| Press release
IFRC urges governments and humanitarian partners to protect lives ahead of an active hurricane season in the Americas
Panama/Geneva, 31 May 2022 —The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is ramping up preparedness actions ahead of another above-average active Hurricane Season in the Atlantic Ocean. The IFRC urges governments and humanitarian stakeholders to protect lives by investing in early warning systems, forecast-based solutions, and coordinated disaster response plans.
From 1 June to 30 November 2022, North America, Central America, and the Caribbean expect between 14 to 21 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes, including three to six hurricanes of category three or higher. The IFRC and its network are working to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with the effects of heavy rains, landslides, and floods that these weather events may cause during the next six months.
Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said:
“The region may face up to six major hurricanes, but it takes just one single storm to destroy communities that are already grappling with poverty, inequality, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, hundreds of local Red Cross teams in more than 20 countries are sharing early warning messages and coordinating preparedness measures with local governments and community leaders.
In parallel, the IFRC is combining weather forecasts with risk analysis to take early actions ahead of hurricanes rather than simply responding to events. This approach allows us to anticipate disasters, decrease their impact as much as possible, and prevent suffering and the loss of lives and livelihoods.”
The IFRC is paying special attention to the needs of women, children, migrants, and returnees, who are suffering from overlapping crises in Central America. This region is still recovering from the pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota, which left 1.5 million people displaced in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala alone.
In Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti, vulnerable communities exposed to hurricanes and storms are also at highest risk of food insecurity due to the current global food shortage crisis.
In this challenging scenario, the IFRC is advocating for regulatory frameworks that favor the agile delivery of humanitarian aid to areas affected by disasters. It has also prepositioned humanitarian goods in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and across the Caribbean to provide immediate response to the humanitarian needs for up to 60,000 people in both the Pacific and Atlantic coastal zones.
According to the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, the 2022 hurricane season in the Atlantic, and the Caribbean Sea is predicted to be more active than normal due to the influence of the La Niña climate pattern. This phenomenon is active for the third consecutive year and causes sea temperatures in this basin to be above average. This condition allows for more active development of hurricanes, as seen in 2020 and 2021.
For more information, please contact:
Susana Arroyo Barrantes - Comms Manager Americas,[email protected]
María Victoria Langman - Senior Comms Officer Americas,[email protected]
Trevesa Da Silva - Comms Officer English & Dutch Caribbean, [email protected]
| Press release
Madagascar: Red Cross teams rush to avert a tragedy as Tropical Cyclone Emnati approaches
Antananarivo/Nairobi/Geneva, 21 February 2022—Teams from the Malagasy Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)in the eastern part of Madagascar are working around the clock to minimize the humanitarian impact of the fast-approaching Tropical Cyclone Emnati.
Andoniaina Ratsimamanga, the Secretary General of Malagasy Red Cross said:
“There is a risk of a double tragedy, as some communities are expected to be hit by a second cyclone in less than a month. Tropical Cyclone Emnati is likely to have a devastating effect on communities on the eastern coastline of Madagascar that are still reeling from the impact of Cyclone Batsirai. Many have lost their homes, crops and livestock. We are truly worried and call upon partners to increase their support and avert a humanitarian tragedy.”
The arrival of Emnati will only worsen an already dire humanitarian situation. The impact ofCyclone Batsirai, which made landfall on the east coast of Madagascar on 5 February 2022, continues to be felt in the regions of Atsinanana, Fitovinany, Vatovavy and Atsimo-Atsinanana. In Vatovavy region, the most affected districts are Nosy-Varika and Mananjary. In Fitovinany region, the most affected districts are Manakara, Vohipeno and Ikongo, with 140,000 people in need of assistance.
Tomorrow, with projected windspeeds of 220 km per hour, tropical Cyclone Emnati is expected to strike the same regions that were already hit by Batsirai: Atsinanana, Vatovavy and Fitovinany. Ahead of its landfall, the IFRC and Malagasy Red Cross Society teams, as well as partners in the region, are providing early warning support and preparing emergency relief items to help communities living in the cyclone’s path to stay safe. The Malagasy Red Cross Society is part of the national emergency response mechanism, which is led by the Malagasy Government, through the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC). To support the Malagasy Red Cross to help affected communities, the IFRCis stepping up its response efforts and is seeking additional funds.
