|Africa Perspective - The Spirit of Kampala (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1997, 16 p.)|
International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies
Cover photo Jaques Godon / Federation
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
P. O. Box 372
1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland
Telephone [41 22] 730 42 22
Telex 412 133 FRC CH
Telefax [41 22] 733 03 95
World Wide Web Site: http://www.ifrc.org
In the 1990s we have witnessed a grave increase in Africas need for humanitarian intervention, stemming from the continents increasingly complex socio-political challenges. The scope of disaster-related vulnerabilities continue to demand an effective use of the Red Cross and Red Crescents regional and global network of sources. In response, National Societies and the Federation Secretariat have jointly undertaken resource sharing, cooperation and promotion of open dialogue on common problems and workable solutions.
The National Societies of Africa continue to demonstrate their determination to persevere through crises and possess a new sense of ownership, ingenuity and force to face Africas humanitarian problems. The Federation Secretariat has committed itself to create a flexible operations system to enable it to effectively support Africas dynamics of change. Together, as we face day-to-day and long-term needs, we recognise the necessity to work effectively as a Federation.
Africa Perspective is a brief overview of the Federation Secretariats strategies to best support and accommodate Africas patterns of change.
Under Secretary General
Disaster Response and Operations Coordination
One year on
Urbanization, the coming catastrophe. Increasing poverty. Widening gaps between rich and poor. Social tension. Erosion of traditional values. Political instability. Conflict. Environmental degradation. Flood, famine, drought and disease.
The outlook for the worlds most troubled continent holds, we must accept, more trouble. But as the millennium comes to a close there is also hope. The perception of Africa, slowly but surely, is changing. Where there was only bad news, now - sometimes - there is good. Even on the economic front. Growth rates are capturing attention. Southern Africa, we hear, is blazing the way for investment. Other African economies are recovering. Some, indeed, are booming, or earning praise from international donors for reforms and stabilization.
African Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are part of the change that is manifesting itself on this continent, part of a change which is calling for a new approach to solve the prevailing problems. It is painting a new perspective in which African ownership, ingenuity and action will bring the desired results.
In the Kampala Declaration, from their Fourth Pan African Conference in September 1996, National Societies analysed the challenge and committed themselves to a plan of action. Recognizing the crisis in Africa, the conference declared:
As National Societies we will set our own agendas to put the Fundamental Principles of the Movement and the Mission statement of the International Federation into practice. We will define our own priorities based on a thorough identification of the most vulnerable and the reason for their vulnerabilities.
Together, the National Societies and the International Federation have been assisting the ever increasing numbers of the continents most vulnerable, through increasingly effective use of the regional and global network of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Increasing regional cooperation, and interaction on common problems, are evident. A year on from Kampala, the momentum is being felt, the quality of the commitment attested to.
There is in Africa a dynamic. There are expectations today. National Societies have aspirations. The most important of them all: Africas problems will be solved by Africans.
While the National Societies of Africa have accepted the challenge, persevered through crises and the unpredictable, the Federation Secretariat has sought to create a flexible and dynamic support system. Through its regional and country representation, a devolutionary process has begun to strengthen a grassroots movement.
One year on from Kampala, how far have we come? What are the goals and strategies to see us to the end of the century, prepared for the challenge of the next one?
1995-97 at a glance
While National Societies in west Africa reviewed structures and programmes, and developed community-based first-aid programmes, relief operations enhanced their images as they strengthened response to conflict, social unrest and disease.
In our relief efforts we will strengthen our own human
resource base, provide relief in a way that builds upon the capacities of the
affected population and integrates developmental activities.
In Guinea and CDIvoire, refugees and host communities benefited from a change in direction. A shift from a camp approach to an integrated one drastically reduced adverse social, economic and enviromental impact on host societies, as well as being more cost effective.
The change, in 1996, from general distribution for refugees to targeted distribution to the most vulnerable - host community members among them - was coupled with a community health component. It was a qualitative change that promoted the Federations mission and did much for the image of the National Societies in both countries.
