The year 2014 witnessed an increase in activities of disaster management (DM) programme with the aim of strengthening Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) efforts in disaster preparedness and response. To achieve this, ARCS with support from IFRC and ICRC developed draft DM early warning system (EWS) standard operating procedures (SOP) which was used as a basis to collect feedback through consultative workshops attended by stakeholders in northern, south-central western, north-central western and northeastern regions. A total of 150 participants including heads of branches, DM officers, health focal points and volunteers attended these workshops. A total of seven new vehicles were procured for the disaster response units (DRUs) which were handed over to the ARCS for preparedness and response to disasters in emergency operations.
Similarly, Resource Management System (RMS) training workshops were conducted for the ARCS staff from HQ and regional levels with the technical support from IFRC Asia Pacific zone office in July and November 2014. A disaster management module and volunteer management module development are is progress.
During the reporting period, a DREF appeal was launched to respond to the flash floods and landslide in northern Afghanistan. Over 2,000 beneficiaries received relief assistance that included NFIs and shelter. In effect to this, two emergency shelter trainings were conducted in Jowzjan and Takhar provinces, whereby 200 newly recruited volunteers were trained. The trained ARCS volunteers have demonstrated the skills learned by responding to severe flash floods in central, northern, northeastern, western and southwestern regions of the country where a total of 15,160 families were affected, 1,793 people killed, 97 went missing and 52,906 displaced.
ARCS volunteers assisted Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), International Organization of Migration (IOM), United Nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (UNOCHA) and other aid agencies to conduct needs assessments in the flood affected regions and assisted in distribution of food and non-food relief items to the affected families. Also, ARCS assisted 156 flash flood affected families in Jalalabad with NFIs in the month of May 2014. The operation was jointly conducted by ARCS, ICRC and IFRC. Also, ARCS DM department has assisted more than 7,000 internally displaced populations (IDPs) and disaster affected families with food and non-food items in eastern, southern, central south eastern, northern and north eastern regions of the country.
In an effort to strengthen and increase community resilience and sustainable development the communitybased disaster preparedness (CBDP) manual was developed and approved by ARCS DM department with technical support of IFRC. A total of 2,000 copies of this manual were printed in Dari language, distributed to the seven regions and 34 ARCS branches. Following this, 11 community-based disaster preparedness trainings were conducted. The main outcome from the trainings was to increase the response capacity of the communities through setting up preparedness plans for identified hazards common to specific regions. In addition, 275 new and previously CBHFA trained volunteers received training on CBDP in Khost, Kundoz, Baghlan, Takhar, Badakhshan and Sar-e Pul provinces.
Likewise, 12 disaster preparedness committees were established in Sar-e Pul, Badghis, Badakshan, Baghlan, Takhar and Kundoz provinces with the objective of building capacities at the community level to timely respond to disasters. Seven out of the twelve established CBDP committees were provided with office equipment and emergency response tools to enable the CBDP committee member/volunteers.
CBDRR Facilitator’s Guideline and Participants Handbook as well as the Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) Guidelines were translated in Pashto language. Following this, CBDRR training was conducted for 30 CCBHI trained volunteers in Jalalabad, the trained volunteers are now able to conduct VCAs in their respective communities in order to reduce risk and cope with disaster using locally available resources.
A five-day integrated CBDRR/community-based health and first aid (CBHFA) training workshop was conducted for 35 community members and ARCS staff/volunteers in Balkh province, similarly a CBDRR training was conducted in Herat province for 31 ARCS staff/volunteers from Zendajan district. The main objective of CBDRR trainings was to increase awareness of vulnerable communities on DRR to reduce their vulnerabilities and increase their capacities to be able to prepare for, respond to and cope with the effects of disasters using their own locally available opportunities and resources.
Under the health and care programme, 45 ARCS clinics and 21 mobile health teams (MHT) continued to complement primary health care services of the government’s basic health care package in communities without access to health care facilities. In effect to this, in order to increase and scale-up coverage of the MHTs across the country, 10 MHT vehicles supported by the DFATD project were delivered to Kabul and handed over to ARCS. Targeted provincial location for the 10 MHTs has been identified.
With the new government in place a ‘no hire and no fire’ directive has been circulated by the president countrywide. As a result, the recruitment of fourth staff for ten new MHTs has been put on hold until further notification as it is anticipated that the cabinet members will be appointed by the government in early 2015.
