Our Programme Domains
Based on the Swiss Red Cross Strategy 2030, the International Cooperation Department of the SRC supports its Sister National Societies and local partners in three programme domains: Health, Disaster Risk Management and National Society Development.
The SRC engages in seven thematic priorities in health, outlined in the SRC’s health policy for international cooperation. Together with Sister National Societies and local partners, the SRC endeavors to increase people’s access to health, to improve the quality of care, and to assist that people practise a healthy behavior, contributing to an improved health status of the population.
Examples of the impact of the different health interventions in the seven thematic priorities is described below.
Total Number of Beneficiaries in Health
reached with health interventions
As many people were reached with a variety of health interventions described below in the impact of the seven thematic priorities.
reached with COVID-19 interventions
As many people were reached with COVID-19 prevention and vaccination activities.
supported with social health protection
As many people were supported to avail social health protection.
Our Impact in the seven Health Priorities
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports local partners in maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health and sexual reproductive health and rights in 15 countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia. The interventions aim to improve access to health services, enhance the quality of health services and change the health behaviour and practice of the local population.
Health education and behaviour change practice
Despite long lockdowns and difficulties in access due to COVID-19, almost 500’000 people have been reached with health education and promotion around different reproductive health topics. 3’768 health professionals, community workers and Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers received trainings in reproductive health topics. They are supported by around 500 community groups and committees, which help spreading health information and who are operating community-based funds, arrange transport for people in need for emergency health services and monitor the performance of the local health centers. Thanks to a good community support and health education, the percentage of infants below 6 months of age who are exclusively breastfed increased, for example in Togo from 77% in 2017 to 92% in 2021 or in Haiti from 33% in 2020 to 43% in 2021.
Quality of care
The capacity building coupled with regular on-the job supervision and mentoring helped to increase quality, where, for example in Laos, 74% of health workers follow all steps in the standard treatment protocols. Improved quality health services together with enhanced knowledge had a great impact on the institutional delivery with skilled birth attendants. In Honduras, for example, more than 90% of births are attended by a skilled birth attendant. In SRC supported intervention areas of Nepal, Pakistan and Ghana percentages of institutional deliveries have reached 60, 75 and 74 % respectively and exceeded the national average.
Sexual and Gender Based violence
Male involvement in the provision of information, decision-making and care in regards to reproductive health has taken on momentum in the SRC supported projects. In South Sudan, Honduras, Ecuador and El Salvador, 22’203 men and women have been reached with activities related to reduce sexual and gender-based violence. The establishment of father's clubs in the North-West of Bangladesh has started very promising, and may be a good vehicle to advance reproductive health issues in the refugee camps of Cox Bazaar, where reproductive health indicators have not yet improved significantly.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports local partners in prevention and treatment of air-borne, water-borne and vector-borne infectious diseases. 18 countries had elements of infectious disease prevention integrated in their health projects. The interventions aim to improve quality of health services, improve access to preventative measures, diagnostic, treatment and care and to change the health behaviour and practice of the local population. As for example in Ecuador, people suffering from tuberculosis were provide with food rations to improve their general condition or in Togo people living with HIV benefited from psycho-social support and received food parcels. In Honduras, thanks to information, environmental hygiene interventions and vector-control measures, a 48% reduction in different morbidities such as dengue, malaria, zika and chikungunya was observed.
All programme and project countries of the SRC included COVID-19 prevention measures in their activities. More than 15’000 community health workers and 6’600 local Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers were trained to support COVID-19 vaccination points and to carry out health and hygiene information campaigns and assist the construction of handwashing facilities. COVID-19 prevention via personal information and household visits reached almost 7.2 million people.
In Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Malawi, Nepal, North Macedonia and Paraguay, Sister National Societies and partners stepped in their auxiliary role to support their respective government in the management and patient flow at COVID-19 vaccination points. Sister National Societies and partners ensured that particularly the most vulnerable people such as older people, refugees, prisoners and homeless people received their vaccine shots. More than 22 million people received their vaccination.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports most of the Sister National Societies and local partners in non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and care, First Aid and psycho-social support. The interventions aim at improving access to health services and increasing awareness and knowledge on non-communicable diseases, First Aid and psychosocial support through health education and trainings. Ultimate objective is to induce behaviour change practice in the addressed population.