In Cape Verde, Niger, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic, cyclone, flood, drought, epidemics and refugees brought independent response from National Societies. They took full responsibility. Without country representation, the Federation coordinated support. Mutual trust was strengthened, National Society operational capacity increased.
In working as the International Federation and cooperating
with the ICRC, we will define the nature of our relationships, particularly
focusing on issues of integrity, cooperation accountability, roles and
responsibilities, and mutual respect.
In Benin and Togo, the Federation encouraged the National Societies to nominate people to manage refugee operations in lieu of Federation delegations. Introduced in 1996, these national coordinators now work under the auspices of the Abidjan regional delegation, and the exercise has proved successful both in terms of cost and achievement. The Federation and the National Societies have run joint operations with a national of the country concerned representing the Federation. This change in the way we operate has helped bring about a greater degree of mutual trust, an enhancement of relationships with partners, and a return to ownership.
But ownership has been claimed in other ways, as TV pictures from scenes of crisis across the continent have continually shown. From the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, it has been the presence of Red Cross or Red Crescent National Societies that has frequently coloured the backdrop. Take Liberia and Sierra Leone, where National Societies worked both sides of the conflicts whenever situations allowed. When most aid providers were evacuated, they continued to serve the victims.
In southern Africa, in 1995-96, a drought programme for 300,000 people revealed a clear shift in priorities, and commitment, among the six National Societies of the sub-region: Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They chose a regional approach, rather than a country one, to design and implement the programme, and addressed the root causes of the disaster. Containing a limited and targeted food component, seed distribution, water development and health, it placed the emphasis on reduction, rather than mitigation.
Many of Africas challenges and opportunities cross
national boundaries. We will strengthen regional cooperation between National
Societies, making full use of the facilities of the Federations regional
The programme, in which the National Societies planned, implemented and reported jointly, while the Federation coordinated resources and provided limited technical and monitoring services, resulted in a number of conclusions.
· Over the last ten years, the leadership and management of southern Africas National Societies has been enhanced;
· When the same disaster hits more than one country, a regional response leads to effective use of resources, and promotes greater sub-regional cooperation;
· Red Cross/Red Crescent expertise is required in what pertains to grassroots engagement. The future of vulnerable communities must be built into the future of Red Cross and Red Crescent services.
Eastern Africa has witnessed major shifts and changes and, to utilize limited resources best in the face of growing needs, the Federation has moved towards devolution, expanding the role of the regional delegation in Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Comoros and Mauritius. In Eritrea and Ethiopia, it oversees Federation involvement in institutional development.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Zaire) Red Cross volunteers played an heroic role in saving the lives of many refugees, and many fleeing Zairean civilians caught up in the struggle for power. Volunteers died in the process. Once more it was a Red Cross National Society which worked on, across front lines, in overwhelmed towns and disease-ridden forest, when all other organizations evacuated.
Where government services and the rule of law and order have
broken down, National Societies will continue to provide humanitarian service
regardless of the absence of a functioning government.
In Somalia, too, a National Society has stood firm in the face of great adversity. In the absence of central government and a health authority, the Red Crescent remains the only national organization providing nationwide community health services.
The National Society operates 26 clinics and three hospitals. It runs the entire operation, with logistic, monitoring and reporting support from a small Federation delegation based in Nairobi.
The Red Crescent is delivering more services than the countrys last government but it requires ongoing assistance from its partners. A project delegation approach - introduced by the Federation in 1996 - is matching localities and activities with participating National Societies who provide financial and technical support.
Helping to lessen social tension and fostering reconciliation, the Rwanda Red Cross is another National Society whose Plans are in place to tie community development and rehabilitation to peace-building activities. Despite security problems, house construction has already begun, reducing the ethnic unease caused by the massive return of refugees and an acute housing shortage.
As well as taking action to alleviate suffering, we will
ensure respect for human dignity and humanitarian values. We will do more to
advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable, speaking from our experiences and
without compromising our Fundamental Principles.
The Federations commitment to assist in the National Societys reconstruction, meanwhile, remains high.
Commitment is high, too, in Sudan where Federation and Red Crescent relations have seen dramatic improvements. The National Society has made great efforts to improve programme design, prioritization and reporting. With a core of, three delegates, and additional support from the regional delegation, the Federation is supporting the National Society in its shift of focus towards self-reliance and institutional development.
