale of this problem, never to get used to the threat it poses to human life.” Following the summit, an online ‘Heat Action Hub’ has been established where people can share experiences and best practice when it comes to tackling extreme heat. The IFRC and USAID have jointly announced a 'sprint of action’ on extreme heat which will run up to a ‘Global Day of Action on Extreme Heat’ on June 2, 2024.A recording of the summit can be watched here.For interviews contact:IFRC [email protected] ThomasMobile: +41763676587

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Article

A severe and prolonged cold spell in Mongolia – known as the ‘dzud’ – is taking a deep toll on rural livestock herders

In the heart of the dzud-affected region of Sukhbaatar Province in Mongolia, families that rely on livestock herding to survive are watching in despair as they witness their animals perish by the day due to cold and excessive snow cover.The Khurelbaatarfamily, for example, has been heavily hit by this year’s unprecendented dzud. The family of five has seen their once-thriving herd reduced from over 400 animals to less than 100 since the start of winter.“The ground is completely blanketed by thick snow, which undergoes a daily thaw-freeze cycle, creating icy conditions that damage animal hooves,” saysKhurelbaatar B, a herder of Sukhbaatar province.“Starved and exhausted pregnant ewes are particularly vulnerable,”he adds. “Without assistance, many succumb overnight, often several at a time. Simply moving them and providing hay or fodder is likely not enough due to their weakened state.”The father in a family of five, Khurelbaatar, points out a particularly sombre spot near his house, where in heartbreaking silence lay the carefully stocked carcases of the animals that succumbed to the harsh winter conditions. Most herder households in the area have a simlar spot.While Khurelbaataris eligible to receive a government disability subsidy of about CHF 80 per month, the loss of the family’s livestock has resulted in a significant decrease in their assets and income.The shortage of cash has hindered their ability to purchase food and basic items, leaving them struggling to repay the bank loan they took to buy hay and fodder for their animals.To alleviate the immediate crisis, the family received an animal care kit and bought hay with the multi-purpose cash assistance provided by the Mongolian Red Cross Society with funding from the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance of USAID. The hay will sustain them for three weeks.During a recent visit, a Mongolian Red Cross team provided a tarpaulin donated by the Korean Red Cross, to serve as a roof for the couple's animal shelter. This shelter can hopefully protect the remaining livestock from the bone-chilling winds that plague the region.The family remains determined and resilient, but challenges remain. Unsure of how they will overcome their current struggles and meet future obligations, this household faces uncertainty.The IFRC, Mongolian Red Cross and our partners are committed to supporting families like these throughout their journey to recovery. The IFRC has released CHF 500,000 from the IFRC-DREF fund in early February and launched anEmergency Appeal for CHF 4.5 million on 15 March 2024.The crisis is impacting large areas of the country. The Tumurzurkh family in Dornod province, for example, started experiencing heavy snowfall and extreme cold since November 2023.The family is residing in a modest winter house with one room and a small kitchen area.With no running water, they rely on a nearby well for their water supply. Access to the well had been blocked by snow for an extended period, however, and as a result, the family faced the arduous task of melting snow to provide themselves and their livestock with drinking water.With 400 animals at the start of the winter, the family had experienced gradual losses due to the challenging winter conditions. They’ve lost more than 70 livestock already and are losing an average of 1 to 3 animals daily.Both the husband and wife receive a state pension. However, they also carried a bank loan with a high interest rate. Now they are uncertain about how they will make the upcoming payments.The family expects to receive some hay and fodder support from local authorities but this has not been provided so far. To be able to continue to feed their livestock, they had to purchase hay and fodder, but that was expected to last only for a couple of days. The family expressed hope that the snow would soon melt, allowing the grass to grow and the animals to graze naturally. They longed for a return to more favorable conditions that would mitigate their daily losses. However, the reality of their situation was evident as we witnessed the accumulation of deceased animals near their home, awaiting collection by the government.

