Kenya - Floods
Recent severe flooding in Kenya, caused by unusually active El Niño rains, has killed at least 71 people and displaced many thousands of people. Households have been washed away or are marooned. Farmland has been submerged and livestock drowned.Some of the hardest hit areas have been the semi-arid lands where pastoralism is the economic driver. These areas are still recovering from the worst drought in 40 years. The IFRC and its membership seek CHF 18 million (CHF 10 million of which is expected to be raised by the IFRC Secretariat) to reach 50,000 households with life-saving assistance.
El Nino expected to make Malawi’s lean season even leaner
By Anne Wanjiru
IFRC Senior Communications Officer
Almost every family in Malawi is a farming family, a source of great strength for the country’s economy. This was seen a few decades ago when the country was regularly exporting agricultural produce to neighboring nations.
However, this means most families have also been extremely vulnerable to climatic stresses and shocks.
"Year after year, it’s been getting harder to get good yields from farming and get a good earning,” says Martha Makaniko, a farmer from Chiwalo village in Mulanje. “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. I have prepared my land awaiting the rains but have no money to buy seeds or fertilizer."
When tropical cyclone Freddy hit Malawi in March 2023, Martha watched as her entire crop was washed away. Like thousands of other farming families, she not only lost her crops.
“My house collapsed,” says Martha, who is also ill and in need of money for medical assistance. “I stayed in the shelter for several months. I spent my entire lifesavings building a new house. This set me back. We eat nothing, but porridge made from raw mangoes.”
Boiled fruit and poisoned yams
People don’t normally boil fruit for food in Malawi, so Martha’s mango porridge is an indication that a lot of families are running out of choices. According to the Malawi government’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee Report, more than 4.4 million peopleare facing hunger.
The economic downturn, as well as the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have all exacerbated the hunger situation in Malawi.
In the last 18 months,Malawi’s currency – the Malawian Kwacha – has been devalued twice. This has caused inflation on everything, including critical supplies such as seeds and fertilizer.
Some farmers find it too expensive to manage their own farms, and decide to do piecework in other people’s fields, a common coping alternative among farming families that is also proving to be very competitive.
Those that cannot find any piece work at all will scavenge for wild yams or raw mangoes to boil and feed their families.
A variety of wild yams is poisonous, however, and the difference can be hard to tell. Fani Mayesu recently lost her husband and 19-year-old son after consuming poisonous wild yams.
“We didn’t know they were poisonous,” she says, with a look of disbelief. “My husband brought them, I prepared them, and we all ate. Immediately we begun getting sick and vomiting. My other 5 children and I recovered but not my husband and one son.”
El Nino’s first waves
According to forecasts, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. International and national Meteorological agencies say the upcoming 2023/24 rainy season (also known as the lean season when food supplies diminish) in Malawi is expected to be influenced by El Niño. In the past, El Niño conditions have been linked to a delayed start of the rainfall season, below-normal precipitation, and dry spells.
The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) in its lean-season response plan will seek to prioritise highly affected districts. This is aimed at strengthening community capacity to cope with the food insecurity while sustaining other resilience building activities.
“We hope to not only address the immediate acute food security needs but to also respond to climate predictions through interventions such as distributing early maturing seed varieties,’ says Prisca Chisala, director of programmes and development at MRCS. “We also plan to support winter cropping and encourage crop diversification to adopt drought resistant crops to address the gaps in production.”
Red Cross response
Through the support of IFRC and partner National Societies, MRCS needs over CHF 3 million to help close to 100,000 people by:
• providing food assistance in forms of cash-based transfer, wet feeding in schools and in-kind support
• strengthening community resilience through promotion of livelihood and risk reduction,
• protection of all vulnerable groups from violence, sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect and ensure that human rights are respected.
“It’s critical that we support the farming family’s resilience to attain a harvest after this rainy season, otherwise we will see significant rise in hunger levels,” says John Roche, head of IFRC's cluster delegation for Malawi. Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Time is of essence here to avert a worsening situation from the El-Nino predictions. Only a rapid, effective, and well-resourced response is urgently needed to mitigate the crisis from long-term impacts.”
Reclaimed table for climate action
Parched, weathered tree branches from Yemen. Wall panels charred by wildfires in Spain. Parts of a Ugandan home swept away by flooding. These are just some of the objects in a unique table, created by the IFRC, to represent the impact of climate-related disasters all over the world. On display at COP28, a section of the table is shown above. During the climate summit, it serves as a neutral space to come together and brainstorm about solutions. Below are the stories behind each part of the table, the people impacted and what’s being done to protect them in the future.
Jamaica: Deaf students harness the power of climate-smart farming with support from Red Cross
Planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and feeding the animals have long been part of the life at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) in Manchester, Jamaica. On any given day, staff and students at the school’s Knockpatrick Campus might be harvesting beans, squash or vegetables as part of the educational nutritional and livelihoods program.
But when the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic led to dwindling enterprise earnings and donations to the school, the administration placed even more focus on using their land to assist in producing some of their internal food demands. In the meantime, however, there were other challenges: persistent drought meant that there simply wasn’t enough water to adequately irrigate the campus’ greenhouse and open field crops
That’s when the school turned to “climate-smart” agriculture. With support from the Jamaica Red Cross (JRC), the Knockpatrick campus now uses solar powered pumps to help harvest and store water for its greenhouse and farm. The CCCD had previously installed a water catchment system in the 1960s, but the system has been in a state of disrepair.
Tyreke Lewis, one of 130 students who lives at the 130-acre Knockpatrick campus, says the improvements have turned things around for the better. “The school will also be able to produce more goods to be sold to the community and other stakeholders,” he says. “The additional income will help us to pay our bills and other expenses. It will allow us to develop our skills to become more self-reliant for the future.”
An island going dry
The Knockpatrick Campus is not alone in facing the impacts of climate change. According to the Meteorological Services of Jamaica, all parishes received below normal rainfall in December 2022.
Combined with COVID-19, changes in the climate have resulted in major humanitarian consequences, with the poorest and most vulnerable feeling the brunt of its effects through loss of life, economic setbacks and livelihood loss.
As part of its plans to help people affected by the climate crises and the socio-economic effects of COVID-19, the JRC connected to the CCCD through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
“In our discussions with the CCCD, we realized that the drought and water scarcity that existed, coupled with the reduced income generation due to COVID-19, compounded the food crisis, pushing them to produce more for themselves,” said Leiska Powell, JRC project manager. “But to do that, they needed assistance to manage their water for improved and increased production. We wanted to find a way to help them do this.”
To get things done, the JRC contracted a local company that provides alternate energy solutions to install the solar water pump and provided four, 1,000-gallon water tanks to help facilitate additional water storage.
The initiative involved building a ramp to house the four water tanks and installing a solar water pump to move the water from the current catchment tank to the new storage drums to supply the greenhouse with water.
John Meeks, social enterprise officer at the CCCD, noted that this partnership with the Red Cross marks the first step in their strategic bid to develop a climate-resilient and climate-smart agricultural programme.
“Without irrigation, we can’t plant or raise animals,” he says. “This initiative, therefore, provides a key step in the right direction and will allow us to expand our crop production from 2-3 acres to up to 10 acres, because we now have the irrigation system in place.”
The next phase of the initiative will see the JRC collaborating with RADA to offer climate smart agriculture training to students and staff of the CCCD to further build their capacity in sustainable agriculture and water management. There are also plans to expand the climate smart agriculture initiative to the other CCCD campuses, once additional funding is secured.
The partnership also now forms a central part of activities undertaken through the COVID-19 climate-smart livelihoods recovery initiative, conducted by the JRC and supported by the IFRC, added Keisha Sandy, IFRC technical officer for climate and environmental sustainability for the Caribbean.
“The Red Cross network is committed to helping people in communities make the transition from immediate recovery to the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, to long-term climate smart livelihood solutions geared towards increasing the sustained resilience of the communities we serve,” Sandy says.
'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.
Hope amid the heat: Volunteers like Fatema Khatun help neighbors through sweltering heatwaves in Bangladesh
As the sun blazes mercilessly over Bajakajla Slum in Rajshahi City, Bangladesh, Fatema Khatun vividly remembers her childhood when the weather was different, and life was more comfortable.
