Argentina + 7 more

South America Region Appeal No. 01.51/2003 Programme Update No. 1

Attachments

Appeal Target: CHF 4,207,067 (USD 2,760,756 or EUR 2,733,534); Period covered: 1 January to 30 April 2003
The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 180 countries. For more information: www.ifrc.org

In Brief

Appeal coverage: 39.4%; See attached Contributions List for details.
Outstanding needs: CHF 2,549,482

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Argentina: Social Crisis (Appeal 08/2002); Argentina: Floods in Santa Fé Province (Appeal 10/2003); Paraguay: Drought (Appeal 31/2002).

Programme Summary: The reporting period has seen a number of disasters in the region, particularly the floods in Santa Fé province in Argentina following which an international appeal was launched. The Argentine Red Cross is implementing an operation in response to the flooding as well as a programme to assist the most vulnerable affected by the country's on-going social crisis. The relocation of the regional delegation from Buenos Aires to Lima posed a constraint during the initial months of the year in that time was needed to consolidate new structures, train and induct new members of staff. However, the delegation is now well established and well placed to continue effective programme implementation.

Preparations for the Inter American Conference held in late April in Santiago de Chile were a major focus of regional delegation and, in particular, the sub regional office in Buenos Aires which provided support to the host National Society, the Chilean Red Cross. The documents resulting from the conference, including the health strategy for the Americas, are of major significance for Red Cross programming and Federation support. The delegation established effective links with external agencies which will continue to be reinforced throughout the year.

Operational developments

The first four months of 2003 have been characterized by a general situation of instability and social tension in several parts of the region.

In Argentina, civil associations and public opinion cite corruption and poor management of national resources as the main causes of the spread of poverty, with levels reaching almost 60% of the total population. As a symptom of the general distrust towards the political system, for the first time in Argentine history presidential elections did not result in a winner in the first round and a ballot has been scheduled for mid May. Unemployment and lack of resources for everyday life still result in major apprehension among the population, together with the concern for the reducing public security.

March marked a new phase of the operation carried out by the Argentine Red Cross (ARC) in response to the social crisis. Thanks to the contribution of EUR 800,000 from the Italian Agency for Development in December 2002, the operation has been extended until 31 July 2003, with a substantial growth in terms of beneficiaries and activities.

On 29 April, devastating floods hit the Argentine province of Santa Fé, leaving 24 dead, tens of thousands homeless and in extremely precarious conditions. The ARC and Federation took immediate action and an international appeal was launched on 6 May 2003 to assist 8,000 of the most vulnerable flood victims.

In Paraguay, presidential elections were held on 27 April, electing the Colorado Party's candidate, Nicanor Duarte, a former education minister, as the country's new president with 38% of the votes. The Colorado party has been governing Paraguay for a period of 56 years, and will thus continue doing so for another five, making it the world's longest-serving ruling party. Duarte promises to crack down on the country's chronic corruption, in light of last year's economic recession (4%) and increasing inflation rates

A bomb blast in the North Eastern Colombian town of Cucuta in early March killed 6 people and left 71 more injured. The Colombian Red Cross assisted the victims, and a story describing the Colombian Red Cross actions was posted on the Federation home page. According to the Colombian government, the attack was carried out in retaliation for a government campaign to eradicate coca crops from the region, which it says is financing the opposition movement.

In March, the European Commission announced the allocation of a total of 8 million euros for humanitarian aid, targeting victims of the continuing internal conflict in Colombia. The majority of the funds will be used for food and other humanitarian relief items for the approximately 2 million citizens who have been displaced as a result of the conflict. The funds will be channelled through the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO). While the majority of these funds will be utilized for short-term relief actions, part of the funds will also be used for medium-term interventions with the aim of reinforcing the integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into the receiving/host communities in the country. It is likely that the PNSs based in Colombia will apply for funding of their programmes from this newly announced allocation.

In Venezuela, the tensions and street violence continued; negotiations were on-going between Venezuela's government and the opposition regarding a possible mid-term referendum on Hugo Chavez' presidency to be held in August 2003. A pre-agreement, mediated by the Organization of American States, was reached, but not signed. A bomb was planted outside the building where the talks between the government and the opposition were held. The general strike during the first month of the year has left the Venezuelan economy seriously weakened and the opposition to the government split, lacking coordinated leadership.

Coca farmers in Peru marched on the capital, Lima, demanding talks with the President of the republic, Alejandro Toledo, and his government. The demands made by the coca farmers mainly focused on their protest against the anti-drug programme that aims at substituting the growing of coca with other non-disputed agricultural products. The April initiative is seen in light of a trend of coca farmers in Peru and the wider region becoming more radical in their political demands on the ruling governments for sustainable living and income conditions. Public support of the President, Alejandro Toledo, continues falling month by month.