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Article

IFRC rolls out full climate action journey after successful National Society trials

The IFRC and its specialist reference centre on climate are today outlining the full seven-stage “climate action journey” that has been trialled by the National Societies of Malawi (blogandstorymap), Nigeria and Pakistan and encompasses the key concepts of climate-smart operations and locally led adaptation.It had earlier been formally presented at a training session in Naivasha, Kenya,attended by representatives of 20 African National Societies, as well as IFRC secretariat and Climate Centre specialists.The climate action journey starts with the key enabling factors of institutional buy-in through signing of the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, dedicated staff, seed funding, raised awareness, and the mobilization of youth and volunteersThis year, a range of additional National Societies will embark on the journey to scale up climate action and locally led adaptation: they will be able to increase their knowledge on changing climate-risks and impacts, strengthen capacities and partnerships, and access climate finance with solid proposals.The climate crisis has necessitated the empowering of communities to take charge of their own solutions and to secure for local actors and the most vulnerable communities the international climate finance that is currently falling short.This climate action journey seeks to prepare National Societies to increase adaptation driven by communities.Implementation, evaluationA guide to climate-smart programmes– the journey’s first three stages, centring on climate risk assessment, climate-smart screening and climate-smart planning – was published last year in bothlongandsummaryform; the former includes example of climate-smart programmes in various sectors from the Red Cross Red Crescent in (alphabetically) Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali, Vanuatu and Zambia.The last four stages of the journey – multi-year climate strategy, engagement with communities on adaptation, design of locally-led adaptation programmes, and implementation followed by evaluation – are detailed in the new publication,The importance of scaling up locally led adaptation, which will be expanded later this year.Climate-smart programmes and operations integrate climate and weather information, including long-term climate projections, “to ensure that, at a minimum, they do not place people at increased risk from new climate extremes and … empower communities to anticipate, absorb and adapt to climate shocks and long-term changes,” the journey text says.Locally led adaptation in all its forms, meanwhile, ensures “communities are empowered to lead sustainable and effective adaptation to climate change at the local level, increasing long-term resilience of communities to climate shocks”.Prisca Chisala, Malawi Red Cross Society Director of Programmes and its climate champion, says in her blog that the climate action journey enabled the National Society to “set our institutional vision and priorities on climate for the next few years”.She adds that the journey has been “a living process, able to be adapted whenever new experience and lessons arise. Experiences and thoughts by National Societies are critical to shape this journey into a tool that will be most helpful to the mission and work of Red Cross Red Crescent.“The National Society has to be at the centre of the journey, defining the direction it’s taking.”IFRC Under Secretary General Xavier Castellanos said today: ”This decade demands an unequivocal commitment to locally led adaptation as we confront the escalating climate crisis. Urgency compels us to strengthen local initiatives and empower local actors to spearhead climate resilience.”The climate action journey empowers numerous National Societies to lead the change, forge impactful partnerships, including with local authorities, and foster the emergence of climate-resilient communities.”Most National Societies are already effective in climate-related areas such as preparedness, anticipatory action, response and recovery, generating entry points for more extensive climate programming and integrating climate considerations into their work.But access to international climate finance that reaches down to the local level is another important component of them becoming climate champions for their countries.

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Article

Bolivia: Drought on the one hand, floods on the other — safe water a critical challenge in both cases

