Vanuatu: Cyclone Lola
Tropical Cyclone Lola made landfall on the eastern shores of Vanuatu’s Maewo and Pentecost islands on the night of 25 October as a category 4 storm with 205 km/hr winds. Heavy rainfalls with flash flooding were experienced over low-lying areas and close to riverbanks causing coastal flooding. It is estimated that approximately 200,000 people were exposed to the effect of the cyclone, with estimates of 150,000 people (30,000 Households) being more directly affected (close to half the country’s population). The IFRC and its membership are seeking CHF 2.5 million to support Vanuatu Red Cross Society to provide support to 30,000 people in need of assistance following the cyclone.
| Press release
“From satellites to sandbags”: Putting water at the heart of climate action.
Geneva, 22 September 2023 -As proved so tragically in Libya last week, while water holds the key to life, alltoo often it kills.
Whether – like in Derna - it’s too much water leading to floods, or too little water causing droughts, or polluted water resulting in health risks, addressing the dangers that water poses can save lives. As climate change intensifies these threats, there is an urgent need for action.
That is why a new collaboration matters so much.
With funding and support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands ‘Water at the Heart of Climate Action’ is an ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), The Netherlands Red Cross, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF).
This collaboration will combine local knowledge and global technology to help communities understand and act on the water-related risks they face - before they become disasters. The programme is focused on supporting the countries of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan,and Uganda, which make up the Nile River basin. These countries are not only among the Least Developed Countries in the world but are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. To ensure the implementation of this five-year partnership, the Government of the Netherlands has generously committed 52 million Swiss Francs (55 million euros).
The aim of the ‘Water at the Heart’ collaboration is to address climate-related risks that too often fall between the cracks of most country-level water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policies. It will focus on practical, locally-driven action to better anticipate disasters and prepare communities well in advance. It will also use the latest science and technology to monitor and forecast weather and water-related hazards. It furthermore invests in communications technologies to warn communities of what is coming and enable early action. As a result, this programme is a direct contribution to the implementation of the UN Secretary General’s ‘Early Warnings for All’ initiative.
Jagan Chapagain, the Secretary General of the IFRC said:
“Water is life. But too much or too little water can wreak havoc on people’s lives and homes. Almost three-quarters of all recent humanitarian disasters were water related. This initiative makes mitigation of the impact of such disasters an absolute priority. With thousands of IFRC network volunteers across South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, the IFRC network is uniquely positioned to deliver innovative and trusted local action. Through our partners, those actions can be informed by technology including the best forecasting and observation. This really is a ‘sandbags to satellites’ all-encompassing initiative.”
Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the head of UNDRR said:
“To save lives, lift people out of poverty and ensure that development gains are sustainable and irreversible, we must stop hazards from becoming disasters. Water at the Heart of Climate Action is a demonstration of the commitment of the Netherlands to helping some of the most vulnerable countries build their resilience in the face of climate change.”
Maarten van Aalst, Director General of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) said:
“As a national Meteorological Institute, we see the rapid increase in weather extremes in our changing climate, and we realize that we need partnerships all across society to make sure our warnings lead to early actions. The Netherlands’ vulnerability as a low-lying delta is significantly reduced by the power of good data and predictions, and the ability to act on that information — from satellites to sandbags. Water at the heart will strengthen our peers in the Global South to deliver similar services, and KNMI is proud to be supporting those efforts with peer support.”
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said:
“The majority of hazards are water-related, particularly floods and droughts. Climate change will further increase the frequency and severity of these events. End-to-end early warning systems are critical to save lives and minimize the impact of disasters. WMO is working with SOFF to close the basic weather and climate observation data gap and strengthen the foundational element of better data for better forecasts. Water at the Heart of Climate Action will make a tangible contribution to the Early Warnings for All initiative.”
Paul Bekkers, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, WTO and other international organizations in Geneva, said:
“Water should not be posing risks to vulnerable frontline communities! On the contrary, we can empower communities to transform water from a hazard into a valuable resource. By leveraging indigenous knowledge and investing in early warning systems. The Netherlands proudly supports this partnership that places the needs of local communities at the heart of water action!”
REPRESENTATIVES WILL BE TALKING ABOUT ‘WATER AT THE HEART’ AT THE UN PRESS BRIEFING IN GENEVA FROM 10.30AM ON FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER. THE VIDEO OF THE BRIEFING WILL BE POSTED HERE SHORTLY AFTERWARDS.
