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Kenya: Floods

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Article

‘No such thing as a simple disaster’: Partnership to tackle complex food crises by addressing hunger on multiple fronts

Along the Niger River in Mali, Red Cross volunteers are helping local communities find new sources of water during dry spells when the river dries up and water for crops and livestock all but disappears.“There is water in the river only for three months,” said Nouhoum Maiga, Secretary General of the Mali Red Cross. “And the people there, most of them, rely on that water for their cattle.”As part of a pilot programme, volunteers help the communities dig wells and install solar-powered pumps that provide a continual source of water.In addition, the Red Cross collaborates with meteorological and hydrological services to get ahead of future problems – extreme heat, unpredicted dry spells or flash floods – with community-based early warning systems.As a result, says Maiga, local farmers have been able to quadruple their harvests. “Instead of just doing a harvest for one season they have been able to harvest four times,” he said.A complementary partnershipThis is exactly the kind of forward-looking, multi-layered response to complex challenges that will be strengthened through a renewed partnership signedon 29 May, 2024 between the FAO and the IFRC.The FAO and IFRC partnership aims to build on the two organizations’ complementary mandates and strengths at the local and international level in order to improve the quality, reach, impact and sustainability of food security and agricultural livelihoods programming. So far, the renewed partnership has been initiated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, South Sudan and Uganda.The partnership is born from a growing understanding that durable solutions to today’s complex and long-lasting humanitarian crises require ever deeper cooperation among multiple partners from the community to the global level.“There is no such thing anymore as a simple disaster,” said Caroline Holt, the IFRC Director of Disasters, Climate, and Crises, speaking recently at an FAO-IFRC Global Dialogue on Localization held on 27 March, 2024 in Geneva, Switzerland . “Issues such as food insecurity are intimately connected to lack of access to safe water or reliable energy sources. All of these issues impact one another and so the solutions need to be equally integrated.”Solutions to food insecurity must also address the complex factors that impact local food production and they will require new and innovative resourcing strategies. The partnership between the IFRC and FAO, therefore, will also serve as a base for wider investment by other partners interested in supporting local innovation on food security and livelihoods.“Two-thirds of people experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihood, yet only four per cent of humanitarian assistancegoes towards emergency agriculture assistance,” Dominique Burgeon, Director of the FAO Liaison Office in Geneva, noted during the FAO-IFRC Global Dialogue on Localization.“Food aid alone is not enough to address acute food insecurity without the support and protection of livelihoods, many of which are based in local agriculture”.Mali serves as a good example. In Mali, FAO and the Mali Red Cross are collaborating on cash transfers, supplies for farm and food production, and cooking demonstrations aimed at achieving good nutritional balance, among other things.“We work with those communities, to empower them to be able to provide for themselves even in the midst of ongoing conflict,” added Maiga, who also participated in the FAO-IFRC Global Dialogue on Localization.The case of Mali also highlights the critical role that IFRC member National Societies play in addressing complex, long-lasting crises. In Mali, the Red Cross works amid an array of challenges: unpredictable and extreme weather patterns exacerbated by climate change, instability and insecurity, loss of traditional livelihoods and food sources, and massive displacement of entire communities. Meanwhile, in many parts of the country,most international organizations have left due to a lack of security.“TheRed Cross has remained in the communities impacted by these crises ,” Maiga noted. “Why? Because the Red Cross is a community-based organization. Our 8,000 volunteers are part of the communities where they work.”The critical need for early actionSimilar challenges exist in many countries. With one of the largest refugee populations in the world, Uganda is experiencing numerous, serious climate challenges, as weather patterns become more unpredictable. In some areas, entire communities have been washed away in flash floods.In this case, collaboration between FAO and the Ugandan Red Cross has helped communities withstand heavy rains caused in part by the most recent El Niño Phenomena from September to December 2023.With funding from FAO, the Ugandan Red Cross took actions in ten districts of Uganda in anticipation of coming rains: disseminating early warning information, mapping flood-prone areas, and overseeing cash-for-work activities in which local people cleaned water canals or removed silt from tanks that help contain excess water.In other cases, the cash-for-work projects involved helping local communitiessafely manage crops to reduce loss once they have been harvested. Crops can be ruined if storage facilities are damaged by flooding or if the systems needed to store, transport and distribute them are disrupted.“It's clear that the increasing frequency, magnitude, and intensity of disasters are not only affecting human lives, livelihoods and property but also evolve into epidemics requiring strong investment in community level preparedness and response,” said Ugandan Red Cross Secretary General Robert Kwesiga.

