Argentina + 7 more

South America Region Appeal No. 01.51/2003 Programme Update No. 2

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Appeal Target: CHF 4,027,067 revised to CHF 3,059,754 (USD 2,264,807 or EUR 1,982,990)
Period covered: 1 May to 30 August 2003

In Brief

Appeal coverage: 81.7%; See attached Contributions List for details.

Outstanding needs: CHF 581,353

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

Programme Summary: Due to lack of donor support, programme objectives for the South America annual appeal were revised and the appeal budget was revised downwards accordingly. Priorities were determined for each core programme in order to focus on the most urgent projects and activities.

The Federation supported the Argentine Red Cross in its response to severe flooding in the Santa Fé province, and launched an emergency appeal to assist 8,000 beneficiaries. Implementation of the social crisis operation was also ongoing during the reporting period and the time frame of the operation was extended to 30 November, given the occurrence of flooding in Santa Fé and the need to ensure provision of relief. The National Societies in the region also responded effectively to several small scale disasters which affected vulnerable communities in the region. In Peru, the Peruvian Red Cross responded to an extreme cold wave that affected the Andean population in the southern region of the country. The cold wave killed cattle, destroyed crops and infrastructure in the area and caused severe respiratory infections and deaths, mostly among children and elderly persons. The chronic drought which has plagued the Chaco communities in Paraguay has been aggravated in recent months, and the National Society is currently working to relieve affected persons. In addition, several countries in the region are experiencing social crises that pose a threat to political and economic stability, particularly Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. The underlying problems of inequality of access to resources in these countries have been boosted by the ongoing economic recession, and are likely to worsen in the future.

An evaluation and review of the Amazónico and Camalote programmes respectively were initiated during the reporting period, and recommendations will be studied and implemented in future community integrated programming. Change processes continued in the National Societies of Argentina, Brazil and Peru. The Brazilian Red Cross adopted new Statutes in an extraordinary General Assembly on 25 June and in Argentina, the National Development Plan was approved by the General Assembly on 30 August.

Operational developments

According to the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the number of Latin Americans living in poverty reached 220 million, representing 43.4 per cent of the total population of the regionin 2002. Of this figure, 95 million, or 18.8 per cent, are living in extreme poverty. ECLAC's projections for 2003 indicate that living conditions in the region will remain stagnant in most countries, with the exception of Venezuela, where poverty is expected to increase andin A rgentina, where economic reactivation could reduce the number of people living in poverty.

Today, 54.7% of the population in Argentina is living below the poverty line with less than USD 2 a day. The floods in Santa Fé Province no longer represent an emergency situation, but damage to infrastructure, production and agriculture are severe and reconstruction efforts could take years. The Argentine Red Cross is continuing its relief and rehabilitation programme in the area; the period of the emergency appeal will come to a close in November 2003.

In Bolivia, strikes and demonstrations started towards the end of August in response to the government's plans to export natural gas through Chile. The National Society has revised its contingency plans in order to provide the humanitarian assistance that may be needed as a result of these events.

In war-torn Colombia, kidnappings (more than 1,000 this year), bomb explosions and armed conflicts have made the news almost on a daily basis. The Colombian Red Cross is continuing its humanitarian assistance to victims of internal conflict. It drafted a new version of its National Development Plan (NDP) in June, improving on the earlier drafts drawn up in late 2002.

Chile has been the most stable country on the continent in recent months. Floods hit the southern provinces of the country in recent months, but the National Society was able to manage the disaster effectively. Ecuador has experienced environmental and political instability in recent months as heavy rains flooded the province of Esmeralda and social tension escalated when workers and representatives from different sectors demonstrated against government policies. The country has also been on constant alert due to the activity of Volcano Tungurahua, which has been polluting nearby communities with ash. The planning process oft he National Society has continued, and drafts of institutional policies were revised for submission to the next General Assembly.

In Peru, unrest and public demonstrations prompted a 30 day state of emergency at the end of May. Transportation workers took to the streets demanding higher wages, teachers went on strike, calling for salary increases and regional governments requested more investment. Coca farmers demanded subsidies from the governments, while at the same time rejecting the eradication of their crops that is required for the Peruvian government to receive aid from the United States. The protests and demonstrations continued until the state of emergency was lifted. Shortly after the end of the state of emergency, the government resigned en masse. A new cabinet of ministers, including Peru's first woman Prime Minister, took of fice. In July, rural areas of southern Peru were hit by a cold wave which caused deaths and illnesses, and affected infrastructure, cattle herds and harvests. In a coordinated effort,t he Peruvian Red Cross successfully carried out the campaign "Let's keep a brother from the South warm"with the support of the nationalmedia. The National Society collected more than 50 tonnes of relief aid, which was delivered to remote Andean communities with financial support from the Federation. Relief activities were hampered by difficult weather conditions and a lack of facilities and resources.