In 2021, different projects in Bolivia, Egypt, Honduras, Malawi, Paraguay, Moldova, Nepal and Togo reached more than 50’000 people with information on healthy lifestyle. The partner organisation in Paraguay, for example, supports the local health system in forming and facilitating group sessions and peer support addressing obesity and hypertension with physical activity, nutrition education and cooking classes to augment a healthy lifestyle. More than 23’000 people were reached with healthy lifestyle education and almost 15’000 persons received a health care consultation for their NCD in 2021. In Moldova, patient groups have started to increase their self-help potential around NCDs. They regularly measure the performance and accountability of the health system through score cards. Almost 1’500 people received comprehensive health checks measuring blood pressure, blood sugar, Body Mass Index and other risk factors for NCD prevention. These interventions implemented in poor urban areas of Cairo, Egypt are followed up by treatment and health promotion carried out by the volunteers of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society.
First Aid Services
Providing First Aid and First Aid trainings is a core activity of many Red Cross Red Crescent Societies. Eleven countries in Africa and Americas have integrated first aid trainings for staff, volunteers, authorities and/or community members in their health projects. In addition to the first aid training in Syria, the SRC supports the ambulance service of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent by providing automated external defibrillators to all ambulances and health centers run by the Syrian Arab RC. In collaboration with partners, the user and maintenance manual was elaborated and staff and volunteers will be trained. In 2021, the Syrian Arab RC responded with their ambulance service to 8’716 emergencies, providing 4’364 women and 4’152 men with pre-hospital care.
Along the migration route to Europe, almost 8’000 refugees have received a First Aid service from the mobile health teams, operated by humanitarian service points in different Balkan countries.
Six countries have integrated psychosocial support services in their health projects. For example, in El Salvador the project supports migrant returnees with psychological first aid and psychosocial support and it organized 17 sessions on psychosocial support for youth. In Ethiopia staff and volunteers received a three-day psychosocial support training. The objective of the training was to create awareness, knowledge and skills for participants on how to provide psychosocial support to affected populations as well as to ensure peer support for volunteers and staff. More than 4’000 people received psychosocial support.
Strategic support within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement
The SRC has contributed substantially to the development of the NCD-Framework of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which will come into action in 2022.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports the Sister National Societies and local partners in providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to households, schools and health facilities in 16 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, MENA and along the Western Balkan migration route. The interventions aim to improve access to safe drinking water, as well as safely managed and gender and disability friendly sanitation and hand-washing stations, ensuring water quality standards and quality construction of water and sanitation systems. The projects contribute to improve the hygiene behavior practice of the local population, mainly in the areas of hand hygiene, menstrual hygiene management and environmental hygiene.
Access to water and sanitation
In 2021, more than 161’000 people received access to safe drinking water improving the coverage of households that use an improved drinking water source to 86% in Malawi and 70% in South Sudan. Despite 96% of households having received access to safe drinking water in Nepal, only 57% of people adopted safe water handling practices, calling for further sensitization and behavior change when the water reaches from the source to the mouth. Almost 100’000 people gained access to toilets and 50’000 people gained access to a hand-washing facility. In Ethiopia’s Moyale region, for example, 91% of households are using and maintaining clean toilets in 2021, a substantial improvement from 71% in 2019. The SRC supported WASH interventions are targeting WASH infrastructure and hygiene promotion at the same time. Having soap and water at the hand washing station is still not a common practice in households and schools. In Ershadnogor, Bangladesh 74% of households had soap and water at the handwashing station, while only 50% of households in the West Bara Region of Sudan had soap and water at the hand washing station at the time of observation.
Menstrual Hygiene Management
Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is an integral part of the WASH projects in Malawi, Togo, Laos, Nepal and Pakistan. SRC’s Sister National Societies and local partners are spearheading important national advocacy and breaking the silence around MHM in schools and the local communities. In 2021 more than 25’000 men and women were reached on menstrual hygiene management education and learnt how to make re-usable sanitary pads from local material. Open discussions on menstruation have helped women and men to overcome social and nutritional barriers caused by taboos and misconceptions around menstruation.
