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05/07/2022 | Article

“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond

Food insecurity is not a new phenomenon. But the recent escalation in severity and geographical spread of chronic hunger is serious cause for alarm. The hunger crisis is most starkly felt on the African continent, where many regions, notably the Horn of Africa, Sahel and Lake Chad regions, are experiencing the worst food crisis in decades. Millions of people are facing hunger across Africa—prompting the IFRC to launch Emergency Appeals for hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Niger and Angola all within the past year. Back in May, I met some of those affected whilevisiting drought-affected areas in Marsabit County, Kenya—where levels of malnutrition are among the highest on the continent. I saw first-hand the level of suffering caused by a severe lack of rainfall over four consecutive seasons, coupled with pre-existing vulnerability in parts of the County. Children, young mothers and the elderly are most affected and facing near depletion of their livelihoods. Although this hunger crisis is, to a large extent, climate-induced, it is also driven by the effects of widespread locust swarms, disease outbreaks, conflict and insecurity, and economic slowdowns—including those triggered by COVID-19. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with prices of agricultural products reaching record highs. Eastern Africa, for instance, gets 90 per cent of its imported wheat from Russia and Ukraine (source: WFP), and the conflict has led to significant shortages. The Ukraine crisis has also diverted both the attention and resources from other crises. While Ukraine is an extremely worrying crisis, affecting millions, we cannot afford to lose sight of other urgent crises around the world. Not least of which is the rapidly deteriorating food security situation in many parts of Africa. The clock is ticking and soon it may be too late to avert a widespread tragedy. So the question that should concern us all is: what can we do, as a humanitarian collective, to avoid the tragic history of the early 1980s repeating itself? We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people on the verge of collapsing, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments. The IFRC has an important and unique role to play. With our unparalleled community reach and expertise, our 100+ years of humanitarian experience, our ability to act both locally and globally, and our National Societies’ special status as auxiliaries to public authorities—we can turn this tide. But we need the resources to do so. Our collective immediate priority is to muster life-saving support, within and outside our IFRC network, for the next six months—paying particular attention to the Horn of Africa, Central Sahel and other hot spots across the continent. During this emergency phase, we will focus our support on the things we know from experience will make the most difference to affected people’s lives and livelihoods: food assistance, cash programmes and nutrition support. At the same time, we will develop longer-term programming, together with interested National Societies, to address the root causes of food insecurity. We will build on our previous successes and work in support of governments’ plans and frameworks to restore the resilience of the most impoverished communities, including displaced populations. Everything we do will be underpinned by solid data and meaningful community engagement to ensure that our response is evidence-based and tailor-made. Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. To alleviate human suffering, we must rise to this challenge through collective mobilization and action—both in the immediate and long-term. We simply cannot afford to do too little, too late. --- Since 2020: The IFRC network reached 4.8 million people with food assistance and non-food items, combining all humanitarian response operations (Emergency Appeals, DREFs and our COVID-19 response) More than 20 African National Societies have been implementing food security-related projects as part of their regular programming 33 African National Societies have increased their capacity to deliver cash and voucher assistance Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s work in food security and livelihoods. You may also be interested in reading: 'To beat Africa’s hunger crises, start with long-term planning' -opinion piece in Devex by IFRC Regional Director for Africa, Mohammed Omer Mukhier-Abuzein 'Because of hunger, I am here' - photo story from the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine about Angolan refugees fleeing to Namibia due to the drought and resulting lack of food and water And scroll down to learn more about our active Emergency Appeals for food insecurity in Africa and beyond.

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13/09/2022 | Press release

Crisis fatigue not an option as global hunger crisis deepens, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement warns