The ARCS clinics in Kapisa, Paktika and Balkh province have started operations in the newly constructed buildings with funding support from IFRC. Post construction of all the three clinics were provided with standard medical and non-medical equipment that will contribute to the provision of quality services in the clinics. Likewise, construction of three new ARCS clinic building in Badakshan, Faryab and Parwan provinces were completed and renovation of one clinic in Zabul province (out of there targeted clinics this year) was initiated and to be completed in quarter one of 2015.
The CCBHI programme was expanded in the Parwan province during the reporting period. Recruitment and orientation of CCBHI project staff was completed in the third quarter including the selection of target areas for assessment and baseline study that required proper guidance. As the procurement process of the construction materials for latrines and wells has been handed over to ARCS this year, significant delays in the procurement process was a challenge; at the end of 2014, only 20 per cent of the 180 latrines, and 15 wells were completed. Likewise, the procurement of 23,000 first aid kits is still pending even though the process started in February 2014. This will be completed in quarter one of 2015.
Ongoing efforts were made to contribute to increased coverage of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) and immunization services reach in coordination with the provincial health department. With the establishment of grandmother committees in target villages, it has been observed through beneficiary communications that women in the project area were motivated to attend health facilities to receive the maternal and child health (MNCH) services such as ante-natal, post-natal, and family planning.
As part of the ongoing capacity building efforts with the ARCS, most of the planned HIV/AIDS and communitybased training activities under the health and care programme saw completion. ARCS staff and volunteers were assisted and trained both within and outside the country on emergency health in the northern region, CBHFA ToT in Kandahar for 20 provincial trainers, and National Disaster Water and Sanitation Training organized by Indian Red Cross through SARD coordination support. The software component of CCBHI project in Balkh, Samangan and Nangarhar continues to engage community participation and has been further expanded in Parwan province. The youth peer education (YPE) HIV program has been running successfully in the schools. During the reporting period, a total of 10,094 students participated in peer-to-peer education sessions. A total of 440 students, 84 teachers and school authorities were trained on HIV/AIDS. In addition a total of 13,250 cc of blood was donated by VNRBD (Pledge-25) members.
A DREF operation was launched in the month of May to respond to floods and landslides in northern Afghanistan. The health intervention components in the DREF provided an opportunity to strengthen the integration of emergency watsan, hygiene promotion and psychosocial support (PSS) activities with the engagement of CBHFA volunteers in actions. The training plan and reporting of CBHFA volunteers in emergency response support was developed. Trainings on epidemic control for volunteers (ECV), household water treatment storage (HHWTSS) and psychosocial support (PSS) for CBHFA volunteers were conducted.
ARCS continues to build on the ‘working together’ strategy with the MoPH which was reinforced with the joint 2014 World AIDS day celebrations in Mazar, Kabul, Jalalabad and Herat city whereby ARCS engaged in various awareness sessions and ensured visibility and messaging around the ongoing HIV/AIDS prevention programme activities.
Coordination efforts continue to be enforced through regular health tripartite meetings (ICRC-ARCS-IFRC). To name some, ARCS health care in danger (HCiD), communication/beneficiary communications committee meetings jointly with ICRC and watsan cluster meetings with MoPH. The MOPH emergency health preparedness and response director worked in close coordination with ARCS emergency health unit staff for the Ebola virus preparedness plan in Afghanistan.
A call for proposal on Partnership for Strengthening Maternal, New-born and Child Health (PSMNCH) from DFATD was shared to ARCS management with Afghanistan identified as priority country of interest with a five-year budget of $2 million. The development of Afghanistan proposal is supported by Canadian Red Cross Deputy Country Representative based in Pakistan with inputs from ARCS and IFRC health team. For 2015, British Red Cross has confirmed the funding of CHF 73,000 on food security component from Guerney Overseas Aid. A five-year (2015-2017) concept paper for GTZ focusing on ARCS community health and development programming was developed. The proposed project also integrates support of branch development, volunteer management and PMER capacity for ARCS.
On the organizational development front, ARCS had two meetings with the Ministry of Justice of Afghan government to advocate for the approval of the ARCS law and emblem law. The branch development project is going well and progress is made towards the set objectives for the project. One Leadership and one management training at the regional level continued to provide foundation and impetus for ongoing organizational development work. A total of 13 Movement coordination meetings have been jointly hosted by ARCS, IFRC and the ICRC in seven regional offices to review the implementation of the joint planning process, coordination and discuss needs and challenges with regard to humanitarian service delivery in the country. A plan and road map was developed for conducting ARCS provincial assemblies and five provincial assemblies have been conducted in five branches (provincial governance board is elected in five branches).