Solid Waste Management
In an urban slum and a refugee camp in Bangladesh, as well as in a semi-urban area of Nepal, the SRC supports solid waste management at household and communal level aiming at a zero-waste environment. In Camp 15 of the refugee camp in Cox Bazaar, for example, 96% households stated that they have waste bins at household level and 94% stated that they use SWM services through an agency. All households reported a clean and much better living environment with less water clogging, less mosquitoes and less smell.
In Bolivia, the SRC-supported project supports the improved handling of hospital waste by correctly separating waste according to international standards and adhering to biosafety. 100 health staff (60 female and 40 male) were trained in hospital waste management.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports local partners in Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Macedonia and Ukraine in providing home-based care services, fostering active aging, creating age-friendly communities and ensuring that needs of older and disabled people are addressed through policies and actions.
Home Based Care
In 2021, 5'506 older people received home-based care services in the intervention countries. Client satisfaction of the services reached 99% in Moldova and adherence by the local service providers to quality standards have reached 100% in Bosnia-Herzegovina and 87% in Moldova. In order to develop viable business models in home-based care with a mix of paying and subsidized clients, all service providers have developed different co-financing models. Co-financing through client fees, local budget contributions and fundraising are covering 7% of the running costs in Armenia, and already 49% of costs in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
More than 370 community groups and older people self-help groups are actively engaged in social activities for and by the elderly, as well as reaching out to the local authorities making communities and cities more age-friendly. In 2021, they reached out to more than 15’000 people and have substantially contributed to the social wellbeing of older people in their communities. More than 70% of older people in Armenia, and 76% in Moldova declared, that they are engaged in social activities. This contributes to them feeling less lonely and more engaged in the local society.
Strategic support within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement
Besides supporting local partners, the SRC assisted and funded the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the development of a Healthy Ageing Framework, tools and guidelines. The SRC also helps to chair the network of practitioners fostering knowledge exchange among Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies across Europe. Since 2021, the SRC stimulated the start and exploration of ageing and health activities beyond Europe through an innovative pilot grant funding approach. New initiatives in Nepal and Vietnam have started, which will continue in 2022.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports local partners in enhancing blood safety and availability in seven countries on four continents. In each context, the support provided for the Blood Transfusion Services (BTS) differs, however, all engagements clearly focus on promoting voluntary non-remunerated blood donation (VNRBD).
Voluntary non-remunerated blood donation
In 2021, over 100’000 VNRBD could be mobilized and collected by supported partners. The blood was made available to hospitals for treatment of patients. In countries with less developed blood services, many blood donations are still given by paid donors or family members. This can be a risk for the patients as such donors might not be fully honest about their medical status and health-related behavior (e.g. sexual contacts). The SRC-supported BTS increased the percentage of the safe VNRBD to 56.6% in 2021.
In Malawi, innovative methods to mobilize for VNRBD were applied, such as the “donor recruits donor” approach, youth football tournaments and partnerships with companies to win their staff as donors. In Togo, the backbone of the blood donor recruitment is the Club 25 approach. 60 clubs with nearly 3’000 youth members are responsible that a large part of the overall 17’998 VNRBD could be collected in 2021.
In Lebanon, however, the huge economic crises rendered many hospitals unable to provide blood collection and testing services. This increased the need for the Lebanon Red Cross to boost its own blood collection, testing and processing 21% more in comparison to 2020 and thereby covering 40% of the national demand. However, the crises lead to social unrests and unwillingness of companies to arrange blood drives at their venues which lead to a decrease of VNRBD in 2021. In contrast, in Honduras, VNRBD levels recovered after there was a large drop in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Improving quality standards
In South Sudan, the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) in Juba received a blood donor registration and data management system and the necessary training through SRC-support. The software allows now to digitally manage blood donations in a systematic way, making the whole process more efficient and safer for patients and donors. In Moldova, quality standards have further been strengthened in 2021 and the NBTS hopes to get a quality certification from a European review body in 2022. Similar efforts are undertaken in El Salvador where the blood service wants to prepare itself with SRC support to get accreditation by the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB).
The SRC supports eye health interventions in Togo, Ghana, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, South Sudan and Bangladesh.
