Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2022
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty The Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 17 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, over 14 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 170 National Societies.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insight that will benefit the Movement as a whole. An innovation campaign was launched in December 2021 to further increase awareness of the Fund and what it stands for.
The campaign resulted in 52 proposals being submitted versus only 28 in 2021, and more innovative proposals compared to previous years, further strengthening the Fund’s positioning as supporting innovation.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is shown by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken.
The selection process
The Fund received 52 applications in 2022, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 471,712 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Libya, Mongolia, Niger, Portugal, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Yemen.
The projects to be supported in 2022 cover a number of themes, including first aid and rescue, support for young people, disaster preparedness, health, social welfare and National Society development. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate new insight and learning that will benefit the Movement as a whole. Reports from the National Societies whose projects were funded and implemented in 2020 generated insights in the areas listed below.
Top 10 key learnings from project implemented in 2020
Adaptability and agility
Taking a pilot approach
The 2022 grants
The Burkinabe Red Cross Society plans to strengthen psychosocial care and the capacities of community volunteers and first-aiders in communities affected by the crisis. The grant will allow the National Society to assist victims of attacks by armed groups in areas where security is a challenge.
In 2017, over 43.8% of Ivorians were illiterate, and the disparities between men and women and by places of residence were enormous. The Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire will use the grant to help improve the education and increase the autonomy of young women in the Bounkani Region who have not attended school.
The Croatian Red Cross will use the grant funds to spread awareness of the humanitarian ideals and educate children from an early age, through the Humanity Corner.
The Dominica Red Cross Society will provide support for and help introduce farming techniques and other solutions for managing climate change and other risks. The funds will be used to train 15 farmers as Agri First Responders in their community.
The Dominican Red Cross will help build young people’s capacity to carry out local social support activities. The grant will be used to develop a virtual introductory course on planning and coordinating social support activities that is adapted to the young people’s local reality, so that they are equipped with the techniques and tools to address the needs of their community.
The Ecuadorean Red Cross aims to identify and provide primary care for the negative feelings and emotions in young people from age 15 to 30 years in the city of Quito. The grant funds will provide immersion technologies to addresses the heightened need in the community owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jordan National Red Crescent Society has recognized young people and volunteers as the beating heart of the National Society, especially during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which they served local communities across the country, when mobility was restricted. This grant will help them improve the management system for recruiting, developing, promoting and retaining volunteers to support humanitarian operations.
Libya is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, given its arid climate. This grant will help the Libyan Red Crescent raise awareness of the risks associated with climate change and highlight personal behaviours that could help mitigate these risks for communities.
The Mongolian Red Cross Society wants to use digital communication tools funded by the grant in order to help ensure there is meaningful community participation across all programmes and operations, improve its public relations management and strengthen its transparency and accountability to communities.
In the event of an accident, smartphones can provide information that is essential for providing effective first aid. Thanks to the grant, the Red Cross Society of Niger will educate and inform the public about how to store useful information in the “emergency call” section of their phones.
The Portuguese Red Cross will address young people's social exclusion and the lack of space and opportunities to develop relevant skills and digital literacy, through the Platforms of Change, funded by the grant.
Through the “Their life is in your hands” digital marketing campaign, funded by the grant, the Red Cross of Serbia will raise the general public’s awareness of the value of CPR skills and AED use and provide the related training.
The Republic of Korea National Red Cross will focus on supporting disaster risk reduction in many countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The grant will fund development of virtual reality training content by the Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Centre, provide sets of virtual reality devices to seven National Societies and provide virtual reality training on disaster risk reduction.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is aiming for better nutrition and improved water, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities that are drought-prone. The grant will introduce groundwater recharging practices into the catchment and tank ecosystem areas, to facilitate groundwater retention.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, communities face challenges in gaining access to reliable, up-to-date information and in overcoming the rumours, myths and misconceptions around the vaccine. Supported by the grant, the Tanzania Red Cross Society will develop a mobile application, “UJANJA KUCHANJA”, to enhance information-sharing, build trust and increase information access and reach.
In a mountainous district of Yemen, frequent rockslides often injure people and domestic animals, disrupt transport networks and cut people off from their livelihood activities. Thanks to the grant, the Yemen Red Crescent Society will take measures to prevent rockslides and help reduce the number of victims and the damage caused.
