This report covers the period 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008.
Programme purpose: As outlined in the 2008-09 plan, the aim of the International Federation South Asia regional office is to increase the capacity of the South Asian national societies to provide services that improve the lives of vulnerable people.
Programme(s) summary: During 2008, the key areas of support provided by the International Federation to national societies in South Asia were as follows:-
- Under the regional disaster management programme - responding to the monsoon flooding in Pakistan, India and Nepal and the earthquake in Baluchistan (Pakistan); carrying out a final evaluation of the disaster risk reduction British Department for International Development (DFID) II programme; working towards community-based disaster risk reduction; strengthening the regional disaster response system; and starting a regional disaster management/disaster risk reduction review.
- Under the regional health and care programme - conducting a mid-term evaluation of the regional HIV/AIDS programme; organizing the South Asia launch of the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Alliance on HIV; and holding regional health capacity building workshops in the areas of community-based first aid and public health in emergencies as well as a regional health managers meeting.
- Under the regional organizational development programme - providing country specific tailor made support; organizing a regional organizational development meeting; strengthening internal and external communications (including launching a monthly e-newsletter from the South Asia regional office and a South Asia site on Youtube, as well as the production of high quality visibility materials); providing extensive support to countries in the region in their preparation of International Federation Secretariat plans for 2009-10; and supporting countries in the region with their finance development work.
In addition, the regional initiative on "Building Safer Communities" in South Asia was also promoted through an integrated programming approach; a Secretary Generals' forum was organized in Nepal in June; and the consolidation process between the South Asia regional office and the India office was completed during this period.
Financial situation: The total 2008 budget is CHF 3,826,178 (USD 3,220,006 or EUR 2,494,495), of which 65 per cent is covered. Expenditure overall was 50 per cent. Expenditure was low due to the low funding for regional programme activities, together with delayed funding confirmation.
No. of people we help: The South Asia regional office supports the six national societies and seven country offices of the International Federation in South Asia. During 2008, the South Asia regional office actively worked with the authorities in Bhutan in providing disaster management and risk reduction training for their leadership. The region includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, out of which the national societies exist in all except Bhutan and the Maldives, where the process of establishing a national society is underway. Please refer to the country reports for the beneficiary numbers for these countries.
Our partners: The main partners supporting the regional programmes during 2008 were the American, British, Danish, Finnish, Japanese and Swedish Red Cross Societies, along with the European Commission/ECHO, British Department for International Development (DFID) and World Bank (GFDRR). Technical partnerships/relations were also maintained with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) disaster management centre, UN/International Strategy for Disaster Response, World Bank (through the ProVention consortium), other UN organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations under the regional disaster management programme; and with the World Health Organization, networks of people living with HIV, government ministries and civil society organizations under the regional health and care programmes. The South Asia regional office also maintained strong cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and links with the World Food Programme, UNDP and USAID. Further, close cooperation was continued with international media agencies like Reuters, BBC and CNN, for efficient information flow, especially during disasters.
During 2008, South Asia was fraught with internal conflict, terrorist attacks and many other challenges, which hampered the smooth implementation of activities by the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies in the region. Afghanistan faced a deteriorating security situation and increasing tension along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Pakistan was affected by political instability and the situation in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province was volatile with Swat valley seeing a resurgence of Taliban militants. India was hit by a series of bomb blasts and militant attacks, especially on its major cities and the attack on the city of Mumbai led to a sharp rise in tensions between Pakistan and India. In Sri Lanka, the military's advanced into Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-controlled territory triggered a series of attacks in other parts of the island. In Nepal, however, the political and security situation improved following elections which abolished the monarchy and declared Nepal a Republic with the new government led by the former insurgent Maoists. The ninth national parliamentary election in Bangladesh brought to an end the state of emergency and saw the centre-left Awami League led 'Grand Alliance' being elected with a landslide victory.
This period also witnessed extreme cold weather conditions in Afghanistan and India, heavy monsoon flooding and landslides in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, as well an earthquake that hit Baluchistan province in south-western Pakistan, all of which resulted in large loss of lives and property and affected millions of people. In addition, avian influenza outbreak was reported from Bangladesh and India, with the first human case of H5N1 virus infection reported from Bangladesh. The International Federation launched two emergency appeals during the year, one to support the Nepal Red Cross Society in responding to the floods in Nepal and the second to support the Pakistan Red Crescent Society in responding to the earthquake in Baluchistan. Since the national societies in all countries affected by these disasters were caught up in response efforts, implementation of some longer-term developmental activities was delayed and these have been carried forward to 2009.
The South Asia regional office experienced significant funding constraints during the year, which also affected the implementation of some planned activities. In an effort to optimise financial and human resources, the consolidation of the South Asia regional office and the India office was carried out. Despite some constraints and delays due to the security situation in most countries, and the strained funding coverage of some regional programmes, the South Asia regional office's work to build the capacity of the national societies and support the International Federation's country offices continued to make progress during this period, the details of which are outlined in this report.