HEALTH CRISIS IN SOMALIA
When Hawo Adem, 40, left her mountain village in north-eastern Somalia desperate for help for a sick baby son, she embarked on a three-day camel journey through wild and desolate country where no doctor can be found. With the child in a cot on the camels back, she and her husband walked day and night to reach the town of Garoe, 90 kilometres away.
Despite malaria and severe malnourishment, the child somehow survived. Doctors in the towns Red Crescent-supported hospital said that Hawo had reached them just in time. Most disturbing of all, they reported, situations such as these were becoming common, with health services spread thin and the demand upon them growing.
Already Somalias health standards are among the lowest in Africa and, without central government to provide a health-care system, the Federation-backed Somali Red Crescent has stepped in to fill the gap. Today it runs the countrys largest indigenous nationwide network, serving a population of 350,000 and dealing with an average 30,000 cases a month.
By coordinating external input for this relief-cum-development programme, and providing periodic supervision, the Federation facilitates the operation. Project delegation support from participating National Societies completes a successful equation. The need now is for the network to expand although the prime concern of Ola Skuterud, head of the Somalia delegation, is the sustainability of what exists already. Donor support has been tailing off badly.
In order to be respected we will create a credible,
transparent and honest image for the National Society. We will establish
standardized and sound administrative and financial procedures for our
RETURN TO RWANDA
Celestine Nzilaguhuda, 45, his wife and three children, got back to Rwandas south-eastern Kibungo prefecture to find someone was living in their home. They had been for some time. Celestine had been away a while.
In the great Rwandan exodus of 1994, Celestine had fled to Tanzania, to shelter with his family for more then two years in a Federation-run refugee camp. Soon after he had left, window Imakurata Uwimana and her six children crossed the border heading in the other direction. She had fled Rwanda as a child in 1959, in the wake of some previous bloodshed. For her 1994 was a homecoming.
In the little community of Nyamugali, in an area her family once inhabited, she found Celestines home deserted. So she settled down, began working the land and mourned for her relatives who had recently perished. Her husband had died with them on an ill-timed visit
Celestine returned to the prefecture at the end of 1996, along with thousands of others. When he found his house occupied, he built a mud shelter nearby, put a roof of plastic sheeting on it, and sat down and waited.
It is a common enough story in todays Rwanda, and only adds to the misery of a population facing chronic poverty, food shortages, and health problems. But in the case of Celestine and Imakurata, assistance is coming from the Rwanda Red Cross and the Federation. The National Society places the lessening of social tension and reconciliation high on its list of objectives. A housing project in Nyamugali is part of the Red Cross rehabilitation programme. Imakurata will be getting a Red Cross house and Celestine will move back into his own.
Getting to know the National Societies and helping them know themselves, prepared very fertile ground. What they are, what they can do, and how they should go about it, were the objects of the exercise. Self-assessments such as those done by the National Societies of the sub-regions in preparation of the west and central Africa reviews, sub-regional meetings and the Pan-African Conference itself, were conscious efforts to identify potential and limitations. Self-confidence has been the result. They are no more aware of what they can do, and also how they wish to relate to others.
Supporting regional capacity building
Since 1995, the Federation Secretariat has aimed to create a consulting process with its regional partners, believing capacity is built through development and possessing perspectives for change. The Federations strategy includes a greater role for its regional delegations. They are tasked with the coordination of support, and the development of a plan of action for the delivery of Federation sub-regional support services.
National Societies now meet sub-regionally, annually or biannually, to discuss country and regional priorities. These meetings - organized and facilitated by the regional delegations - have proved invaluable, and produced three main results.
· The sub-regional priorities established by National Societies enable the Federation to mobilize resources and prioritize its direction;
· Federation country delegations can assist host National Societies with the design of programme proposals derived from identified country priorities. The Federation can then help develop National Society capacity for communicating priorities;
· With a participatory planning process, there is greater commitment and accountability from all. The Federations coordination role is thus enhanced through the oversight of multilateral activities and a greater involvement in bilateral programmes between National Societies.