Geneva, 13 September 2022 (ICRC/IFRC) – The warning lights are flashing on high: armed conflict, climate-related emergencies, economic hardship and political obstacles are leading to a growing wave of hunger in countries around the world. The misery for millions will deepen without immediate urgent action. Systems-level improvements must be made to escape a cycle of recurrent crises, including investments in climate-smart food production in conflict-affected areas, and reliable mechanisms to support hard-to-reach communities hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly. The international armed conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted global food supply systems as well as future harvests in many countries due to the impact it’s having on the availability of fertilizer. The importance of more shipments by the Black Sea grain initiative reaching vulnerable populations in East Africa cannot be overstated. Too few grain shipments are getting to where they are needed. As hunger emergencies hit the headlines, the risk of crisis fatigue is high. Yet what’s uniquely frightening about this moment is the breadth and depth of the needs. More than 140 million people face acute food insecurity due to conflict and instability, even as climate change and economic precarity indicate that hunger needs will rise in the coming months. Political will and resources are needed now. Without them, many lives will be lost, and the suffering will endure for years. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. Concerted action and long-term approaches are the only way to break the cycle. While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made — by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups — to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans. Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis. Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said: “Two dozen countries across Africa are grappling with the worst food crisis in decades. Some 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are in the clutches of starvation due to such compounding crises as drought, flooding, COVID-19’s economic effects, conflict – even desert locusts. Behind the staggeringly high numbers are real people – men, women and children battling death-level hunger every day. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023. However, with swift action, many lives can be saved. We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people in dire need of aid, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.” The IFRC and its membership—which consists of Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in nearly every corner of the globe—are delivering aid in hard-to-reach communities. Assistance includes getting cash into the hands of families to meet food, health and other urgent needs. In Nigeria, Red Cross volunteers focus on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose nutrition is paramount for healthy births and childhoods. In Madagascar, volunteers restore land and water sources through anti-erosion activities, the construction of water points, and a focus on irrigation in addition to traditional ways to fight hunger, like nutrition monitoring. Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, said: “Conflict is a huge driver of hunger. We see violence preventing farmers from planting and harvesting. We see sanctions and blockades preventing food delivery to the most vulnerable. My wish is that we build resiliency into the fabric of humanitarian response, so that communities suffer less when violence and climate change upend lives. A cycle of band-aid solutions will not be enough in coming years.” The ICRC this year has helped nearly 1 million people in south and central Somalia buy a month’s worth of food by distributing cash to more than 150,000 households. A similar programme in Nigeria helped 675,000 people, while more than a quarter million people received climate smart agriculture inputs to restore crop production. The ICRC works to strengthen resilience through seeds, tools and livestock care so that residents can better absorb recurrent shocks. And its medical professionals are running stabilization centres in places like Somalia, where kids are getting specialized nutrition care. Communities around the world are suffering deep hardship. A short snapshot of some of the regions in need includes: In Sub-Saharan Africa: One in three children under the age of five is stunted by chronic undernutrition, while two out of five women of childbearing age are anaemic because of poor diets. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day. In Afghanistan: The combination of three decades of armed conflict and an economic crash resulting in few job opportunities and a massive banking crisis are having a devastating effect on Afghan families’ ability to buy food. More than half the country – 24 million – need assistance. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement welcomes any measure aimed at easing the effect of economic sanctions. But given the depth of the humanitarian crisis, long-term solutions are also needed, including the resumption of projects and investments by states and development agencies in key infrastructure. In Pakistan: The recent flooding has led to an estimated $12 billion in losses. Food security in the country was alarming before this latest catastrophe, with 43 percent of the population food insecure. Now the number of acutely hungry people is expected to rise substantially. Some 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops are under water. An estimated 65 percent of the country’s food basket – crops like rice and wheat– have been destroyed, with over 733,000 livestock reportedly killed. The floods will also negatively affect food delivery into neighboring Afghanistan. In Somalia: We have seen a five-fold increase in the number of malnourished children needing care. Last month the Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa admitted 466 children, up from 82 in August 2021. Children admitted here die without the specialized nutritional care they receive. In Syria: Food insecurity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2019. Today, two-thirds of Syria’s population –12.4 million out of 18 million – can’t meet their daily food needs. The compounding effects of more than a decade of conflict, including the consequences of sanctions, have crippled people’s buying power. Food prices have risen five-fold in the last two years. In Yemen: Most Yemenis survive on one meal a day. Last year 53 percent of Yemen’s population were food insecure. This year it’s 63 percent – or some 19 million people. Aid actors have been forced to cut food assistance due to a lack of funds. Some 5 million people will now receive less than 50 percent of their daily nutritional requirement because of it. Notes to editors For more information, please contact: IFRC:Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67 IFRC: Jenelle Eli, [email protected], +41 79 935 97 40 ICRC:Crystal Wells, [email protected], +41 79 642 80 56 ICRC: Jason Straziuso, [email protected], +41 79 949 35 12 Audio-visuals available: Horn of Africa photos and b-roll Pakistan floods photos and b-roll Somalia cash programme photos and b-roll Kenya sees climate shocks b-roll

