Displaying 1 - 7 of 7
15/11/2021 | Press release

IFRC and TNC urge governments to invest in climate change adaptation measures to tackle the climate crisis

Kingston, Jamaica – November 15, 2021: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are calling for governments to urgently invest in climate change adaptation measures to tackle the growing climate crisis in the Caribbean. The call follows two key climate events - the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) and the 7th Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP21). In the Caribbean, storm events account for US$7 billion in losses in average per year (or US$135 billion between 1990 and 2008). Research indicates that 70% of people in the Caribbean live near the coast, where vulnerability to climate change is higher. Studies have also shown that the impacts of climate change are unevenly weighted against the most underserved people – those who are the poorest, most exposed and have the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses. In addition, data from the IFRC’s World Disasters Report 2020 reveals that international climate and disaster risk reduction finance are not keeping pace with climate adaptation needs in low-income countries, and the countries with the very highest risk and lowest adaptive capacities are not being prioritized. In fact, less than 1 US dollar per person was made available for climate adaptation funding in high vulnerability countries. “The priority and focus should be the communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks and the Caribbean region has proven to be one of the most susceptible to climate-related disasters. Therefore, governments must ensure that all efforts and actions to address climate change must prioritize, and not leave behind, those most prone to its impacts,” said Velda Ferguson Dewsbury, IFRC Project Manager for the Resilient Islands by Design (RI) imitative in the Caribbean. Red Cross societies are on the forefront of helping communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related disasters and see, every day, the rising risks for vulnerable people. Through projects like the Resilient Islands, the IFRC in partnership with TNC, has been working with communities to help them find innovative, low-cost, and sustainable nature-based adaptation and risk reduction measures. “Climate change isn’t a distant threat - it is happening now. We have all seen the visible impacts of climate change before our eyes such as more extreme weather and natural disasters, chronic drought and economic instability. While our work with the Red Cross is helping at-risk communities across the Caribbean to adapt to climate change, with the power of nature, we need more investments in these and other communities and we need joint actions from all relevant stakeholders,” said Eddy Silva, TNC RI Project Manager. The IFRC and TNC are working with communities in the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Jamaica helping them protect and restore natural habitats, such as mangroves, that help reduce the impact of severe storms and floods. Studies indicate that up to 65% of the increase in projected economic losses due to climate change could be averted through timely adaptation to climate change. In addition, nature-based solutions to minimize climate change can reduce 37% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Resilient Islands incorporates ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) measures, that harness natural systems to prevent and reduce natural hazards and climate change impacts. For example, by protecting and supporting the growth of coral reefs that provide cost-effective natural barriers, protecting our coasts from waves, storms and floods, or by planting more mangrove trees, which grow roots that mitigate coastal erosion, provide food and other services, and serve as nurseries for a diversity of fish species. These actions help communities reduce their exposure to hazards by identifying and lessening their vulnerabilities while at the same time enhancing their livelihood sources, as well as building their capacities and resilience to prepare for and respond to emergencies. The RI initiative aims to protect Caribbean people against the impacts of climate change not just by promoting the use of natural coastal and marine habitats to reduce risks, but also by helping governments, partners and communities implement sustainable development plans that prioritize nature. Resilient Islands is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected] In Washington, D.C.: Claudia Lievano | +1 786 230-6144 | [email protected] In Geneva: Marie Claudet | +33 7 86 89 50 89 | [email protected]

Read more
19/11/2021 | Press release

“We need to do better” – IFRC report reveals gaps in child protection during climate related disasters