“When I was in primary school, the temperature was not so high, we had a good life,” she says. “We used to sit by the riverbed and the weather was different. It rained frequently. The temperature was low.”
The frequent rains and lower temperatures made playing by the riverbed a joyous pastime. But as time passed, each passing summer seemed hotter and more unbearable.
“The average temperature is 42-43 degrees Celsius now,” says 19-year-old Fatema, who lives with her family in a tiny, tin-roofed house. “Sometimes it rises to 45 degrees Celsius. Because of the high temperature, I am facing problems with my eyes. I cannot read correctly.”
The heatwaves are particularly hard on the elderly. “I have never seen this kind of heatwave,” says Fatema's 75-year-old grandmother, Shohor Banu Bewa, who feels the impact of the heatwave intensely and struggles to sleep at night. “When the temperature rises, I sit by the riverbed“.
Many families, like Fatema's, struggle with itching, rashes, and other heat-related illnesses. And they often lack the resources to cope with the health consequences.
“People in our area are poor,” says Fatema. “Most of them work as housekeepers. They face many problems supporting their families and raising children. They cannot provide education, food, and clothes due to poverty.”
Hot tin rooves
Sayma Khatun Bithi, a community volunteer with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) in Rajshahi adds that the houses are particularly vulnerable to heat.
“Those who live in the slum area have their houses made of tin,” says Sayma, who along with Fatema became a volunteer after getting first aid training from BDRCS. “Tin absorbs more heat. The heat has become unbearable for children, the elderly and pregnant women.”
To help people living in such vulnerable situations in parts of Rajshahi City, the BDRCS aims to protect residents from the adverse effects of heat waves through a project funded by the European Union, in collaboration with the IFRC, the BDRCS the German Red Cross, and the Danish Red Cross.
“The Bangladesh Red Crescent informed us of many things through announcements and radio programs,” says Fatema. “They taught us how to help someone if they fall unconscious due to a heatwave. I listened to the information provided by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society on the radio. I share the information with everyone.”
Fatema also got first-aid training from BDRCS and, along with Sayma Khatun Bithi and others, became community volunteers.
Abu Md Zubair, a field officer for BDRCS, emphasized the importance of public awareness. His team provided cooling centers, medical facilities, and launched awareness programs, teaching the community how to stay healthy during the heat waves. A community radio program, hosted by Jannatun Nahar Joti, amplified these messages to the entire city.
Due to the combined endeavors of people like Fatema Bithi, and organizations like the Red Crescent Society, heat-related illnesses and fatalities began to decrease. Though the heat was unrelenting, people are learning to manage the extreme heat, supporting and caring for each other.
Climate of migration: Climate crisis and conflict push more people to drought-stricken Djibouti
“Gargaar” is a local Somali word used in Djibouti to express community solidarity. Evident throughout the country, gargaar means communities are hospitable and welcoming, ready to host and help anyone they encounter.
With fighting and insecurity in neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia, more people are coming into Djibouti and so gargaar is on full display in many communities across the country. But with the area also going through one of the worst series of successive droughts in history, it’s clear that much more must be done to meet the mounting needs of people hit by the combined impacts of conflict, migration and climate change.
Most travel more than 500 kilometres by foot, some continuing to the Gulf countries such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea. The arduous and long journey, through harsh heat, across wild terrain and over rough seas, bears a heavy toll on men, women, and children. Many die along the way.
‘By God’s grace we have made it here,” says Fatouma, who came to Chekeyti, in southwestern Djibouti, from Ethiopia with her two young children. She is exhausted and her baby is restless from fatigue. They walked over 600 kilometres in unimaginable heat, through a landscape full of hyenas and snakes, and always in danger of harassment.
“I had no choice; life was unbearable because of the clashes in Afar-Somali region and the lack of food because of drought,” she explains. “I heard life is better and more peaceful in Djibouti. We walked for days. Some days the thirst was unbearable. My children came very close to death. Some of the people we were with did not make it.”
The community in Chekyeti welcomed them to settle and even use their water from a ‘barkaad’ (an underground water reservoir) nearby. When Djibouti Red Crescent in a recent assessment asked the community leader the most vulnerable households to receive cash distribution, they did not hesitate to also nominate the Ethiopian migrants living among them.
This shows how deep rooted gargaar is in Djibouti, despite the host communities being themselves stretched of resources such as food and water. Successive droughts in the last decade means that many Djiboutian pastoralists have lost their livestock and livelihoods and have found themselves internally displaced, impoverished and dependent on humanitarian assistance.
To ‘die trying’
The generosity of strangers therefore can be a critical lifeline and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society (DRCS) plays a critical role, reaching out to people at critical points in their journey when they are most vulnerable.
Young men, some not more than thirteen years old, undertake the journey unaware of the dangers ahead. Family members back in Ethiopia invest all their life savings so these young people can search for a better life. As a result, the migrants cannot bear to turn back and be seen as failures. They often say they would rather ‘die trying’.
The DRCS therefore has endeavored to bring services through mobile units that meet many of these young men, women and children out on the migration routes. Using only one vehicle, a driver and volunteers, the Red Crescent here has assisted more than 7,000 migrants within seven months through first aid, water, energy dry food, family links and psychosocial support.
These mobile units and humanitarian service points offered lifesaving interventions in both the northern and southern parts of Djibouti’s key migration route. Unfortunately, DRCS had to stop this operation due to lack of resources.
“The situation of drought-induced hunger is alarming,” says Amina Houssein, the secretary general of DRCS. “Unemployment and low levels of social protection, along with rising food prices and very low levels of food production means families are likely to go by with just a meal a day.”
“The incidences of floods, high heat, droughts, as well as the prevalence of diseases and shocks have hit rural communities the hardest,” Hussein adds. “Our priority actions have been lifesaving basic needs assistance through multipurpose cash assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene for human and animal consumption.”
Through a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, or DREF, allocation from IFRC in August, the DRCS has been able to deliver assistance to 45,000 people. But the needs are still enormous. Projections from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification indicate that around 285,000 people, representing 24 percent of the total Djibouti population, will be acutely food insecure, and around 100,000 people will be in emergency food insecurity, by the end of the year. More than 30,000 children under 5 years of age are also expected to face acute malnutrition this year.
Dire need of support
A small National Society of just 37 staff, five branches and some 1,000 volunteers, DRCS is committed to doing the most with its incredibly stretched resources. With availability of funds, DRCS would like to revive its Mobile Humanitarian Service Points assistance to migrants, including those who entered the country outside legal channels.
Such “irregular migrants”, as they are often called, face high vulnerability to economic exploitation by smugglers, abuse, physical and/or gender violence, potential for disease transmission, poor humanitarian conditions and loss of life.
But these are not the only challenges the National Society faces. Recent sudden floods, mostly in the highlands of neighbouring Ethiopia, has also displaced more Djiboutians and left some communities completely cut off.
“With the predicted El-Nino set to happen end of the year, we will need more help to mitigate the effects of flooding in this area,” says Mohamed Abass Houmed, governor of the Tadjourah region, which faces high risk of continued flooding. “Our biggest disadvantage is the poor shelter and road network especially in remote communities. In the event of a flood, some already vulnerable communities will be cut off”.
Surviving with cash support and charcoal
As part of its hunger crisis respone, the Djibouti Red Crescent distributed cash to a targeted 1,500 households. In one locality, they were able to do so through mobile money transfers. Meanwhile, families are doing whatever they can to survive. For most, the three rounds of cash distribution, which they used mostly for food and medicine, were not enough.
To adapt to the erratic weather patterns and make ends meet, most communities abandoned pastoralism and farming and resorted to charcoal burning. Cutting down of trees for charcoal, however, inadvertently worsens conditions and increasing their climate risk.
“Ask any community here in Djibouti what is their greatest need — you will get a resounding call for water,” says DRCS’s Houssein. “With the availability of funds, we at DRCS would additionally like to support communities through water rehabilitation projects, as well as tree planting as a mitigation measure for future climatic shocks.”
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.