Alina Atemnkeng, who is currently in Mananjary leading IFRC’s response following Cyclone Batsirai, as well as the preparedness efforts ahead of Emnati’s landfall, said:
“Malagasy Red Cross Society’s teams, IFRC teams and partners are on high alert and are deployed in communities, warning them of the approaching storm. Red Cross volunteers are sharing early warning messages with communities, preparing evacuation sites and helping communities to move to safer locations.”
Atemnkeng added:“As we respond, we need to think short-term and long-term at the same time: more cyclones will come, and we need to ensure that communities are adequately protected from the inevitable, subsequent storms. Given the overall challenges caused by climate change, we reiterate our call to governments, regional intergovernmental bodies and our partners to strengthen their investments in disaster risk reduction, with a particular focus on preparedness actions.”
Madagascar is one of the ten most vulnerable countries to disasters worldwide and faces compounding hazards. While the eastern parts are battling cyclones, the southern parts are experiencing severe drought leaving at least 1.3 million people in need of food assistance.Globally, we are seeing that climate change is aggravating the risk of complex emergencies, which are increasingly challenging for the humanitarian community to respond to.
For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:
Mialy Caren Ramanantoanina, +261 329 842 144,[email protected](in Mananjary)
Ny Antsa Mirado Rakotondratsimba, +261 34 54 458 76,[email protected]
In Nairobi:Euloge Ishimwe,+254 735 437 906,[email protected]
In Geneva:Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500,[email protected]
| Press release
Climate Change: Red Cross calls for more investments in local action as European and African leaders meet in Brussels
Nairobi, Kenya. 17 February 2022 – As parts of Southern Africa are reeling from the impacts of tropical storms and cyclones and other parts of the continent are facing severe droughts, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for urgent investment in local action to combat the effects of climate change. The call comes ahead of the 6th European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Summit which gets underway today in Brussels, Belgium.
Recently, tropical storm Ana in Mozambique, Malawi, and Madagascar, and cyclone Batsirai in Madagascar again, left hundreds of thousands of people displaced, homes destroyed, and infrastructure worth billions of dollars damaged. At the same time, humanitarian organizations in Africa warned this week of a catastrophic hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa (Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia) where more than 20 million people are feared to face starvation because of prolonged drought. The Sahel and West Africa, particularly Nigeria, also face a deteriorating food security situation.
Mohammed Mukhier, the Regional Director for IFRC Africa said:
“What we are witnessing is a manifestation of the impact of climate change on the continent. We need to strengthen investments in local preventative measures that build people’s ability to cope with these intensifying disasters.”
Countries in Africa are only responsible for four per cent of global carbon emissions, and at the same time disproportionately affected by the widespread consequences of climate change and accelerated environmental degradation. Yet, climate financing pledged by world leaders is slow to reach the people on the ground who are most exposed to climate risks.
Ahead of the Summit, the IFRC calls for renewed efforts to build and implement a new Africa-EU Partnership that would answer to the needs of the most vulnerable people exposed to the impacts of climate change and the environmental crisis, strengthen food and health security and address forced migration. In the longer term, the role of local actors should be strengthened to support communities in building resilience and addressing humanitarian and development challenges on the continent.
Communities in Africa and elsewhere are also increasingly impacted by multiple hazards in addition to the changing climate, which are compounding their vulnerabilities and affecting their capacity to cope.
“Communities can hardly recover before they are hit by another disaster. Madagascar is a case in point where we saw a devastating drought last year, and before those effects could be relieved, some of those same communities have been impacted by cyclone Batsirai recently.” said Andoniaina Ratsimamanga, Secretary-General of the Malagasy Red Cross Society.