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Podcast

Dr. Asha Mohammed: From dentist to humanitarian leader, her passion and leadership now focused on Africa’s biggest challenges

Dr. Asha Mohammed began her career as a dentist in low-income communities in Kenya. Her passion for helping others and her evident leadership skills led her to key roles battling HiV/AIDS and, eventually, to the role of Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross. She now serves as IFRC’s Permanent Representative to the African Union and International Organizations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From there, she’s taking on climate change, a massive regional hunger crisis, and outbreaks of infectious diseases, among other challenges. In this episode, she talks about the solutions to those challenges. And what it was like being a pioneering woman leader in public health. “When I mentor young women, I tell them, ‘You can be what you want to be. It's really about understanding that you have these different roles to play and that you can find the right balance.”

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Article

Study: Climate change made the dangerous humid heatwave in West Africa 10 times more likely

Human-caused climate change made the humid heatwave in southern West Africa during February ten times more likely, according toa rapid analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists from theWorld Weather Attribution group.The study also found that if humans do not rapidly move away from fossil fuels, causing global warming to rise to 2°C above preindustrial levels, West Africa will experience similar heatwaves about once every two years. Developing heat action plans will help protect vulnerable people from dangerous heatwaves in West Africa, according to the researchers (which includes researches from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre).In February, West Africa was hit by an unusually intense humid heatwave with temperatures not normally seen until March or April. The most severe heat occured from February 11-15 with temperatures above 40°C.In Nigeria, doctors reported an increase in patients presenting for heat-related illness, people complained of poor sleep due to hot nights and the national meteorological agency issued several warnings about the heat.In Ghana, the national meteorological agency also warned people to prepare for dangerous temperatures. The heat occurred during the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in Côte d'Ivoire.“Many people do not appreciate the dangers of heat – unlike storms, fires or droughts, heatwaves don’t leave an evident trail of destruction," said Maja Vahlberg, risk consultant at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, which contributed to the research. “However, heatwaves are ‘silent killers.’ They can be incredibly deadly for the elderly, people with existing health conditions and outdoor workers."“Humidity makes a massive difference to the human experience of heat. While the average air temperature across West Africa during mid-February was about 36°C, the humidity meant it would have felt like 50°C.“Countries across Africa, and the world, need to prepare for heat. Simple measures like awareness campaigns and warning systems can save thousands of lives during heatwaves.”Due to the hot and humid conditions, additional ‘cooling breaks’ were taken during the matches so players could rehydrate. February this year was the hottest February on record globally and the ninth consecutive month in a row that a hottest month record was broken.Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal, and deforestation, has made heatwaves more frequent, longer and hotter around the world. To quantify the effect of climate change on the hot and humid temperatures in West Africa, scientists analysed observed weather data and climate models to compare how the event has changed between today’s climate, with approximately 1.2°C of global warming, and the cooler pre-industrial climate, using peer-reviewed methods.For more information, please visit the World Weather Attribution webpage.