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07/09/2022 | Press release

Horn of Africa hunger crisis: Addressing needs of nomadic communities is crucial to saving lives

Nairobi/Geneva, 7 September 2022—Nearly a million people have been forced to leave their homes in search of food and water in parts of Somalia and Kenya, as a catastrophic hunger crisis continues to unfold. More than 22 million people are approaching or experiencing a complete lack of food in the Horn of Africa. The situation is projected to get worse in early 2023. Nomadic communities are particularly hard hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices. While food and funds will address part of the problem, without a reliable mechanism of reaching nomadic families with consistent and holistic humanitarian assistance, the world’s response to the hunger crisis will remain both inefficient and insufficient, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today. Mohamed Babiker, IFRC’s head of Kenya and Somalia delegation said: “Millions of lives are at risk. But as the humanitarian community accelerates its response, we should ensure that mistakes of the past decades are not repeated. It is crucial that aid is not just available—but that it also reaches the right people in an efficient manner. Most of the affected families are from pastoralist communities, who are often nomadic, and can only be reached by those who are close enough to them to keep up with their movements to provide uninterrupted assistance. A local response is vital.” In Kenya, most of the areas experiencing food insecurity are in the Arid and Semi-arid lands (ASAL) areas, where communities practice pastoralism and therefore depend mainly on meat and milk for nutrition and income. The lack of rain has forced families out of their homes, in search of water and pasture. In Somalia, women and girls have been disproportionally affected by the crisis as they tend to travel long distances in search of water and firewood. They have also been separated from their families and remain behind with the livestock while the men and boys migrate in search of pasture and water. Babiker added: “The response is facing two major challenges. The biggest one is the lack of sufficient resources to purchase emergency relief items. However, even if you have the money, you need to be able to reach these nomadic communities, in an efficient and consistent manner. This is crucial. We call upon partners and donors to invest in institutions that have reliable access to families on the move.” Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are constantly on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. In response, Red Crescent teams in Somalia work closely with nomadic communities, so there is never a question about where to deliver aid. These volunteers come from the very communities they serve. With recent reports that more than 700 children have died in nutrition centres across Somalia, it is even more crucial that aid organizations reach affected people in their communities before their situation becomes critical as some do not reach health centres, or arrive when it is too late. In addition to food, people affected by drought also need health services. During field visits to Puntland and other parts of the country, IFRC and Somali Red Crescent teams care for displaced people who are exhausted and sick. Red Crescent teams in Somalia, supported by the IFRC, reach nomadic communities with mobile clinics to provide basic health services in remote regions of the country. “Our strength lies in our volunteer network which comes from the communities we serve. They understand the cultural context and local languages and have in-depth knowledge and understanding of affected communities,” said Babiker. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams will also focus on delivering cash to families to meet their food, health and other urgent needs. Cash gives people the freedom to choose what they need most to help their families stay healthy and is more convenient for nomadic communities who would otherwise need to carry in-kind aid with them as they move. To date, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Kenya and Somalia have reached, collectively, at least 645,000 people affected by the drought with health services, cash assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services. Note to editors: New high-quality photos and videos from drought affected parts of Somalia and Kenya are available at this link: https://www.ifrcnewsroom.org/ For more information, please contact: In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]

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06/05/2022 | Press release

Horn of Africa: IFRC Secretary General visits Kenya as worst drought in 40 years looms for millions 