To support countries to cope, there is an urgent need to address underlying vulnerabilities in communities, including poverty and marginalization, and providing support to those most exposed to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is incredible potential that lies within the African continent to address these challenges, including innovative approaches by young people and women to issues such as land restoration and the use of digital platforms.
For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
In South Africa: Thandie Mwape, +27 66 486 8455, [email protected]
Madagascar: Tropical storm and cyclone
Torrential rains and widespread flooding in early 2022 severely affected communities across Madagascar. The country was badly hit by Tropical Storm Ana on 23 January followed byCyclone Batsiraion 5 February, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. This Emergency Appeal will enable the IFRC to support the Malagasy Red Cross in helping vulnerable people impacted by these multiple weather systems. Priorities includefood assistance, emergency shelter and non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as health, nutrition and protection services.
Malawi: Tropical Storm Ana 2022
Tropical Storm Ana lashed the Southern and Central Districts of Malawi from Monday 24 January, bringing strong winds and heavy rains. In a matter of hours communities were being washed out by significant floods. More than 500,000 people are estimated to have been affected and infrastructure and power supplies have been significantly damaged. This Emergency Appeal will enable the IFRC to support the Malawi Red Cross in meeting the immediate needs of displaced families, helping them rebuild their homes and livelihoods, and reducing their risk to future disasters.
Philippines: Typhoon Rai (Odette)
Typhoon Rai, locally named Odette, hit the Philippines on 16 December 2021,ravaging islands and coastal communities in the east and flooding towns and cities across the country. Philippine Red Cross emergency teams mobilized immediately to provide vital humanitarian assistance, reporting widespread devastation to homes and livelihoods. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC will support the Philippine Red Cross to deliver urgent relief and longer term recovery efforts for an estimated 400,000 people.
| Press release
Over 57 million affected by climate disasters across Asia Pacific in 2021
Kuala Lumpur, 15 December 2021 – Asia and the Pacific have experienced relentless and unpredictable climate-related disasters in 2021, severely affecting more than 57 million people during the peak of the global pandemic.
In 2021, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched 26 new operations, 15 of which are climate-related disaster responses. The IFRC is still responding to a further 21 disasters across Asia and the Pacific, from previous years.
South Asia has been the worst hit this year, with millions of people affected by multiple disasters and little time to recover from one to the next.
In India, more than 18 million people have been severely impacted by floods and cyclones this year, according to data from the Indian Government, Disaster Management Division. In Bangladesh, more than half a million people have been swamped by floods, with hundreds of villages marooned for weeks at a time. Around one third of Nepal suffered floods or landslides with many occurring outsides of the traditional monsoon season.
Jessica Letch, IFRC Emergency Operations Manager said:
“For much of this year, millions of families across Asia have been reeling after multiple blows from successive disasters and the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From India to Indonesia, in Nepal and Bangladesh, our health and emergency teams are reporting livelihoods shattered by frequent and unpredictable climate disasters.”
In China’s Henan Province, 13.9 million people were affected by severe flooding in July. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has been worst affected by disasters, with more than one million people swamped by floods in the past month alone, according to the Indonesian Government Regional Disaster Authority.
Drought, combined with associated economic collapse – which unfolds slowly but with devastating consequences – is affecting more than 22.8 million people in Afghanistan, according to the latest Integrated Food Security data.
Other countries across Asia have also been hit by multiple disasters. Nearly one million people were swamped by flooding in Thailand, more than half a million people affected by floods and typhoons in the Philippines and over 125,000 people hit by floods in Myanmar. Pacific Island countries also faced significant flooding due to storms and rising sea tides.
“Responding to disasters at the height of the COVID pandemic has involved some of the most complex operations and the changing climate is throwing unpredictable floods and storms at millions of people, making life even tougher,” said Jessica Letch.