FOR INTERVIEWS WITH THOSE INVOLVED, PLEASE CONTACT VIA THE DETAILS BELOW
IFRC - Andrew Thomas / [email protected] / +41763676587
CLIMATE CENTRE - Alex Wynter / [email protected] / +447717470855
WMO – Clare Nullis / [email protected] / +41797091397
SOFF - Pauline Trepczyk / [email protected] / +41796407857
UNDRR – Jeanette Elsworth / [email protected] / +41766911020
PERMAMENT REPRESENTATION OF THE NETHERLANDS - Joyce Langewen / [email protected] / +41794486110
NETHERLANDS RED CROSS - Bastiaan van Blokland / [email protected] / +31704455612
| 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]
| Press release
Madagascar: More than 4 million people at risk as Tropical Cyclone Batsirai bears down on eastern coast
Antananarivo/Nairobi, 4 February 2022—Tropical Cyclone Batsirai, is expected to strike the Atsinanana region of Madagascar tomorrow, only weeks after tropical storm Ana wreaked havoc in the country. Ahead of its landfall, Madagascar Red Cross Society’s teams in the region are preparing emergency relief items and helping communities in the path of the cyclone to move to safe areas.
Andoniaina Ratsimamanga, the Secretary General of Madagascar Red Cross said:
“Communities across the Atsinanana region are worried about the potential widespread damage the cyclone could cause. Many families urgently need temporary shelters, especially those whose homes are located in the areas that are likely to be impacted by the cyclone.
It is predicted that about 4.4 million people are at risk across 14 districts; with about 595,000 expected to be directly affected, and more than 150,000 likely to be displaced. Red Cross teams Atsinanana region are rushing to make necessary preparations, with a view to saving as many lives as possible.
“Madagascar Red Cross Society’s teams and partners are on high alert and are deployed in communities, warning them of the approaching storm. Red Cross teams are moving prepositioned emergency stocks from Grand Tana area (Ananalamanga) to Tamatave (Atsinanana), for ease of access. We are concerned by the size and projected impact of this intense cyclone. Our immediate response activities will focus on saving lives, and they will include search and rescue operations,” added Ratsimamanga.
Moreover, Red Cross teams are working with the Government to identify and set up safe buildings which will be utilized as emergency accommodation centres.
With emergency response efforts still ongoing due to the impact of tropical storm Ana that hit the Madagascar in late January, the impact of Batsirai could worsen the overall country’s humanitarian situation. The country’s emergency response efforts are overstretched, and the situation remains critical due to the impact of the recent widespread flooding, water stagnation and landslides caused by tropical storm Ana. At least 55 deaths have been recorded and more than 130,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to temporary shelters or host families in the last few weeks. The country is still grappling with a prolonged hunger crisis since 2021. IFRC and its partners are stepping up preparedness and response efforts, to assist more people—both those affected by Ana and those that are likely to be impacted by Batsirai
IFRC’s Programmes and Operations Coordinator in Madagascar, Denis Bariyanga, who is overseeing emergency preparedness efforts, said.
“We are already helping 2000 families affected by tropical storm Ana to meet their immediate needs. With the landfall of Batsirai, many more families in the country will require emergency relief items, including blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, water, sanitation and hygiene, among others.”
The IFRC had already released 428,609 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 26 January 2022, to support Madagascar Red Cross to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene services, healthcare, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance for shelter, livelihood and basic needs. More financial resources are needed to meet the increasing needs on the ground. IFRC is revising its emergency appeal for funding the crisis response.
For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:
Mialy Caren Ramanantoanina, +261 329 842 144, [email protected]
Ny Antsa Mirado Rakotondratsimba, +261 34 54 458 76, [email protected]
Denis Bariyanga, (WhatsApp: +250 786 527 056), [email protected]
María Mercedes Martínez; +261 32 1132 624, [email protected]
Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
No more excuses! The next disaster is coming, what are you doing about it?
By Robert Kaufman, Head of Philippines Country Office, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Imagine getting hit by six typhoons during a deadly pandemic. For millions of people in the Philippines, this is their reality as 2020 comes crashing to a close. Predictions of the increasing severity and frequency of emergencies have come true.
It’s heart-breaking, exhausting, and scary. But most of all it’s frustrating as much of this human and economic toll can be prevented.
We have known about the brutal effects of climate change for a long time, yet we haven’t been doing enough to fix it. Debates about the effects of climate change or whether partners should support more preparedness are failing people. If your roof blows off three times in one month and this extreme weather happens with relentless certainty, there’s nothing to debate. It is time to prepare more for what’s coming.
We know that the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, topping the charts with the most disasters of all countries the past two years. It’s number two for the past decade just behind China.
We know the number of climate-related disasters has risen almost 35% since the 1990s. The stuff of Hollywood movies has become a reality for tens of millions of people around the world, as they face bigger, more violent storms and more disease outbreaks.