Nairobi/Geneva, 6 May 2022—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Secretary General Jagan Chapagain ends a three-day visit to Kenya, and he is calling for a massive scale-up of humanitarian and long-term assistance to communities affected by the growing hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. Speaking at the end of a visit to Marsabit, one of Kenya’s areas that has been hardest hit by the effects of drought, Mr Chapagain said: “I have seen firsthand the level of suffering caused by drought in Marsabit. There are highly unacceptable levels of malnutrition, a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 53.6 per cent in this particular ward - one of the highest in Africa. The situation is rapidly deteriorating. We need immediate humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable. We also need long term solutions that address the impact of climate change including investment in resilient livelihoods.” Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing a large-scale, climate-induced, and protracted humanitarian crisis with over 14 million people food insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance including at least 5.5 million children facing acute malnutrition. 6.1 million people in Ethiopia and 4.1 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are acutely food insecure, with eastern and northern Kenya’s most arid and semi-arid lands experiencing critical drought conditions. This silent disaster has been overshadowed—and to a significant extent amplified—by the Ukraine crisis.  “It isn’t just food and water that people need here. In the background there are unseen issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, and the profound impacts on mental health. An example given was of women walking over 40 km to reach potable water – what happens on the journey is unthinkable,” added Mr Chapagain. Dr Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, who was also in Marsabit, said:   “The fact that people in Marsabit have lost over 70 per cent of their livestock, which is their main source of livelihood, means that it will be a long and slow path to recovery. Our teams are playing a central role in reducing the risks that families are facing. They have provided cash assistance, food assistance and improved water treatment practices, but the need to rehabilitate water systems remains urgent. We call all our partners and stakeholders to support our efforts.” In response to the hunger and drought situation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, the IFRC, the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somali Red Crescent are jointly appealing for 39 million Swiss francs. This funding will allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff to assist 1,560,000 people by scaling up their emergency and humanitarian assistance and recovery activities and tackling the root causes of food insecurity. This strategy is aligned with the IFRC’s Pan African Zero Hunger Initiative that undertakes a holistic approach to food security, integrating specific interventions for rapid nutrition, food security and livelihood support for acute food-insecure households and communities with a long-term strategy working towards zero hunger and sustainable recovery. “Food is a basic need of the population. We call upon every government in Africa to ensure they have the right policy framework to deal with drought,” said Mr Chapagain. To request an interview with representatives from the IFRC or Kenya Red Cross, or for more information, please contact:  In Nairobi:   IFRC - Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected] Kenya Red Cross - Peter Abwao, +254 711 590911, [email protected]   In Geneva: IFRC – Benoit Carpentier, +41 79 213 2413, [email protected]   

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09/09/2021 | Emergency

Kenya: Hunger crisis 2021-2022

An estimated 3.1 million people in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya are severely food insecure following three consecutive poor rainy seasons that have hampered crop production. This appeal enables the IFRC to support the Kenya Red Cross Society to deliver humanitarian assistance to 500,000 people over 18 months to address the current drought crisis.

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16/09/2021 | Press release

More than 139 million people hit by climate crisis and COVID-19, new IFRC analysis reveals

New York, Geneva, 16 September 2021 – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters have affected the lives of at least 139.2 million people and killed more than 17,242. This is the finding of a new analysis published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, on the compound impacts of extreme-weather events and COVID-19. A further estimated 658.1 million vulnerable people have been exposed to extreme temperatures. Through new data and specific case studies, the report shows how people across the world are facing multiple crises and coping with overlapping vulnerabilities. The paper also highlights the need of addressing both crises simultaneously as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the world and has made communities more vulnerable to climate risks. The IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, who today presented the new report at a press conference in New York, said: “The world is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis where the climate change and COVID-19 are pushing communities to their limits. In the lead up to COP26, we urge world leaders to take immediate action not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to address the existent and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change”. The report comes a year after an initial analysisof the overlapping risks of extreme-weather events that have occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc, with direct health impacts for millions of people around the world, but also a massive indirect impact, in part due to the response measures implemented to contain the pandemic. Food insecurity caused by weather extremes has been aggravated by COVID-19. Health systems are pushed to their limits and the most vulnerable have been the most exposed to overlapping shocks. In Afghanistan, the impacts of the extreme drought are compounded by conflict and COVID-19. The drought has crippled agricultural food production and diminished livestock, leaving millions of people hungry and malnourished. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has ramped up relief, including food and cash assistance for people to buy food supplies, plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock. In Honduras, responding to hurricanes Eta and Iota during the pandemic, also meant additional challenges. Thousands of people became homeless in temporary shelters. Anti-COVID-19 measures in those shelters required physical distancing and other protective measures, which limited capacity. In Kenya, the impacts of COVID-19 are colliding with floods in one year and droughts in the next, as well as a locust infestation. Over 2.1 million people are facing acute food insecurity in rural and urban areas. In the country and across East Africa, the COVID-19 restrictions slowed down the flood response and outreach to affected populations increasing their vulnerabilities. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe are not only responding to those overlapping crises but also helping communities to prepare and anticipate climate risks. In Bangladesh for instance, the Red Crescent Society has used IFRC’s designated funds for anticipatory action to disseminate flood related Early Warning Messages through loudspeakers in vulnerable areas so people can take the necessary measures or evacuate if necessary. Julie Arrighi, associate director at the RCRC Climate Center said: “Hazards do not need to become disasters. We can counter the trend of rising risks and save lives if we change how we anticipate crises, fund early action and risk reduction at the local level. Finally, we need to help communities become more resilient, especially in the most vulnerable contexts.” The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on climate risks. Governments need to commit to investing in community adaptation, anticipation systems and local actors. “The massive spending in COVID-19 recovery proves that governments can act fast and drastically in the face of global threats. It is time to turn words into action and devote the same energy to the climate crisis. Every day, we are witnessing the impact of human-made climate change. The climate crisis is here, and we need to act now,” Rocca said. Download the paper:The compound impact of extreme weather events and COVID-19 For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected] Marie Claudet, +33 786 89 50 89 , [email protected]