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Article

World Radio Day: How radio helps keep communities healthy and safe

Though we’re living in an increasingly digital world, radio remains an important source of information, entertainment, and connection in countries across the globe.This is especially true among rural communities, for whom radio is often the most trusted—or sometimes only—source of news and information for miles around.Imagine you’re living in one of these communities, far from the nearest health centre. You notice people are falling sick and you don’t know why. Seeking answers, you tune into your local radio station.The presenter is talking about the ‘mystery illness’ in a panicked way, saying how gruesome the symptoms are, how many people have died, and how you should avoid infected people at all costs. He’s heard the illness could be some kind of curse, and that apparently drinking salty water can protect you.Hearing this report, and with no other sources to turn to, you’d probably feel scared and unsure of what to do.But imagine you tuned in and heard a totally different show. The presenter calmly offers practical information about the disease—its name, symptoms, how it spreads, and measures you can take to protect yourself. He interviews a local doctor you know and trust who responds to common questions and concerns.You’d feel reassured and have the information you need to keep you and your family safe.In several countries, the IFRC and our National Societies are partnering with local media to do exactly this: provide life-saving information before, during, and after health outbreaks.As part of the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), we’ve been working with the charity BBC Media Action to train journalists and Red Cross Societies from seven countries in Lifeline Programming: special media programming that provides accurate, practical, and timely information in a health or humanitarian crisis.National Societies regularly partner with media outlets to broadcast helpful information that keeps communities healthy and safe from a wide range of diseases. Let’s look at some examples.KenyaIn Bomet and Tharaka Nithi counties, Kenya Red Cross teams up with local radio stations and county health services, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with useful health messages on how to prevent diseases such as anthrax, rabies and cholera.Information is shared in simple language. And listeners can call in to ask questions or suggest health topics for discussion.“At first, media was known for reporting two things, maybe: politics, and bad things that have happened in society. But the Red Cross helped us […] use the media in educating the people about disease,” explains Sylvester Rono, a journalist with Kass FM trained in Lifeline programming.“I am now proud to say that this has really helped our communities. Our people are now appreciating why we should vaccinate our pets, why we should go to the hospital when we have a bite, why we should report any [health] incident, and when you see any sign of diseases, be it rabies, be it anthrax, be it cholera […] the importance of reporting it earlier,” he adds.CameroonIn late 2021, a cholera outbreak threatened the lives of communities in the North region of Cameroon—a rural part of the country where communities are widely dispersed.As part of its response, the Cameroon Red Cross teamed up with local radio stations—launching a series of community radio programmes to share information on how people could protect themselves, what symptoms to look out for, and where to access help if they fell sick.Themes for the programmes were selected in partnership with community leaders. And after the shows broadcast, Red Cross volunteers headed out into their communities to reinforce the messages shared on air through door-to-door visits.“The radio programme is very good, because it has given me practical information. I had a cholera case in my family, but based on the measures I heard on the radio, I was able to save my sister’s child who was sick,” explained Talaga Joseph, a listener who called into FM Bénoué—one of the participating radio stations.Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)In DRC, harmful rumours and misinformation about COVID-19 and other diseases have spread across the country in recent years. For example, some people believed the COVID-19 vaccine was a source of income for the government and had no benefit to society, while others believed the measles vaccine was less effective than traditional remedies involving cassava leaves.To address these rumours, DRC Red Cross volunteers went door-to-door to collect community feedback and record common myths and misconceptions. After analysing the feedback, DRC Red Cross staff took to the airwaves—launching interactive radio shows to directly address and debunk health misinformation and provide trusted advice.For example, in Kongo Central province, the DRC Red Cross partners with Radio Bangu to produce a show called ‘Red Cross School’. Listeners call in to check information on different diseases, ask questions, and discover what support they can access from the Red Cross.“The collaboration with the Red Cross is very good and has enabled listeners to learn more about its activities and how they can prevent different illnesses and epidemics. The Red Cross broadcasts are so popular they have increased our overall number of listeners in the area we cover,” says Rigobert Malalako, Station Manager at Radio Bangu.--The activities with local radio featured in this article are just a few examples of media partnerships developed through the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), CP3 supports communities, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other partners to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more, sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Newsletter.You can also access the following resources:BBC Media Action’s Guide for the media on communicating in public health emergencies (available in multiple languages)BBC Media Action’s Lifeline programming websiteIFRC Epidemic Control Toolkit

