International Disaster Response Tools

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1 International Disaster Response Tools Executive summary National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies throughout the world have domestic responsibilities, as auxiliary to the public authorities, to provide relief to people affected by disaster. Depending on their capacity to respond and the scale of the disaster, National Societies can call upon international assistance through the International Federation s Secretariat. In line with its mandate to direct and coordinate international disaster response (1), the Secretariat calls upon the Federation members to provide additional human resources, technical and material assistance and financial assistance to the sister society in the affected country. This surge capacity at times of disaster is organised through the Federation s international disaster response tools, Field Assessment and Coordination Teams (FACT), Regional Disaster Response Teams (RDRT) and Emergency Response Units (ERU). The surge capacity comes from National Societies that make staff available for FACT and RDRT deployments and develop ERU capacity to support response to major disasters. The Federation Secretariat, in line with its constitution, is responsible for the coordination and deployment of the National Society assets. Additionally, the Secretariat provides technical support to National Societies with ERUs regarding their standardisation supports technical training and provides training for ERU Team Leaders. The Secretariat organises FACT training for National Society staff and training for FACT team leaders and RDRT team leaders. Financial surge capacity for disasters comes from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). The DREF is presented separately from this Plan. In 2009 and 2010, the Secretariat will seek to improve the efficiency of the International Federation s disaster response by further improving the quality of the tools and adapting surge capacity to meet the wide range and scale of needs and by providing services which are understood and valued more widely by the membership and are therefore more readily requested when needed. To assist in information-sharing on disasters, disaster monitoring and early warning, the Federation provides a web-based platform to its members through the Disaster Management Information System (DMIS). Through partnership with scientific organisations and based on scientific data and predictions, the Federation will continue to provide monitoring and early warning of unexpected events or abnormal trends on DMIS. By translating scientific data into early warning for communities, the International Federation has the potential to make a tangible difference in reducing the risk of disasters to vulnerable people. This challenge is a priority for the organisation, to use our global capacity to improve local preparedness through the National Society presence in the communities. The total budget is CHF 1,930,523 (USD 1,764,647 or EUR 1,229,633). Click here to go directly to the summary budget of the plan Article 5 A c: Services to National Societies: assist the National Societies in... the organisation of their relief actions and in relief operations themselves. Article 5 B a: Humanitarian Activities: bring relief by all available means to all disaster affected persons Article 5 B b: Humanitarian Activities: organise, coordinate and direct international relief actions.. Article 8 1 c: Rights and Duties of National Societies: National Societies may call upon and receive from the International Federation any of the services and information which the International Federation has the power and ability to provide, in conformity with its general object, functions, resources, and legal obligations Article 8 1 e: Rights and Duties of National Societies: National Societies may call upon sister National Societies for support in accordance with the applicable rules of coordination and cooperation Additionally in the Statutes. of the Movement: 1

2 Article 6 4 e: to organise, coordinate and direct international relief actions in accordance with the Principles and Rules [for Red Cross and Red Crescent Disaster Relief] adopted by the International Conference Context While the mandate of the Federation remains virtually unchanged since 1919, the context in which we work has changed considerably. The Federation recorded a 210% increase of disasters responded to by its members between 2004 and The provisional figures for 2008 show a continued trend in the increase of disasters, mostly climate-related. Indeed the projected impact of climate change clearly demonstrates that we can anticipate a continued rise in the number of climate-related disasters, especially floods, cyclones and epidemics. Some 80% of all emergencies since 2004 have been predictable to some degree or another, yet too often we wait for disaster to strike before taking action. While some regions are increasingly using modern early warning tools to request DREF and deploy staff and goods before disaster strikes, this needs to be captured in a Federation-wide Early Warning Early Action system with clearly defined timelines and roles and responsibilities. Priorities and current work with partners The adaptation of our global disaster response tools will be driven by consultation our partner National Societies. The ERU and FACT working groups, which include representatives of all the National Societies holding ERUs or supporting FACT, provide the framework for defining the priorities for development of the tools and recommendations for the more flexible and innovative use of them. The development of an Early Warning Early Action system will be supported through partnerships and cooperation with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society of Colombia University (IRI) and other scientific agencies. National Societies in the countries affected by disasters are the essential link in ensuring early warning information is provided to the communities, allowing them to reduce the effects of the disasters. Secretariat programme in Disaster management/international disaster response tools Programme purpose To reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters and health emergencies through the efficient use of global disaster response tools and response surge capacity. The international disaster response tools programme budget is CHF 1,930,523 (USD 1,764,647 or EUR 1,229,633). This plan contributes to achieving the DM Strategic Objectives for and responds in particular to Objective 3 and 4 of the DM operational strategy: Objective 3 - Focus on DM services prioritized by NS including coordination, information management and analysis. Utilize evidence and analysis to enable innovation, improve effectiveness and ability to adjust to external trends and NS needs to better anticipate risks and serve beneficiaries. Objective 4 - Develop competency-based DM staff development and placement systems which increase effectiveness of preparedness, relief and recovery programmes. Improve surge capacity to ensure ability to meet beneficiary needs when affected NS capacity is exceeded. Programme component 1: Surge capacity Outcome: Requests from national societies for disaster assessment, international coordination, technical resources and capacity are provided by sister National Societies coordinated through the Secretariat using the disaster response tools of FACT and ERU. 2