Kingston, Jamaica – November 19, 2021. Adolescents overwhelmingly feel that they do not have the information needed to be safe from potential violence, abuse, and exploitation in climate related disasters. This is one of the main findings of “We Need to Do Better: Climate Related Disasters, Child Protection and Localizing Action in the Caribbean,” a recent study conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The report has revealed that even though climate related disasters affect each person in the region, children are particularly at risk. They make up a large portion of the population of the Caribbean and are most vulnerable to encountering violence, abuse, and exploitation in disaster settings, while systems to protect them do not always work. The study also highlights that there are no specific laws in place to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation when disasters happen. Gurvinder Singh, IFRC’s Child Protection Senior Advisor and one of the authors of the report, said: “While children potentially have great leadership and innovation capabilities, unfortunately, their voices are rarely being sought out or heard. Furthermore, there is a huge deficit in meaningful opportunities for children to be engaged in decisions that affect them. This is especially prominent in the stages of preparing for and responding to disasters. Adolescents believe that even if they do participate, their opinions may not be taken seriously by adults.” By putting the voices, perspectives, and ideas of children at the forefront, the report seeks to understand the generally unexplored relationships between climate related disasters and children’s concerns around violence, abuse, exploitation, and mental health challenges. It also sends a warning to governments and civic organisations to play a more active role in the promotion of and respect for the rights of the child, especially with regards to the issue of child abuse and the need for urgent effective prevention programmes. Ariel Kestens, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean, said: “It is critical that governments enhance domestic laws, invest in child protection systems, improve local coordination, train local responders, include protection and climate change in school curriculum, and collect sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data in disaster responses. The IFRC Network across the Caribbean stands ready to support them to continue striving to meet the best interests of each child affected by more and more frequent, and destructive climate related disasters.” The report also recommends practical actions for the humanitarian sector, such as designing child-friendly communications, implementing community feedback mechanisms, including child protection in anticipatory action, integrating child protection across preparedness, assessments and planning, and creating spaces for children and adults to engage, support one another and find viable solutions to protection risks. The study was based on discussions and an online survey with 198 adolescents ages 14-17 years in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; interviews with 30 adults from different disaster and child protection agencies, and background research. It is part of the campaign “We Need to Do Better” by the IFRC to enhance protection of children in climate related disasters. The full report may be accessed here. The adolescent summary of the report is available here. For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected]

Read more
24/11/2021 | Article

Hope restored: Red Cross helps thousands across Caribbean through COVID-19 livelihood recovery programme