Ecuadorian Red Cross
Ecuador: help that arrives in time
By Melissa Monzon“Thanks to the help of the Red Cross we will be able to protect our health, now not only from COVID, but also from volcanic ashfall. We hadn´t received help; we will use the tools to cultivate and for construction. This help is great, these tools will help us a lot”, says Agustin Chicaiza, a resident from the Laime Capulispungo community in Chimborazo, Ecuador. Like Agustin, many families in the community have been affected with the volcanic ash fall from the Sangay, whose activity increased since early hours of September 20 of this year. Therefore, the Ecuadorian Red Cross activated the Early Action Protocol (EAP), which allow them to immediately assist families in the most affected rural communities in the following days.“The Forecast-based Financing mechanism has allowed us to activate our first Early Action Protocol for volcanic ashfall. Thanks to the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross, the German Red Cross and the Climate Center, from Ecuadorian Red Cross we have provided humanitarian assistance to a thousand families from the communities of Totorillas, Laime, and Cebadas that have been affected by volcanic ashfall from the Sangay volcano”, complements Maria Fernanda Ayala, specialist in Geographic Information Systems of the National Program of Risk Management of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.The EAP aims to establish adequate early action, using ash dispersal and deposition forecasts, which benefit the most vulnerable families in the most affected areas. On this occasion, after the increase in Sangay activity, the Ecuadorian Red Cross carried out an analysis where it crossed variables such as response capacity, vulnerability, exposure and ash dispersion and ashfall forecasts from the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School (IGEPN), and decided to activate the EAP on the same day, September 20, at night. This shows how the forecasts allow the Red Cross to respond in advance.Also, the EAP allowed an economic distribution to be distributed, through the Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) program, where families receive an IFRC card with an amount that will help them cover their basic needs and protect their livelihoods. “Through the CVA program, people have the freedom to buy their materials, they really cover the needs they have due to the damage caused by volcanic ash and they can take early actions. They are given a debit card, and this money is intended as a complementary help. They were told how to withdraw the money from the ATM and where to redirect it (protection of livestock, crops and protection of their health)”, says Luis Alberto Rocano, Zone 3 Coordinator of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.Through Early Action Protocols, the Red Cross can access funds immediately so that they are prepared and pre-positioned for these types of events. In the case of this EAP, health kits and livelihood protection (tarps and tools) kits were distributed to 142 families from the Laime Capulispungo community and 317 families from the Laime San Carlos community, and debit cards were delivered to 378 families in the communities of Laime Capulispungo and Totorillas, in Chimborazo.“The Red Cross has had a caring heart, is a great help for this disaster that we are experiencing, this help will be of great use to us”, says Armando Daiquelema, resident of the Totorillas community.
| Press release
Ecuadorian Red Cross: a rapid response to the ashfall
September 22, 2020.- Since the activity of Sangay volcano have being increasing from early hours of September 20, the Ecuadorian Red Cross has activated the Early Action Protocol (EAP) with emergency funds from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which will allow it to immediately assist 1,000 families in rural communities that are being most affected.“The first actions have been for our volunteers in Chimborazo, Bolívar and Guayas to participate in the local Emergency Operations Committees. From the Provincial Branches, teams of volunteers were activated for damage assessment and needs analysis. In Bolivar, one of the most affected provinces, supplies such as masks were delivered, "says Roger Zambrano, National Coordinator of Risk Management and Emergency and Disaster Response of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.Due to the ash deposit threshold, the Ecuadorian Red Cross will deliver a thousand family health kits, which consist of N95 masks and eye protection glasses for adults and children, and one thousand animal protection kits, consisting of plastic tarps and tools so that communities can protect their animals and / or their crops. Also, the Cash Transfer Program will be activated through the delivery of IFRC debit cards.Since 2019, the EAP allows the Ecuadorian Red Cross to access funds to be prepared and pre-positioned for an event of this nature and to be able to take early actions immediately. The objective is to establish adequate early actions, using volcanic ash dispersion and deposition forecasts, which allow actions to be taken to protect the most vulnerable families and their livelihoods in the areas most potentially affected by volcanic ash.With this type of intervention, the aim is to better understand the behavior of disaster risks, prevent their impacts if possible, and reduce suffering and human losses. "We cannot prevent the occurrence of natural hazards, but we can use the information available to anticipate their consequences whenever possible," adds Ines Brill, head of the IFRC Delegation for Andean Countries. "Early action and effective preparedness can save people and their livelihoods."
