A cholera outbreak in Zambia, first reported in October 2023, has seen a dramatic increase in transmission since mid-December. The country has now recorded more than 7,000 cases and 270 deaths, with over 500 new cases daily. The IFRC and its membership seek CHF 4 million (CHF 3 million of which is expected to be raised by the IFRC Secretariat) to support the Zambia Red Cross Society to reach 3.5 million people with life-saving assistance.
Geneva/Nairobi/Lusaka, 15 January 2024: Responding to a severe cholera outbreak in Zambia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal for 4 million Swiss Francs. This fund is aimed at supporting the Zambia Red Cross Society, in its auxiliary role to Zambia’s Ministry of Health, to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on affected communities and prevent further spread.
In October 2023, a new cholera outbreak was reported and has seen an increase in transmission since mid-December, putting over 10 million people at risk. The outbreak initially emerged from peri-urban areas of Lusaka province, where most of the cases are being reported. Due to the high rate of transmission, the disease is now affecting people across multiple geographical areas. Nine out of ten provinces have reported cases of cholera, with six provinces confirming cholera outbreaks.
John Roche, IFRC Head of Delegation Country Cluster for Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi, said:
“To ensure no more lives are lost, we must prioritize access to clean and safe water. With the waterborne disease spreading rapidly, we are deeply concerned about the situation unfolding. The IFRC and Zambia Red Cross Society are seeking resources to contribute to activities that can support stopping the spread and its transmission.”
Cosmas Sakala, Acting Secretary General of Zambia Red Cross Society, said:
“With increased rains and possible flooding, the cholera outbreak could escalate, and we fear that many more lives would be lost. Zambia Red Cross requires more resources to support the government in scaling up interventions such as Risk Communication and Community Engagement, enhancing access to safe water and sanitation to curtail the epidemic, and improving community case management to reduce fatalities.”
In response to the outbreak, the IFRC has allocated CHF 750,000 from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) to support relief efforts. Zambia Red Cross Society staff and volunteers have been mobilized and are supporting cholera response activities through door-to-door visits, setting up Oral Rehydration Points where people showing signs of cholera can be rehydrated, spreading hygiene messages, and carrying out community sensitizations on cholera prevention and control. This commencement of public health education is being done in collaboration with Zambia’s Ministry of Health and UNICEF.
To continue the response, a total of CHF 4 million is needed and will support 3.5 million people.
Last year, the neighbouring country of Malawi faced one of its worst cholera outbreaks in years. Additionally, Zimbabwe is currently battling a cholera outbreak that is resulting in daily loss of lives. The IFRC remains committed to halting the spread of cholera in Zambia, ensuring that affected populations receive necessary care and support.
To learn more or support the appeal, visit our page by clicking on the link.
To request an interview, contact:[email protected]
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Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67
Carina Wint: +47 4139 1873
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is a pooled funding mechanism, run jointly by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
It provides flexible, multi-year funding to support the long-term development of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies—particularly those in complex emergencies and protracted crisis—so they can increase the reach and impact of their humanitarian services.
The NSIA can award up to one million CHF of accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, bridge grants of up to 50,000 CHF over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from the NSIA or from elsewhere.
This year, the NSIA is pleased to announce that the following six National Societies have been selected for accelerator funding in 2022:
Burundi Red Cross
Kenya Red Cross Society
Malawi Red Cross Society
Russian Red Cross Society
Syrian Arab Red Crescent
Zambia Red Cross Society
These National Societies will receive a significant investment of up to one million CHF, to be used over a maximum of five years, to help accelerate their journey towards long-term sustainability. Three of these National Societies (Syria, Malawi and Zambia) previously received NSIA bridge awards, proving once again the relevance of the fund’s phased approach towards sustainable development.
In addition, 14 other National Societies will receive up to 50,000 CHF in bridge funding: Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Nicaragua, Palestine, Panama, Rwanda, Sierra Leone.
In total, the NSIA will allocate 5.4 million CHF to 20 different National Societies this year. This is more than double the funds allocated in 2021 and represents the largest annual allocation since the NSIA’s launch in 2019.