Together with six other National Societies in the region,t he Venezuelan Red Crosshas been developing activities to support vulnerable communities in the Amazon region through the Amazónico programme, which is currently being evaluated. It is expected that the evaluation process will contribute to the creation of an effective intervention model that other National Societies in the region can adopt for their integrated community programmes.

On 8 May, the National Societies in the region celebrated World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day with various activities addressing health and humanitarian values, with a particular focus on the HIV/AIDS campaign, The truth about AIDS. Pass it on.

Health and care

Goal: The National Societies 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 plan of action of the Inter American Conference sets out key goals in relation to the regional health strategy and the issue of equity in health, ensuring synergy between community health and disaster preparedness initiatives.

During the reporting period, priority was granted to the re-launching of the health network. Together with the Central America and Caribbean Regional Delegation, continued support has been given to focal points within the National Societies on specific issues, according to capacities. The network will play a key role in promoting effective implementation of the Plan of Action of the Inter American Conference.

The National Societies of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will begin to draftt heir health Plans of Action with support from the Federation. The Red Cross Societies of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela havedrafted plans of actionin the area of health which will requiresom e readjustments to bring them fully in line with the regional strategy.

On 4 June, the ten National Societies in the region celebrated the International Day for Blood Donation with activitiesp romoting voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation. In addition, the guide Making the Difference , a tool created by the Federation and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to train promoters of blood donations, was distributed. Blood donation promotion programmes are being implemented in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela in collaboration with the respective Ministries of Health (MoH). Training workshops for blood donation promoters were held in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombi a and Peru. In addition, the Ecuadorian and Colombian Red Cross Societies,wi th support from the Regional Delegation and in cooperation with PAHO, began defining the terms of reference for an assessment of the risks involved in processing blood.

The National Societies of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela have been planning to increase their activities in the area of Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) in an effort to reduce childhood diseases. A particular focus is being given to implementing projects related to reproductive health, vaccination, health of women and children and water and sanitation. With the support of the American Red Cross, the National Societies of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru are starting the second phase of the IMCI programme byincre asing the number of communities and beneficiaries.

During the period covered by this update, the National Societies of Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela published First Aid manuals that focus on communities.

In Argentina, health components were incorporated into the relief operation following the floods in Santa Fé province. In Santa Fé, volunteers organized campaigns promoting vaccinations against hepatitis and chicken pox, provided medicine for persons infected with leptospirosis and ensured distribution of other medical supplies to local authorities. Volunteers also offered psycho-social assistance to victims, with a special focus on the elderly and disabled persons. The Argentine Red Cross worked with other humanitarian organizations throughout the operation; in coordination with OXFAM, the Federation ensured water and sanitation facilities, with UNICEF female hygiene kits were distributed and with PAHO the SUMA humanitarian supply management system was implemented. In addition, the ARC worked with the local Ministry of Health to conduct a survey of prevalent infectious diseases during the first few days of the emergency.

The Bolivian Red Cross began a DfID-funded project called Hacia una comunidad segura y saludable( Towards a Healthy and Safe Community), which is intended t o develop community-based ni tiatives by integrating components of health and disaster preparedness. The project aims to reduce vulnerability in the communities of Cotahuma and Las Lomas in the municipal district of La Paz. The health component of the project includes IMCI activities and healthp rogrammes for emergencies.

During the week of 2 to 8 June, National Societies from the region participated in the South American Week for Vaccination, a regional health initiative that was organizedi n cooperation with national Mnistries of Health and PAHO. In Venezuela, volunteers from the National Society headquarters in Caracas and six branch offices operated a mobile clinict hat providedv accinations. In Colombia, volunteers participated in vaccination campaigns in isolated borderr egionsa nd conflict zones. In Bolivia, the National Societyimp lemented vaccination campaigns in the communities that are already benefiting from IMCI projects. In Peru,vaccinat ion stands were set up on the streets of Lima. The Paraguayan Red Crosso ffered vaccinationsi n the Queen Sofia Hospitali n Asunción. Finally, in Uruguay, nursing students and volunteers helped with the vaccination campaign in public health centres. After the campaign, are gional evaluation meeting was held, and all the participantsi nvolved stressed the importance of continuing with such initiatives. The importance of the Federation's role in this field was recognized by participants, and Ministries of Health expressed their intention to work closely with National Societiesi n this area in the future.

Project 2: HIV/AIDS

UNAIDS estimates that the HIV/AIDSp revalence rate in South America in 2003 is0.6 % (UNAID/WHO, 2002), meaning that more than one million peoplein the regionar e living with HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS is a main issue in theF ederation's regional strategy. Federation activities include projects in prevention, reduction of the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and care for those living with the disease. The Federation is working on these projects with strategic partners in the region that are also focused on this issue, such as organizations of People Living with AIDS (PLWA), as is reflected in the agreement between the Federation and the Latin America Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (REDLA).