Kingston, Jamaica, 24 November 2021: After 20 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the socioeconomic consequences of the virus have added to the devastating loss of lives and the severe impact on public health systems. In 2020, about 209 million people fell into poverty in the Americas region, a figure not seen since 2008. The income, savings and livelihoods of the most vulnerable families have declined, with many facing hunger, exclusion and unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines. This is evidenced in “Drowning just below the surface: the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19,” a global study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that analyzes how women, migrants and inhabitants in precarious urban contexts have had the worst of it. The Caribbean is one region that has suffered greatly from the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic started affecting the Caribbean in early 2020, many countries resorted to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions to help curb the spread of the disease, resulting in the livelihoods of many people across the Caribbean being critically impacted. Jobs related to tourism were severely affected In Jamaica, workers in the tourism industry - a major source of income for the country – were among those who felt the impact the most. Oneil Atland, a river raft captain at the Carbarita River in the parish of Westmoreland, is among several rafters who offer river rafting services – a popular tourist attraction which allows guests to relax on a bamboo raft along the river and enjoy the scenery while learning about the rich history and culture of the country. “Things were great before the coronavirus, we had even built an area for rafters and guests to relax. However, since the coronavirus, we have been experiencing a downfall,” said Atland. With the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions on the island, tourist arrivals dropped drastically, which left Atland, and many others like him who provide tourist services, without their only means of income. In the neighbouring parish of St. Elizabeth, shrimp vendors who sell packaged peppered shrimps in Middle Quarters - a frequently visited tourist location - were also affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. “I started doing shrimp vending to help my elderly mother, but then I realized it was an opportunity to earn additional income which I could save and use to send my children to university. Since COVID-19 however, business has been bad as the tourists who used to pass by our shops and purchase shrimps, were no longer visiting the island,” said shrimp vendor, Natasha Malcom Williams. The Jamaica Red Cross (JRC), with support from IFRC, provided cash cards to 524 persons so far, helping to supplement their income and, in some cases, allowing them to purchase supplies needed to resume their business. Kevin Douglas, JRC Emergency Services Manager said “some rafters were able to purchase supplies to fix their rafts which became water-logged due to inactivity, and some of the vendors used the money received from the Red Cross to venture into other sources of income, such as selling fruits to community members.” In St. Lucia, women were similarly affected “COVID-19 disrupted the income of a lot of community members in Anse LaRaye, as many of them work in the hotel industry and became unemployed and could no longer care for their family members; some couldn’t even pay their rent,” said Diana Gabriel from the St. Lucia Red Cross. “It’s been very difficult. I’ve been out of a job since March 2020 and I have been searching for a job, but most companies aren’t hiring much anymore because not many tourists are visiting St. Lucia,” said Cassandra David, hotel worker and mother of three children. “Thanks to the Red Cross for helping me so I could provide for my kids,” she continued. Supported by IFRC, the St. Lucia Red Cross provided cash cards, supermarket vouchers and food packages to over 3300 affected families and also issued mosquito nets and insect repellants to help prevent the spread of dengue, another health issue which St. Lucia has also been tackling. Vicky Kenville, one of the recipients of the supermarket vouchers, said her entire family was affected by COVID-19 and in addition, her husband had met in a motor vehicle accident which made it even more difficult for her family. “I was so excited for the voucher from the Red Cross. When I went to the supermarket, every time I put an item in the trolley, I would smile and say if it wasn’t for the Red Cross, I wouldn’t be here shopping, because with none of us working due to COVID, it was very difficult to buy necessities,” said Kenville, who expressed gratitude for the Red Cross support which she said helped her overcome some of the difficulties her family faced due to loss of income. In Grenada, the Red Cross provided over 200 families from all parishes across the island with supermarket vouchers. Cindy Lewis, COVID-19 Project Manager with the Grenada Red Cross said that “with the supermarket vouchers, beneficiaries are able to shop directly for what they need and this gives them a feeling of independence.” Education sector also severely impacted The tourism industry wasn’t the only sector impacted by COVID-19. With most schools closed due to restrictions, and teachers and students resorting to online schooling, school gate vendors across Jamaica also lost their income, when they could no longer ply their wares in front of the school compound. “Since COVID-19, I haven’t been able to sell anymore because schools are closed and it has been very rough, because even though I try to hustle otherwise, it’s still not enough,” said Nadine Wray, school vendor and mother of four children, who noted that her children were not able to do online schooling because of lack of devices and internet. “The cash from the Red Cross is very timely,” she added. The IFRC network has reached over 200,000 people in eleven countries across the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean through provision of cash and vouchers, food and other in-kind assistance as well as skills development for livelihoods, among other interventions. The evidence confirms that these initiatives helped to contain the rise in poverty. Nasir Khan, IFRC Operations Coordinator for the Dutch and English-speaking Caribbean said: “We understand the severe hardships faced by many across the Caribbean due to COVID-19, and moreover some of these families were already dealing with overlapping emergencies. Through the livelihood recovery programme, we are able to help those who lost their income because of COVID-19, so they can have some level of hope and dignity and be empowered to keep moving forward despite the circumstances. We are very grateful to all our donors who have contributed to the COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, enabling us to reach those most vulnerable. However, the task is not over yet. The pandemic is still impacting millions of people across the globe, so it is important that we continue our combined efforts to make a real difference in their lives.” For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva, +876 818 8575, [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, +506 8416 1771, [email protected] In Colombia: David Quijano, +57 3105592559, [email protected]

Read more
07/05/2020 | Article

Red Cross partners with international reggae star Bay-C to address COVID-19 stigma