This landmark allocation is made possible thanks to the generous support from the governments of Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Norway, and from the Norwegian and Netherlands’ National Societies. Both the ICRC and IFRC have also strongly reinforced their commitment, by allocating 10 million CHF and 2 million CHF respectively over the coming years.
The Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination, and Olivier Ray, ICRC Director for Mobilization, Movement and Partnership, said:
“We are pleased to have been able to select 20 National Societies’ initiatives for funding by the NSIA in 2022. Our vision and plans are becoming a reality. We see Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies operating in fragile contexts accessing funds for sustainably developing to deliver and scale up their humanitarian services. This is localization in action and at scale.
It is particularly encouraging to see that the NSIA’s two-stage approach, with initial funds providing a springboard to help National Societies prepare for increased investment aimed at achieving sustained impact on the organization and vulnerable communities, is working. We hope to see many more National Societies planning and following this journey.
2022 will be remembered as a milestone for the NSIA. Our ambition is to maintain this momentum and continue to grow in the years to come. We see this mechanism as a valuable and strategic lever to support National Societies in fragile and crisis settings to undertake their journey towards sustainable development.”
For more information, please click here to visit the NSIA webpage.
Immunization is the foundation of healthy communities. And right now, in the continued fight against COVID-19, vaccines are one of many important tools we have to keep communities around the world safe and healthy.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts in 172 countries. And, together, our National Societies have supported more than 325 million people to access COVID-19 vaccination globally.
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve made special efforts to reach vulnerable, marginalized and hard-to-reach communities worldwide. To go what we call the ‘last mile’—because all people, no matter who or where they are, deserve access to health services, vaccines, testing and lifesaving treatment. And because we know that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
So, what does this work actually look like? Scroll down to discover photos and examples from five different countries: Papua New Guinea, Libya, Zambia, Kyrgyzstan and Canada.
And if you like what you read, sign up to the IFRC’s immunization newsletter for a monthly round-up of immunization activities in response to COVID-19 and other diseases.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guineahas one of the lowest vaccination coverage rates in the world. The Papua New Guinea Red Cross is working closely with provincial health authorities in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and a crucial part of this work involves building public confidence in vaccination.
Volunteers are providing accurate, reliable and trusted public health information about COVID-19 vaccination. In many cases, they work in partnership with local community groups—such as the Country Women Association in Madang province—to reach people in spaces they already feel comfortable in. By listening and responding to people’s concerns about the vaccines, they are dispelling people’s fears and encouraging more and more people to come forward for their jab.
The Libyan Red Crescent Society is partnering with the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination—with a focus on community engagement and logistical support.
More than 600 volunteers have been going out and about in their communities to engage with local people and answer their questions about vaccines. Volunteers have been helping with vaccine registration and data entry, so people can sign up for their jabs, and several Libyan Red Crescent health clinics in the south of the country are currently being used as vaccination centres.
Zambia Red Cross Society volunteers are running a mobile COVID-19 vaccination campaign to take vaccines out to remote and hard-to-reach communities across the country. They’re working with trusted local community leaders, helping them to be advocates for COVID-19 vaccines so that their communities feel confident coming forward.
Volunteers are also working hard to continue routine immunization activities across the country so that all Zambian children are fully immunized before the age of 5.
Hundreds of Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent Society volunteers across the country have dedicated their time to supporting the Ministry of Health and Social Development’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
They set up a special COVID-19 vaccination hotline to answer the public’s questions and address rumours and misinformation about vaccines. And they’ve been deployed to vaccination centres to lead vaccine registration and data entry so people can easily schedule their appointments.
In Canada, the Canadian Red Crosshas been supporting provincial, territorial and Indigenous health authorities in vaccination efforts among remote and Indigenous communities.
For instance, in Northern Alberta, CRC’s Indigenous staff have been embedded into mobile vaccination teams to help understand and address the roots of vaccine hesitancy. They’ve been supported virtually by an Indigenous People’s Help Desk, set up to respond to the unique needs of Indigenous leadership during the pandemic.
For more information, visit our immunization page or sign up to the IFRC's monthly immunization newsletter.
