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11/04/2022 | Article

Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2022

The Fund The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty The Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime. It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan. The Fund has a total value of over 17 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways. The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, over 14 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 170 National Societies. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insight that will benefit the Movement as a whole. An innovation campaign was launched in December 2021 to further increase awareness of the Fund and what it stands for. The campaign resulted in 52 proposals being submitted versus only 28 in 2021, and more innovative proposals compared to previous years, further strengthening the Fund’s positioning as supporting innovation. The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is shown by the regularity of their contributions to it. The grants are announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken. The selection process The Fund received 52 applications in 2022, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 471,712 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Libya, Mongolia, Niger, Portugal, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Yemen. The projects to be supported in 2022 cover a number of themes, including first aid and rescue, support for young people, disaster preparedness, health, social welfare and National Society development. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate new insight and learning that will benefit the Movement as a whole. Reports from the National Societies whose projects were funded and implemented in 2020 generated insights in the areas listed below. Top 10 key learnings from project implemented in 2020 Skills development Process improvement Adaptability and agility Leveraging synergies Project management Digitalization Change management Taking a pilot approach Aligning strategies Improving communications The 2022 grants The Burkinabe Red Cross Society plans to strengthen psychosocial care and the capacities of community volunteers and first-aiders in communities affected by the crisis. The grant will allow the National Society to assist victims of attacks by armed groups in areas where security is a challenge. In 2017, over 43.8% of Ivorians were illiterate, and the disparities between men and women and by places of residence were enormous. The Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire will use the grant to help improve the education and increase the autonomy of young women in the Bounkani Region who have not attended school. The Croatian Red Cross will use the grant funds to spread awareness of the humanitarian ideals and educate children from an early age, through the Humanity Corner. The Dominica Red Cross Society will provide support for and help introduce farming techniques and other solutions for managing climate change and other risks. The funds will be used to train 15 farmers as Agri First Responders in their community. The Dominican Red Cross will help build young people’s capacity to carry out local social support activities. The grant will be used to develop a virtual introductory course on planning and coordinating social support activities that is adapted to the young people’s local reality, so that they are equipped with the techniques and tools to address the needs of their community. The Ecuadorean Red Cross aims to identify and provide primary care for the negative feelings and emotions in young people from age 15 to 30 years in the city of Quito. The grant funds will provide immersion technologies to addresses the heightened need in the community owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jordan National Red Crescent Society has recognized young people and volunteers as the beating heart of the National Society, especially during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which they served local communities across the country, when mobility was restricted. This grant will help them improve the management system for recruiting, developing, promoting and retaining volunteers to support humanitarian operations. Libya is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, given its arid climate. This grant will help the Libyan Red Crescent raise awareness of the risks associated with climate change and highlight personal behaviours that could help mitigate these risks for communities. The Mongolian Red Cross Society wants to use digital communication tools funded by the grant in order to help ensure there is meaningful community participation across all programmes and operations, improve its public relations management and strengthen its transparency and accountability to communities. In the event of an accident, smartphones can provide information that is essential for providing effective first aid. Thanks to the grant, the Red Cross Society of Niger will educate and inform the public about how to store useful information in the “emergency call” section of their phones. The Portuguese Red Cross will address young people's social exclusion and the lack of space and opportunities to develop relevant skills and digital literacy, through the Platforms of Change, funded by the grant. Through the “Their life is in your hands” digital marketing campaign, funded by the grant, the Red Cross of Serbia will raise the general public’s awareness of the value of CPR skills and AED use and provide the related training. The Republic of Korea National Red Cross will focus on supporting disaster risk reduction in many countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The grant will fund development of virtual reality training content by the Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Centre, provide sets of virtual reality devices to seven National Societies and provide virtual reality training on disaster risk reduction. The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is aiming for better nutrition and improved water, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities that are drought-prone. The grant will introduce groundwater recharging practices into the catchment and tank ecosystem areas, to facilitate groundwater retention. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, communities face challenges in gaining access to reliable, up-to-date information and in overcoming the rumours, myths and misconceptions around the vaccine. Supported by the grant, the Tanzania Red Cross Society will develop a mobile application, “UJANJA KUCHANJA”, to enhance information-sharing, build trust and increase information access and reach. In a mountainous district of Yemen, frequent rockslides often injure people and domestic animals, disrupt transport networks and cut people off from their livelihood activities. Thanks to the grant, the Yemen Red Crescent Society will take measures to prevent rockslides and help reduce the number of victims and the damage caused.