“As risks mount with climate change, the IFRC is investing in anticipatory early warning systems to better prepare communities to act before disasters strike, to reduce the loss of lives and livelihoods.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Kuala Lumpur:
Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451,
Tropical cyclones are rapidly-rotating storm systems that rotate (counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere) around a low pressure centre. They are generally slow moving but severe, with winds of between 120-320 kilometres an hour. They have different names depending on where they happen:cyclonesin Southeast Asian waters and the Indian Ocean, typhoonsin East Asian and Pacific waters and hurricanesin the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean sea. Most cyclone-related deaths are from flooding, but also from electrocution, collapsed structures and blowing debris.
Mozambique: 2021-2022 floods and cyclones
Tropical Cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique on 23 January 2021, bringing devastating winds and extreme rainfall in Beira and surrounding districts. The cyclone caused severe flooding which claimed ten lives and caused massive damage. This Emergency Appeal has now been revised toinclude the impact of Tropical Storm Ana which made landfall on 24 January 2022 anddestroyed thousands of homes as well as dozens of schools and hospitals. An estimated 125,000 people have been affected, with many people already highly vulnerable from Eloise and other disasters in recent years.
| Press release
Red Cross officially activates anticipatory actions ahead of Cyclone Chalane in Mozambique
Maputo/Geneva, 28 December 2020 – In anticipation of Cyclone Chalane’s potential landfall on Wednesday in Mozambique, the Mozambique Red Cross, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and German Red Cross has activated its recently approved Early Action Protocol for Cyclones, with a series of preparedness actions to minimise the cyclone’s impact on communities.
Forecast-based Action is a new form of Red Cross readiness and preparedness actions. It is governed by an ‘Early Action Protocol’, consisting of a preparedness phase with the strategic prepositioning of materials that are tailored to reduce the impact of disasters, and a readiness phase consisting of a tranche of funding that is disbursed up to 72 hours prior to an impending disaster when a cyclone reaches a “trigger” level. In doing so it allows humanitarian actors who are on high alert to kick into action before the event takes place.
Jurg Wilbrink, Forecast-based Action Project Manager IFRC Southern Africa, said:
“Our emphasis at this stage is on anticipation and not reaction. Instead of waiting for the cyclone to hit, we are preparing for its impact. By Wednesday, if the cyclone makes landfall, Red Cross staff and volunteers will have launched early warnings and supported reinforcing houses and public structures, as well as strategic stock in place to limit the potential damage caused to people and infrastructure in targeted vulnerable communities.”
Early actions will include the delivery of shelter kits and other emergency supplies like items for increased hygiene and sanitation, as well as COVID-19 hygiene kits, quick efforts to fortify houses and the distribution of non-food items to buffer the impacts of Chalane. Red Cross volunteers will also be active in sharing potentially life-saving information, including the position of safe areas, medical help and key actions to take before landfall in the area.
Mozambique is a country prone to cyclones and tropical storms which can lead to flash flooding, hundreds of deaths, and massive destruction of property and crops.
Chalane is expected to strike the districts of Buzi, Beira, Dondo and Muanza in Central Mozambique - areas that were devastated by Cyclone Idai in March 2019, and was again hit by severe flooding in February this year, with thousands displaced from their homes and many left clinging to trees to avoid being swept away by the rising river. Cyclone Chalane is expected to reach windspeeds of up to 125km per hour. Recent Red Cross analysis suggests that, even if it makes landfall with windspeeds of 72km per hour, 30 per cent of vulnerable housing structures could be destroyed.
Jânio Dambo, Forecast-based Financing Project Manager at the Mozambique Red Cross (CVM) said that early action will roll out over the next three days ahead of Wednesday evening’s predicted landfall:
“We were busy finalising the details of the early-action protocol in Mozambique when Cyclone Idai hit. At the time, what needed to happen was being put down on paper. This time around, we are putting everything into action. Early action.” Less than a month ago, over 1,000 individual actors participated in a large-scale simulation exercise, testing the workings of the protocol in Moma, Nampula. The lessons learnt during that exercise have already proved invaluable for how decision-makers are approaching Mozambique’s potential cyclone.