Mahabub Maalim: Planting hope amid a hunger crisis in Africa
A regional leader in the fight against food insecurity in Africa, Mahabub Maalim knows first-hand the impact that hunger has on people and communities. Growing up in eastern Kenya, he’s seen how cycles of drought, crop loss and hunger have become more frequent and more severe. He’s dedicated his life to helping communities develop local solutions and he now serves as special advisor to IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Africa (now impacting 23 countries).
| Press release
“From satellites to sandbags”: Putting water at the heart of climate action.
Geneva, 22 September 2023 -As proved so tragically in Libya last week, while water holds the key to life, alltoo often it kills.
Whether – like in Derna - it’s too much water leading to floods, or too little water causing droughts, or polluted water resulting in health risks, addressing the dangers that water poses can save lives. As climate change intensifies these threats, there is an urgent need for action.
That is why a new collaboration matters so much.
With funding and support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands ‘Water at the Heart of Climate Action’ is an ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), The Netherlands Red Cross, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF).
This collaboration will combine local knowledge and global technology to help communities understand and act on the water-related risks they face - before they become disasters. The programme is focused on supporting the countries of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan,and Uganda, which make up the Nile River basin. These countries are not only among the Least Developed Countries in the world but are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. To ensure the implementation of this five-year partnership, the Government of the Netherlands has generously committed 52 million Swiss Francs (55 million euros).
The aim of the ‘Water at the Heart’ collaboration is to address climate-related risks that too often fall between the cracks of most country-level water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policies. It will focus on practical, locally-driven action to better anticipate disasters and prepare communities well in advance. It will also use the latest science and technology to monitor and forecast weather and water-related hazards. It furthermore invests in communications technologies to warn communities of what is coming and enable early action. As a result, this programme is a direct contribution to the implementation of the UN Secretary General’s ‘Early Warnings for All’ initiative.
Jagan Chapagain, the Secretary General of the IFRC said:
“Water is life. But too much or too little water can wreak havoc on people’s lives and homes. Almost three-quarters of all recent humanitarian disasters were water related. This initiative makes mitigation of the impact of such disasters an absolute priority. With thousands of IFRC network volunteers across South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, the IFRC network is uniquely positioned to deliver innovative and trusted local action. Through our partners, those actions can be informed by technology including the best forecasting and observation. This really is a ‘sandbags to satellites’ all-encompassing initiative.”
Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the head of UNDRR said:
“To save lives, lift people out of poverty and ensure that development gains are sustainable and irreversible, we must stop hazards from becoming disasters. Water at the Heart of Climate Action is a demonstration of the commitment of the Netherlands to helping some of the most vulnerable countries build their resilience in the face of climate change.”
Maarten van Aalst, Director General of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) said:
“As a national Meteorological Institute, we see the rapid increase in weather extremes in our changing climate, and we realize that we need partnerships all across society to make sure our warnings lead to early actions. The Netherlands’ vulnerability as a low-lying delta is significantly reduced by the power of good data and predictions, and the ability to act on that information — from satellites to sandbags. Water at the heart will strengthen our peers in the Global South to deliver similar services, and KNMI is proud to be supporting those efforts with peer support.”
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said:
“The majority of hazards are water-related, particularly floods and droughts. Climate change will further increase the frequency and severity of these events. End-to-end early warning systems are critical to save lives and minimize the impact of disasters. WMO is working with SOFF to close the basic weather and climate observation data gap and strengthen the foundational element of better data for better forecasts. Water at the Heart of Climate Action will make a tangible contribution to the Early Warnings for All initiative.”
Paul Bekkers, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, WTO and other international organizations in Geneva, said:
“Water should not be posing risks to vulnerable frontline communities! On the contrary, we can empower communities to transform water from a hazard into a valuable resource. By leveraging indigenous knowledge and investing in early warning systems. The Netherlands proudly supports this partnership that places the needs of local communities at the heart of water action!”
REPRESENTATIVES WILL BE TALKING ABOUT ‘WATER AT THE HEART’ AT THE UN PRESS BRIEFING IN GENEVA FROM 10.30AM ON FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER. THE VIDEO OF THE BRIEFING WILL BE POSTED HERE SHORTLY AFTERWARDS.
FOR INTERVIEWS WITH THOSE INVOLVED, PLEASE CONTACT VIA THE DETAILS BELOW
IFRC - Andrew Thomas / [email protected] / +41763676587
CLIMATE CENTRE - Alex Wynter / [email protected] / +447717470855
WMO – Clare Nullis / [email protected] / +41797091397
SOFF - Pauline Trepczyk / [email protected] / +41796407857
UNDRR – Jeanette Elsworth / [email protected] / +41766911020
PERMAMENT REPRESENTATION OF THE NETHERLANDS - Joyce Langewen / [email protected] / +41794486110
NETHERLANDS RED CROSS - Bastiaan van Blokland / [email protected] / +31704455612
| Press release
At Climate Ambition Summit, UN agencies and IFRC kickstart major initiative towards realizing Early Warnings for All by 2027
New York, 20 September 2023- At the UN Climate Ambition Summit today in New York, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) announced the development of a large-scale, collaborative push to establish life-saving Early Warning Systems in some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries.
An initial injection of US$1.3 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be used to kick-start a much larger initiative aimed at delivering $157 million from the GCF and partner governments to move towards universal early warning for all. As part of the announcement, UNDP and its partners appealed for other donors to join forces, growing the initiative beyond the first group of countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Chad, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, and Somalia.
Designed by UNDP, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and targeting finance from the GCF – with other donors expected to come on board – the project is a key contribution to realizing the UN Secretary-General’s Early Warnings for All initiative.
TheEarly Warnings for All initiativeis an ambitious push to ensure everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water, and climate events through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027.
UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Climate Action and Just Transition, Selwin Hartsaid, “Early Warning Systems are effective and proven tools to save lives and protect the livelihoods of those on the frontlines of climate crisis. Yet those that have contributed least to the climate crisis lack coverage. Six out of every ten persons in Africa are not covered by an early warning system. No effort should be spared to deliver on the ambitious but achievable goal set by the Secretary-General to ensure universal early warning systems coverage by 2027. This will require unprecedented levels of coordination and collaboration. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work. One life lost from a lack of access to an early warning system is one life too many.”
UNDP Administrator Achim Steinersaid, “The power of science and technology to predict disasters is yet another demonstration of humanity’s ability to confront climate change. Yet these vital early warning tools remain out of reach for too many. By bridging the gaps, this new initiative will help to advance the UN Secretary-General's bold vision whereby everyone, everywhere can benefit from Early Warning Systems by 2027. We invite partners and donors to join us in mobilizing the support needed to make this ambitious initiative a reality."
GCF Executive Director, Mafalda Duartesaid, “Timely and accurate climate information is the first line of defense before disaster strikes. The more we scale up early warning systems, the more lives we save and the more livelihoods we protect. GCF is proud to make this initial contribution to Early Warnings for All to bridge investment gaps that stand in the way of a more resilient future for vulnerable communities across the developing world.”
According to the WMO, extreme weather, climate and water-related events caused 11,778 reported disastersbetween 1970 and 2021, with just over 2 million deaths and $4.3 trillion in economic losses.https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/276405By 2050, the global economymay lose up to 14 percent ($23 trillion)on account of climate change.
The benefits of multi-hazard Early Warning Systems are considerable. Just 24 hours’ notice of a hazardous event – for example, a flood or fire – cancut the ensuing damage by 30 percent. Countries with substantive-to-comprehensive early warning coverage experience disaster mortality rates eight times lower than countries with limited coverage.
Half of countries worldwide, however, are not protected by multi-hazard Early Warning Systems, nor have protocols and resources in place to deal with climate extremes and hazards.
The new 6-year project will help Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Chad, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, and Somalia to develop their own projects, while also assisting at least 20 other vulnerable countries with technical and financial support from the GCF and Early Warnings for All partners.
WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalassaid, “Floods, fires, heatwaves, and drought have all wreaked devastation with people’s lives and livelihoods in recent weeks. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these extreme events. It is therefore vital that climate adaptation policies and actions embrace multi-hazard Early Warning Systems to protect people and property.”
IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagainsaid, "Communities most at risk must be warned early – and warning must be followed by action. IFRC’s role in reaching communities with early warnings and preparing them to act is critical to saving lives and livelihoods. This project demonstrates how Early Warning for All can bring together partners to take bigger and more effective actions that benefit everyone, especially communities who need it most."
ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martinsaid, “When disaster strikes, timely communications are critical to save lives and reduce damage. Within the Early Warnings for All initiative, ITU is focusing on ensuring that communications channels are in place for warnings to swiftly and effectively reach people and communities. We are committed to mobilizing our unique public and private membership to help cover the world with an Early Warning System by the end of 2027.”
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR Mami Mizutorisaid, “Extreme weather events do not need to become deadly disasters. We need an immediate roll out of early warning systems to protect everyone, everywhere. We will only be safe when everyone is safe.”
The implementing partners will tailor their support based on country needs and focus on enhancing national and community capacities, contributing to the global knowledge base, and developing timely and easily accessible climate information for communities to make practical decisions, such as when to evacuate ahead of a cyclone or flood, or how to mitigate the impact of an impending drought.
The project will closely coordinate with and build on other efforts currently supporting the Early Warnings for All goals, such as theClimate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS)initiative and theSystematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), a new UN fund co-created by WMO, UNDP and UNEP, that provides support to close today's major weather and climate data gaps.
It will also help link participating countries with international institutions for sustainable financing and technical support.
For more information, please contact:
Dylan Lowthian | Head, Media Relations +1 (646) 673 6350 [email protected]
Dan McNorton | +82 32 458 6338 [email protected]
| 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.“
To request an interview, please contact: [email protected]
Andrew Thomas: +41763676587
Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06
Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67
| 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.
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
New IFRC podcast introduces the 'People in the Red Vest’
When disaster strikes, the sight of someone wearing a red vest is a sign that help has arrived. It’s a powerful symbol of hope and comfort amid the chaos following an emergency, worn by members of the IFRC and its 191 member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies.
And now it’s also a symbol of our brand new podcast.
Launching on 12 September across all major streaming services, People in the Red Vest is a twice-monthly podcast that features inspiring stories of people from across the IFRC network. They’ll speak about their personal experiences of responding to the world's biggest humanitarian crises and what inspires them to keep going.
The first episode features IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain, who talks about his recent missions to several countries in Africa impacted by an acute hunger crisis, and to Slovenia, hit by severe flooding. He also speaks of his upcoming trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly and shares what inspired his own personal humanitarian journey.
“One thing that always stuck into my head was something Albert Einstein said, ‘You live a real life by making a difference in someone else's,’” said Chapagain, who was 14 when he became a volunteer for the Nepal Red Cross.
Keenly interested in science from a young age, Chapagain is an engineer by training. But it was his first job, helping refugees in Nepal, that steered him down the humanitarian path.
“Just listening to the refugees’ stories, their dreams and plans for their families... in many ways, that cemented my belief that if you want to live a satisfied life, you should do something for others,” he adds.
Upcoming guests include:
A regional leader in the fight against food insecurity in Africa, Ambassador Mahabub Maalim, who also serves as advisor to IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Africa (now impacting 23 countries). He shares his thoughts on how to break cycles of food insecurity in the face of the climate crisis, as well as his own personal experiences growing up with hunger in eastern Kenya.
Nena Stoiljkovic, a leader in the world of humanitarian and development finance who serves as IFRC’s Under Secretary General for Global Relations, Diplomacy and Digitalization. She talks about her life-long passion for using innovative financing and partnerships to help people and communities bounce back from hardship, as well as her experiences as a woman leader in the still male-dominated world of finance and development.
Future episodes will also include people working at the heart of IFRC emergency and recovery operations around the world, as well as volunteers and leaders from its member National Societies.
They will share their own compelling and inspiring stories and their thoughts on new trends in technology and humanitarian response, how to make our operations more inclusive and equitable, and what makes them to keep going despite the mounting challenges.
In each episode, the guests will also tell us what the Red Vest symbolizes to them. If you’re curious, subscribe and join us wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Youth volunteers in Iran plant 100,000 trees to protect people and planet
Iran is highly vulnerable to climate change. In recent years, the country has suffered from both severe flooding and droughts linked to our warming world.
In July 2022 alone, flash flooding killed 90 people, destroyed communities, homes, and livelihoods across the country, and left thousands displaced.
Local Iranian Red Crescent volunteers are experienced in responding to disasters like these—deploying quickly to provide lifesaving first aid and rescue services, food, water, shelter, health services, and long-term support to recover.
But as well as just responding to climate-related disasters, the Iranian Red Crescent Society is increasingly working to prepare for them, and even prevent or reduce their impact on communities.
And to do that, they’re working with nature. Specifically, our planet’s superheroes: trees.
Trees play a critical role in fighting climate change. Most people know that by absorbing carbon, producing oxygen, providing shade and cooling, and maintaining soil health, trees contribute to the overall health of our planet.
But did you also know that trees can also help protect us from weather-related disasters?
Soak up excess water during floods and prevent, or slow down, run-off
Hold rainwater in the ground to reduce damage caused by droughts
Protect coastal communities from tidal surges
Help stop or slow down avalanches and mud flows
Hold down soil to stabilize the ground during earthquakes andlandslides
Understanding this power of trees to protect communities, the Iranian Red Crescent Society launched a nation-wide tree-planting campaign earlier this year to help mitigate the impacts of climate change across the country.
Together, their youth volunteers planted a staggering 100,000 trees in the space of just 20 minutes.
Equipped with shovels, watering cans, bags of soil, and tree saplings, more than 10,000 youth volunteers got to work digging holes and planting trees at an incredible pace— showing unity and positive action in the face of the climate crisis.
“Every individual can make a difference, whether it's through volunteering with local organizations, supporting policies that promote sustainability, or making individual lifestyle changes. I encourage volunteers and non-volunteers around the world to come together and act on climate change.” - Movahed Najjar Nahavandi, IRCS youth volunteer from Mazandaran province.
Climate change is a complex problem that requires urgent action at the local, national, and global level. But by working together, and by working with nature, we can make a difference and help protect our communities.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society is not alone in taking climate action. Visit our dedicated nature-based solutions page or check out our Working with Nature to Protect People report to learn how the IFRC network is working with nature to reduce climate change and weather-related disasters.
You can also visit our climate-smart disaster risk reduction page for more information on how our network is preventing or minimizing the impact of climate change and other hazards on communities.
| Press release
Climate situation wreaks havoc in Asia Pacific; causing relentless floods, diseases, and life-threatening heat
Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka/Beijing, 10 August 2023 – Countries across Asia Pacific are reeling from multiple disasters that are wreaking havoc in the region and climate analysts attribute this to a phenomenon called El Niño. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges authorities and humanitarian organizations to brace for multiple disasters hitting simultaneously, with more intensity.
These past few months, the IFRC has released eight Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) allocations for climate related events – three for dengue to Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, three for floods, to Mongolia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, one for a tropical cyclone to Bangladesh, and one for a cold wave event to Mongolia.
Although the full impact of the phenomenon is expected in the months of September this year to March next year, many regions in Asia and the Pacific are already facing multiple hazards now, and they all point to a deteriorating climate situation.
In Bangladesh, dengue infections have swarmed the nation and there have been almost 30,000 new cases this year, almost 5 times higher than last year's numbers. Moreover, local public health experts confirm that many people are being infected with multiple types of dengue, making the treatment complicated.
Sanjeev Kafley, Head of IFRC Bangladesh Delegation says:
"We are working closely with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) and health authorities to combat the situation. In 85 dengue hotspot wards in the cities of Dhaka, Chattogram, and Barishal, our volunteers are focusing on public awareness and prevention efforts. We are progressing to procure testing kits for our health authorities as well as supporting the availability of platelet concentrate through the blood banks of BDRCS. We are supporting in all intervention points, from life-saving areas to preventative measures."
IFRC’s climate mitigation efforts at national levels in different countries are towards improving water management systems, curbing mosquito breeding, strengthening surveillance and monitoring systems to track outbreaks and increase health care capacity to managing cases and providing treatment.