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12/01/2021 | Press release

Red Cross provides relief ahead of extreme winter season in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar/Kuala Lumpur, 12 January 2021 –Forecasts of one of the most extreme winters on record in Mongolia have triggered the release of pre-emptive emergency funds in a bid to protect the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable herders, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced today. Mongolia’s National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring has warned that more than 60 per cent of the country is at risk of an extreme winter, with temperatures forecast to plummet to extreme lows of -50C for days on end. These extreme winters – known asdzud– threaten the health and livelihoods of thousands of Mongolian herders living in the country’s remote central and southern provinces.Dzudis caused by the double impact of drought in the summer followed by harsh winter conditions. Without summer rain, grass does not grow and millions of farm animals cannot put on enough weight to survive the winter and farmers are unable to grow sufficient harvests. Mongolian Red Cross Society Secretary GeneralBolormaa Nordovsaid: “Dzuds are devastating for the herder families who rely on their animals for almost everything, whether it’s meat and milk for food, or the cashmere and skins they sell to buy supplies or pay school fees. Losing their animals mean they can quickly fall into poverty.” “Without support, extreme winter brings misery, hunger and hardship for thousands of families forcing many to move to squatter settlements outside Ulaanbaatar, our capital. This anticipatory action allows us to help some of the most at-risk people before the harsh winter sets in.” The unwelcome news of the coming dzudhas triggered the release of nearly 290,000 Swiss francs (about 314,000 US dollars) from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. This will allow the Mongolian Red Cross to support 2,000 herder families in a bid to prevent major stock and economic loss through the distribution of cash grants and animal care kits. The release of these funds come as part of the IFRC’s Forecast-based Financing approach. Under this approach, IFRC works with scientific partners to combine weather forecasts and risk analyses to develop pre-agreed thresholds that trigger the release of emergency funding with a view to limiting or even outright preventing the adverse consequences of climate hazards like the dzud.This early action is conducted in partnership with other humanitarian actors including the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. IFRC’s Regional Forecast-Based Financing Coordinator, Raymond Zingg, said: “The goal of Forecast-based Financing is to anticipate disasters, prevent their impact as best as possible to reduce human suffering and losses. The key element is to agree in advance to release financial resources if a specific forecast threshold is triggered. “Simply waiting for disasters to strike is no longer an option. Climate change is bringing more frequent and severe disasters and our anticipatory action approach is helping communities move from reacting after extreme weather events to preparing before these emergencies.” In 2010, the dzudkilled more than 11 million animals and thousands of herder families were forced off the land. Mongolia’s Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment has predicted that severe dzuds like the 2010 event will become more frequent, occurring every four to five years instead of every 10.

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28/09/2020 | Article

Behind Mongolia’s COVID-19 success is a story of lost livelihoods

Ariuntuya meets with Mongolian Red Cross volunteer Surenkhorloo and IFRC’s Javzaa: Photo: Mongolia Red Cross SocietyAriuntuya is no stranger to tragedy. Thirteen years ago, the 51-year-old lost both her legs in a car accident. She lost her much-loved husband some 10 years ago, and two years later her son tragically died in another car accident. Her immediate family gone, she now lives with her 15-year-old niece in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, making her living by sewing woollen slippers.Yet even this simple livelihood is now under threat due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Tourists, who were her primary customers, can no longer travel to Mongolia. After the country shut down to prevent the spread of the virus, many of her local customers stopped placing orders after losing their jobs. Without an income, Ariuntuya now relies on food parcels from the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS). “I appreciate the good gesture shown by the Red Cross in helping me and my family in a time I need them the most,” she said.Stories like Ariuntuya’s are playing out in homes all across Mongolia, a country which has not received global attention largely due to its relative success in tackling COVID-19. As of late September, only 313 COVID-19 cases and zero deaths were reported in the country. This was achieved through restrictions on movement and widespread prevention measures, such as the closure of borders and schools at the start of the pandemic. Though schools re-opened at the start of September, international flights have not resumed.These restrictions have led to significant socio-economic impacts and increased vulnerability among poor households. The World Bank’s Household Response Survey revealed the impact on the country’s poorest families in stark terms: nearly half of poor respondents had been uncertain about their ability to obtain food in the previous 30 days due to lack of money or rising prices; almost one in four (23%)  were concerned about food security in the coming week; more than half (53%) said they were worried about their finances over the next month. Moreover, the report revealed that 12% of households experienced job losses, and 7% of households had to close their non-farm business.In response to this economic impact, the Mongolian Red Cross, together with the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), has been providing food and hygiene parcels to the most affected families. So far they have reached more than 3,000 households. Red Cross staff and volunteers are also part of the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19, distributing face-masks, conducting hygiene training and information sessions as well as providing psychosocial support.Secretary General of MRCS, Bolormaa Nordov, said the country’s economic situation was becoming more challenging every day. “These challenges directly lead to significant negative impact on social vulnerability and household livelihoods. IFRC’s COVID-19 operation provided timely support for the most vulnerable households during this pandemic.”Head of the IFRC’s East Asia support team, Gwendolyn Pang, said: “The impacts of COVID-19 in Mongolia are much greater than the limited number of infections and deaths in the country. At IFRC we always value the impact on human lives, more than the numbers.”“In the case of Mongolia, we try to reach out to the most vulnerable people in the most hard to reach communities with services and information that not only protect people from COVID-19 but alleviate the human suffering that is a tragic side effect of this pandemic.”

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