For photos and videos of the ‘Early Action Protocol’ simulation exercise in Moma, Nampula, held from 27 November to 6 December 2020:
Urgent action needed for countries in Southern Africa threatened by drought
By Dr. Michael Charles
All countries in the Southern Africa are currently experiencing pockets of dryness. Worryingly for the sub-region, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have declared state of emergencies due to looming drought. The United Nations Climate Action Summit scheduled for 23 September 2019 in New York, United States of America, presents a timely opportunity for urgent global discussions that will hopefully culminate inconcrete, realistic plans to address thedisproportionate impacts of climate change on developing countries.
[caption id="attachment_57159" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Teresa, 19, holds her baby son in front of her destroyed home in Dondo, Mozambique. IFRC/Corrie Butler[/caption]
Southern Africa is one of the regions most affected by serious impacts of climate-induced natural disasters. This year alone, a succession ofcyclonesandfloodshas already resulted in significant loss of life and assets in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and kept humanitarian organisations busy with emergency responses, as well as recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth were different in that they managed to attract global attention because they caused significant devastation during a short period. Climate change-induced natural disasters in Southern Africa are often invisible in the global media, even though they are protracted and threaten the livelihoods of millions. Even lower-level cyclones can cause devastating floods that are quickly followed by debilitating droughts.
Many national economies in Southern Africa are agriculturally based and as long as climate change mitigation strategies enshrined in existing globalpoliciesare not wholeheartedly implemented, a significant portion of the 340 million inhabitants of Southern Africa could be food-insecure in the long-term because of famine.
The increased mass movement of people from areas affected by climate-induced natural disasters is also more likely. Internal and external migration will necessitate greater coordination among humanitarian organisations to adequately support receiving communities and countries to respond to the added burden introduced by new arrivals.
The effects of food insecurity and mass movements are felt most by the vulnerable in our communities, such as the chronically ill and disabled, and women and children. They also place immense pressure on already strained health systems in many countries in the sub-region. With the necessary funds, the Red Cross Movement has the capability and is well placed to address some of the consequences. But urgent action is still needed on the climate change question.
[caption id="attachment_57175" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] In Mwanza district, Malawi, Red Cross has helped communities create gardens with smart irrigation to create greater food security, less reliance on rains and can harvest twice per year, at least doubling productivity. IFRC/Juozas Cernius[/caption]
Climate change is certain and evident. Its effects are being felt more in less developed nations, especially in southern Africa. Efforts for adaptation are essential not only to decrease the negative consequences but also to increase opportunities for communities to be more resilient in the long-term.
Countries in the sub-region are acting to decrease their response times to calamities and improve their communities’ readiness to mitigate impacts of natural disasters. Mozambique is the first country in Africa to have an Early Action Protocol approved; the protocol harnesses the power offorecast-based financingto ensure that humanitarian responses are more responsive and proactive. Malawi’s protocol is under review and Zambia’s is currently in development.
The need for humanitarian assistance in Southern Africa in the latter part of 2019 and into 2020 will be greater with the imminent drought. Notwithstanding ongoing local efforts to improve countries’ and communities’ disaster risk management practices and increase their resilience, global stakeholders have a responsibility to definitively act to reduce the need for climate change-induced disaster mitigation efforts in the most affected developing countries.
Originally published in the Southern Times Newspaper
Dr Michael Charles is the Head of the Southern Africa Cluster of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
| 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.
| Press release
Red Cross ready as South Pacific cyclone season gets under way
Suva/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 13 February 2019 – With the South Pacific cyclone season under way and Cyclone Oma headed for Vanuatu, Red Cross societies are prepared and ready to respond.
The cyclone season runs in the South Pacific from November to April, with tropical cyclones bringing the risk of huge damage and destruction to communities, livelihoods and infrastructure.
Kathryn Clarkson, Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Pacific, says that while cyclone season can be unpredictable, the Red Cross is prepared.
“Good emergency response starts with good preparedness. Pacific Red Cross societies prepare for cyclone season throughout the year and work with local authorities to ensure communities know how to get prepared and what to do when disasters occur," Ms Clarkson said.