The results from sub-regional meetings are encouraging. In west Africa, institutional and resource development, management and systems, skilled manpower and coordination were identified as in need of strengthening. And a regional approach to development, coordinated by the regional delegation, was called for.
A review exercise brought National Societies renewed commitment towards building individual capacity while working within a sub-regional framework.
We recognize that there are clear and complementary roles for
the governance and the management functions of our National Societies. We will
build governing structures with integrity and management structures with the
necessary professional skills to run our organizations. We will clearly define
the relationship between governance and management functions.
In southern Africa, an initiative begun in 1978 was given fresh impetus by a meeting of National Societies which reviewed the sub-regions priorities. The southern Africa partnership of Red Cross Societies developed as a consequence, reflecting a shift towards becoming full partners in the design, development and implementation of sub-regional programmes.
Institutional development, disaster response, risk reduction and enhanced involvement with health were identified as sub-regional priorities. Now a National Society consultative committee will work with the regional delegation, advising how it can best support on these issues.
We will participate in community based development with a
special emphasis on health care.
In eastern Africa, a 1995 Seychelles meeting revealed that because of long years of preoccupation with response to conflict and natural disaster. National Society priorities lay in institutional development.
A sub-regional planning meeting this year produced a list of priorities to the end of the millennium. The National Societies placed emphasis on resource development, preventative health, vulnerability reduction, and the integration of outreach and local peace initiatives into their community plans. They also want to improve the sub-regions early warning systems. Disaster response requires strong organization in a region constantly at risk of catastrophe. The regional delegation will coordinate the implementation of the regional priorities of the National Societies.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
It was the second severe drought to hit the area in three years, and 300,000 people were in dire trouble across Lesotho, Namibia, South-Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A Federation appeal for 3.79 million Swiss francs was launched in the summer of 1995 and a relief operation started.
It offered more then relief. Besides food distribution and food-for-work programmes, it sought to reduce vulnerability to future droughts trough sustainable community development. It would install and protect safe drinking water sources and promote drought-resistant seeds.
Something else would also set it apart - coordination on a regional front. Six Red Cross National Societies came together to carry it out. By the end of the operation in September 1996, this southern Africa partnership had brought food to 210,000 people, 44 new sources of clean water had been installed, 58 sprigs protected, and other sources rehabilitated. Over 7,000 households had received drought-resistant seeds, and many farmers among them would donate part of their crops for Red Cross assistance to others.
Lessons learnt region-wide have been shared to enhance drought response in the future.
We will commit to developing local sources of income for self
A first central African meeting of this kind took place in Douala in July. The priorities of National Societies in this conflict-torn region are institutional and resource development, the strengthening of response to conflict and natural disaster, and an overall focus on health and the development of a peace culture.
A review in March also stressed that institutional development was needed to mobilize, motivate and organize human resources in a much more efficient manner, enabling the National Societies to take ownership of their plans and programmes. The findings were discussed in more detail at an October regional meeting, further stimulating dialogue between National Societies and between them and the Federation. Clear Federation priorities to support disaster response and development should be provided as a consequence. Both the review and the Douala meeting called for a regional approach.
In providing assistance and ensuring respect for human
dignity, our prime resource is our people. We will strengthen our human resource
base of both volunteers and employees.
A National Society committee has been elected to follow up on the decisions taken, and to organize an exchange of information and mutual assistance in the region. The Federations regional delegation will facilitate cooperation, and coordinate assistance within the regional framework the National Societies themselves have established.
Defining Federation priorities
Pan African conferences have progressively helped the Federation determine priorities. Regional planning meetings strengthen the process, and in efforts to meet expectations the Secretariat underlines four essential areas:
· Working better as a Federation
Diminshing resources in the face of increasing regional needs and defined priorities have encouraged the Federation to seek further improvement of its resource management. Technical resources of the Federation Secretariat are matched with those of African National Societies and sister Societies elsewhere to meet demands. The British Red Cross assisted the Federation Secretariat in planning an emergency drought operation in Sudan while special interest groups of sister Societies participate in the planning and implementation of National Society/Federation activities in Somalia, Angola and Mozambique. In the meantime, African National Societies are increasing their own cross-border involvement in lending expertise. Already, Sierra Leone has assisted Liberia in its self-assessment while Ethiopia participated in the evaluation and planning efforts of Tanzania. When faced with the Ebola epidemic. Democratic Republic of Congo assisted Gabon and Cameroon in their prevention efforts.