Pretoria/Nairobi/Geneva, 12 December 2019 –Hunger is threatening the lives of 11 million people in Southern Africa due to deepening drought and in the region. Red Cross teams across Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia are scaling up their response to emergency and crisis levels of food insecurity.
“This year’s drought is unprecedented, causing food shortages on a scale we have never seen here before,” said Dr Michael Charles, Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Southern Africa cluster. “We are seeing people going two to three days without food, entire herds of livestock wiped out by drought and small-scale farmers with no means to earn money to tide them over a lean season.”
The countries with the most significant increase in food insecurity from last year are Zambia and Zimbabwe, with 2.3 million and 3.6 million people respectively suffering from acute food shortages.
Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia have this year declared drought emergencies. In Eswatini, 24 per cent of its rural population is suffering from food shortages. The situation is set to worsen due to late or no rain in the region and crop production is down by 30 percent for the 2019/2020 harvest.
In October, the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal in Zambia to bring relief to those most affected by the persistent drought and is now widening its appeal for emergency funding to cover a further four countries affected by unprecedented levels of drought and hunger.
The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement already has ongoing operations on food insecurity in Eswatini, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe reaching 207,055 people (41,411 households). This newest appeal will broaden its reach to eight southern African countries and will target individuals not reached by other interventions in the region.
“There is a major gap in investment in resilience and community-level capacities in countries hardest hit, including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini,” Dr Charles said. “As a humanitarian collective, we must take immediate action to respond to millions who face imminent starvation. Even more importantly, it is our responsibility to strengthen communities’ resilience and ability to adapt to the current challenges. Otherwise, we will never end hunger in the region.”
The IFRC is calling for 7.7 million Swiss francs to mitigate the food crisis in the region. The overall objective of the multi-country Emergency Appeal is to provide immediate food assistance and livelihood recovery support to the most affected households in the targeted communities for a period of 14 months.
Lusaka/Pretoria/Geneva, 29 October 2019 –A “catastrophic” combination of drought and communities’ declining resilience has left an estimated 2.3 million people facing severe acute food insecurity – up froman estimate of1.7 millionpeople a month ago.
Communities across southern Africa have been affected by drought since late 2018.
This year, large parts of southern and western Zambia received their lowest seasonal rainfall totals since at least 1981, the base year from which normal rainfall is benchmarked. At the same time, northern and eastern parts of the country were affected by flash floods and waterlogging, resulting in poor harvests.
Mr Kaitano Chungu, the Secretary General of the Zambia Red Cross, said:
“Before the communities could recover from the impacts of flood episodes that characterised the 2017/2018 season, the 2018/2019 season has been hit by drought. The successive mixture of drought and flooding has been catastrophic for many communities. In most of the affected areas there isn’t enough drinking water, which means that people and animals—both livestock and wildlife—are having to use the same water points. This is unacceptable as it exposes people to diseases and creates a heightened risk of animal attacks.”
Some families in the worst-affected areas are surviving the food shortage by eating wild fruits and roots, a coping mechanism that exposes them to poisonous species which may be life-threatening or pose serious health risks.
Some of the Zambia Red Cross branches are among the aid groups that have been distributing food relief to hunger-affected communities on behalf of government for a few months now, but more help is needed.
The Zambia Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are today appealing for almost 3.5 million Swiss francs. This appeal will fund efforts to provide sustained emergency and recovery-focused assistance to about 57,000 people who are among the worst-affected by the current crisis.
Through the Red Cross operation, targeted families will receive unconditional cash grants, as well as assistance designed to improve future food production.
Dr Michael Charles, the head of IFRC’s Southern Africa cluster office, said:
“Our priority is to quickly provide emergency cash to vulnerable families. However, we want to go beyond simply stabilizing the situation: we want to offer sustained support so that people are better able to face and navigate future climate threats without needing external assistance. Ultimately our goal is about helping people become more resilient.”
According to experts at the Global Change Institute (GCI) at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, temperatures in southern Africa have risen on average by twice as much as global temperatures.
In addition, GCI estimates that, based on current emissions, temperatures in the regional interior could climb 5°-6°C by the end of the century – well above the anticipated global temperature rise.