Natural disasters have hit Bolivia continuously during this reporting period. In January, hail and rainstorms affected the capital, La Paz, leaving hundreds of families without homes and with devastated crops. In April, a mudslide that hit a gold-prospecting town in northern Bolivia killed 17 people and left 200 missing. DREF funding was allocated for the operations implemented by the Bolivian Red Cross.

During March and April, a series of protests were mobilized throughout the region, against the military invasion of Iraq.

Health and Care

Goal: The National Societies (NSs) in the region will have implemented efficient, responsive and focused programmes which will have contributed to improve the lives of vulnerable people. These programmes will have been carried out with coordination and technical support from the Federation's Secretariat through its regional resources.

Objective: The National Societies in the region will have improved their capacity to diminish vulnerability due to disease.

Progress/Achievements

Project 1: Strengthening of National Societies' capacity to implement community programmes

The process of mapping the quality of health activities in National Societies has advanced. The Federation is seeking to promote an interchange of successful experiences between the region's National Societies.

Two projects have been initiated with DFID funding: the first in Bolivia will develop a community initiative integrating components of health and disaster preparedness. The second is in Paraguay whereby the National Society will implement an educational project which includes aspects of preventive health, work with people living with HIV/AIDS, the organization of support groups and issues of stigma.

Regional health activities have been identified such as the "South American Week for Vaccination" and participation of the National Societies is this type of health campaign is being promoted.

The drawing up of an operational health plan for the Americas has begun and it is planned that it will be concluded in June for the occasion of the meeting of health directors focusing on "building sustainable mechanisms of cooperation and health".

Definition, dissemination and promotion of the health strategy for the Americas have been carried out through international meetings including that held in Washington on 15 February, gathering a committee of experts including representatives of PAHO and the Federation; a second meeting held in Panama on 28 February sought to review health issues in Central America.

The document "Equity and Health in the Americas" was analysed and subsequently approved at the Inter American Conference held in Santiago de Chile from 23 to 26 April. Therefore, for the first time, a document outlines the health strategy defined by the National Societies with the support of PNSs, Federation delegates and the ICRC. This document gives the framework in which the region should work in the area of health in the following years. The key points of the agreement are:

- Establishing of strategies and programmes which deal with the issue of inequity in health, ensuring synergy between the different community health and disaster initiatives.

- Strengthening interventions for a greater impact in:

  • Social mobilization and promotion of voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation.
  • Women and children's health with focus on equity which will be integrated with the integral initiative in the fight against prevalent diseases in children (AIEPI) at community level.
  • Prevention and response in relation to HIV/AIDS.
  • Public health response to emergencies and disasters.
  • Promotion of the message of tolerance, non-violence, non-discrimination and respect for human rights.
  • Promotion of support to migrants and displaced people in line with their basic rights, including their right to health.

Project 2: HIV/AIDS

The Chilean Red Cross youth section organized its annual event, "The 4th National School for Youth Training", held between 1 and 9 February. 150 young people participated and were trained in first aid, gender, planning and implementation of projects, sexual education and HIV/AIDS prevention, together with basic institutional orientation. The event also served as a meeting for the national and regional youth directors.

The regional gender and youth officer was invited to participate in "The 2nd HIV/AIDS/STD Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean", held in Cuba from 7 to 12 April. She was in charge of the conference entitled "youth, sexual health promotion and the future of the HIV/AIDS epidemic". This experience served to present the experience "youth to youth" or "Peer Education" developed by the South American Youth Network. During the forum, there were meetings with organizations that work in the field of HIV/AIDS including Red LA+, the network of Latin-American women living with AIDS, the network of international women living with AIDS, the NGO Fundamind, and the national networks of Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina.

As has been mentioned previously (under Project 1), in Paraguay, a project with DFID funding has been initiated: the National Society will implement an educational project including components of preventive health, work with people living with HIV/AIDS, organization of support groups and dealing with stigma. The project implemented by the Paraguayan Red Cross is designed to work on non-discrimination and non-stigmatization of PLWA in communities.

Project 3: Amazónico Programme

The National Societies of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela continue implementation of the Amazónico programme which focuses on improvement of conditions in local communities through micro projects and the strengthening of local capacities. The annual evaluation and planning workshop for regional community programmes was held between 17 and 21 March in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, with the support of the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECI) through the Spanish Red Cross. As a result of the workshop, three working groups have been formed: the first group will focus on the community development conceptual framework, the second will work on the development of training materials to teach people use of the methodology and the third group will design the "exit strategy" using the better programming initiative (BPI), for those communities in which the implementation of local development plans (LDPs) has been completed. Nine ONSs and four Federation representatives, including the participatory community development coordinator from the regional delegation in Budapest, participated in the workshop.