We declare our commitment to implement our adopted plan of
action, in partnership with the most vulnerable people and call upon the
Federation Secretariat, the ICRC, sister Societies, governments and other
partners to support our efforts whilst respecting our priorities and
· Improving coordination of bilateral activities
Clear agreements have spread across Africa. A strategy of encouraging the wide-ranging and far-flung bilateral relations to gather under the umbrella of the Federation, while protecting the interests of the partners, is beginning to bear fruit. The experiences of Federation development relations were conceptualized into five models and presented for discussion in a partnership meeting in Kampala in September 1995. The participants chose a model which advocates Federation facilitation of all bilateral projects. Project delegation models have now been introduced in Somalia and Angola. The Tanzanian coordination group [TCG] provides a forum for Movement components in the country to meet and establish priorities and review progress.
The TCG brings together, in periodic meetings, the Secretary General of the National Society, the head of the Federations country delegation, the head of the East Africa regional delegation, and the regional delegate of the ICRC, in order to share ideas and perspectives. It is a forum where they share information and keep up to date with each others policies.
SHARING THE BURDEN
Fighting epidemics in central Africa Brings National Societies together. The region is prone to recurring disease, and sharing regional human resources has become everyday practice.
When, in 1996, cholera struck in northern Cameroon and southern Chad, their Red Cross National Societies had specialist help from Democratic republic of Congo. When it returned in 1997, they exchanged operational know-how and shared materials, some of that coming from the regional delegation of the Federation. This regional and inter-regional cooperation made optimum operations possible. The next step for the National Societies is joint planning for a disaster preparedness and prevention programme. Rains bring cholera every year, and always to the same regions.
The sharing process is snowballing. National Societies throughout the region have now opted to exchange experiences especially in institutional and resource development, and strategies and structures for efficient and transparent management. They want regional and sub-regional disaster preparedness programmes covering every possible disaster, and cooperation on regional conflict.
The Federations regional delegation is oiling the cogs of cooperation. It is identifying human, financial and material resources Societies could share in, and assisting - from a distance - in implementation and follow-up. It links, too, to operational partners inside and outside the Movement.
A consolidated approach to National Society assistance has resulted from Federation strategy, and hopes are high for the results of developing models further. Already, in almost the whole of Africa, bilateral relationships seek the endorsement of the Federation, as a signatory to agreements.
· Improving the quality of representation
All National Societies have criticized rapid delegate turnover and have sometimes questioned delegate skills. Already the Secretariat seeks long-term contracts for heads of delegation and is now developing delegate profiles for each core position. The profiles will assist in successful recruitment but the pool of qualified candidates from each sub-region needs to be increased. National Societies want more African delegates, so more basic training courses are being considered for Africa. In October 1997, a bi-lingual course in Abidjan removed the French and English language barriers. Participants came from all over Africa.
We are committed to being effective members of the
International Federation, to contributing to policy development and to
identifying and training competent African individuals to act as delegates
within the International Federations programmes, particularly within
· More strategic planning and advocacy
More administrative and programme authority is being passed to country and regional delegations, allowing more Secretariat capacity to be put into strategic planning and advocacy. Operational responsibilities have been redistributed and focus roles placed on the sub-regions. Geneva desks and their regional delegations have acquired specialized sectors: relief, logistics, development, information systems and media.
Areas requiring improvement
Five areas need attention to improve overall Federation performance and the quality of service to Africa.
· National Society capacity to manage large-scale operations
This is the Federations primary focus. National Societies welcome the Federation at the start of large relief operations, for they are involved through recruitment of staff and volunteers and participate in decision-making. Some go on to take over. But often as operations develop, they begin to feel distanced from them, and most frequently the cause is unmet expectation, mainly in the building of their own relief capacities. All future relief and emergency appeals will include capacity-building components.
