Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2022
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty The Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 17 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, over 14 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 170 National Societies.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insight that will benefit the Movement as a whole. An innovation campaign was launched in December 2021 to further increase awareness of the Fund and what it stands for.
The campaign resulted in 52 proposals being submitted versus only 28 in 2021, and more innovative proposals compared to previous years, further strengthening the Fund’s positioning as supporting innovation.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is shown by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken.
The selection process
The Fund received 52 applications in 2022, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 471,712 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Libya, Mongolia, Niger, Portugal, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Yemen.
The projects to be supported in 2022 cover a number of themes, including first aid and rescue, support for young people, disaster preparedness, health, social welfare and National Society development. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate new insight and learning that will benefit the Movement as a whole. Reports from the National Societies whose projects were funded and implemented in 2020 generated insights in the areas listed below.
Top 10 key learnings from project implemented in 2020
Adaptability and agility
Taking a pilot approach
The 2022 grants
The Burkinabe Red Cross Society plans to strengthen psychosocial care and the capacities of community volunteers and first-aiders in communities affected by the crisis. The grant will allow the National Society to assist victims of attacks by armed groups in areas where security is a challenge.
In 2017, over 43.8% of Ivorians were illiterate, and the disparities between men and women and by places of residence were enormous. The Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire will use the grant to help improve the education and increase the autonomy of young women in the Bounkani Region who have not attended school.
The Croatian Red Cross will use the grant funds to spread awareness of the humanitarian ideals and educate children from an early age, through the Humanity Corner.
The Dominica Red Cross Society will provide support for and help introduce farming techniques and other solutions for managing climate change and other risks. The funds will be used to train 15 farmers as Agri First Responders in their community.
The Dominican Red Cross will help build young people’s capacity to carry out local social support activities. The grant will be used to develop a virtual introductory course on planning and coordinating social support activities that is adapted to the young people’s local reality, so that they are equipped with the techniques and tools to address the needs of their community.
The Ecuadorean Red Cross aims to identify and provide primary care for the negative feelings and emotions in young people from age 15 to 30 years in the city of Quito. The grant funds will provide immersion technologies to addresses the heightened need in the community owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jordan National Red Crescent Society has recognized young people and volunteers as the beating heart of the National Society, especially during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which they served local communities across the country, when mobility was restricted. This grant will help them improve the management system for recruiting, developing, promoting and retaining volunteers to support humanitarian operations.
Libya is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, given its arid climate. This grant will help the Libyan Red Crescent raise awareness of the risks associated with climate change and highlight personal behaviours that could help mitigate these risks for communities.
The Mongolian Red Cross Society wants to use digital communication tools funded by the grant in order to help ensure there is meaningful community participation across all programmes and operations, improve its public relations management and strengthen its transparency and accountability to communities.
In the event of an accident, smartphones can provide information that is essential for providing effective first aid. Thanks to the grant, the Red Cross Society of Niger will educate and inform the public about how to store useful information in the “emergency call” section of their phones.
The Portuguese Red Cross will address young people's social exclusion and the lack of space and opportunities to develop relevant skills and digital literacy, through the Platforms of Change, funded by the grant.
Through the “Their life is in your hands” digital marketing campaign, funded by the grant, the Red Cross of Serbia will raise the general public’s awareness of the value of CPR skills and AED use and provide the related training.
The Republic of Korea National Red Cross will focus on supporting disaster risk reduction in many countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The grant will fund development of virtual reality training content by the Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Centre, provide sets of virtual reality devices to seven National Societies and provide virtual reality training on disaster risk reduction.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is aiming for better nutrition and improved water, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities that are drought-prone. The grant will introduce groundwater recharging practices into the catchment and tank ecosystem areas, to facilitate groundwater retention.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, communities face challenges in gaining access to reliable, up-to-date information and in overcoming the rumours, myths and misconceptions around the vaccine. Supported by the grant, the Tanzania Red Cross Society will develop a mobile application, “UJANJA KUCHANJA”, to enhance information-sharing, build trust and increase information access and reach.
In a mountainous district of Yemen, frequent rockslides often injure people and domestic animals, disrupt transport networks and cut people off from their livelihood activities. Thanks to the grant, the Yemen Red Crescent Society will take measures to prevent rockslides and help reduce the number of victims and the damage caused.
| 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.
| Press release
Cyclone Kenneth: First reports from northern Mozambique
Beira/Nairobi/Geneva, 26 April 2019 – Red Cross teams in northern Mozambique are reporting serious damage in towns and communities that bore the brunt of Cyclone Kenneth overnight.