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Press release

Africa's hunger crisis intensifies: IFRC warns against crisis fatigue

Geneva/Nairobi, 07 December 2023: In response to the growing hunger crisis across sub-Saharan Africa, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is amplifying its call to action amidst growing concerns of crisis fatigue. To this end, the IFRC has revised its funding appeal to 318 million Swiss Francs, now aiming to reach 18 countries. More than a year has passed since the initial launch of the Africa hunger crisis appeal, yet the needs continue to outpace support received. Originally set at 215 million Swiss Francs for 16 countries, only 59 million Swiss Francs has been raised. This humanitarian crisis, intensified by recurring droughts, El Niño-induced floods, conflicts and economic downturns, demands an immediate response to prevent widespread suffering, loss of lives and livelihoods. Around 157 million people in 35 countries across sub-Saharan Africa face acute food insecurity. Despite early warnings from African Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, more funding and resources are needed. The Horn of Africa has been particularly hard-hit, enduring its longest dry spell on record with five consecutive dry seasons. In contrast, regions like eastern Kenya, parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania experienced heavier than usual rains during the October-December season, leading to flooding that further aggravated the situation for those already facing acute food insecurity. This mix of extreme weather conditions, along with ongoing conflicts, has led to varied harvest outcomes across the continent. Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are witnessing heart-wrenching conditions where many, including women and children, survive on less than one meal a day. Mohamed Omer Mukhier, Regional Director for Africa, emphasized the continued urgency: “In the past year, the dire need for resources in tackling the current hunger crisis has been evident with millions of people deprived of water, food and health services. While this crisis has intensified, it has been largely overshadowed by more visible crises over the past year. Considering its magnitude across the continent, we urgently call for expanded support to pursue our collective lifesaving and life-sustaining mobilization.” These countries are currently at the heart of the hunger crisis: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. African Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have been instrumental in providing life-saving assistance to millions affected by this crisis. So far, they have reached 1.53 million people. Most of the aid provided has been water and sanitation services, reaching over 1.2 million people. Additionally, over 725,000 people received cash assistance and over 450,000 received health and nutrition support. This underscores the IFRC's commitment to transitioning from immediate relief to sustainable, long-term resilience strategies in the region. The revised appeal will focus on improving agricultural practices, fostering peace and stability and creating economic opportunities. More information: For more details, visit the Africa Hunger Crisis appeal page. For audio-visual material, visit the IFRC newsroom. To request an interview, contact: [email protected] In Nairobi: Anne Macharia: +254 720 787 764 In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06

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Press release

IFRC launches CHF 18 million appeal for El Niño-induced flood relief in Kenya 

Nairobi/Geneva, 24November2023—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) havelaunched an emergency appeal for 18 million Swiss Francs.This fund is essential in supporting the response to the El Niño-enhanced floodsthat continue to impactKenya. Mohamed Babiker,IFRCHead of Delegation, Nairobi Country Cluster for Somaliaand Kenya, said: “The El Niño floods have triggereda major humanitarian crisis that is affecting millions of people.We are workingclosely with the Kenya Red Cross Society to provideemergency relief to those affected by the floods.” Since early November, Kenya has faced severe flooding, leading to loss of lives, property damage, and a burgeoning humanitarian crisis.The heavy rains in the region have also affected countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania, necessitatinga widescale humanitarian response. Dr. Ahmed Idris, Secretary General,Kenya Red Cross Society,said: “We are dealing with a situation where entire communitieshave either been submerged or marooned. Roads and other critical infrastructure have been cut off, disruptingthedelivery of vital supplies. We need tourgentlyprovidefood, clean waterand medical supplies to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.” The Kenya Red Cross Society’s response includes emergency shelter, psychosocial support, early warning dissemination, and supplying food and water to over 10,000 households. An initialIFRC allocation of CHF 749,939 has supported these efforts. The new Emergency Appeal will enable scaling up of life-saving activities, focusing on shelter, livelihoods, health, water, sanitation, and nutrition. The ongoing rains pose a continued threat, highlighting the need to augment the Kenya Floods Emergency Appeal efforts. More information: For more details, visittheKenya Red Cross Societywebsite andtheIFRC appeal donation page. To request an interview, please contact: [email protected] In Nairobi: Peter Abwao, Kenya Red Cross Society:+254 711590911 Anne Macharia,IFRC:+254720 787 764 Timothy Maina, IFRC: +254110 848 161 In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06

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Emergency

Kenya: Floods

Recent severe flooding in Kenya, caused by unusually active El Niño rains, has killed at least 71 people and displaced many thousands of people. Households have been washed away or are marooned. Farmland has been submerged and livestock drowned.Some of the hardest hit areas have been the semi-arid lands where pastoralism is the economic driver. These areas are still recovering from the worst drought in 40 years. The IFRC and its membership seek CHF 24 million (CHF 12 million of which is expected to be raised by the IFRC Secretariat) to reach 50,000 households with life-saving assistance.