The Navision Dynamic implementation process started from January 2013 with the processing of 2013 financial transactions on live run. The full implementation of Navision Dynamic system was achieved in July 2014 with system testing and validation. The status of the Navision project closure was reviewed with the senior leadership of ARCS (Secretary General and Vice President) and partners (IFRC HoD, OD manager and ICRC co-operation delegate). The Navision finance and logistic system progress made in 2014 is a record milestone on the development work that was done with the team of ARCS finance and logistics department.
IFRC OD manager closely worked with the ARCS secretary general; both secretary general and OD manager developed strategic development and change process plan which will be applied in 2015 onwards. Likewise, OCAC recommendation implementation is jointly being reviewed by the ARCS Secretary General, his management team, IFRC country delegation and OD/VM delegate from Kuala Lumpur.
ARCS as a volunteer-based organization invests highly in managing its volunteers and members information via the new database system implemented in ARCS south central and southern region. Under the youth programme, more than 34,950 youth volunteers attended ARCS youth clubs and corners in 21 provincial branches, of which 40 per cent were female youth. One more youth club (central youth club) was established in Kabul (headquarters) with this new youth club to provide more opportunity is available for the youth volunteers to explore their knowledge, skill and experience with their peers countrywide.
Mainly the youth program aims at building interpersonal capacity of youth on building a discrimination and violence free environment and to promote co-existence and peace within the peer to peers awareness component of the programme. In 2014, 1,200 youth were engaged with learning classes on Movement principles and values (YABC). Moreover, a number of 4,050 youth benefited from the Youth Agents for Behavioral Change (YABC) training sessions in 21 youth clubs and 50 your corners in ARCS 21 branches.
In effect to this, 1,050 new youth volunteers were recruited and trained in various subjects such as Movement history, principles, voluntary task and first aid. Recruitment of volunteers strengthens the volunteer base and networking of the ARCS. A total of 52 youth volunteers were trained from in youth clubs in Mazar-e-Sharif and Paktika branches in fundraising activities. The trained se youth volunteers could generate AFN 7,000,000 (US$120,690) through various fundraising events across the country.
A total of 2,000 trained youth volunteers took part in community related activities such as polio eradication campaigns, planting trees, cleaning the cities within hygiene campaigns and sport activities. Youth volunteers have a positive influence in the community by their active contribution and raising awareness for positive behavioral change in the community.
Five branches elected their provincial governance board and were educated about the Movement (ARCS, IFRC, and ICRC) and their areas of operation. ARCS senior management distributed certificates to the provincial governance board members to ensure they understand their role and responsibilities as the ARCS branch governance board members.
PMER strengthening initiatives contributed to developing and coordinating PMER systems and events, building the capacity of the PMER unit in ARCS, and actively encouraging and enabling the unit to support ARCS programme departments to meet the needs of communities in accordance with internationally accepted standards. In an effort to institutionalize PMER within the National Society, ongoing development of a PMER framework, long term PMER strategy and emergency plan of action tools and guidelines aims at synchronised organisational and institutional changes to improve the overall performance and accountability of ARCS programmes to communities, Movement and non-Movement partners.
IFRC continued with the skill development initiative for ARCS PMER focal points during the reporting quarter, mentoring sessions were held on different PMER topics such as concept notes and proposal writing. At the end of the reporting quarter, a first draft of the PMER framework has been circulated for feedback and suggestion to all partners and APZ/SARD office. A follow up ARCS PMER framework working group members meeting is scheduled to take place on 17 December to share feedback received to finalize the ARCS PMER framework document for roll out in early 2015. Likewise, in the month of October, a consultation workshop and development process of a long term PMER strategy was conducted with technical support provided by IFRC SARD office and SRC PMER advisor.
IFRC supported ARCS with the development of annual operational plan for the year 2015. ARCS planning guidelines for 2015, quarter planning and reporting templates have been reviewed and aligned with the current operational plan for use across all programmes. The following documents were further disseminated during the ARCS pre-planning meeting held in June whereby 50 ARCS staff and senior management member participated. During the reporting period all steps detailed in the annual planning process guidelines was carried out at ARCS HQ, regions and branches whereby the plans from different programme departments at various levels were consolidated by the planning technical committee at national level. ARCS senior management, heads of programs/regional offices, regional operational managers, key program staff at HQ, IFRC and ICRC program delegates participated in this process.
Similarly, mentoring and coaching session on various PMER topics and PMER framework are ongoing as part of the skill development initiative for ARCS PMER focal points to take a leadership role and engage with their respective programme units for all future PMER work. Close coordination was maintained with PMER focal point from IFRC South Asian Regional Delegation (SARD) to plan and conduct a PMER ToT in the month of June whereby 25 ARCS staff from the headquarters and regions was trained.