Kenneth made landfall with wind speeds of up to 231 km per hour – almost the equivalent of a category 4 hurricane. Initial reports from Quissanga indicate extensive damage to houses, while communication with Macomia and Muidumbe remains down.
Antonio Carabante, Relief Delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Nampula said:
“These are initial reports, but they are quite concerning. We are being told that the wind caused quite a lot of damage. We are worried, especially about people living in communities that we have not yet heard from. We are working to open lines of communication, and to get personnel and supplies to where they are needed.”
The situation is likely to be compounded in coming days by expected torrential rains. Some predictions suggest that Kenneth could drop as much as 250mm of water over the weekend – equivalent to about a quarter of average annual rainfall for the region.
IFRC’s Carabante said:
“While attention is often given to wind speed, we know from experience that it is rainfall – and subsequent flooding and landslides – that can be even more dangerous from a humanitarian perspective. This was certainly the case for Cyclone Idai.
“The terrain in many affected communities are precarious – many of these areas are prone to flooding and landslides in normal rainfall, and this is far from a normal situation.”
The districts of Macomia, Quissanga, Mocimboa da Praia and Mecufi are expected to experience the worst of the rainfall, according to meteorologists.
Red Cross staff and volunteers across southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique have been helping communities prepare in anticipation of Cyclone Kenneth’s landfall. Their Red Crescent colleagues in Comoros have already supported search and rescue efforts, providing urgent first aid. Red Crescent teams have reported that more than 1,200 people are affected so far with this number expected to rise as homes and crops are damaged and destroyed across the islands of Comoros.
IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal for 31 million Swiss francs to support the Mozambique Red Cross to provide 200,000 people with emergency assistance following Cyclone Idai over the next 24 months.
IFRC is also supporting Tanzania, Comoros, and northern Mozambique, deploying experts to support local efforts in assessing and responding to the immediate needs on the ground.
| Press release
Volunteers in Comoros, Mozambique and Tanzania prepare as Cyclone Kenneth forms
Nairobi/Geneva, 24 April 2019 – Teams of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are on alert as a Cyclone Kenneth makes its way to Comoros and potentially on to Tanzania and Mozambique.
Red Cross volunteers in northern Mozambique are alerting communities in areas where the concern of flooding, erosion and landslides are particularly high, including Nacala-Porto and Nacala-A Velha districts. Tanzania and Mozambique Red Cross are prepositioning supplies and preparing teams in anticipation.
Kenneth formed into a cyclone earlier today (24 April), and it could strengthen further before reaching Comoros as early as this evening.
Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Regional Director for Africa for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:
“We are concerned about the impact that this storm could have across the three countries. We are especially concerned about its possible impact in Mozambique where communities are still recovering from the devastation of Cyclone Idai.
“We are supporting local Red Cross and Red Crescent teams on the ground across Comoros, Tanzania and Mozambique, ensuring they are ready if and when Cyclone Kenneth strikes.”
An IFRC specialist is en route to Comoros to support local Red Crescent efforts.
More than one month ago, Cyclone Idai affected approximately 1.8 million people across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and killed nearly 1,000. IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal for 31 million Swiss francs to support the Mozambique Red Cross to provide 200,000 people with emergency assistance water, sanitation and hygiene; shelter, health, livelihoods and protection services over the next 24 months.
Delivering health and dignity for mothers and babies in the world’s third-largest refugee camp
Life can be frightening and stressful for pregnant women, new mothers, and families with young children in a large refugee camp such as Nyarugusu, in Tanzania. But vulnerable women, children and families in this camp can rely on the dedicated volunteers and staff of the Tanzania Red Cross Society, which runs a hospital, health clinics, ante- and post-natal support and paediatric services for the camp’s residents and people living in neighbouring host communities.
Tanzania Red Cross workers also provide emergency medical treatment, health care, shelter, water and sanitation support, and distribute relief items such as blankets and buckets to people in need.
The camp was initially set up to host Congolese refugees in 1997, but has expanded significantly in recent years following the arrival of large numbers of people from Burundi. It is now the third-largest refugee camp in the world, with some 150,000 residents.
Access to health care is improving, thanks to the Tanzania Red Cross with IFRC and other partners, but refugees and host communities alike are still struggling with inadequate support services and infrastructure for the growing population.
Visit inside-nyarugusu.com to view their stories