80% of the National Societies involved in the programme apply tools and the methodology from the Amazónico programme to other activities and programmes. For example:

  • In Brazil: the Maranhao community used the methodology to set up the "Community Medicinal Orchards" project with Swedish Red Cross funds.

  • In Ecuador, assistance to displaced people provided by the American Red Cross uses the methodology.

  • In Peru, in the south of the country: Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna, development projects post-emergency have adopted the methodology.

  • Colombia uses the methodology in the programmes implemented with the Netherlands Red Cross and in youth groups.

The "Lessons learned" document prepared by an external consultant in consultation with Federation programme coordinators and which gathers the experiences of community-based programmes, has been revised. The document analyses the lessons learned from the implementation of five regional programmes: Amazónico, Camalote, Andino, Gente Fuerte (Strong People) and also Golfo de Fonseca implemented in Central America. The publication of the document is expected for the end of July and will be made available to Red Cross staff involved in development projects and also to other organizations working in this area. The document will also form the basis for an external evaluation.

A local development plan is formed by six or eight micro projects related to community problems: for example, health, water, sanitation, environment, education, work, non-violence, disaster prevention. The LDP is the result of the Participative Planning Workshops (PPWs). Communities prioritize those micro projects which are most urgent. Implementation of micro projects for the year 2003 will begin in May.

Micro projects from 2002 have been completed:

  • Bolivia: building of latrines in the Trinidad community.
  • Colombia: environmental and health improvement in the Florencia community.
  • Ecuador: nutritional improvement in the Pastaza community.
  • Venezuela: environmental and health improvement in community Babilla de Pintao.

The principal lesson learned to date is that the Federation needs to work more on the exit strategies at the conclusion of LDPs, and that this phase is equally important as the strategy to initiate the plans.

90% of the National Societies involved in the programme have developed plans and calendars to update their financial situation and report positive balances of all projects implemented between 1999 and 2002. The positive balances will be used to finalize activities relating to prior micro projects, initiate another micro project from the community's LDP or invest in the reinforcement of the completed LDPs. Another part of the positive balance will be used in the process of internal evaluation and exit from finalized micro projects.

Terms of reference for an external evaluation of LDPs which have been concluded in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, have been finalized. The evaluation is planned for June.

Project 4: Internally Displaced People (IDPs) - Health and disaster preparedness

There has been no significant progress with this project over the reporting period. The Colombian Red Cross is undergoing a series of changes, and a new health director has recently been hired.

It is important to explain the latest developments, that the role is being redefined together with the CRC, focusing more on coordination....

Impact

Health was one of the main themes discussed during the Inter American Conference, held in April in Santiago de Chile. The document "Equity and Health in the Americas" is considered as a step forward to defining the roles and areas of intervention of the Secretariat and the Federation in health. This has a positive impact since it focuses resources in concrete areas of health support.

To date, the Amazónico Programme has been implemented in 27 communities with a total of 65,000 beneficiaries.

Communities' negotiation capacities have been strengthened, as evidenced through their relations with local authorities and NGOs.

The establishment of monitoring and evaluation committees for the Amazónico programme facilitates the formation of social networks.

Constraints

Electoral processes and social crisis affected the development of some Amazónico projects, especially in Venezuela (improvement of the environment and health prevention project in Babilla de Pintao community and the health improvement project in Caño de Tigre community) and Colombia (building of the sewage system in Inirida community).

Certain national Amazónico coordinators will no longer be taking on this role, so the first semester of 2003 will require further efforts in order to secure continuity.

In some National Societies, technical personnel are not always involved in Amazónico activities, sometimes because there are other urgent matters occupying their time or because there are few staff or few internal opportunities for exchange and consultation.

It is necessary to have more information about the alliances that each National Society is making in the area of health, with the aim of promoting successful partnerships and experiences, providing support for better negotiations and avoiding potential difficulties.

The National Societies in the region know little concerning the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) agreement signed with the Federation, thereby much of the potential of joint initiatives risks is being lost.

Coordination

The health delegate has visited the National Societies of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, where he promoted ties with the Ministries of Health and the Pan American Health Organization.

Contacts with the PNSs present in the region have been established to promote joint work in health and care.

Contact with the Andean Regional Health Organization has been made in view of an agreement for working together.

During "The 2nd HIV/AIDS/STD Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean" the regional gender and youth officer established contact with organizations working in the area of HIV/AIDS: Red LA+, the network of Latin-American women living with AIDS, the network of international women living with AIDS, the NGO Fundamind, and the national networks of Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela.

The Finnish Embassy is working on a bilateral project (Finland-Peru) to protect the biodiversity of the Amazon region: Biodamaz. The Embassy is working jointly with the Institute of Research in the Peruvian Amazon and the Turku University. The Amazónico programme has made contact with a view to working in common areas such as strengthening of local management capacities of communities to generate sustainable development. Biodamaz is planning to extend its cooperation to Brazil.

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