Olga Dzhumaeva, Head of IFRC East Asia Delegation says:
“Torrential rains and floods hit East Asia severely this summer. North, northeast and some regions in southern China saw one of the largest rainfalls Beijing has experienced in the past 140 years. Capital city Ulaanbaatar and 13 provinces in Mongolia, central parts and many provinces of the Republic of Korea, and in the Kyushu region of Japan also suffered from severe impact of extreme rains in July. As a result, millions of people in East Asia were greatly affected and displaced, and roads, bridges, homes, and infrastructures were very badly damaged, many beyond repair. In responding to the situation, our colleagues and volunteers from National Societies in China, Japan, Mongolia and Republic of Korea have been deployed to the front lines, activating their emergency responses, making every effort to evacuate people trapped by the floods and debris, and urgently sending relief supplies such as blankets, tents, folding beds to the affected areas.”
IFRC, National Societies, and its partners believe we equally need to focus on resilience building through inclusion of nature, anticipation, adaptation and mitigation. Early or anticipatory action, for example, whereby funds are proactively allocated based on weather forecasts to support people at risk before disaster strikes is an important emphasis in the context of rapidly increasing climate hazards.
Luis Rodriguez, IFRC Asia Pacific, Lead for Climate and Resilience says:
“These events were more intense than usual due to the prevailing warming conditions, and this brings heavier precipitations, triggering cyclones, rains, and floods. These climate factors also heavily influence the dynamics of infections. Increased rainfall creates new and conducive habitats for larvae or viruses, and increased temperature accelerates the development of insects carrying viruses and virus incubation time. Severe changes in temperature and precipitation patterns due to climate change will enable the spread and transmission of disease in areas that are currently considered low risk or dengue free. These are all not stand-alone events. They are connected.”
In anticipation of more extreme weather events that will hit more regions in the Asia Pacific, national societies together with IFRC are carrying out heavy preparedness measures such as heatwave action planning, simulations and drills, prepositioning of relief stocks, and evacuation and rescue equipment, and urgent refreshers on procedures and regulations for volunteers, staff, and technical teams. Moreover, the DREFs ensure National Societies can act speedily and efficiently and this means millions of lives and livelihoods are saved.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
In Kuala Lumpur:
Afrhill Rances, [email protected] , +60 19 271 3641
Anna Tuson, [email protected] , +41 79 895 6924
El Niño: What is it and what does it mean for disasters?
What is El Niño?
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a cycle of warming and cooling events that happens along the equator in the Pacific Ocean.
El Niño is the warming part of the cycle. It happens when there is a decrease in cool waters rising to the sea surface near South America. This leads to an increase in sea surface temperatures across the Pacific, which then warms the atmosphere above it.
The cooling part of the cycle is called La Niña and has the opposite effect.
El Niño and La Niña events happen every two to seven years. They usually last for 9-12 months but have been known to last for several years at a time.
How does El Niño affect weather around the world?
El Niño and La Niña change the way that air and moisture move around the world, which can affect rainfall and temperature patterns globally.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently announced that El Niño conditions have developed, and that we can expect disruptive weather and climate patterns and a rise in global temperatures.
We know from past events when and which areas of the world are more likely to be wetter and drier during El Niño and La Niña. But no two El Niño and La Niña events are the same, so it’s important to keep track of forecasts as they develop.
Is climate change affecting El Niño?
In general, climate change is leading to warmer sea surface temperatures, and there is some evidence to suggest that this is affecting how El Niño and La Niña events influence weather patterns around the world.
The WMO predicts that global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years due to a combination of climate change and El Niño.
Will El Niño cause more disasters?
El Niño events bring different disaster risks to different parts of the world.
They can cause severe drought in Australia, Indonesia, parts of southern Asia, Central America and northern South America. When the last El Niño occurred seven years ago, it contributed to drought and food insecurity that affected tens of millions of people across southern and eastern Africa.
They can also cause increased rainfall in southern South America, the southern United States, the Horn of Africa and central Asia.
During summer in the northern hemisphere, El Niño’s warm waters can result in more intense tropical cyclones in the western Pacific, but fewer Atlantic hurricanes.
Hear from Lilian Ayala Luque, Senior Officer for Anticipatory Action and Community Resilience for IFRC Americas, about the arrival of El Niño conditions and what it might mean for the region:
What might be different about this year’s El Niño event?
We are already aware of certain factors that will influence how the impacts of this El Niño will affect communities. For example:
While there is an expectation of an end to the drought in the Horn of Africa, it can take some time for rain to filter down into the soil to support deep-rooted plants and begin restoring agriculture.
While El Niño conditions usually limit the growth of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic, this effect may be balanced out by the unusually high sea surface temperatures currently being observed in the region where these storms form.
In Ecuador and Peru, an outbreak of dengue following flooding earlier this year could potentially be exacerbated by the expected El Niño rains in early 2024. In southern Africa, it remains to be seen whether the cholera situation will be improved by the anticipated drier conditions.
How is the IFRC network preparing for El Niño?
The IFRC network is developing Early Action Protocols (EAPs)– formal plans that outline the triggers and early actions we’ll take when a specific hazard is forecasted to impact communities– including to prepare for hazards related to El Niño.
In Ecuador, for example, we’ve developed triggers to address the increased likelihood of flooding in the rainy season from January to April. And in Central America, EAPs cover the increased likelihood of drought from June to August.
Early actions include things like reinforcing buildings and homes, planning evacuation routes or pre-positioning stocks of food and water.
Where can I find more information?
OurEarly Warning, Early Actionpage
Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre website
Anticipation Hub website
Anticipatory Pillar of the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund
Twitter Space series on El Niñofrom the IFRC Americas team
This article was adapted from a blog post on the Anticipation Hub website co-authored, by Liz Stephens, Andrew Krucziewicz and Chris Jack from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. Check out the blog post for more information about El Niño and anticipatory action.
Gardens of health: Preparing nutritious meals for new and expectant mothers in Zimbabwe
Bending over her traditional clay cookstove, 38-year-old Lucky Mazangesure stirs the simmering ingredients in a small saucepan: fried-green bananas in stew of tomatoes and onions.
As the fire crackles, the scent of woodsmoke mixes with the savory-sweet aroma of the saucy, steaming treat. “Trust me,” she says, “after eating this banana dish you won’t be able to stop.”
She can’t resist a quick taste – just to make sure it’s coming out the way it should. “I really love cooking,” she says. “I like tasting the food while cooking. It makes me happy and it keeps my stomach full.”
Then she checks on some simmering beans and starts preparing another local delicacy: pumpkin porridge with roasted peanuts, which will be complimented by cooked spinach and broccoli.
This diverse meal does a lot more than keep her full, she adds. It gives her body the vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohyrdates she needs to keep herself and her infant, nursing child healthy.
Like many new mothers here in Chibuwe, in southeastern Zimbabwe, Lucky is able to prepare these well-balanced meals thanks to a garden at the Chibuwe Health Clinic, which is tended largely by pregnant woman and new mothers who visit the clinic for pre-natal and post-partum care.
The garden got started several years ago as part of a larger initiative by the British Red Cross and the Zimbabwe Red Cross to set up gardens for expecting and new mothers at hospitals and local health clinics, where health workers were witnessing worsening nutrition levels among women and young children.
In a region hard hit by drought, windstorms, cyclones and flash floods, many legumes, fruits and root crops that are rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals are hard to get. Infant malnutrition here has been on the rise in recent years, with some estimates suggesting that roughly one-third of children under 5 are malnourished. Covid-19 has only aggravated the situation by disrupting regional and local food distribution systems.
“It’s hard for expecting mothers in this community to get a decent meal,” says Robert Magweva, a nurse at the Chibuwe Health Clinic, adding that too often, people must rely only on sadza [sorghum], a carbohydrate, and a limited range of leafy vegetables. “It’s a major challenge to have a well-balanced diet here. So the vegetables that are grown in the clinic garden help them to get a well-balanced meal.”
As a mark of the programme’s success, most of these gardens are now sustained entirely by the clinics, hospitals and the communities around them, with support of local agriculture experts and local Zimbabwe Red Cross volunteers.
Better farming for a changing climate
Still, growing one’s own food in this environment is not easy. The climate has generally gotten hotter and drier, with dry spells punctuated by intense storms and winds, and unpredictable rains. Scorching heat evaporates water quickly and can easily whither young seedlings.