The outcomes of the different eye health projects have contributed to improve the quality of services, improved access to eye health and lead to behaviour change practice in the population.
In Kyrgyzstan, the quality of cataract surgery has substantially improved over the past years. The percentage of eyes with good visual acuity six weeks after the cataract operation between 6/6 and 6/18 (WHO standard) has increased to 84% in 2021 and improved by 15% from the baseline survey in 2019. The investment in modern medical equipment, trainings and skill transfers have paid off. However, there remains a variation among the different hospitals, which will be addressed in 2022 with further practical trainings and the involvement of younger ophthalmologists, who did not yet have the chance to practise much. In Nepal, the visual acuity six weeks after cataract surgery remained at 87%, similar to the years before.
Wearing spectacles is still considered a stigma and not “beautiful” in many parts of the world. In Togo, the baseline survey conducted in 2021 showed that only 26% of the school children, who received spectacles, were wearing them at the time of observation. The project endeavors over the next years to de-stigmatize spectacles and make school children and their environment realize the benefits from good vision.
The eye health programme in Ghana contributed to reach a Cataract Surgical Rate of 355/1’000’000 million inhabitants in the five Northern regions of the country. While the utilization of eye health services in Togo and Ghana stagnated due to the long lockdowns related to COVID-19, the utilization of eye health services increased by 6 % in Nepal and even tripled in Kyrgyzstan in 2021 compared to 2020.
More results of the different projects can be found in the «Spotlight Eye Health».
Disaster Risk Management
The SRC engages in four thematic priorities in disaster risk management, outlined in the SRC’s Disaster Risk Management Policy for International Cooperation. Together with the Sister National Societies and other local partners, the SRC strives to save peoples’ lives, to assure their means for survival and protect their livelihoods, to reduce exposure and vulnerability of people and communities to hazards and to increase their disaster preparedness.
Below you find examples of the impact of the disaster risk management interventions in the four thematic priorities.
Total Number of Beneficiaries in Disaster Risk Management
Disaster Risk Reduction
As many people were reached with activities in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
As many people were reached with disaster and crisis response interventions through direct project support (does not include contributions to multilateral emergency appeals of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement).
Shelter and Housing
As many people were supported in the reconstruction and / or repair of their houses following a disaster.
Our Impact in the four Disaster Risk Management Priorities
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports Sister National Societies and other local partners in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in 40 projects in 18 countries in Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe.
Supporting and promoting local structures to become functional is SRC’s key approach in disaster preparedness. In 2021, 359 of 831 monitored communities (43.2%) in 14 projects in 10 programme countries had functional committees. The functionality levels vary greatly, depending on the project duration: from 0% (El Salvador, Togo, Paraguay) with project duration of less than 2 years, to 50-70% (Ecuador, Nepal) mid-term and on to 80-100% (Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Honduras) at the end of project. Common to all these contexts is that all functional committees are on the one hand actively planning and executing autonomous actions for DRR and CCA in their communities. On the other hand, they feel increasingly empowered and proactively strive for a stronger integration into the sub national DRM system.
In relation to risk mitigation, the SRC supports risk-informed and climate-resilient critical infrastructure and sites at community and household level as well as the protection, rehabilitation and sustainable management of natural resources. In 2021, the functionality of protection measures was measured in 6 projects in 4 programme countries. The functionality varies between 0% in projects that had just started (Bangladesh, El Salvador) to 70-100% in projects that came to an end in 2021 (Nepal, Honduras). Where appropriate, the SRC prioritises nature-based solutions over grey measures.
In emergency response, the SRC applies a comprehensive emergency relief and early recovery approach enabling a speedy and efficient response through partnerships with Sister National Societies or through emergency appeals of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Economic support during response and recovery helps families meet their essential needs, improve their living conditions and / or help restore their livelihoods. In 2021, the Swiss Red Cross was able to support 231’288 people globally through in-kind or cash assistance.
Critical to efficient and effective response is the institutional preparedness of both, the Swiss Red Cross and its partners. Prepositioning stocks of in-kind goods, cash preparedness activities, and training of response teams play a significant part in assuring that the needs of affected populations are met in the early stages of disaster response and early recovery.