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Article

Risk reduction against water-borne diseases bears fruit in rural Kenya

In the last two years, villages like Cheplewa in the southewestern county of Bomet have witnessed a significant increase in diseases such as Cholera and Hepatitis B — two diseases triggered by consumption of contaminated water. To ensure comprehensive protection of water sources, the Kenya Red Cross and the IFRC have mobilized to educate communities on measures they can take to protect natural springs from contamination and then ensure that they remain clean. Springs serve as the main source of water in this region but it’s common practice for animals to be taken to the springs to drink. Meanwhile, residents also come to the spring and scoop the same water for domestic use. Chebett, a community health worker trained by the Kenya Red Cross, believes the lack of springs in neighboring villages accelerated the increase in Cholera cases. In the previous months, those villages also experienced an outbreak of Hepatitis B. A massive checkup ”At the time of screening and sensitizing communities about Covid-19, and about the importance of getting vaccinated, some people were diagnosed with Hepatitis B”, Chebett said. “We reported this to the Ministry of Health and they called for a massive checkup”. That checkup included community-wide screenings for Hepatitus B as well as continued sensitization on sanitation practices. Those found to be negative for Hepatitus B were vaccinated, while positive cases were given drug treatments. After several months, medical personnel from the Cheplewa dispensary embarked on another massive screening and vaccination, with the aim of eradicating the Hepatitis B virus in the area. But complete eradication became difficult because the Hepatitis B vaccine is given in two doses. Some community members took the first dose, but did not return. It was not long before symptoms — such as non-stop talking or speaking incoherently — began to appear. Mass screening is still ongoing to hasten the identification of new cases. The efforts come as part of IFRC’s focus on working with communities to build their resilience and support to break the cycle of disaster impacts amidst the changing climate. In the Horn of Africa, the alternating weather patterns have continued to cause drought and flooding, impacting water sources, livelihoods and food security. All these factors leave people more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Erasing fear by engaging communities Chebett said that when speaking with community members, she tells them that springs must be protected and the area kept clean. To avoid contamination of the water, communities were encouraged to build underground water tanks to collect spring water. Water taps were then installed next to these tanks at a distance of 10 meters. Community members were involved in the construction of the underground tanks. Though the spring water flowing through the taps is now clean, families were encouraged to boil the water used for drinking and cooking and store it in clean containers, and to keep the containers closed. Water pans for animals to drink were also created. Improved hygiene through education Because this area is between two hills, rainwater flowing down the hills also carries debris. Those who drink the water before boiling it could suffer from Acute Water Diarrhhoea. This led some families and community members to claim that the water had been poisoned and so they stopped drinking water altogether. But, after receiving information from community health workers who were trained by the Kenya Red Cross, they started boiling water used for drinking and cooking, and washing their hands before and after eating. The hygiene standards have also generally improved. Every household was encouraged to build a toilet, and to wash their hands after using the toilet. “The education we give is bearing fruit,” Chebett said of the community engagement efforts, which were made possible through support by USAID funded Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness (CP3) programme.

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Speech

IFRC Secretary General Keynote speech at the 10th Pan African Conference in Nairobi