GROWING IN RELIEF
In mosquito-infested swampland, 90 kilometers east of the town of Kigoma in western Tanzania, Lugufu camp was a nightmare-violent, depressed and disease-ridden. If the Tanzanian Red Cross or the Federation had chosen a site to house 40,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, it would have been as far from Lugufu as possible.
It wasnt just the endemic malaria. Rains cut it off from the outside world, flooding the camp and the rough roads to it, often halting the delivery of food and water. When refugees turned aggressive, no one blamed them. They were cold and wet and hungry.
But the camp was where it was. The Red Cross was simply asked to run it. Lugufu even now is not a picnic but in six months it was turned around. It is a structured and well-managed community with health care, decent shelter, and a water supply.
In Tanzania today there remains one of the worlds largest refugee populations. Somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people fill the camps that run from Kagera to Kigoma along the countrys western border. Lugufu is but one of them.
The Tanzanian Red Cross and the Federation have been supporting refugees here for more than four years. Operations started with camps for Rwandas and Burundias around Ngara, then spread to those for Burundias in Kasulu, and early this year to Lugufu. The process has reflected a National Society growing to meet its challenges.
In the past year, the roles and responsibilities of the National Society and the Federation have begun to change. In February, while their combined activities moved from Ngara to Kasulu and Lugufu camp independently. It hoses another 90,000 Burundians. Building on its experience from Ngara, it continues to run it successfully.
A cooperation agreement signed with the Federation in April went on to recognize the National Society role as the operating partner in refugee programmes in the country. It defined, too, roles and responsibilities in relief efforts and committed the National Society to efficient operation management and accountability in its actions. The Federation pledged to mobilize and coordinate donor support and to provide operational assistance as requested.
With a wealth of relief operations behind them, the Federation and the Tanzanians have moved to fulfil the roles outlined in the Federations statues and reinforced in the Kampala Declaration. The National Society runs operations in its country while the Federation supports it with the full weight of the sister Societies.
· Aftermath blues of relief operations
The scale-down phase when an operation ceases can leave National Societies in limbo. A high degree of dependency can be created in the course of an operation, and branch development activities have too often not balanced relief. National Societies are often required to restructure in the aftermath of relief operations. This type of shift in organization is costly and requires specific technical skills which most National Societies do not possess. To preclude sudden-withdrawal symptoms, the Federation will assist with the preparation for scale-down and closure from the start of a relief operation. The necessary costs [such as training, funds, etc.] for a scale-down and any anticipated restructuring will be planned for and reflected in relief operations' budgets as capacity building components, to the extent possible.
· Bridging the beneficiary gap
The Federations knowledge of the people we seek to help - refugees, displaced and others - is often insufficient. Better analysis will open everyones eyes to what is going on in the field. We will now also aim to use the Federations presence in camps, and in communities, to draw closer to those we assist. A better dialogue will help us involve them in the programmes from which they benefit. Community self-management must be an aim, giving responsiblity to end-users. Communities, too, should participate. In this regard, the Federation will enhance drastically its two-way accountability to both donors and the communities it serves.
· Rehabilitation and longer-term development
Rehabilitation remains a weak point in post-emergency activities. The Federation must further emphasize its capacity-building role by providing relevant technical skills and resources as part of our scaling down. There are many lessons to be learned from all over Africa in end-of-mission analyses.
Development is a challenging undertaking which takes time and cannot follow a specific blue print as it must accommodate varied circumstances in different places. The Federations most important contribution is to commit itself to support African National Societies, development initiatives proactively through the coordination of timely technical and financial inputs. However, the challenge is for the National Societies to reach a sustainable level of development in countries where the overall development indicators are low.
· Utilizing Held resources
More authority will be given to delegations. Staff at the Secretariat will have more time to draw lessons from experiences in order to ameliorate systems and provide quality guidance. The focus for staff will shift, from hands-on operations to a role of guidance and direction.
· Future focus
To address our current challenges, apart from disaster response functions, the Federation Secretariat will follow three main areas of focus during 1998-2000 in fine-tuning its support services to African National Societies.