Red Cross launched a music video emphasizing the importance of acting together to help slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, and to support each other to withstand the serious health, social and economic hardships. International reggae and dancehall star Bay-C lends his musical talent and celebrity status to support the work of the Red Cross as they continue to spread facts to help people keep themselves, their families and their communities safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at the online premiere launch party, Bay-C said: “I am grateful to the Red Cross team for giving my team and I this opportunity. As artists, we have a responsibility to use our talents to not only entertain, but inform as well. Out of that vision I have created ListenMi News, a platform designed specifically to communicate memorable messages through music and visuals,” he said. “Now, as the world continues to face this pandemic, we hope this video can be an added resource for the Red Cross, assisting with the important message of anti-stigma as it relates to COVID-19 across the Caribbean region.” In the Caribbean the Red Cross National Societies are supporting government ministries of health through many activities like contact tracing, providing psychosocial support, delivering hygiene and food kits to people in quarantine, and spreading correct information about the pandemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic constantly evolving, the message in the video is a timely reminder that facts not fear help us to curb the spread of the disease. The Jamaican Red Cross began the relationship with Bay-C and his team and they were a driving force in the creation of the music video. Kevin Douglas is the Disaster Management Specialist with the Jamaica Red Cross. “We are excited about the partnership and we are more than happy to champion this project because it resonates perfectly with the Red Cross principles of humanity and impartiality in addressing the issue of stigma and discrimination, which many people face amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” Douglas said Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas said he is proud of the work of Red Cross in reaching people with public health messages. “It is incredibly important to recognize the dedication and courage of Red Cross volunteers. We stand with you and we look to expand our support so that you have the resources to reach all those who are impacted by COVID-19 and need your help,” said Mr Cotte. “Although we are focused on addressing the pandemic, we cannot forget that the Caribbean could still face other disasters, which would be aggravated by isolation and quarantine measures. The Caribbean suffers as a result of climate change and now we are facing a hurricane season that experts say is complicated. Along with our work on COVID-19 we are helping communities be prepared for the 2020 hurricane season. We need to lobby the public and governments the importance of pre-positioning emergency supplies, which is currently complicated by the existing stores being emptied to meet the needs of COVID-19.” The Listen Mi News feature is just one of many tools that Red Cross National Societies in the Caribbean and around the world use to support communities in stopping the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to create stronger more prepared communities. View the video here: https://youtu.be/g-pFGfSVaMM This creation of this video would not be possible without support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Jamaica Red Cross, UNDP, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.

Read more
25/02/2019 | Article

Cleaning up Allman town - a work in progress

He goes by the name of Slim Shady. He’s not sure where the moniker originated, maybe it’s because of his svelte figure, maybe it’s because he likes the music of a certain rapper. Perhaps, it is because of behaviour, as he admits honestly that he can be shady at times. However, there is nothing shady about Shawn Hudson when it comes to keeping Zika out of his community. In fact, in that aspect, he demonstrates definite leadership qualities as he is emphatic about the fact that keeping the community clean is the responsibility of the persons who live there. “We have to do it, it is our responsibility as it affects us.” He says in his distinct Jamaican parlance. Shawn is one of a number of young men from Allman Town in Kingston, Jamaica, who came out to clean up an abandoned house lot in the neighbourhood that had become a dumping ground. The residents explained that the owner of the lot had migrated some years ago and tried to sell the property but the price was too high. The lot remained on the market, becoming more and more overgrown, the place where residents discarded their unwanted items such as old fridges and stoves and even a rusted-out car or two. When the officers and volunteers from the Jamaica Red Cross explained to them how the space had become the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos and encouraged them to take some action, they listened and they did. One hot morning, they came together to improve not only the appearance but the health of their community. Rousing each other to get the proper gear, encouraging those standing on the sidelines spectating to participate, they removed litter, old appliances and bush. With the music of popular Dancehall artiste, Alkaline, blaring in the background as incentive, they made quite a dent in the task. There was talk of playing football when the space was fully transformed and the installation of a bench or two for Sunday evening relaxation. Another young man, Fabian Paline, when questioned about his reasons for participating in such an exercise, replied that he “chose to participate because I like to see good things happening and I like to be a part of good things.” And after having interacted with the Jamaica Red Cross Zika Team, Fabian could speak quite knowledgeably about the dangers of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and benefits of destroying the breeding grounds. So much so that the JRC has asked him to be part of their Community Action Teams in response to the dengue outbreak and hope to secure his services as a volunteer. This story does not have quite the happy ending as yet though, as a few months later some residents and persons outside of the community continue to use the site to dispose of their rubbish. “It’s the mindset of the people,” explains JRC volunteer Dennal Shim, “that has to change.” Unsurprisingly, the residents of Allman Town are not giving up as they have proved quite steadfast in their commitment to keeping their community clean, going so far as to using their own money to hire a truck to remove the garbage. They even have the support of the Jamaica Constabulary Force who paid the area a visit and advised them to report the perpetrators. The residents vow to continue to take responsibility for their area especially since they have different plans for the space. It is now a means for them to earn some income. Perhaps with the help of Shawn, Fabian and their friends, the Jamaica Red Cross Zika Team can successfully convert the holdouts, until then it remains a work in progress.