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends, I’m so pleased to be here in vibrant Nairobi. You have always extended such warmth and enthusiasm every time I visit Africa. Thank you for your unmatched hospitality. I am grateful to Kenya Red Cross for hosting Pan African conference of the IFRC. IFRC Vice President Elder Bolaji Akpan Anani, Chair of the PAC. Governor Korir of the Kenya Red Cross. Governing Board members, Commission and Committee chairs of the IFRC, of the Standing Commission, Africa governance group, Vice President of ICRC (continuing our proud history to invite ICRC to IFRC statutory meetings because we can be successful when we work together as a Movement), National Society and youth leaders, staff and volunteers and the entire IFRC secretariat team. I want to particularly recognize the Africa team led by our Regional Director Mohammed Mukhier for working tirelessly to support the organization of the conference. I pay tribute to all of you for your immense contributions to the IFRC network, today and always. Your dedication to the communities we serve is unparalleled, especially through the recent growing complex crises across Africa. Let me join in solidarity with Morocco and Libya as they work hard to recover from two terrible disasters. As we gather here today, I am struck by the rich tapestry of Africa’s history, cultures, and the extraordinary resilience and spirit of its people. Yet, this comes with its own set of opportunities and challenges. A continent of immense beauty and diversity, Africa presents us with a complex humanitarian landscape. Africa is a place of paradoxes, where soaring aspirations uncomfortably co-exist with profound inequalities. Humanitarian needs are growing each day, stretching the bounds of lives, livelihoods, and human dignity. Poverty, inequality, and political instability compound these humanitarian needs. Economic challenges including high unemployment rates, limited industrialization, and a heavy reliance on primary commodities for export make many African nations vulnerable to fluctuations in global markets. We continue to witness alarming hunger levels across the continent, with 167 million facing acute food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa, a 14% increase from 2022. The impact of El Niño in 2023/2024, forecasts a 90% probability of flooding in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, alongside reduced rainfall in Southern Africa. We know this will further exacerbate food insecurity in the coming years, as African food systems are very vulnerable to climate extremes and shifts in weather patterns. Disease and epidemics are on the rise as a result. Last year, 96 disease outbreaks were officially reported in 36 countries, with cholera, measles, and yellow fever being the most common. As climate disasters worsen, 7.5 million people were displaced in Africa, the highest annual figure ever reported for the region. And with the cascading effects of political instability in a number of countries, the number of people on the move have begun to climb as well, with 9 million people torn from their homes in 2022. We cannot forget that behind these distressing statistics are actual people –women, men, and children with increasing needs and less resilience to cope. These are the challenges that exist in a continent which is full of young and dynamic population full of unparalleled vibrancy and dynamism. It also has many beautiful tourist destinations. This is a continent full of natural resources - minerals, oil and gas, timber, agricultural land, fisheries, renewable energy, gemstones, water resources, forestry products. Almost everything you can think of. It makes me wonder how come a continent so full of resources is also facing so many challenges. How can we contribute to addressing these humanitarian gaps? Please allow me to share just three fundamental approaches that could help us to make a meaningful contribution to the people and communities in Africa. First is Solidarity – Working together in partnerships: We are bound together in our journey in search of a brighter future. The expanding humanitarian needs push us to the brink, but our unwavering solidarity pulls us back and drives us forward. Solidarity and commitment to our Strategy 2030 and Agenda for Renewal allows us to respond to multiple crises and disasters, build community resilience and strengthen localization in this region. Just last month, I visited Gambia and Egypt to better understand the migration situation. My conversations with volunteers, National Society and government leaders were eye opening. When it comes to migration, Africa is a continent on the move. This comes with positive benefits too—In Gambia migrants contribute to 20% of the country’s GDP. To the rest of the world, the migration of Africans is often framed around their movement beyond Africa’s borders. Yet the story of the millions of refugees and internally displaced people being hosted within Africa, which is more than 85%, is not acknowledged. Through the IFRC’s Global Route-based Migration programme and humanitarian service points we witness how Africans are overwhelmingly supporting fellow Africans on the move. Africans standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow Africans, is a testament to our capacity to overcome adversity. As we address urgent crises before us, it's our combined strength that forms our bedrock of hope. Internal solidarity sometimes can be challenging. Let us not doubt ourselves in our commitment to solidarity. Let us foster trust and belief among ourselves. Second is Solutions to scale- think big, act big: Across Africa much progress has been made and the vast opportunities lie ahead. 34 countries, representing approximately 72% of Africa’s population, have demonstrated significant progress in governance over the last two decades, especially in the areas of rule of law, the protection of rights, and growth of civil society. Africa’s great untapped potential is more visible than ever, with economic growth and investment in public services contributing to the improvement of millions of lives and transformation of societies. The theme of this 10th Pan African Conference is renewing investment in Africa. I suggest that we make this investment people centric. You may want to consider calling it "renewing people-centric investment in Africa". I encourage every one of us to consider how investments in National Societies, and especially in their young volunteers, can harness Africa’s agility and innovation that empowers people to address the needs when they come and continue to work to reduce humanitarian needs by building long term resilience in the communities. For this, our Agenda for Renewal guides the IFRC to work for and with National Societies in everything we do. We have invested in scaling up digitalization, risk management, new funding models for greater agility, accountability, and impact to reach the communities. We foster learning and strengthen National Society capacities, so that we become leaders in the humanitarian field, not just in response but in resilience building, data, influence, collaboration, and innovation. In 2020-2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, African National Societies came together with the IFRC secretariat to reach 450 million people with humanitarian services. The REACH initiative between Africa CDC, the African Union and the IFRC comes with an ambition to scale up the community health workforce by two million and strengthening National Society capacity across the continent to address health needs. These are solutions that are tailored to African communities, that reflect African needs and that can be measured by the outcomes we achieve for the people. Let’s not play small. Let’s think big, let’s act big. Because that’s what it is needed now. Third is Leadership – listen, learn and lead. Our humanitarian action must make a positive difference in people’s lives. In this era of fast paced change and shifting political divides, our leadership has never been more crucial. Leadership to partner with others along equal and mutually reinforcing terms, Leadership to position our National Societies as unparalleled community partner, with unmatched local intelligence and reach, Leadership to engage in internal transformation, Leadership to embody our Fundamental Principles, Leadership to invest in young people--Africa’s most abundant and greatest resource--harness their skills, give them opportunities to lead us to a more just and equitable future. Leadership to build trust, internally and externally, to be bold at communicating good news as well as challenges, to bring about collective energy and hope. Leadership that doesn’t accept business as usual. Leadership that strives for excellence in everything we do. There will be ups and downs, but we will persist. This is what leadership is all about. In our pursuit of a brighter future for Africa, let us hold ourselves to lead with accountability, not just to the challenges of today but also to the aspirations of tomorrow. Let every action we take, every initiative we launch, and every partnership we forge be a testament to our unwavering commitment to the people. I wish you a very productive Pan-African Conference. And please allow me to conclude by sharing a quote from Nelson Mandela – «one of the things I learned when I was negotiating that until I changed myself, I couldn’t change others». Let this conference give us the inspiration to be the real agent of change for the people of Africa. Thank you.