First, the Federation Secretariat will place a heightened emphasis on the promotion of self-sustainability of African National Societies. We will augment our support towards organizational, human and financial resources development.
Second, we will assist the National Societies in defining a health strategy for Africa, now faced more than ever with health challenges which stem out of poverty, inadequate resource allocation and lack of community education. The aim is to develop a focus which will promote effective health strategies for National Societies intervention in community health which would be accepted and recognized by the people and governments at large.
Last but not least, information systems have undeniably become a cornerstone in development sustainance. Our commitment is to assist the National Societies to develop effective information links between their branches and headquarters, across the continent and to the Federation through its regional delegations.
The Federation will establish appropriately profiled regional focal points to help National Societies develop and implement all three focus areas.
By the turn of the century
Certain current trends will have a direct impact on our priorities to the turn of the century. Recent experiences in Africa have revealed a shift from protracted and ideological rural struggles towards sporadic urban-based conflicts aimed at seizure of power. A temporary displacement of people has been seen rather than huge population movements. Against an urban backdrop, how should the Red Cross and Red Crescent respond? Can we ensure our assistance contributes to peace? Can the Movement find a common strategy? Can we avoid needless competition? Can we improve coordination and collaboration, among ourselves and with other agencies?
In the realm of natural disasters, floods and droughts have increased, to the extent of being viewed as chronic events. Environmental degradation, deforestation, over-population and over-grazing have all had disastrous effects. There is increased risk of epidemics, an age of pandemics is upon us. Faced with H1V/AIDS, ebola, cholera, and malnutrition, what should be the response of the Red Cross and Red Crescent?
Clearly, prevailing political and social circumstances call for a review and redefinition of the Red Cross and Red Crescent role at the community level. There is a need to identify our comparative advantage and create a specific identity.
Already African cities groan beneath the weight of poverty, and the growth of the urban poor is quickening.
Congestion, pollution, crumbling infrastructure. Sprawling slums and shanties, street children. Todays urban problems are likely to be tomorrows urban disasters.
Consider the forecast from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. By 2025, Africas level of urbanization will be more than double that of 1975. Fifty-three per cent of the continents people will then be living in cities. Should urban poverty continue on its present course the consequences are unthinkable.
It isnt just the Nigerian nightmare, with urban dwellers growing from 23 per cent to almost 62 per cent of the population. It isnt just Lagos, population 24 million by 2015, the worlds third largest agglomeration.
It is Kenya. From under 13 per cent in 1975, urbanization will near 32 per cent by the millennium. The UN sees it climbing further, to over 51 per cent in the first quarter of the next century. It is Burkina Faso, from six per cent in 1975 to a staggering 66 in 2025. There is Cameroon (26 to 66), Equatorial Guinea (27 to 68), Ethiopia (nine to 29), Mauritania (20 to 73), Mozambique (eight to 61), Tanzania (10 to 48), and all the others.
The poorly housed and the homeless. Nutrition. Clean drinking water and public health. Communicable disease. These are some of the urban issues humanitarians will be faced with. Out there in the concrete jungle, where will the Red Cross and Red Crescent be?
We will decentralize authority in the National Society to the
branches whilst maintaining strong systems of accountability. We will improve
our accountability to our membership, those we assist and those from whom we
Urban aid can no longer be overlooked, neither by National Societies nor a capacity-building Federation. Heighte ned involvement with our urban communities is today a blatant necessity. We must define our role with the urban vulnerable. Where do we stand, for example, on the horrifying plight of Africas burgeoning street children? Within our advocacy role, a strategy for promoting volunteerism among professional people needs to be defined and implemented.
In 1998-99, while we continue to fulfil our responsibilities in the provision of disaster relief, we will sharpen our focus on building capacities to meet these millennium challenges. The Federations regional delegations will be strengthened, and regional focal points, cooperation and inter-dependence among National Societies developed.
A consultative process is underway to develop a plan of action further. Change will be a reality by the turn of the millennium.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies promotes the humanitarian activities of National Societies among vulnerable people.
By coordinating international disaster relief and encouraging development support it seeks to prevent and alleviate human suffering.
The Federation, the National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.