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09/04/2021 | Article

Empress Shôken fund 100th distribution announcement

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 16 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, 169 National Societies have received 14 million Swiss francs. To mark the Fund’s 100th year of awarding grants, a short video was developed to highlight what the Fund stands for and showcase how it has supported National Societies through the years. 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 evident in the regularity of their contributions to it. The grants are usually announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of her death. This year the announcement is being published earlier due to the weekend. The selection process The Fund received 28 applications in 2021 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 475,997 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Argentina, the Bahamas, Benin, Costa Rica, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Kenya, Malawi, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam. The projects to be supported in 2021 cover a number of themes, including youth engagement, disaster preparedness, National Society development and health, especially the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insights that will benefit the Movement as a whole. The 2021 grants The Argentine Red Cross is taking an innovative approach to talent management using new technologies. It will use the grant to develop a talent-management module to be implemented in 65 branches, enabling the National Society to attract and retain employees and volunteers. The Bahamas Red Cross Society will put the grant towards building staff and volunteers’ capacities and expanding its network on five islands, with a view to implementing community- and ecosystem-based approaches to reducing disaster risk and increasing climate resilience. The Red Cross of Benin seek to help vulnerable women become more autonomous. The grant will support them in developing income-generating activities and building their professional skills. The Costa Rica Red Cross will use the grant to enable communities in the remote Cabécar and Bribri indigenous territories to better manage emergencies, holding workshops on first aid, risk prevention and emergency health care in connection with climate events and health emergencies, including COVID-19. The Estonia Red Cross is working to build competencies in four key areas, including in recruiting, training and retaining volunteers. The funds will support the development of a volunteer database to help effectively manage information, especially against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. With widespread COVID-19 transmission in Georgia, the Georgia Red Cross Society is working to help national authorities limit the impact of the pandemic. It will put the grant towards promoting good hygiene and raising awareness of the importance of vaccination. The Red Crescent Society of Islamic Republic of Iran is focused on building local capacity with youth volunteers by boosting small businesses in outreach areas. The grant will be used for training, capacity-building and development in local partner institutions, generating income for community members. The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have affected how the Kenya Red Cross Society does its humanitarian work. The grant will be used to launch an online volunteer platform to encourage and facilitate youth volunteering. The Malawi Red Cross Society must be ready to respond to disasters due to climate variability and climate change. The funds will allow the National Society to establish a pool of trained emergency responders who can swing into action within 72 hours of a disaster. The Nicaraguan Red Cross is working to protect the elderly from COVID-19. The grant will be used in three care homes located in the municipalities of Somoto, Sébaco and Jinotepe to provide medical assistance, prevent and control infections, and promote mental health as a basic element of self-care through training and support sessions and other activities. The Pakistan Red Crescent seeks to improve how it manages blood donations. The funds will enable the National Society to increase the capacity of its blood donor centre and raise awareness of voluntary unpaid blood donation by holding World Blood Donor Day in 2021. The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for All project of the Philippine Red Cross aims to develop WASH guidelines and promote them in the community. The grant will be used for training and capacity-building around providing health services in emergencies. In Romania, teenagers in residential centres are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence for a number of reasons, including a lack of both psychosocial education and staff trained in dealing with this kind of violence through trauma-informed care. The grant will enable the Red Cross of Romania to reduce the vulnerability of 60 teenagers in residential centres by increasing knowledge and aiding the development of safe relationships. The South Sudan Red Cross is working to encourage young people to adapt to climate change by planting fruit trees. The grant will support this initiative, which aims to reduce the impact of climate change and increase food production. In 2020 the Timor-Leste Red Cross launched an education programme aimed at increasing young people’s knowledge about reproductive health. The funds will be used to expand the programme – already active in five of the National Society’s branches – to the remaining eight branches. The Viet Nam Red Cross aims to further engage with authorities and become more self-sufficient through fundraising. It will use the grant to build its personnel’s capacities by providing training courses on proposal writing, project management and social welfare.