Ecuadorian Red Cross calls on the population to donate blood in times of pandemic
By Olivia AcostaThe Ecuadorian Red Cross is a key player in the collection and supply of safe blood in the country, covering 70% of the demand for clinics and hospitals in 24 provincial boards. In order to respond to this need, it is essential to involve people in donating blood, which means a great effort to communicate and raise awareness among citizens.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voluntary blood donation in Ecuador has decreased dramatically putting the country's supply at risk. Now more than ever, the Ecuadorian Red Cross has asked citizens not to stop donating to avoid blood shortages, and has activated a campaign to ensure blood supply.According to Monica Pesantez, Manager of the National Blood Center of the Ecuadorian Red Cross, blood stocks in the country have been greatly reduced due to COVID-19 emergency: the collection fell by 78% in April (from 18,000 donors per month to 4,420). In view of this situation, an awareness campaign was launched encouraging donors to make use of the home service, which offers all the safety guarantees required by the World Health Organization.Marco Herdoiza, Technical Director of the Ecuadorian Red Cross National Blood Centre, states that "The Red Cross wants to provide donors with all the necessary security that this situation requires. For people who prefer not to go to the donation centres, the institution collects the donors from their own homes and then takes them back, with all the necessary security measures ensured throughout the process". In addition, blood donation is also being offered at home with a mobile unit to prevent donors from going out into the street and exposing themselves to the risk of contagion.From March 14 to June 30, 30,000 whole blood donations have been obtained from the processing of different blood products. In the month of June, with the home collection and the communication campaign underway, it was possible to grow by 200% (from 4,420 to 13,384 blood donors)Many people need blood to replace large blood losses in surgery, trauma, gastrointestinal bleeding, childbirth, and cancer treatments, among others. In Ecuador only 1.4% of the population donates blood. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) establishes that in order to meet blood needs, at least 2 to 5% of the population must donate blood.Ecuador is the fourth Latin American country, along with Colombia, Brazil and Argentina, to have a blood center. Thanks to the management and initiative of the Ecuadorian Red Cross, the center was inaugurated on November 5, 2009. The purpose of the Hemocenter is, on the one hand, to centralize blood screening in order to guarantee a unique quality under national and international standards, and on the other hand, to decentralize donation in order to reach 100% of voluntary blood donors and a national coverage of the demand for blood products.
Ecuadorian Red Cross supports migrants during COVID-19 emergency
"With what we receive, we don't have enough to eat, or to rent, for anything. We have to sleep in the street and expose ourselves to the virus," says José Gregorio, one of the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants living in Ecuador.José is part of a population that works in the informal market, selling candy on the streets of Quito. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there were 330,000 Venezuelans in this country by the end of 2019.The health emergency caused by COVID-19 has complicated the living conditions of migrant populations. One of the main effects is the reduction of their livelihoods. Many migrants obtained their income from businesses or jobs that have been forced to close temporarily because of the emergency. Others work in the informal sector and find it very difficult to pay for their rent, food, health, and access to basic services.The Ecuadorian Red Cross has provided humanitarian assistance with the delivery of hygiene kits and food. In the province of Pichincha, the National Society has delivered 4,630 food kits, while in Guayas, 500 were delivered. In addition, 1,000 hygiene kits were distributed between Guayas, Pichincha and five other provinces. This aid was aimed at people in vulnerable situations, including migrants."All our actions are coordinated with the state so as not to duplicate efforts and help in the most efficient way. In the case of the Province of Pichincha, we work with the Metropolitan Emergency Operations Centre. Similarly, we have articulated cooperation actions with the private sector, which has been key to mobilizing resources during the emergency," says Roberto Bonilla, technician of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.One of the serious problems faced by migrants is psychological distress. The distance from their families, the anxiety generated during quarantine, as well as the stigma and discrimination they often suffer, are situations that can create depression. The Ecuadorian Red Cross has been using teleassistance to provide psychosocial support. This is a service that is open to the entire community, including the migrant population and involves mental health volunteers who provide support from different parts of the country.According to Roger Zambrano, National Coordinator of Risk Management of the Ecuadorian Red Cross, the institution is currently carrying out a process of preparation for its volunteers with a view to extending its actions on the ground, in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak."The safety of our volunteers and staff comes first," he says. "We are developing biosecurity protocols and procedures, as well as face-to-face and virtual training. We are also arranging for protective equipment to be sent to our volunteers. The idea is to expand our activities in the country, guaranteeing the well-being of our staff".
Providing safe spaces for child migrants in Ecuador
“It is emotional work. When children arrive they are so exhausted and need time to rest, play and not be seen as migrants,” says William Guerra. He is a volunteer with the Ecuador Red Cross supporting a safe space for children in the town of Lago Agrio, in the Province of Sucumbíos, which is a border point with Colombia.Many of the migrant children and families who arrive at the border come to Colombia from Venezuela as their country experiences severe political and economic distress. The numbers of children who cross this border point can fluctuate each day. Recently there have been as many as thirty and forty children each day, many with a parent or grandparent, but some also migrating alone.In response to the needs faced by migrant children, the Ecuador Red Cross implements 14 safe spaces in 11 provinces across the country. It also has additional mobile safe spaces it deploys when the number of migrants increase. The mobile spaces support children as they walk for long distances in hard to access locations.Marisol Pallo, another volunteer in Lago Agrio explains that each safe space provides an assortment of humanitarian services to children and families that seek to improve psychosocial wellbeing and protection. “We see that children here have many needs so we help with first aid, restoring family links, discussing child rights, play, and just let children be surrounded by normal things. We also provide shoes to replace the broken and worn down ones.” Marisol notes, “We need to work hard because we know this is not normal and childhood should not be this way.”Priscila Naranjo, a local college student who volunteers at the safe space, tell us, “We see so many bad stories about migrants in the news but the reality is so different. Here you see the humanitarian needs and that these are just children like all other children.”