3 Programme component 2: Disaster information management and early warning Outcome: National societies and disaster operations staff have improved disaster awareness and response through the effective use of disaster management information and early warning provided on the DMIS extra-net. Programme activities and initiatives 1. Efficiency The Operations Support Department manages the demand and supply of international disaster response tools, the demand coming from the field, and the supply coming from our National Societies that fund, train and maintain out FACT and ERU tools. With long established Standard Operating Procedures we have a well recognised and understood selection process when making deployment decisions. The speed of delivery of ERU teams or FACT teams is as fast as feasibly possible after receiving a request. The two areas for efficiency improvement are in a faster demand side process and in a wider use of these valuable assets. Both of these can be achieved through a few approaches: a) Make use of Early Warning to pre-plan an operational response strategy with the National Society or pre-deploy assessment or response teams. b) Through strategic talks with the National Society threatened by or affected by disaster, promote the strategic opportunity a National Society has in calling in international support, often wrongly perceived to be a statement of weakness rather than strength. c) Ensure Federation and National Society staff fully understand the purpose, composition and value of FACT and ERU, and recognises the opportunity to use these tools, as appropriate, for smaller scale disasters. The scale up and efficiency of the use of DREF provides a good example of how international tools can be used to respond on a wide scale, in advance of a disaster, and it a way that strengthens National Societies. Information management can be better used in the same way to promote and enhance the visibility and actions of out member National Societies, both in their life saving work before disaster strikes and the post disaster actions taken by volunteers, through the effective use of DMIS and other emergency information tools. 2. Capacity, scope, innovation and adaptation of the international disaster response tools The DMIS will expand its services to provide the intranet service platform for Early Warning Early Action and continue to expand the early warning products available on the monitoring page. To encourage well informed disaster response, the DMIS will increasingly create Special Focus pages for international relief operations, where information will be provided about the National Society in the country of operation, learning from previous emergency appeals and evaluations, as well as linking to Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment reports and Cooperation Agreement Strategies. The DMIS will also provide quality maps for the International Federation information products and reports.. DREF will continue to increase its requests for donor support in line with the currently published financial strategy to expand the use of and support for the fund between 2006 and Demands for DREF at the level of DREF Emergencies are expected to increase. DREF loans to Emergency Appeals will be based on proper financial forecasting and relief planning. FACT capacity will be built at the qualitative, rather than quantitative level, focussing on refresher courses for existing FACT trained personnel with a reduced focus on induction courses for new recruits to FACT. There will be an increased focus on shelter and recovery team support as well as psychological support and restoring family links (RFL) awareness. The training courses will become shorter and more focused, with a more generalist Disaster Management course being provided for those that want DM training but will not deploy as FACT in disasters. An information management system will be developed for FACT teams to capture and interpret assessment data more accurately, leading to the delivery of better targeted relief to the vulnerable people affected by disasters. 3