Warming of that magnitude would be potentially catastrophic. Life-threatening heatwaves would become more frequent. The production of staple crops such as maize and wheat would be severely impaired. Water resources, already at their limit throughout southern Africa, would be dramatically reduced in quality and quantity. Livestock would not be viable over much of the sub-continent.
All countries in the Southern Africa are currently experiencing pockets of dryness. Worryingly for the sub-region, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have declared state of emergencies due to looming drought. The United Nations Climate Action Summit scheduled for 23 September 2019 in New York, United States of America, presents a timely opportunity for urgent global discussions that will hopefully culminate inconcrete, realistic plans to address thedisproportionate impacts of climate change on developing countries.
Southern Africa is one of the regions most affected by serious impacts of climate-induced natural disasters. This year alone, a succession ofcyclonesandfloodshas already resulted in significant loss of life and assets in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and kept humanitarian organisations busy with emergency responses, as well as recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth were different in that they managed to attract global attention because they caused significant devastation during a short period. Climate change-induced natural disasters in Southern Africa are often invisible in the global media, even though they are protracted and threaten the livelihoods of millions. Even lower-level cyclones can cause devastating floods that are quickly followed by debilitating droughts.
Many national economies in Southern Africa are agriculturally based and as long as climate change mitigation strategies enshrined in existing globalpoliciesare not wholeheartedly implemented, a significant portion of the 340 million inhabitants of Southern Africa could be food-insecure in the long-term because of famine.
The increased mass movement of people from areas affected by climate-induced natural disasters is also more likely. Internal and external migration will necessitate greater coordination among humanitarian organisations to adequately support receiving communities and countries to respond to the added burden introduced by new arrivals.
The effects of food insecurity and mass movements are felt most by the vulnerable in our communities, such as the chronically ill and disabled, and women and children. They also place immense pressure on already strained health systems in many countries in the sub-region. With the necessary funds, the Red Cross Movement has the capability and is well placed to address some of the consequences. But urgent action is still needed on the climate change question.
Climate change is certain and evident. Its effects are being felt more in less developed nations, especially in southern Africa. Efforts for adaptation are essential not only to decrease the negative consequences but also to increase opportunities for communities to be more resilient in the long-term.
Countries in the sub-region are acting to decrease their response times to calamities and improve their communities’ readiness to mitigate impacts of natural disasters. Mozambique is the first country in Africa to have an Early Action Protocol approved; the protocol harnesses the power offorecast-based financingto ensure that humanitarian responses are more responsive and proactive. Malawi’s protocol is under review and Zambia’s is currently in development.
The need for humanitarian assistance in Southern Africa in the latter part of 2019 and into 2020 will be greater with the imminent drought. Notwithstanding ongoing local efforts to improve countries’ and communities’ disaster risk management practices and increase their resilience, global stakeholders have a responsibility to definitively act to reduce the need for climate change-induced disaster mitigation efforts in the most affected developing countries.
Originally published in the Southern Times Newspaper
By: Dr Michael Charles
Today South Africa marks Women’s Day. Much like the women being commemorated for the march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, women in southern Africa today may well hold the same flint that lights a “new movement” – climate change.
Southern Africa is one of the regions projected to experience the most serious consequences of global warming and the El Niño effect. In 2019, we experienced one of the worst disasters the region has ever seen - Cyclone Idai ravaged communities in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe and continue to rebuild their lives.
Urgent action is needed to increase the region’s preparedness for natural disasters. It is only a matter of time until the next disaster strikes. Being female often automatically means that personal susceptibility to sexual and domestic violence, rape and assault in emergency situations is significantly heightened. Women experience additional difficulties because they are typically responsible for sourcing water and preparing food; caring for children, the injured, sick and elderly; and maintaining family and community cohesion.
Tackling climate change is, undoubtedly, women’s business. They have a vested interest in avoiding and mitigating the impacts of climate change. It is time that humanitarian actors and policy and decision-makers mainstream gender in policy and practice. It is not a “nice to do”; it is crucial to making real and sustainable differences in the lives of affected people.
In 1956, 200,000 South African women declared that enough was enough and acted to defend themselves and the unity and integrity of their families from restrictive laws that required them to carry a pass to reside and move freely in urban areas.
Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock! was the rallying cry of that day, used to signify the women’s unshakeable and unbreakable resolve in the face of adversity as they marched to the Union Building in Pretoria, and sparked change in the course of South Africa’s history.
As countries in southern Africa ramp up their disaster risk management and humanitarian organisations work to strengthen community recovery and resilience, women in southern Africa should not just be considered victims and survivors who need special protection and assistance. They are forces for change who can be relied on to represent themselves within their communities and at the highest decision-making levels.
I am always inspired by the women I meet responding in disasters, most recently in Cyclone Idai. Women like, Sonia, a volunteer who was working long hours to support women in a shelter, displaced by Cyclone Idai or Flora, who was affected herself by flooding but was dedicated to helping her neighbours rebuild their homes and their lives.
Happy Women’s Day, South Africa. May the flame that was lit in 1956 and the fire of women’s empowerment and participation that was built over the decades rage on.
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) today announced the results of its first round of funding, with accelerator investments awarded to the Red Cross Societies of Lebanon and Ukraine, and bridge funding awards made to a further eight National Societies (Armenia, Colombia, Comoros, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia). Together this represents a combined total of nearly 1.5 million CHF.
Announcing the results of the first funding round, Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under-Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Balthasar Staehelin, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:
“We are delighted to announce this first round of NSIA funding, the culmination of a process that has involved collaboration and cooperation from across the Movement, and demonstrates the demand and potential for investment in National Society capacity.”
To respond to the varied needs of National Societies, NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from NSIA or elsewhere.
To date, NSIA has been supported by generous contributions from the governments of Switzerland, The United States, and Canada.
First Round of NSIA Funding
The first call for proposals received 48 applications from National Societies across all regions, with a range of contextual challenges and organizational development needs. In response, the NSIA Office conducted an independent and objective process of consultation and review, working with colleagues from the IFRC and the ICRC at the national and regional level, as well as the National Societies themselves.
The Steering Committee agreed that the first 10 National Societies that will receive bridge funding are: Armenia, Colombia, Comoros, Lebanon, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine and Zambia. Lebanon and Ukraine will receive the accelerator funding in this first round.
The proposals from National Societies speak to a wide-range of needs, and are underlined by the desire to increase their sustainability, independence and ability to provide relevant services to vulnerable populations. Key themes across the applications include: efforts to increase financial sustainability, develop system and structures at the national and branch level, and improve governance and accountability.
Selected National Societies
The Lebanese Red Cross will use a substantial accelerator investment grant to strengthen its Project Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting (PMER), communications, and fundraising capacity with the aim of meeting more than 70% of its core services costs through local sources by 2023.
Similarly, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society will utilise an accelerator investment to develop its resource mobilization capacities, building on initial planning and analysis and helping the National Society respond to the ongoing crisis in the country.
The bridge grant will support the Armenian Red Cross Society to develop a resource mobilization plan, focusing on un-earmarked income generation that is urgently required to meet ARCS programmatic activity needs.
The Colombian Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to help develop, test and implement new initiatives which will ensure regular income, strengthening the National Society in three crosscutting areas: communication and marketing, reporting and training.
There is a need for the Comoros Red Crescent to enhance staff core competencies with regard to governance and financial management. The bridge grant will therefore allow the development of an investment plan for the National Society to best use potential future investment.
NSIA bridge grant funding will enable the Malawi Red Cross Society to conduct a thorough and detailed assessment of potential national level income sources, subsequently developing an investment proposal to pursue the most promising.
It is expected that through the bridge grant implementation, the Namibia Red Cross will be able to resolve a number a of critical challenges by consolidating its financial statements and systems, increasing financial liquidity and developing a forward-looking strategy.
The Nigerian Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to help explore the opportunities for developing commercial first aid services in the country, conducting a detailed analysis and developing a business plan for future investment.
The Uganda Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to work with its operational network of 51 branches to consolidate and improve its first aid training, and explore the possibility to unlock this resource and generate national level income.
With several institutional changes needed within the Zambia Red Cross Society in order to achieve its development goals, a bridge grant will allow the ZRCS to undertake a midterm review of its existing strategic plan and developed and improved strategic and investment plan looking forward.