In the last year, the Bolivian people have had to cope with devastating floods, the hottest year on record and the most severe drought in its history.Over two million people suffered from the lack of rain, while the storms left over 50 people dead and 430,000 people affected.These data seem to confirm what science has been telling us for some time: Bolivia is the most vulnerable country to the climate crisis in South America. Prolonged droughtsThe frequency and intensity of drought episodes is increasing in the highlands and plains of the country.In 2023, Bolivia experienced the longest dry period in its history, a consequence of high temperatures and the climate crisis, intensified by the El Niño phenomenon. In seven of Bolivia's nine departments (La Paz, Potosí, Cochabamba, Oruro, Chuquisaca, Tarija and Santa Cruz), nearly two million people saw the lack of rain dry up their fields, deplete their savings and damage their physical and mental health.The effects were particularly severe in rural areas, where income and jobs depend on agriculture and the raising of camelids, sheep and cows. Water reservoirs dried up completely; potato and other staple food crops were lost; and llamas and alpacas began to get sick and even die of thirst. "Every time a llama dies, apart from the emotional loss, we are losing about $100 USD, the equivalent of what we need to live for a month in our sector," says Evaristo Mamani Torrencio, a resident of Turco, in the department of Oruro.“Per family, we lose between 15-20 llamas. That is a lot of money and that is a loss not only for the community, but it is also a loss for the town, because that is where the money comes from to buy our things in Oruro. If we don't make that economic movement and if we don't have resources, then we are simply not going to move the market."Water scarcity can lead to restrictions on water use, an increase in its price and a decrease in its quality. This reduces the frequency by which people can hydrate themselves, weakens hygiene measures and increases the spread of stomach and infectious diseases.In cases such as Evaristo's and other communities supported by the Bolivian Red Cross, the long recovery time after drought can also lead families to make decisions with irreversible effects on their lives. These include being forced to sell their land, going into debt or migrating.Devastating floodsMeanwhile, in other parts of Bolivia, sudden flooding is also having a severe impact on people’s access to safe water supplies. On February 27, 2024, the Acre River in the city of Cobija, on the border with Brazil, exceeded its historical maximum and caused the flooding of 16 urban sectors and three rural communities."The landslides associated with rainfall in 90 per cent of the country contrast with a progressive annual decrease in rainfall recorded by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service in recent years," says Julian Perez, Program and Operations Coordinator for the IFRC in the Andean countries."Something that concerns the IFRC is that both events, droughts and floods, have severe long-term impacts on the community, affecting food production, food security and generating water deficit and malnutrition."In addition to damage to fields and infrastructure, the population is already facing cases of dermatitis, respiratory infections and water-borne diseases such as diarrhea.They are also preparing to avoid mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue."In the first quarter of 2024 alone, Bolivia has registered a total of 11,000 cases of dengue fever,”Perez says.Bolivian Red Cross in actionIn both extreme cases, access to clean water and essential services is critical to maintain health and prevent the spread of disease.With support from the Bolivian Red Cross and the Emergency Fund for Disaster Response (IFRC-DREF), 6,500 people affected by the droughts and floods will be able to protect themselves via improved access to safe water and they will be able to better decide how to recover from the floods by receiving cash to address their most urgent needs."Bolivia urgently needs to implement climate change adaptation measures, such as reforestation and the construction of adequate infrastructure, as well as improve the early warning system and support the State's efforts to strengthen disaster management", Perez concludes.

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Article

Study: Climate change made the dangerous humid heatwave in West Africa 10 times more likely

Human-caused climate change made the humid heatwave in southern West Africa during February ten times more likely, according toa rapid analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists from theWorld Weather Attribution group.The study also found that if humans do not rapidly move away from fossil fuels, causing global warming to rise to 2°C above preindustrial levels, West Africa will experience similar heatwaves about once every two years. Developing heat action plans will help protect vulnerable people from dangerous heatwaves in West Africa, according to the researchers (which includes researches from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre).In February, West Africa was hit by an unusually intense humid heatwave with temperatures not normally seen until March or April. The most severe heat occured from February 11-15 with temperatures above 40°C.In Nigeria, doctors reported an increase in patients presenting for heat-related illness, people complained of poor sleep due to hot nights and the national meteorological agency issued several warnings about the heat.In Ghana, the national meteorological agency also warned people to prepare for dangerous temperatures. The heat occurred during the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in Côte d'Ivoire.“Many people do not appreciate the dangers of heat – unlike storms, fires or droughts, heatwaves don’t leave an evident trail of destruction," said Maja Vahlberg, risk consultant at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, which contributed to the research. “However, heatwaves are ‘silent killers.’ They can be incredibly deadly for the elderly, people with existing health conditions and outdoor workers."“Humidity makes a massive difference to the human experience of heat. While the average air temperature across West Africa during mid-February was about 36°C, the humidity meant it would have felt like 50°C.“Countries across Africa, and the world, need to prepare for heat. Simple measures like awareness campaigns and warning systems can save thousands of lives during heatwaves.”Due to the hot and humid conditions, additional ‘cooling breaks’ were taken during the matches so players could rehydrate. February this year was the hottest February on record globally and the ninth consecutive month in a row that a hottest month record was broken.Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal, and deforestation, has made heatwaves more frequent, longer and hotter around the world. To quantify the effect of climate change on the hot and humid temperatures in West Africa, scientists analysed observed weather data and climate models to compare how the event has changed between today’s climate, with approximately 1.2°C of global warming, and the cooler pre-industrial climate, using peer-reviewed methods.For more information, please visit the World Weather Attribution webpage.