“Local preparedness and response are crucial in the Pacific where people live in remote island communities scattered across vast distances. Essential services like healthcare can be hard to access, which makes it essential that local people are trained in first aid, have emergency plans in place and are able to be first responders in their community.”
Red Cross Societies in 12 Pacific countries have an extensive network of more than 5,000 volunteers trained in first aid, emergency preparedness and response, both across urban and remote outer island communities.
Communities are supported to understand weather warnings, develop emergency plans and kits, and to identify a safe place to evacuate. These simple steps can save lives.
Emergency relief items including tools to help repair damaged houses or build temporary shelters, essential cooking items, water containers, sleeping mats, blankets water purification tablets are prepositioned across the islands, ready for immediate distribution.
Pacific Red Cross staff and volunteers are experienced disaster responders. Their preparedness and response activities helped communities to withstand Cyclone Gita, a category five cyclone, as it moved through Fiji, Samoa and Tonga in February last year.
This year, Pacific Red Cross teams have already responded to storms in Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
IFRC and Red Cross societies also work closely with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre to ensure seasonal weather outlooks are used to guide Red Cross societies with their early preparedness activities.
Meteorologists have forecast a higher cyclone risk for Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji this cyclone season. While a relatively normal season is predicted, meteorologists cannot rule out a category 5 storm and expect three to four cyclones to be severe.
Making haste while the sun shines in Cox's Bazar
By Gennike Mayers, IFRC
“I’m happy to participate in this cyclone preparedness training because one of my neighbors, Yassin Siddiq, was in the last group and he trained me to prepare for cyclones. Now I can train others too,” says Mustafa Kamal, resident of the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Kamal arrived in Bangladesh with his family of 24 on 20 October 2017. He crossed over from Myanmar with his wife and their 16 children, three brothers and their children after violent clashes in his village in Rakhine state. Since then they have been living in the overcrowded Kutupalong camp with over 700,000 others.
Kamal, along with 40 other camp residents, participated in the three-day long cyclone preparedness training organized by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society with support from American Red Cross. The cyclone preparedness programme is a joint initiative that the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the Government of Bangladesh- Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief initiated in 1972. The aim was to help coastal communities take early action to reduce loss of life and property by preparing in advance.
Cyclone preparedness training sessions have been rolled out primarily in the coastal communities of Bangladesh for decades but with the influx of forcibly displaced persons from Myanmar, the Red Crescent and the Government of Bangladesh have stepped up their outreach efforts to ensure the safety of camp residents living in extremely vulnerable conditions. With the 2018 monsoon and cyclone seasons having ended, more training and mock drills are being conducted to ensure even greater coverage so that skills are kept fresh and accurate for the upcoming 2019 cyclone seasons in Bangladesh which run from April to May and October to November.
In camp, Kamal has been working as a safety unit volunteer. “I was actively working on establishing fire extinguishers, doing first aid training, flag-raising and awareness. People need to know how to prepare like keeping their food cards and valuable items together if they have to move quickly from their shelter.”
Mohammed Shazed, the assistant programme officer with American Red Cross, has supported many training sessions like this in the year that he has worked in Cox’s Bazar.
“I never get tired of doing this. What we are sharing will save lives. It was so good to see how the camp volunteers responded when cyclones Titli and Gaja were announced. Bangladesh Meteorological Department was tracking them and gave the cyclone alerts. In camp, the trained volunteers put up the warning flags and went around sharing information on loud speaker as per warning dissemination protocol.”
Eventually the warnings were stood down in camp as the cyclones thankfully moved away from Cox’s Bazar, however the exercise proved that the camp community were very attentive and enthusiastically applied the knowledge gained through the training programme. Although mock drills are a key part of the cyclone preparedness training as well as raising awareness, this real-life scenario put the community volunteers and other camp residents to the test.
To date over 1,300 camp volunteers have been trained since March 2018 and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society aims to train and equip a total of 3,400 camp volunteers by February 2019, ahead of the next cyclone season.