“At this clinic garden, we were taught smart agriculture techniques as a way of combating the effects that climate change was having on our harvest,” says Beauty Manyazda, another new mother who works regularly at the Chibuwe Clinic garden. “We learnt techniques such as conservation farming and mulching.”
Conservation farming is an approach that aims to improve soil moisture and health by minimising the intensive tilling and plowing associated with large-scale crop production. Mulching is one very common conservation technique in which straw, leaves or other organic matter is laid down on the soil between the crops. This keeps moisture from evaporating, while discouraging weeds and providing nutrients to the soil as the mulch decays.
Such techniques are increasingly critical as climate change makes farming more difficult. “Our rainfall patterns have changed over the years,” explains Lucky. “We used to get rain in October, when we would sow the seeds for our crops. Now, we get rains in January. So the seeds we put in the ground get damaged waiting for the rainfall.”
Meanwhile, storms, droughts and heatwaves have become more and more intense, says Lucky. “Temperatures have continued to rise and this has resulted in regular, violent winds,” she notes. “These winds have destroyed our homes. We also get floods which also contribute to the destruction.”
Amid these challenges, the garden provides also provides other nourishing ingredients: the joy and satisfaction of being able to work and provide sustenance while also being among plants, close the soil with other women at her side.
“I love gardening,” says Lucky, her baby tied to her back, fast asleep as she picks a handful of chard. “The green nature of the garden warms my heart. With the garden, I know my family will always have a home-grown, nutritious meal.”
This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this, click here.
Statement to the UN Security Council Ministerial Open Debate on climate change, peace and security
On behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and our 191-member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, I am pleased to address the Security Council Ministerial Open Debate.
Our National Society volunteers from their local communities tell us that the climate crisis is the number one humanitarian crisis that communities face around the globe, threatening human security.
Currently, 90% of all disasters are climate and weather-related, resulting in the deaths of over 410,000 people in the last decade, and impacting 1.7 billion people.
The impacts of climate crisis are compounding other crises – food insecurity, disease outbreaks, water shortages and large population movements – reversing development gains thereby impacting global peace and security.
Although the climate crisis affects us all, the science and data shows that we are not all impacted equally. Our focus must be on the communities most impacted and at risk, especially those in fragile settings.
While we know that a one-size-fits-all solution to reducing climate risks does not exist,the IFRC proposes three important shifts to address the magnitude of the climate crisis before us:
Focus on community leadership, ownership and reach – Investing in large scale disaster risk reduction, climate mitigation and adaptation, at the community level, where it is most needed and has the greatest potential impact is essential.
Local organizations are critical to designing and implementing climate action, and channeling climate finance to the right places, to those most in need. They must drive the change.
Fill the financing gaps –Some 30 of the most climate vulnerable countries – a majority of which are fragile contexts – receive only $1 per person per year in climate adaptation funding.
We must change how we finance climate action.
There must be a more integrated approach to humanitarian, development, climate and peace financing, putting the needs of the communities at the center.
The funding must reach the local level to build and empower localinstitutional and responsecapacities and solutions. The empowered local communities form the foundation for peaceful societies.
Forecasting and anticipatory action –We all must scale upearly warningand early action systems that provide communities with information and funding to act before climate events become disasters.
This means giving local organizations more direct access to finance and decision-making processes through mechanisms like IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), that provides direct funding to National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies who play a key role in protecting people from the impacts of climate change.
We all – whether from the humanitarian, development, climate or peace sectors – must work together to address both immediate needs and strengthen long-term resilience to prevent and alleviate human suffering and thereby contribute to the maintenance of human dignity and peace in the world.
| Press release
Climate change made record April temperatures in the Western Mediterranean at least 100 times more likely
Human-caused climate change made the record-breaking heatwave in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Algeria at least 100 times more likely and the heat would have been almost impossible without climate change, according to rapid attribution analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists as part of the World Weather Attribution group.
In late April, parts of southwestern Europe and North Africa experienced a massive heatwave that brought extremely high temperatures never previously recorded in the region at this time of the year, with temperatures reaching 36.9-41°C in the four countries. The event broke temperature records by a large margin, against the backdrop of an intense drought.
Across the world, climate change has made heatwaves more common, longer and hotter. To quantify the effect of climate change on these high temperatures, scientists analysed weather data and computer model simulations to compare the climate as it is today, after about 1.2°C of global warming since the late 1800s, with the climate of the past, following peer-reviewed methods. The analysis looked at the average of the maximum temperature for three consecutive days in April across southern Spain and Portugal, most of Morocco and the northwest part of Algeria.
The researchers found that climate change made the heatwave at least 100 times more likely, with temperatures up to 3.5°C hotter than they would have been without climate change. They calculated that the event is still unusual, even with the large increase in likelihood due to human-caused warming, indicating it would have been almost impossible without climate change.
As other analyses of extreme heat in Europe have found, extreme temperatures are increasing faster in the region than climate models have predicted, a question that is currently under intense research. Until overall greenhouse gas emissions are halted, global temperatures will continue to increase and events like these will become more frequent and severe. For example, if global mean temperatures rise an additional 0.8°C, to a total warming of 2°C, models show that a heatwave such as this one would be 1ºC hotter.
While people in the Mediterranean are no strangers to high temperatures, their occurrence in Aprilcombined with the ongoing drought likely increased impacts. The study was conducted by 10 researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, including scientists from universities and meteorological agencies in France, Morocco, the Netherlands and the UK.
Fatima Driouech, Associate Professor at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, said:“The intense heatwave came on top of a preexisting multi-year drought, exacerbating the lack of water in Western Mediterranean regions and threatening the 2023 crop yield. As the planet warms, these situations will become more frequent and call for long-term planning, including implementing sustainable agricultural models and effective water management policies."
Roop Singh, Senior Climate Risk Advisor at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said:“Early season heatwaves tend to be deadlier as people have not yet prepared their homes or acclimated to summer temperatures. In Spain, for example, we saw heatwave adaptation measures put in place earlier than usual, which is exactly the type of adaptive heat action we need to see more of to reduce preventable deaths from heat.”
Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change
and the Environment, said:“The Mediterranean is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in Europe. The region is already experiencing a very intense and long lasting drought and these high temperatures at a time of the year when it should be raining is worsening the situation. Without rapidly stopping the burning of fossil fuels
and adaptation towards a hotter, drier climate, losses and damages in the region will continue to rise dramatically. ”
Sjoukje Philip, Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, said: "Temperature records have again been broken by a large margin, as in some other recent heatwaves around the world. The fact that temperature trends in the region are higher than what models predict shows that we need to better understand the regional effects of climate change so that we can adapt to even more extreme heat in the future."
Click here to access the study.
World Weather Attribution (WWA) is an international collaboration that analyses and communicates the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events, such as storms, extreme rainfall, heatwaves, cold spells, and droughts.
Previous studies by WWA include research that found that climate change exacerbated floods in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa this year. WWA studies have also shown that this year’s drought in the Northern Hemisphere was made more likely by climate change and that it increased the rainfall that led to Pakistan’s deadly flooding, but that it was not the main driver in Madagascar’s 2021 food crisis.
| Press release
IFRC and UN scale up Early Warnings for All into action on the ground
New York/Geneva, 21 March 2023 -The United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies areaccelerating action to ensure that everyone on Earth is protected by early warnings by 2027. A recentrecord-breaking tropical cyclone in Southeast Africa once again shows the paramount importance of these services to save lives and livelihoods from increasingly extremeweather and climate events.
To aid this work, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has convenedan Advisory Panel of leaders of UN agencies, multilateraldevelopment banks, humanitarian organizations, civil societyand IT companies on 21 March. The aim is to inject more political, technologicaland financial cloutto ensure that Early Warnings for Allbecomes a reality for everyone, everywhere.
The months ahead will see stepped up coordinated action,initially in 30 particularly at-risk countries, including Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. Additionalcountries are expected to be added as this vital work with partners gathers pace, scaleand resourcing.