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20/05/2020 | Press release

East Africa: Red Cross raises the alarm over a “triple menace” of floods, COVID-19 and locusts

Nairobi/Geneva, 20 May 2020—A series of mutually exacerbating disasters is unfolding in East Africa, on a scale rarely seen in decades, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Ongoing heavy rain—which has killed nearly 300 and displaced about 500,000 people—has slowed down operations aimed at controlling the worst locust crisis in decades and increased the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Dr Simon Missiri, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa said: “The ongoing flooding crisis is exacerbating other threats caused by COVID-19 and the invasion of locusts. Travel and movement restrictions meant to slow down the spread of COVID-19 are hampering efforts to combat swarms of locusts that are ravaging crops. Flooding is also a ‘threat amplifier’ with regards to the spread of COVID-19 as it makes it hard to implement preventive measures.” Flooding has left thousands of people homeless, many of them now seeking shelter in temporary accommodation centres where it is not easy or not possible at all to observe physical distancing. As a result, thousands are now at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or waterborne diseases and need emergency food assistance. “We are facing an unusually complex humanitarian situation. We are worried that the number of people who are hungry and sick will increase in the coming weeks as flooding and COVID-19 continue to severely affect the coping capacity of many families in the region,” added Dr Missiri. “Harsh weather conditions are having a multiplier effect on an already difficult situation and this could potentially lead to worrying levels of food insecurity in the region.” Red Cross teams in the affected countries are rushing to respond to multi-faceted and overlapping crises. To respond to flooding, COVID-19 and locusts, the IFRC has provided over 7 million Swiss francs to Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in East and Horn of Africa. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda are helping communities mitigate the negative impacts of the triple disaster through community awareness and direct food and non-food support. In Kenya, the Red Cross is conducting assessments in 16 counties, using drones and satellite images. Red Cross teams are also airlifting household items to families that have been marooned by floods. “Flooding is a recurrent phenomenon in the region. To break this cycle, we call upon Governments and partners to invest more in preparedness and flood control methods,” said Dr MISSIRI.

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25/11/2019 | Press release

Kenya: Red Cross responds to humanitarian emergency following deadly floods

Nairobi/Geneva, 25 November 2019—Thousands of people across Kenya have been hit by deadly floods and mudslides. At the epicentre of the current floods, in West Pokot, panic-stricken survivors have deserted their villages after losing their homes, livestock, crops and their loved ones—in what some local residents have described as their worst disaster in memory. Dr Asha Mohammed, Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Designate, said: “We’re most worried about families who have been cut off from life-saving support. They are without food, water and may require medical care. Our teams are doing everything they can to reach these areas, including using boats and treading deep waters to evacuate families in high-risk areas, conducting search and rescue efforts and providing basic health services.” Kenya Red Cross teams in various parts of the country are supporting the evacuation of families to safer areas. Working alongside the Government of Kenya, Red Cross teams are delivering emergency relief items and essential supplies like household and sanitation items in evacuation centres hosting those who have been displaced by the flooding. Areas affected by flooding so far include Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, Tana River, Turkana, Elgeiyo Marakwet, Kitui, Meru, Kajiado, Nandi, Kwale, Garissa, Muranga and Busia. “The number of people who need urgent help is increasing daily as details of the impact of the disaster continue to emerge. The Red Cross had been already running programmes in some of the affected areas. With these latest worrying developments, we are now scaling up our response programmes,” said Dr Asha. As part of the response to floods which began a few weeks ago this month, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) recently released more than 300,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to help Kenya Red Cross society support over 14,000 families to cope with the effects of unusually heavy rains for three months. A second emergency response allocation to support Kenya Red Cross is currently being considered. With a record-breaking temperature rise in the Indian Ocean in the last few weeks, Kenya and other east African countries have been extremely vulnerable to flooding. This latest flooding incident in Kenya follows similar disasters in South Sudan, Tanzania, Somalia and Ethiopia. “The storm is not yet over. We are concerned that other parts of the country will continue to experience destructive floods this week,” said Dr Asha. “In addition, even after the floods, there are also concerns about their long-term effects. Many people who have lost their crops and livestock will struggle to feed their families. There is also a real risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases including cholera and malaria.” Some of the communities that are affected by floods were still reeling from the impact of a crippling drought. They include families in Garissa, Tana River and Turkana. This recurrent cycle erodes the resilience of affected communities gradually.