4 The technical, management and coordination skill sets available through FACT cannot be replicated at the field level. To improve the quality of our disaster response, FACT will be increasingly used for smaller scale emergencies. Mentoring missions with RDRT deployments will be piloted. To respond to new operating challenges, ERU National Societies are ready to make ERU staff available to assist in preparedness for response activities and planning (in particular relief and logistics), thereby contributing to risk reduction. Furthermore, psychological support, mobile outreach and community health activities will be further developed in the Basic Health Care ERU. The Relief ERU will incorporate shelter and cash distribution skills while Health and Water and Sanitation ERUs will explore the issue of recovery in relation to the current level of services. 3. Building National Society capacity through strategic use of the tools Despite the fact that disasters destroy capacity, responding to them can be a development opportunity for National Societies. While maintaining the primacy of humanitarian response, those leading, using or managing international disaster response tools need to discuss the strategic opportunities the effective use of the tools have to position a National Society with its volunteers, membership, public, government authorities, national media and corporate sector partners. The strategic use of the tools will be put into guidelines for the international disaster response tools, training events and deployment terms of reference and will be promoted to all stakeholders in disaster management, especially field operations managers. 4. Disaster management integration By their very nature, the FACT and ERU tools are based on integration with other departments, who provide technical advice and coordination as well as training support for both Federation led training as well as ERU training run by National Societies. Departments currently providing integrated support for FACT and ERU are Logistics, Relief and Recovery, Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction, Media services, IT Telecommunications, Water and Sanitation, Emergency Health, and, in the future, Organisational Development. b) Profile of target audience and final beneficiaries For Federation surge capacity there are two target audiences for the international disaster response tools, the National Societies that provide the tools and the recipient National Societies. For the providers we lead technical support in regard to the design and training of the staff involved (FACT and ERU staff), for the recipients we provide standardised, predictable surge capacity at times of disaster. The eventual beneficiaries are the victims of disaster where the tools have been used. For disaster information management the target audience is all National Societies and Federation staff. The beneficiaries are victims of disaster who receive improved support before or following a disaster. c) Potential risks and challenges Key threats to the effective and appropriate use of the international disaster response tools include resistance from Federation staff or National Societies to request the tools when humanitarian needs dictate that they are required. While the capacity of the tools is high, if there were multiple major disasters over a short period of time, there may be insufficient global capacity to respond. The financing of costly deployments of ERU assets can be a challenge to National Societies holding these assets. Governmental legal restrictions to entry to the country and access to disaster victims can mitigate the impact of the international disaster response tools. A careful balance needs to be maintained between global capacity and potential needs, especially of the ERU assets which are costly for national societies to maintain. National societies and Federation staff will continue to receive exposure to the benefits of the tools to help them in making appropriate decisions when such tools are required. 4

5 Role of the Secretariat a) Technical programme support The technical departments in the Secretariat provide leadership and resources to the technical ERU working groups and to the FACT, ERU and Team Leader training. Zone offices are provided with direct or off-line support in helping National Societies understanding or using DMIS as an effective disaster information management tool. b) Partnership development and coordination The Federation Secretariat does not have surge capacity to support National Societies in its own right, other than through its limited capacity in zones and the headquarters in Geneva. The surge capacity in international disaster response comes from the National Societies; the coordination comes from the Secretariat. Thus the FACT and ERU systems are entirely dependent upon the application of solidarity within the Federation and the application of the Federation s mandate to coordinate these resources at times of disaster. The Federation will retain its technical support to National Societies holding ERU assets and seek better coherence between ERU assets and assets held by National Societies only available for deployment within any given region. Partnerships with the research community have become increasingly critical in providing the Federation with early warning tools. Funding partnerships, especially for DREF have grown exponentially in the past years, especially with the corporate sector. Promoting gender equity and diversity Effective disaster response requires cultural and language skills. Effective assessment often requires access to women only accessible by female staff. Since 2005 the Federation has sponsored nontraditional FACT staff for training and deployment, when their respective national societies do not have sufficient funding to pay for these costs, thus broadening the geographic scope of FACT. The Federation pursues the target in its training selection of 30% trainees to come from non-traditional sources and at least 30% be women, noting the applications are usually dominated by males and traditional sources. All FACT missions are integrated into RDRT missions. The integration of National Societies into joint ERU deployments has greatly broadened the geographic base of the ERU tool and contributed to its diversity. Quality, accountability and learning Lessons learned from ERU and FACT deployments are regularly brought to the technical ERU meetings and ERU and FACT Working Groups. The FACT and ERU tools have continued to adapt over the years to respond to the changing nature of disasters and their humanitarian consequences. As the Secretariat is not the owner of the assets, there is a continuous dialogue with Partner National Societies on the role, use and content of the tools. Columbia University (IRI) is conducting a review on the accuracy of early warnings to help the Federation measure what levels of risk we should be taking in our early action. 5

6 How we work The International Federation s activities are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity". Contact information Global Agenda Goals: Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters. Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies. Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability. Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity. For further information specifically related to this plan, please contact: In the Federation Secretariat: Peter Rees, Head, Operations Support Department; Tel: ; Fax:

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