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Podcast

Mahabub Maalim: Planting hope amid a hunger crisis in Africa

A regional leader in the fight against food insecurity in Africa, Mahabub Maalim knows first-hand the impact that hunger has on people and communities. Growing up in eastern Kenya, he’s seen how cycles of drought, crop loss and hunger have become more frequent and more severe. He’s dedicated his life to helping communities develop local solutions and he now serves as special advisor to IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Africa (now impacting 23 countries).

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Basic page

REACH initiative

Our Resilient and Empowered African Community Health (REACH) initiative, in partnership with Africa CDC, aims to improve the health of communities across Africa by scaling upeffective, people-centred and integrated community health workforces and systems.

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Article

Hiding from bullets in a water tank: Kenyan evacuee who fled Sudan shares her story

“I heard the bullets outside when I was cleaning. My boss told me the war had started.” These are the words of Theresa*, a young woman from Kenya who bravely agreed to share her story with me about fleeing the conflict in Sudan. Feeling afraid for her safety, she asked me to not publish her photo. Theresa had just started working as a domestic worker with five other young women in a large home in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, when the fighting broke out. “I was new in Sudan. My bosses left for Egypt and I stayed with five girls and three security. The electricity went off, there was no water, it was too hot.” She says thieves came into the house, tied up their security and started looking for her and her fellow workers. “We went and hid upstairs at the top of the house where there was a water tank. The thieves broke the doors, took gold, money, everything in the house. Even my passport.” “They came upstairs and looked around. We had left a phone and kettle of tea and they said ‘the girls are around and have taken their tea here’.” “I was inside the water tank. They shot bullets so we would come out, but we didn’t. We kept quiet in that tank of water until they ran away.” Theresa and her fellow workers fled the house several days later when another group of men came and moved into it. “I left everything in that house. The road was not safe. The bombs were everywhere. They were shooting, I didn’t care [if I died]. […] I came to my embassy. I stayed there then they brought me to Kenya.” Theresa is just one of 44 people I met in Nairobi airport who’d managed to get evacuated to safety from the conflict in Sudan. They drifted through the airport gates in small pairs and groups, collapsing onto chairs that volunteers from the Kenya Red Cross (KRC) had set out for them. “Karibu, you’re welcome” were among the first words they heard. The group was made up of mostly women – their evacuation prioritized due to the increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. They had come from different countries and had all been in Sudan to work or study. Social worker and Kenya Red Cross volunteer, Alexina, tells me most of the women and some of the men she’s helped have survived sexual violence. She’s welcomed numerous groups now, and stories like Theresa’s are shockingly similar. People have often fled in a hurry, or their possessions have been stolen en route, meaning they typically have no passports, money or belongings by the time they reach Nairobi. When they arrive, evacuees first register with Kenya Red Cross volunteers who take their details to help reconnect them with their loved ones. They’re then led to a tent where they can have quiet conversations with trained mental health workers. Inside the tent, volunteers, including psychologists and a social worker, sit with small circles of evacuees who share their stories of what they’ve been through. This early psychosocial support gives people who’ve been through traumatic situations a chance to start to process what’s happened. Next is a police table to help them with ID documentation. Then there’s a comfortable welcoming area where people enjoy food and drinks, and a first aid station with medical and hygiene supplies. People can access free phone services, and the Kenya Red Cross runs a bus service to transfer people to free accommodation. “I’m very happy to be back in Kenya now […] When they were looking for me and I was inside the water tank, I thought that was my day to die,” says Theresa. After recounting her story, Theresa looks numb and exhausted. I struggle to find adequate words as we say goodbye. She climbs, carrying her one bag, into one of the buses, and I think about what I should have said: “I’m in awe at your resilience, Theresa.” -- An estimated nine million people have been affected by the conflict in Sudan. Some 1.2 million people have been displaced internally and nearly half a million people have fled to neighbouring countries. The IFRC has launched two Emergency Appeals in response to this crisis: one to support the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to help people inside Sudan, and another to support National Societies in six neighbouring countries welcoming people fleeing the conflict. To help people like Theresa, please donate to our appeals by following the links above. -- *Name has been changed to protect her identity.