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30/08/2019 | Article

Building Climate-Smart Disaster Law Frameworks for Sustainable Development

Saturday 24 August 2019 Disaster Management Building climate-smart disaster law frameworks for sustainable development The Disaster Response and Risk Management Department (DRDM) has proposed significant changes to the National Disaster Management Act 2014. The changes are outlined in the proposed Disaster Response and Risk and Management Bill 2018. It include provisions which cater for border protection, protection of critical facilities such as cultural heritage sites, humanitarian protection, civil-military coordination, obligation of persons to supply information, information gathering and analysis, request for international assistance, protection from liability, compensation for loss or injury suffered by public officers and power to take control of land or property during hazardous events, emergency or disaster among other provisions. These were tabled and discussed during a workshop organized by DRDM and the Red Cross Society of Seychelles with the collaboration and support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) headquarters, based in Nairobi, Kenya. The aim of the two-day workshop was to share progress in the field of disaster law over the past decade, equip authorities with knowledge of International disaster response law, and other disaster law tools, stimulate discussion on the content of the National Disaster Management Act 2014 and the Proposed Disaster Response and Risk and Management Bill 2018 amongst others. Trevor Louise, Principal Disaster Management Officer, DRDM revealed that the process of revising the Disaster Management Act started in 2018 and the draft document of the proposed amendments were forwarded earlier this year to the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Federation of Red Cross for comments and to assist with aligning the proposed Act to the SENDAI Framework. It is to be noted that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Louise notes that DRDM must make sure that Seychelles is in line with frameworks and other international norms thus the workshop. “We have new alignments which will be catering for people with special needs and that includes women, children and people with disabilities. When reviewing the law, we had to check on the conventions on the rights of children and women and the minimum standards and rights which all came into consideration as well as climate change adaptations,” explained Louise further adding that the new amendments are put in such a way that when delivering the Acts, the rights of those mentioned are not infringed or anyone else for that matter. He also noted that the previous Act did not necessarily pose challenge for DRDM in executing its mandate but rather the new amendments seek to review how they operate such that it is in accordance with national laws and international regulations. A presentation by Louise showed the proposed provisions are flexible and some of the benefits include powers of the department will be conferred to the “head of the department “and not to a specific position or person, as it is in the current Act, the roles of the department and other MDAs will be clearer and this will allow for better coordination between key stakeholders, the officers of the department and other first responders will be protected under the law from liability and also for any loss and/or injury suffered. The law will ensure that the respective MDAs will be more accountable and transparent and will provide space for monitoring and evaluation of the programmers and services being offered. Picture: Maria Martinez, Stella Ngugi and Trevor Louise Key legal issues in disaster risk management Speaking on this topic, Stella Ngugi - Disaster Law Programmed Officer at the IFRC Africa Region said this should be put in place before an emergency happens or before aid comes in. She said there is a need to make sure that agencies responsible are able to support the beneficiaries, control and manage what happens during the emergency phase when aid is coming in the country, especially, if it is aid that is too big for the government to handle, not because they do not have the capacity but depending on how much the disaster has affected the population and also the phase after, which involves how to build on the recovery and the resilience of the population that has been affected. “The national government has the primary role at all times to be able to dictate what’s going on and though international humanitarian workers are coming in and they have their rights, they also have responsibilities and are accountable to the national government which they are working for. So, they must make sure that they are coordinating,” she highlighted. Ngugi also noted that generally, there have been challenges when aid is coming in various countries. She asserted that bringing aid involves crossing borders and each country has its sovereign responsibility to protect its border. Ngugi asserted that she would like the Red Cross Societies to continue the supporting role that they have with the national government, “and the auxiliary role that they have as a technical advisor to the national government is very important. It is unremarkable that in this time we are living in where climate change is affecting the country, despite already having a Disaster Management Bill, we want to see it adapting to the current context of the country. As a small island state, Seychelles is adversely affected by climate change more than other inland countries and so the work they are doing is commendable. I hope they can impart the legislation that is being developed in years to come.” The workshop was held on Thursday, 22 August and Friday, 23 August at Savoy Resort and Spa. Following the comments and suggestions made in this workshop, DRDM will be compiling a report with the help of the International Federation of Red Cross before proceeding with the validation of the draft Act. Article by C.Ouma

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