In Haiti, 24 hours after the earthquake struck on 14 August 2021, the Haiti Red Cross and the Swiss Red Cross distributed hygiene kits to 2’260 families. This distribution of goods was later complimented by cash assistance to 1’300 families.
The social economic impact of the COVID pandemic in 2021 continues to have a significant impact on vulnerable populations unable to cover basic needs and maintain their livelihoods. In Laos, urgent response was provided to persons in quarantine centres through the delivery of food to 52'075 people, while in Bangladesh some 14’792 affected people in urban slums were given cash assistance to maintain, if not regain, their purchasing power and alleviate pressures of debt as well as covering basic food purchases.
More results of the different projects in relation to cash assistance can be found in the «Spotlight Economic Support».
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports shelter and housing in the aftermath of disasters and crises in the frame of wider recovery interventions. The SRC applies a holistic and multisectoral self-recovery approach increasingly based on cash and voucher assistance. In 2021, through such SRC recovery support, a total of 1’235 persons affected by different natural hazards in three countries had again access to safe shelter and housing.
In Nepal, following the earthquake of 19 May 2021 with epicenter in Lamjung, 140 affected families (631 persons, 10% of all affected) could reconstruct their destroyed houses. The shelter action was embedded in a wider recovery support that included the provision of shelter and hygiene kits, additional non-food-items as well as sensibilisation sessions on safer shelter construction, health and hygiene promotion.
55 families (277 persons), whose house was destroyed due to wide spread floods that occurred in 2020 in Northern Ghana, received conditional grants that allowed them to buy construction materials and hire artisans. The artisans received training on flood-resilient construction techniques which they applied for the benefit of the 55 flood-affected families.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 50 families (327 persons) were able to repair their houses that showed minor to medium damage (destroyed roof, chimney, bathroom, and inner and outer cracks in the wall) with cash grants. The houses had been damaged by earthquake “Petrinja” that occurred on 29 December 2020.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) focuses on retrofitting and rebuilding health facilities and on community-led reconstruction of community buildings. Only repair and retrofitting of major parts of health facilities are reported.
In 2021, the SRC contributed to renovation efforts of health facilities in three countries: In Nepal, 3 new buildings were constructed and 14 buildings retrofitted (Health Facilities, Community Health Units, Birthing Centers and Primary Health Care Outreach Clinics). The work was done in joint collaboration with rural municipalities to provide better access to quality basic health care services. In Bangladesh, 2 health facilities were renovated for the same purpose. In Laos, 2 health centers were renovated and extended, one to have appropriate designated rooms for maternity services (Labor, Inpatient and Outpatient Departments), and one to have a maternity waiting room allowing women to come to the health centre in time to avoid complications.
In Armenia, 100 residents of the Gyumri Nursing Home enjoy suitable and accessible age-friendly housing in two renovated blocks that meet the requirements of older people for safe accommodation, improved housing conditions and a favorable environment.
In Haiti, 22 out of 30 community shelters in the intervention area have been screened for their functionality in order to submit them to the Directorate of Civil Protection for official recognition as community shelters at the national level. The construction of water tanks and sanitation facilities has started in 3 of these shelters.
National Society Development
The SRC currently engages in five thematic priorities in National Society Development. The goal is to support Sister National Societies in their effort to achieve and maintain an accountable and sustainable organisation that delivers - through members, volunteers and staff - relevant services to address needs, reduce vulnerabilities and build resilience in a changing environment.
Examples of the impact of our support to Sister National Societies in the five thematic priorities is described below.
Total Number of Beneficiaries in National Society Development
Sister National Societies
As many Sister National Societies – including their members, volunteers and staff - were supported in their NSD efforts.
As many projects with focus on one or more thematic priorities in NSD were running.
Our Impact in the five National Society Development Priorities
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports measures related to governance, leadership and strategy in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Honduras, South Sudan and Togo. The focus under this thematic priority is Branch Development. Approximately 160.000 branches form the base of the 192 National Societies that come together under the umbrella of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). Branch members and volunteers often originate from the communities they are serving, speak the same language, understand the cultural norms and are present before, during and after a crisis.