At the same time, the UN’s existing actions and initiatives to save lives and livelihoods,andbuild resilience across a wide range of other countries will continue and be reinforced, ensuring the Early Warnings for All campaign turns its pledges into life-saving reality on the ground for millions of the most vulnerable people. The aim is not to re-invent the wheel, but rather promote collaboration and synergies and to harness the power of mobile phones and mass communications.
“Now it is time for us to deliver results. Millions of lives are hanging in the balance.It is unacceptable that the countries and peoples that have contributed the least to creating the crisis are paying the heaviest prices,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
“People in Africa, South Asia, South and Central America, and small island states are 15 times more likely to die from climate disasters.These deaths are preventable. The evidence is clear: early warning systems are one of the most effective risk reductionand climate adaptation measures to reduce disaster mortality and economic losses,” said MrGuterres.
The need is urgent.
In the past 50 years, the number of recorded disasters has increased by a factor of five, driven in part by human-induced climate change which is super-charging our weather. This trend is expected to continue.
If no action is taken, the number of medium- or large-scale disaster events is projected to reach 560 a year – or 1.5 each day – by 2030.
The occurrence of severe weather and the effects of climate change will increase the difficulty, uncertainty, and complexity of emergency response efforts worldwide.
Half of countriesglobally do not have adequate early warning systems and even fewer have regulatory frameworks to link early warnings to emergency plans.
“The unprecedented flooding in Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar from Tropical Cyclone Freddy highlights once again that our weather and precipitation is becoming more extreme and that water-related hazards are on the rise,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas. “The worst affected areas have received months’ worth of rainfall in a matter of days and the socio-economic impacts are catastrophic.”
“Accurate early warnings combined with coordinated disaster management on the ground prevented the casualty toll from rising even higher. But we can do even better and that is why the Early Warnings for All initiative is the top priority for WMO. Besidesavoiding damagesthe weather, climate and hydrological services are economically beneficial for agriculture, air, marine and ground transportation, energy, health, tourismand various businesses,” he said.
WMO and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) are spearheading the Early Warnings for All initiative, along with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“The operationalization of this initiative is a clear example of how the UN System and partners can work together to save lives and protect livelihoods from disasters. Inclusive and multi-hazard early warning systems that close the ‘last mile’ areamong the best risk reduction methods in the face of climate-related hazards and geophysical hazards such as tsunamis. Achieving this is not only a clear target in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction but a moral imperative as well,” said Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR.
Climate Change Adaptation
Early warning systems are widely regarded as the “low-hanging fruit” for climate change adaptation because they are a relatively cheapand effective way of protecting people and assets from hazards, including storms, floods, heatwavesand tsunamis to name a few.
Early Warning Systems providemore than a tenfold return on investment
Just 24 hours’ notice of an impending hazardous event can cut the ensuing damage by 30 per cent.
The Global Commission on Adaptation found that spending just US$800 million on such systems in developing countries would avoid losses of $3 to 16 billion per year.
“When disaster strikes, people and communities can turn to technology as a lifeline,” said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “By leading the work of the UN Early Warnings for All initiative on ‘Warning Dissemination and Communication,’ ITU is helping ensure that those at risk can act in time to our increasingly climate-vulnerable world.”
Alerts can be sent via radio and television channels, by social media, and with sirens. ITU recommends an inclusive, people-centered approach using the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), a standardized data format for public warnings, to keep messages coherent across different channels.
“Early warnings that translate into preparedness and response save lives. As climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent, more intense and more deadly, they are essential for everyone, but one in three people globally are still not covered. Early warning systems are the most effective and dignified way to prevent an extreme weather eventfrom creating a humanitarian crisis - especially for the most vulnerable and remote communities who bear the brunt of it. No lives should be lost in a predictable disaster,” said IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain.
The Early Warnings for All initiative callsfor initialnew targeted investments between 2023 and 2027 of US$ 3.1 billion – a sum which would be dwarfed by the benefits. This is a small fraction (about 6 per cent) of the requested US$ 50 billion in adaptation financing. It would cover strengthening disaster risk knowledge, observations and forecasting, preparedness and response, and communication of early warnings.
A range of new and pre-existing innovative financing solutions are requiredto implement the plan to protect every person on Earth. These include a scaling up of the Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative, theSystematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), and accelerated investment programmesof climate funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Adaptation Fund, and key Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), as well as other innovative new financial instruments across all stakeholders of the early warning value chain.
TheAdvisory Panel meeting will consider advancing thefour key Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) pillars:
Disaster risk knowledge and management (US$374 million): aims to collect data and undertake risk assessments to increase knowledge on hazards and vulnerabilitiesand trends. Led by UNDRR with support from WMO.
Detection, observations, monitoring, analysisand forecasting of hazards(US$1.18 billion). Develop hazard monitoring and early warning services. Led by WMO, with support from UN Development Programme(UNDP), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN Environment Programme(UNEP).
Dissemination and communication (US$550 million). Communicate risk information so it reaches all those who need it, andis understandable and usable. Led by ITU, with support from IFRC, UNDP, and WMO.
Preparedness and response ($US1 billion): Build national and community response capabilities. Led by IFRC, with support from Risk Informed Early Action Partnership (REAP), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Food Programme(WFP).
Notes for Editors :
Background to the initiative
The Early Warnings ForAll Initiative (EW4All) was formally launched by the UN Secretary-General in November 2022 at the COP27 meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh.
The Initiative calls for the whole worldto be covered by an early warning system by the end of 2027.
Early Warnings for All is co-led by WMO and UNDRR and supported by pillar leads ITU and IFRC. Implementing partners are:FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, REAP, and WFP.
The Advisory Panel will monitorand report on the progress against the achievement of the goal to the UN Secretary-General, and has the following objectives:
Assess progress of the Early Warnings for All initiative against its goals and targets
Build political and overall momentum and support for the Early Warnings for All initiative
Provide overall recommendations for the mobilization of resources, and
Monitor scientific and technical development related to early warning systems
Membership of Advisory Panel
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition
Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General
Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary-General
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director
SimaBahous, UN Women Executive Director
Rabab Fatima, USG, Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS
Oscar Fernández-Taranco, ASG Development Coordination Office (UNDCO)
Martin Griffiths, USG/OCHA
Yannick Glemarec, GCF Executive Director
Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President, Microsoft
Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA
Michel Lies, Chair of the Insurance Development Forum
MsTasneem Essop, Executive Director of Climate Action Network ,Climate Action Network
JoyeNajm Mendez, Youth Representative, SG’s Youth Advisory Group
Prof. Anthony Nyong, Director, Climate Change and Green Growth, African Development Bank
H.E Sameh Shoukry COP 27 President
H.E. DrSultanAl Jaber, COP 28 Presidentdesignate
In Geneva:Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
| Press release
IPCC report; IFRC: “This is a call for transformation. There is no time for delay”
Geneva, 20 March 2023 - The following quotes can be attributed to Erin Coughlan de Perez, who is a Lead Author of one of the underlying reports from the IPCC synthesis report released today and IFRC expert on climate change.
“This report is a stark reminder of what we, the IFRC, as the world’s largest humanitarian network have been witnessing and warning for years: climate change is driving humanitarian crises and human suffering around the world. The window is closing, but the report also shows that it is not too late yet. It is time for the international community to take urgent action to reduce emissions to stay below the 1.5 degrees warming limit and work with communities to adapt and prepare for climate change impacts.
What is interesting about this report is that we usually talk about different parts of the climate crisis separately - reducing emissions, adapting to save lives, or responding to losses and damages. This report acknowledges that we need to do everything at once, and it gives a roadmap for how we can achieve this. That roadmap is not a simple one, where we just make a few minor changes and keep going with the status quo. Instead, it is a call to transformation - fundamentally altering society to achieve climate-resilient development.
The recent agreement at COP27 on loss and damage to establish new funding arrangements for vulnerable countries is a welcome step forward. However, progress on climate adaptation remains uneven, with the gaps between what is needed and what has been achieved being starkly felt by those living in lower-income countries.