Read more
22/02/2019 | Article

Outsmarting the Mosquito in Jamaica

“Ok! Alright!” “Alright! Ok!” This was a refrain heard quite often during the prize giving ceremony for the Schools Zika Poster Competition that was held by the Jamaica Red Cross Society on Friday 25th January, 2019. The ceremony, which was held in the Community Centre next to the JRC Headquarters, was not your typical staid affair with polite applause upon the announcement of winners. Instead, Master of Ceremonies, Donna Thomas, Finance Manager of the JRC, made it a lively, interactive experience. She gave the school children in the audience leave to respond to her “Ok!” with “Alright!” and vice versa, an activity they embraced with unbridled enthusiasm. She invited them to loudly sing their school songs, which Fogah Road High School did with pride. She even made the audience stand up and sing Father Abraham, with all the accompanying actions, which saw JRC members in the audience, including Emergency Services Manager, Brandon McFarlane, turning all about. The event was held to distribute prizes to the winners of the Zika Poster Competition which was open to both primary and high schools in Jamaica. The competition came about as a result of the JRC school intervention efforts where staff and volunteers went out to talk to students about Zika, the dangers of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and the ways in which they could protect themselves and their families. Paulette Blake, Project Manager of the Zika Response and Prevention Project, said that as a mother, she realised that the best way to get the message about Zika to adults was through children and thus the idea for the poster competition was born. The knowledge and creativity displayed by both the primary and high school students proved Mrs. Blake right, as their efforts revealed that they had absorbed the information and were well equipped to ‘fight the bite’. Port Antonio High School took the top spot among the older age group with a truly imaginative depiction of a WhatsApp group conversation that included Jamaican patois. Horace Clarke High placed second with a brightly coloured artistic rendition and Fogah Road High was third with an interesting perspective. In the primary category Boundbrook Primary won with a neat, accurate advice panel. In second place was McAuley Primary School with an inventive twist on the mosquito coil and Four Paths Primary brought up the rear with a realistic portrayal of a neighbourhood clean-up. The students were well rewarded for their hard work as the winning schools won desktop computers while the students themselves received tablets and gift bags with Zika-branded notebooks and other goodies. All participating students also received certificates and plaques. Dr. Dennis Edwards, President of the Jamaica Red Cross, was on hand to give out some of these prizes and congratulate the students. He also had a few words, exhorting the children to “try to outsmart the mosquitos” as until that can be done, “we have to try to protect ourselves”. Ms. Sobia Shaw, a representative from the Ministry of Health (MoH) indicated that she was please with the partnership between the two organisations and hoped that the competition could be done every year. The afternoon was not complete without some entertainment by the JRC’s very School of Transformation. The five boys and one girl performed a dramatic piece that represented the adversities that come along with being bitten by a mosquito as it, “mek life harder an yu bawl fi yu moda” (makes life harder and you cry for your mother).

Read more