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Article

Kenya hunger crisis: Voices from the drought

Kenya is one of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa currently experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades. Severe drought, due to the failure of four consecutive rainy seasons, means millions of people in the country are facing hunger and thirst. But drought isn't the only problem. High inflation, climate-related disasters, conflicts and displacement are just a handful of the other local and global factors at play that are putting people's lives across the country at serious risk. And as a result of the hunger crisis, we're also seeing higher rates of child marriage, increased school drop outs and escalating conflicts as people try to cope and access precious resources. The Kenya Red Cross Society, supported by the IFRC, has been helping affected communities to protect their lives and livelihoods through this crisis. Their local volunteers are distributing food, rehabilitating water sources, providing cash transfers and supporting people's nutrition—reaching more than 100,000 households so far. In this article, hear from some of the people we've supported as they talk about how this historical drought is affecting their and their families' lives. Scolastica Esekon, Aukot Village, Ngaremara, Isiolo “I have been blessed with eight children. Now that it is dry and the cattle have left to find pasture elsewhere, we may be without food all afternoon and evening. Livestock has died and at the same time prices have risen. I might get 200 or 500 shillings a day for manual work, but that’s enough for one meal, and we are hungry again in the evening. Life is hard for women. The young people have gone with the animals to look for grass. It may take several days, and then you hear that cattle raiders have killed the men. And some even commit suicide. The water has helped a lot, and we can thank God that he has brought us helpers who have dug wells. When I come back from work in the night, I can get water from nearby. Before, I had to walk several hours away, and I could still come home without water, because the elephants could drive us away. Now that’s not a problem.” Ebenyo Muya, Aukot Village, Ngaremara, Isiolo “The drought has come over us all. We receive aid, but it does not come often and does not last long. We are really grateful for the water project that the Kenya Red Cross has given us. We would also need piping for irrigation, so that we could start farming. Our biggest problem is the drought. The trees are dry and the animals are gone. Without the Red Cross water, we would really be in trouble. The children are weak, and we have nothing to give them. Some people have livestock left, but they cannot sell them, because the animals are too thin. My cattle of 48 cows was stolen a couple of years ago. The drought has made conflicts worse. I believe that agriculture could be a good option for us. If the children can go to school, they will be able to change the future.” Farhiya Abdi Ali, Abakaile location, Garissa “In the past, life was normal and business was good. We got milk and meat from the animals. Now there is no milk. and the animals are too thin for slaughter. My shop has not been doing well, because people have no money to buy goods. I have been told by the wholesale markets that I cannot get anything. But when the Red Cross came and gave people cash assistance, I got money from people and I could buy things in the store again. I got a grant myself and used some to buy things for the shop and used some money to pay my children’s school fees, they are in high school. Life is better now and people are relieved.” Abdi Buke Tinisa, Sericho Location, Isiolo “The Red Cross has dug a well for us, and the cows are allowed to drink, even though there is no pasture here. The drought has been really bad. The animals used to eat and return home early in the evening because they had had enough. Now the animals are looking for food and stay up all night looking for grass. Some stay here near the water and are killed by wild animals at night. This drought has brought with it a lot of fear. I used to have 50 cows, but only 12 are still alive. I don’t think they will survive until the next rains either, they are in poor condition. The children have usually gone to school, but now the problem is school fees. We don’t always have enough money to buy food for the children, how could we have money for school fees?” -- Click here to learn more about the hunger crisis in Africa and to donate to our Emergency Appeal.

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Article

National Society Investment Alliance: Funding announcement 2022

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.

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Emergency

Africa: Hunger crisis

Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades—immense in both its severity and geographic scope.Roughly 146 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is driven by a range of local and global factors, including insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability and negative macroeconomic impacts. Through this regional Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Africa to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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National society

Kenya Red Cross Society

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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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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.