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Press release

IFRC launches an appeal as Mongolia faces its harshest winter in 50 years

Geneva/Kuala Lumpur/Ulaanbaatar, 18 March 2024: Mongolia is enduring its most severe winter in nearly half a century, grappling with the devastating effects of Dzud. Since November last year, extreme weather has now enveloped 76% of the nation in White Dzud and Iron Dzud conditions. These conditions cover grazing areas with deep snow and ice, critically limiting access to food for livestock.However, since February this year, the livestock mortality rate has surged, affecting about 75 percent of all herder households. With the current toll of lost livestock exceeding 4.7 million, official forecasts predict the situation to worsen.The livelihoods of herders, who depend on cattle, goats, and horses, are under severe threat.According to the assessment by the Emergency Operation Centre,this crisis is to be twice as severe as last year's Dzud. It predicts an impact greater than the significant 2010 Dzud event, which resulted in the loss of 10.3 million livestock and affected 28% of Mongolia's population. The crisis disproportionately affects herders with smaller herds, who face significant recovery challenges.Over 7,000 families now lack adequate food, and heavy snowfall has buried more than 1,000 herder households' gers (traditional homes) and shelters. To date, 2,257 herder families have lost over 70% of their livestock, with thousands more needing basic health services, fuel, and coal.Bolormaa Nordov, Secretary General of the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS), said:“As one of the most active humanitarian actors in the country, the Mongolian Red Cross Society is working tirelessly to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected people together with partners in this difficult time. We are grateful that the IFRC has always been with us, supporting our humanitarian efforts through the years. With this Emergency Appeal, we hope to minimize the impact of the Dzud emergency and support households with longer-term solutions for their lives and livelihoods.”Since November 2023, the MRCS has led response efforts, identifying urgent needs, such as food scarcity, healthcare access, and livelihood destruction. In addition, MRCS has allocated distributed vital supplies such as warm animal blankets, benefiting 5,100 herder families in urgent need.Olga Dzhumaeva, Head of the IFRC East Asia Delegation remarked:“We stand witness to the numerous struggles many herder households face from the loss of their precious livestock to the burdens of financial hardship, limited resources as well as immense pressures on people’s mental and physical health. Yet we see the unwavering hope and resilience of so many families as they battle winter's wrath with incredible strength. The ongoing livestock deaths, diminishing resources and deteriorating conditions of hundreds of thousands of people in Mongolia this winter is a stark reminder of the urgent need for assistance.”To support the people of Mongolia, the IFRC's Emergency Appeal seeks 4.5 million Swiss Francs to reach up to 10,000 Dzud-affected herder families with cash assistance, livelihood protection, health and psychosocial support, vocational training and community engagement.For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: [email protected] Beijing:Kexuan Tong: +86 13147812269In Kuala Lumpur:Afrhill Rances: +60 192713641In Geneva:Tommaso Della Longa: +41 797084367 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 763815006

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Podcast

Ani Gevorgyan: Communities and youth should drive the global climate-change agenda

Ani Gevorgyan started wearing the red vest when she was 14 years old and she signed up to bring joy, art and activity into the lives of refugee children. Two years later, the young volunteer for the Armenian Red Cross was organizing “eco-runs” in which people combined physical activity with environmental clean-ups. Now, as an IFRC Climate Champion, she spreads the word about climate action at high-level summits like COP-28, where she says local communities and youth need to be driving the agenda.

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Emergency

Mongolia: Cold Wave ('Dzud')

Mongolia has been experiencing an unprecedented cold wave crisis, known as dzud, that has decimated entire herds of livestock, a critical source of food and income for many communities. This season’s weather has been recorded as the most severe in 49 years with 76 per cent of the country affected. Several additional key factors have worsened the dzud's impact, including numerous blizzards since November 2023 and extensive snow coverage across the country that has limited grazing opportunities for animals. The IFRC seeks CHF 4.5 million to support the Mongolia Red Cross Society in reaching 36,000 people with life saving services in this time of desperate need.