More financial pledges are needed, and funds must reach the communities most affected, be predictable and flexible to invest in solutions such as early warning systems linked to community action plans to prevent and respond to climate impacts”.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67
In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689
| Press release
Pacific: Urgent call for collective action to reduce the impact of climate change and disasters
Suva, 23 February 2023 – The escalating impact from climate hazards will destroy decades of development progress in the Pacific if there is not a major shift from disaster response to anticipatory action, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) concluded during this week’s Red Cross Pacific Leaders Meeting in Suva, Fiji.
Pacific island states make up the majority of countries that suffer the highest relative losses – between 1 percent and 9 percent of their GDP – from the impact of natural hazards.
Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said:
“We have a lot of humanitarian challenges in the Pacific which we need to address together as a region and not only as the Red Cross in each country.
Climate change and disasters are all constantly affecting our region in some shape or form. We need to ensure resources, financing, and knowledge to address the challenges of climate change are available to be able to better anticipate how we can prepare and respond.
To effectively manage the risks of disasters, we need to focus on investing in disaster response as well as resilience building actions ahead of disasters which also supports risk-informed development. As a result, we can minimise the human and economic losses that can set back a country’s development progress."
Climate change is exacerbating underlying vulnerabilities which will continue to degrade livelihoods and resilience as the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as cyclones and floods are set to increase in the coming decades.
Further compounded with longer term, severe events such as droughts, sea level rise, king tides and saltwater intrusion, the Red Cross must lead, with their communities across the Pacific, on anticipation and preparedness for the changing nature of disaster impact.
“More must be done in terms of anticipatory action, adaptation, and preparedness, to save lives and livelihoods.”
The Red Cross in the Pacific are Australian Red Cross, Cook Islands Red Cross, Fiji Red Cross, Kiribati Red Cross, Marshall Islands Red Cross, Micronesia Red Cross, New Zealand Red Cross, Palau Red Cross, Papua New Guinea Red Cross, Samoa Red Cross, Solomon Islands Red Cross, Tonga Red Cross, Tuvalu Red Cross and Vanuatu Red Cross.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected]
IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"
It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness these days – climate crises, people on the verge of starvation in parts of Africa, multiple wars, protracted conflicts, people having to leave their homes out of desperation, shameful cases of exclusion in many parts of the world, rising mental health crises, people not having basic access to water and sanitation. This list can go on and on.
While these crises are affecting everyone, the marginalized, excluded, and last mile communities are bearing the brunt of these crises disproportionately.
Some 43 years ago, I signed up to be a young volunteer of the Nepal Red Cross. I joined not knowing how my life would unfold and where this would lead. I didn’t fully understand then, but I do now – the mission and mandate of our IFRC network, and the fundamental principles that guide our work with a very simple vision--to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Three years ago, we didn’t know the scale of impact of a global pandemic, international armed conflict in the middle of Europe and all other global crises we have been responding to.
In this context, let me share some of my reflections on the current state of play.
Reflection on the IFRC’s mandate and relevance
As the world grapples with “polycrisis”, our mandate becomes as relevant as ever, if not more.
The IFRC is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in times of disaster, crises, and other emergencies. By providing immediate assistance and long-term sustainable development programmes, the IFRC network puts people at the centre of vital, life-saving assistance.
We work to strengthen the resilience of communities in vulnerable settings, ensuring they are better prepared for and better able to cope with our changing world. In a time of great global disparities in terms of access to services, we bridge the gap.
The role of truly local organizations like our member National Societies is critical to reach the most disadvantaged sections of societies. Localization is fundamental as crises grow; but resources do not keep pace with them. Business as usual is not going to work. True empowerment of community organizations and decolonization of aid will be critical in 2023 and beyond.
Reflection on our fundamental principles, particularly the principle of neutrality
The threat to our principles, particularly the principle of neutrality, lies in the fact that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on a much-heightened political dimension. This has placed great pressure on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
We must maintain a neutral stance and perform impartial aid operations, to ensure our principle of neutrality is observed. While we remain sensitive to the challenges emerging out of the conflict and we will be doing everything in our capacity to deliver on our mandate, it is essential that our fundamental principles remain the bedrock of our actions. Failing to do so will irreparably damage the notion of neutral, independent humanitarian action.
Amid rapid changes in the global humanitarian landscape, one thing remains constant – that’s our fundamental principles. Our values and principles transcend all the divisions that exist in the world.
Reflection on current trends
We closely monitor the global trends that impact our work. Climate and Environmental crises have been at the forefront. Social issues like the erosion of trust, migration and displacement, inequality, global health and food crises are directly linked to our mandate. Economic issues like the cost-of-living crisis and energy crises will impact our work. Technological issues, like the opportunity created by digitalization as well as the risks arising from the digital divide and those linked to humanitarian data security, will have to be considered. We must also be mindful of the global political landscape and current lack of global political leadership able to deal with multiple crises.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine will significantly impact the geopolitical landscape and will exacerbate the humanitarian situation across the globe. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there is no humanitarian solution to most of these crises. There must be a political solution and we must support and advocate for the same.
Reflection on our ambitions
Our ambitions are simple as we deal with these trends.
We will continue to be bold in our support to our membership both on humanitarian action and in building resilience.
We will work harder to build a trustful relationship with our membership and governance structure.
We will invest more in National Society transformations leveraging the power of youth and volunteers. Advancing gender and inclusion will require consistent push.
We must do more to be a learning organization that continuously evolves. Within the family, we will continue to build mutually respectful movement cooperation.
We will expand our humanitarian diplomacy efforts and further strengthen our highly professional partnership with all partners. Further building on the new operating model and new resourcing architecture, we will develop more inclusive IFRC wide approaches.
We will accelerate our digitalization journey.
We will continue to strengthen agility and accountability. Respectful workplace, issues of fraud and corruption, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, racism, and discrimination will be dealt with proactively and decisively.
The world is full of daunting challenges. But it is also full of people and organizations committed to confront them and work together to bring about positive change. We are one of those organizations.
We will lead from the front, working with our membership and their volunteers. We will be bold in our actions, but calm and composed in our approaches.
There will of course be challenges along the way, but we will always move forward with integrity. We will have to be at our best when the challenges are the greatest. And we will have to always bring hope amid hopelessness.
Last year ‘eighth in a row’ of temperatures above pre-industrial level, threatening Paris target of 1.5°C
This article was originally posted on the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre website here.
The past eight years were the warmest on record globally, fuelled by “ever-rising emissions and accumulated heat”, according to six international datasets consolidated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and explained yesterday.
The WMO says the global temperature last year was 1.15°C above an 1850–1900 baseline, and 2022 was the eighth year in a row that it reached at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels, apress releasefrom Geneva said.
“The likelihood of – temporarily – breaching the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement is increasing with time,” it added.
The persistence of a coolingLa Niña, now in its third year, means that 2022 was not the warmest on record, but at least the sixth warmest nevertheless.
The WMO work shows a ten-year global average to 2022 of 1.14°C above the 19th century baseline, compared to the IPCC’s most recent figure 1.09°C for the decade to 2020, indicating that long-term warming continues.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said yesterday: “In 2022, we faced several dramatic weather disasters which claimed far too many lives and livelihoods and undermined health, food, energy and water security and infrastructure.
“Large areas of Pakistan were flooded, with major economic losses and human casualties. Record-breaking heatwaves have been observed in China, Europe, North and South America [and] drought in the Horn of Africa threatens a humanitarian catastrophe.
“There is a need to enhance preparedness for such extreme events and to ensure that we meet the UN target of early warnings for all in the next five years.”
The WMO said its provisionalState of the Global Climate in 2022report speaks of “record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”, continuing to cause extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating floods, and affecting millions of people.
Responding to the latest figures on global temperature, IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said: “People around the globe are feeling the effects of our warming climate, and scientific data continues to reinforce this terrifying reality. Inclusive climate action, led by those most at risk, is key to combating the climate crisis.
"The window to implement life-saving adaptation measures is slowly closing, but there is still time to help communities adapt to climate-related disasters, including investments in early warning systems that reach everyone.”
Last September, the IFRC unveiled aOne Fund, Two Pillarsapproach for its Disaster Response Emergency Fund, reflecting an increased commitment to anticipatory action.
Temperature rankings of individual years should be considered in the long-term context since the differences between years can be marginal, the WMO press release added. “Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one. This is expected to continue.”