accessibility & help

Help local people deal with disasters, Red Cross urges

28 September 2015

Governments and aid organisations must do more to help local disaster response efforts, a new Red Cross report says.

The 2015 World Disasters Report, launched last week by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), examines the challenges facing local aid workers when responding to disasters.

It finds that despite the crucial role played by local responders, vital funding does not always reach grass-roots organisations.

The report found that of the total funding given to international, national and local NGOs between 2010 and 2014, only 1.6 per cent went directly to national and local NGOs.

‘First to respond’

Other key findings for 2014 include:

  • There were 317 natural disasters affecting 94 countries 
  • Nearly 107 million people are estimated to have been affected 
  • 48 per cent of all disasters happened in in Asia 
  • China suffered the most disasters with drought, storms and flooding affecting more than 58 million people 
  • 87 per cent of disasters were climate related

The report calls on governments and aid organisations to work together to ensure more equal partnerships at a local level.

Elhadj As Sy, IFRC secretary general, said: “In 2015, we saw local people and organisations at the centre of operations rescuing thousands trapped in the rubble after the earthquake in Nepal, setting up evacuation centres in the wake of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, and on the frontline of the protracted conflict in Syria.

“But their effectiveness goes beyond their proximity. Local groups, including National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, are effective for a number of reasons.

“They bring perspective, they understand language and cultural norms, they are permanently present in communities and able to accompany them to address risks before disaster strikes.”

Getting the balance right

Mr As Sy called for a better balance to be struck between international and local organisations.

“International partners still have a critical role to play, including in the provision of specialized resources and expertise, and surge capacity when local resources are overstretched,” he said.

“But such support should be brought with humility, trust and respect, and with a commitment to building local capacity.”

  • The World Disasters Report is an annual independent publication commissioned by the IFRC, contributing evidence-based research on the challenges, trends and innovations in disaster risk reduction and crisis management. Download a copy of the report.

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