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Article

The power of youth: In Vanuatu, young volunteers keep the water flowing

Jean Philipe Clement, 58, stands ankle deep in the river that causes him and his community many sleepless nights.As he slowly sifts through the debris left behind by the recent floods, he feels a sense of bitterness thinking about the next rainfall, knowing it will come sooner or later — likely bringing further flooding in his community.He grips the handle of his trusty cane knife with one hand, and holds the stem of a tree branch with the other. As he swings the sharp metal blade at the base of the branch, a cracking sound can be heard as the branch is detached from the tree. It’s the only time the sounds of the mosquitoes are drowned out.“We are trimming some of the treetops so that the sunlight can pass through and dry up whatever water is left after the floods,” he explains.“The main cause of the flooding is the improper disposal of rubbish. People do not throw their rubbish in the right place and it’s their carelessness that is blocking the drainage and causing the flooding.”“The stagnant water has also resulted in breeding of mosquitoes.”‘No other option’While the water has receded over time, it is nothing compared to the terrifying experience water pouring into doorways in nearby Solwe, a community of 900 people located in Luganville on Santo island – a 45-minute flight from Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila.“When it rains, the water comes from the hills and the plantations. Then it meets in the middle where Solwe is located. Because of the debris clogging up the river, this has disrupted the flow of water.”“There is no outlet for the water and, as a result, the water has nowhere to go and levels start to rise and make its way inland, right to the houses.”Once the flooding has reached homes, children are not able to travel to school as the roads are underwater.“Most times the water levels reach as high as the windows of the houses. People have to enter and exit their homes using wooden planks,” says Philipe.“They have no other option.”Youth taking actionJust as his hopes for finding a solution for the frequent flooding was ebbing, Vanuatu Red Cross youth volunteers decided to take action.Vanuatu Red Cross youth volunteers in Solwe completed training in ‘Y-Adapt’, a curriculum for young people consisting of games and activities designed to help them understand climate change and to take practical action to adapt to the changing climate in their community.From this, they took the initiative to help people like Philipe prepare for the next rainfall – by clearing debris from the river and trimming treetops to let sunlight dry up stagnant water.Through the support of the IFRC and Japanese Red Cross, the volunteers completed the Y-Adapt programme and were able to purchase a brush cutter, chain saw, rakes, wheelbarrow and gloves to help with their clean-up campaign.“If we continue to clean the debris that is disrupting the flow of water and make new drainages, the water will flow out to the river and not straight into people's homes,” says Tiffanie Boihilan, 27, one of the Red Cross volunteers living in Solwe.Y-Adapt encourages youth to focus on low cost interventions that don’t require large-scale investment or technology to implement but that can nonetheless reduce the impacts of extreme-weather events.‘If we are lucky’In nearby Mango Station, a similar story is unfolding, though under very different conditions. Here, the sky is blue and the ground is dry. Heads turn to the skies to see the slightest hint of a dark cloud that might bring rain.On days like this, vegetable gardens are battered under the heat of the midday sun.Animals seek out shade wherever they can. Empty buckets in each hand as community members set foot on the dry, dusty terrain bound for the nearest creek – an hour away.Eric Tangarasi, 51, is the chief of Mango station. Married with six children, he says he hopes it will rain soon. Rain will replenish the sole water tank serving more than 900 people.Mango station relies on the public water supply, but that has been inconsistent. On some days, there is no water at all. With the nearest river about an hour walk through rough terrain, the best and safest option for this community is rain water.“In the community, there is a big challenge for water,” says Eric. “Sometimes there is no water for 2 or 3 days. Sometimes it can be as long as one month.”“If we are lucky, the water supply comes on at around midnight until 2am, that’s when each household stores enough water for cooking and drinking.”"Currently we have only one water tank for the community, and with over 900 people living here, we must use the tank sparingly making sure we leave enough for the others to use.”Once again, the Vanuatu Red Cross youth volunteers swung into action.As part of their Y-Adapt activities (and again with support from the IFRC and Japanese Red Cross), the Red Cross youth volunteers in Mango began to address the issues of water scarcity at the community level.“There are 17 people living with disabilities and it is difficult for them when the water runs out,” says Pascalina Moltau, 26, is a Vanuatu Red Cross volunteer who lives in Mango community and has been part of this project from the start. “They cannot travel to the nearby creek as accessibility is a huge challenge, it is not safe for them.”“We also must think of the elderly people. They are not strong enough to withstand the difficult terrain to get to the nearby creek and then carry water all the way back.”After discussions within the community to find out best course of action, they purchased an additional 10,000-litre water tank to supplement the existing 6,000-litre water tank. The volunteers, together with the community, began their Y-Adapt implementation plan by building the foundation for the water tank.“This 10,000 litre water tank will help the community with the growing demand for water,” Eric says. “We do not have to wait until midnight to store water now and we can be more able to manage water.”