For decades we anticipated another pandemic. Hollywood blockbusters told horror stories of contagious diseases. Since 2008, we’ve seen fantasy become reality with several pandemics, the H1N1 flu virus, SARS and now COVID-19. Yet somehow, the world has been taken by surprise.
Let’s make no mistake, we have made inroads. Governments, humanitarian agencies and countless communities deserve credit for helping to save lives. Just seven years ago, the most destructive typhoon to hit the Philippines on record, Haiyan, killed close to 7,000 people. When Typhoon Goni hit in 2020, a storm as strong as Haiyan, less than 70 lives were lost. Still, I’m frustrated.
Early on in management, I learned that when you spend significant time and money on something, it is a priority. Most of the time and money in the aid sector is still spent on response, as if we don’t know what’s coming; neither the humanitarian community, the policymakers, nor the big donors.
Why are we not using our extraordinary capacity to anticipate crises to prioritize our time and money? What price do we need to place on the lives of people who have died or had their livelihoods ripped apart by disease and disaster before we change our priorities?
Today, we largely know the types of risks we are going to face, where they are going to hit and even in many cases, when. Many of the answers are clear as day.Typhoons strike the Philippines every November and December. Floods always follow drought in East Africa.
We know the risks and we know what to do about it. The latest study on the value of preparedness confirms what we already knew. Every dollar invested in reducing risks from climate-related disasters saves us $6 when we are fixing up the mess, according to the United States Institute of Building Sciences and the United Nations.
Super Typhoon Goni packed the most powerful winds of any storm in the world last year. Together with typhoon Vamco and other major storms, they came at a huge cost, seriously affecting the lives of more than 8.1 million people. More than 425,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Among the millions whose livelihoods were disrupted, at least 200,000 farmers and fishermen lost their only source of income. The cost of agricultural damages totalled more than ₱12.3 billion (US260m) according to the Philippines Department of Agriculture.
Together, the storms were considered the secondmost expensive typhoons on record, costing more than $US 1 billion.
Money normally reserved for responding after disasters strike needs to be made available earlier and for longer-term solutions.
We need to stop soil erosion, plant trees and improve drainage. We need to avoid crop wastage with better grain storage and irrigation. We need to build safer houses with stronger and more permanent foundations. We need to protect land rights and strengthen economic development and social protection programs so that people are not dependent on aid when disaster strikes.
There needs to be a public accounting of how well resource allocation aligns with scientific prediction and the lessons we have learned.
We must put our money where our mouth is. Failing is a dereliction of our responsibility to those most at risk and to ourselves.
This past year, millions have faced often insurmountable hardships and heartache. We have a duty to protect the hope and dignity of those we pledge to support by ensuring everyone has a fair chance of a decent life.
There just can’t be any more excuses.
“My children can finally sleep in a warm place”
Photo by Palestine Red Crescent Society
Words by Ra’ed Al Nims, Palestine Red Crescent Society
"We are drowning… Help us!"
Palestine Red Crescent Society's Operations Room in Gaza received this distressing call during heavy rains, strong wind and cold weather in late January 2020. A team from the Red Crescent’s Disaster Management Unit (DMU) was immediately sent to the scene. What they found was an old, broken-down house with a roof that had started to cave in, causing mud, water and stones to fall into the rooms.
"We were totally shocked by what we saw. Four brothers with their wives, children and their parents, 24 people in total, lived in this place that looked like it was slowly falling apart. Rain was falling down in torrents, and the children were terrified and crying", says Saleem Abou Ras, 26, a member of the DMU team.
The team carried out a rapid assessment of the family’s needs and handed them tarpaulin sheets, cleaning tools, mattresses and blankets.
"I live with my wife and five children in one room in this tiny house. Heavy rain made the roof of our room collapse and water, mud and stones fell on us while we were sleeping. My children were terrified. I did not know what to do. With the support from the Palestine Red Crescent, we managed to get through that horrible night", says Maher Al Kishawi, 38, one of the four brothers.
"Our family is very big and we have no source of income. Without the help from the Red Crescent, our lives would have certainly been in danger", his wife, Suad Al Kishawi, 35, added.
After that night, Red Crescent team visited the family again and provided them with additional relief items.
"We are safe, at least for the time being. Most importantly, my children can now sleep in a warm room", Suad Al Kishawi says.
The Red Crescent teams have distributed tarpaulin sheets, blankets, mattresses, heaters, hygiene kits and other relief items to around 450 families affected by cold weather in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestine Red Crescent Society continues to monitor the situation and to support people affected.