Strong governance and leadership at branch level
The dissemination of knowledge with branch board members, staff, youth members/volunteers and representatives of local authorities on the history of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the fundamental principles, the use of the emblem as well as the National Societies mandate and constitution including the definition of roles and responsibilities of governance and management is an important activity for the South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC). Within a pilot project for the roll-out of its Branch Development Framework, which started in 2021, the SRC supported the training of 41 persons from six selected branches.
The Red Cross Society in Honduras continued in 2021 to systematically follow up on the Branch Development Plans that have been established after the BOCA (Branch Organisational Capacity Assessment) exercise the previous year. With support from the SRC, 14 Branch Boards of Directors are functional and have been strengthened in terms of governance, decision-making, resolution of internal issues, and planning and management of activities. Additionally, they were able to obtain financial and logistical means to maintain or improve their operations. It is important to mention that, according to a baseline conducted in 2019 only 5 branches had a complete and functional board of directors.
Learning from the past
With technical support from the SRC the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) conducted an online survey to evaluate and capture the lessons learnt of previous branch development efforts. The scope of the survey included gathering recommendations to further strengthen the branch development process. The findings of the survey fed into a lessons-learned workshop organized in September 2021 which saw the active presence of the BDRCS governing board, the senior management, branch members, and RCRC movement partners. For example, 70% of the respondents think the branch development process contributes adequately to the attainment of the strategic goals of the National Society for the period 2021-25. Nevertheless 65% of the respondents expressed the urgent need of developing a clear roadmap for realising the NSs` priorities in terms of branch development enshrined in the so-called Dhaka Declaration.
In 2021 the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supported the building up of resource mobilisation capacities with Sister National Societies in Bangladesh, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and South Sudan. Within this thematic priority, SRC support is mainly focused on capacity building in the area of private source domestic fundraising.
To strengthen the in-country fundraising system, the Belarus Red Cross has given particular attention to its regular giving program based on a F2F campaign. A total of 2’959 supporters were attracted in 2021. Through the recurrent payments of these supporters, the monthly income of the National Society from this source almost doubled during the course of the year, reaching around 24’000 CHF in December.
Prepare to build capacity
The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society has identified the need to develop capacity in resource mobilisation as a central objective in its strategic plan (2021 – 2025). During 2021, apart from obtaining formal buy-in of senior leadership of the National Society, a technical working group was established to which SRC contributes. The development of a resource mobilisation strategy based on a market assessment as well as the recruitment of a Resource Mobilisation Manager will be crucial next steps. With support from the SRC, the Red Crescent Society in Kyrgyzstan progressed well with an overall step-by-step development of the fundraising infrastructure, and most of the set tasks in the Fundraising Plan of Action were reached.
The South Sudan Red Cross advanced in mapping and analyzing the needs as basis for development of a Resource Mobilisation Policy and practical guidelines for increasing related capacities at branch level.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports to varying degrees the efforts of National Societies in Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia-Hercegovina, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malawi, Nepal, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria to be better prepared for and respond to crises and disaster at central and branch level.
Prepared for any event
The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) activated its branches in the run-up to the national elections, which were planned for 2020 and postponed to 2021, with a focus on preparedness. Contingency plans were developed, warehouses upgraded, stocks replenished, and volunteers trained as first responders in case election violence would break out. The branch in Moyale, with which the SRC has been cooperating for many years, enhanced the capacity of staff and volunteers to handle safety and security issues. 20 branch staff, volunteers and branch board members participated in a three-day safer access framework (SAF) training and discussed the local security plan facilitated by the SRC delegation and ERCS HQ staff. Generally due to the constant security challenges the people in Moyale are facing, the branch is fully aware and well-prepared in this important regard.
Know your strengths
Considering the complex organisational structure of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RCSBiH) a mapping exercise of human resources with disaster management (DM) knowledge and capacities throughout the RCSBiH structure was prepared. The aim of this is to create a pool of trainers who can provide trainings in the DM field for staff and volunteers across the organisation, further aligning activities between the different entities of the RCSBiH and avoiding duplications. Supported by the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) and the SRC, the National Society advanced its efforts related to the implementation of the Preparedness for Effective Response (PER) Approach by completing the PER assessment in May 2021 to measure and analyse the strengths and gaps of its preparedness and response mechanism. The necessary action to improve has been laid out in an action plan.
Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness (CVAP)
A critical element within the thematic priority Institutional Preparedness is the work related to Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness (CVAP). Numerous National Societies mentioned above have integrated or are eager to integrate this modality into their response cycle. Examples from the technical assistance in cash and voucher based operational readiness provided by the SRC can be found in the «Spotlight Institutional Preparedness».
SRC efforts in supporting Sister National Societies enhancing their Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (PMER) capacities focused on sharing experience in conflict- and gender-sensitive project management.
Fighting gender stereotypes through gender-neutral recruitment
In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as in many other countries, caretaking tasks are associated to women of all ages, a generally accepted view that has not been officially challenged. Requested to revisit this supposedly “natural” linearity, the Red Cross Society of BiH succeeded to encourage male members in families to take on the role of caretakers. At the end of the year 2021, out of 271 family caretakers 76 (28%) were men and 195 (72%) were women. In collaboration with the Swiss Red Cross (SRC), the RCS of BiH also eliminated gendered posting for auxiliary nurses by changing the language of job postings, which addressed only women to apply. Despite the wide resistance when initiating the process, employment has changed to now including 1/5 of all auxiliary nurses being male. For women, support was given to apply for management position in home-based care (HBC) centres. 7 out of 10 HBC centres are now managed by women.
Conflict-sensitive programme management (cspm)
With 44 days of war in 2020, the situation in the South Caucasus became even more tense and strengthening partnerships on both sides of the conflict line was essential to avoid fueling conflict. The Armenian Red Cross Society (ARCS) thus took great care to train staff and volunteers in Red Cross Red Crescent Movement principles – especially impartiality – and made sure that beneficiary selection was conflict sensitive equally taking refugee and host community populations into consideration. Also in Bangladesh, a long awaited 3-day cspm-training took place in October 2021 after COVID-restrictions had made its implementation impossible for more than a year. After the training, participating staff used the newly won knowledge for planning consecutive programme phases, but also reported that the complexity of the cspm-approach requires recurrent training sessions and further mainstreaming. As ethnic affiliation is also still a strong divider in post-war society of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is a clear objective to create most transparent and fair employment processes. Joint recruitment procedures of the RCS of BiH together with the SRC allowed open positions to be filled with utmost sensitivity for a fair and transparent recruitment process.
Volunteers are the backbone of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, with around 12 million volunteers globally supporting the Movement’s mission today. The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports efforts to strengthen volunteer engagement and volunteer management systems of its Sister National Societies in Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan and South Sudan as well as through a regional approach in Central Asia.
The Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK) continuously strives to strengthen its volunteer management system in order to ensure that the volunteers’ experience is fulfilling and that the quality of the RCSK services to vulnerable population through volunteers remains high. In 2021, RCSK concluded the iMotivate experience, a volunteering leadership training and research initiative introduced by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in collaboration with the SRC. Through an application called MOTI, data on volunteer motivation, engagement and wellbeing has been collected. According to the results, 96% of volunteers were satisfied with their volunteering activities with the RCSK. Recommendations for 2022 include the creation of more opportunities to participate in decision-making processes of the National Society, capacity building and practical experience through exchange visits.
Inspired by the experience of recent years in this area, RCSK is coordinating with support from the Swiss and Spanish Red Cross an initiative to strengthen the capacities in volunteering development with National Societies from Central Asia. In 2021, an online platform for education and training of volunteers and staff of the five NS involved was further developed. The platform includes practical tools and modules to increase the capacities and skills of volunteers to deliver the Red Crescent services. The vision is that by 2023, all volunteers can attend basic induction and advanced/specific training courses.
Volunteer-based service delivery
In Bangladesh, the National Society ensured the availability of trained volunteers to support the National Covid Vaccination Program. More than 4,000 RCRC volunteers have been trained in vaccination campaign and delivery, out of which 560 volunteers were trained and deployed with the support of SRC.
The standardization of processes around volunteer recruitment, registration, retention, deployment and recognition is a mayor objective for the South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC). Volunteer Focal Persons from all SSRC branches were trained in 2021 on a new Volunteer Information Management System (VIMS) that is going to be used in the branches as of 2022.