On 8 May, the National Societies across the region highlighted the Federation's anti-stigma campaign The truth about AIDS. Pass it on , launched last year. The campaign is currently being implemented region-wide by youth departments of the National Societies through various promotional and educational activities. Severalb ranches of the Bolivian Red Cross organized public events promoting the anti-stigma campaign, including aR ed Cross youth workshop addressing peer education and prevention. Ecuadorian Red Cross youth also organized awareness activities within communities across the country along with the anti-stigma campaign. Under the theme "Fight HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination", 22 branches of the Peruvian Red Cross participated in local activities, which included distributing condoms and prevention information, as well as street art and discussion forums. In Uruguay, Red Cross youth organized a radio programme on the anti-stigma campaign and participated in a candlelight memorial ceremony with the local chapter of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW). The Venezuelan Red Cross youth conducted workshops in schools in Caracas as part of the HIV/AIDS anti-stigma campaign. Other National Societies, such as the Paraguayan Red Cross and the Chilean Red Cross, also organized HIV/AIDS anti-stigma activities.

A regional meeting of health and youth directors was held in Limad uring the month of August in order to better coordinate activities and strengthen Red Cross HIV/AIDS programmes in the region. It was at this meeting that the Regional Health Network was re-la unched. In addition, the regional plan of action for HIV/AIDS 2002-2004 was updated and revised, and the ten National Societies in the region received information on working with UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

The Chilean Red Cross signed a memorandum of understanding with a local PLWA organization, Vivo Positivo, and is running awareness and educational activities in schools and colleges.

The Argentine Red Cross has reached an agreement with the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria that will provide the National Societywi th funding for four years. The agreement willall ow the National Society to implement a national strategy against HIV/AIDS, focusing its intervention on prevention, anti-stigma campaigns and providing medical care to PLWA. HIV/AIDS awareness has also been included in volunteer training sessions and in community assistance projects related tot he social crisis and Santa Fé floo ds appeals.

The Global Fund project for Colombia was recently approved, and the National Society is working in close relation with the Country Coordination Mechanism (CCM) in its HIV/AIDS programmes. The National Society is also cooperating with the International Organization for Migration in a pilot project for the prevention and promotion on HIV/AIDS among internallyd isplaced persons (IDPs).

The Bolivian government's proposal for assistance from theG lobal Fund is currently under review. The Bolivian Red Cross is also implementingHIV /AIDS assistance and prevention projects, including providingpsych ological support and visiting prisoners in jail to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.

In Paraguay, the National Society is implementing a DfID-funded educational project focused on fighting discrimination and stigmatization of PLWA in local communities. The project, named HIV/AIDS prevention and i f ght against stigmatization,i ncludes components of preventive health, work with PLWA, and organizing support groups. The project focuses on educating the public about the rights of children and youth with regard to HIV/AIDSi n ther ural Chaco communities affected by drought.

With the support of a private alliance, youth and health departments of National Societies are also running an HIV/AIDS campaign promoting blood tests among young people.

Negotiations between Latin American Ministries of Health and pharmaceutical industry representatives on the price of antiretroviral drugs used to fight HIV/AIDS were held in Lima, Peru, on 5-6 June. An agreement on a general reduction in bulk prices of antiretroviral drugs in South America and Mexico was reached. This was the first meeting in the world to achieve a reduction in prices of equipment and laboratory fees. The Federation participated as an observer, giving support to the Network of Persons Living with AIDS (PLWA).

Project 3: Amazonico Programme

The Amazónico programme focuses on improving living conditions, reducing vulnerability and increasing awarenessin local communities through the implementation of integrated micro projects and capacity building of local instituti ons. The six National Societies of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela are implementing this programme, which has been running since 1997 and is currently undergoing an external evaluation.

Following the annual evaluation and planning workshop for South America that was held in Bolivia in March 2003, three working groups were formed to create tools and strategies for regional community programmes. These working groups have achieved the following results:

  • Development of training materials: new training tools were developed and tested by the Colombian Red Cross during the training of 18 participative planning facilitators for displaced communities.

  • Creation of an exit strategy using the better programming initiative (BPI) for those communities which have completed local development plans (LDPs): the Ecuadorian Red Cross is using the Amazónico based strategy in the implementation of its assistance project to displaced people.
In Venezuela, an ew micro project based on the Amazónico strategy started in June in the community of Caño de Tigre focusing on improving living conditions through water and sanitation activities. In the same period, the community of Apure started the assessment process for developing an LPD, whilst LDPs in the communities of Puerto Ayacucho and Babilla de Pintao have been completed. Future acti vities in the areaso f nutrition and health have been identified in Babilla de Pintao. In Brazil, t h e Red Cross branch in Belem started an LDP in the community of Cotijuba whichis focused on recycling.

In Peru, where the National Society is currently selecting a new coordinator for the programme, the Federation is assisting the National Society in the evaluation of the Amazónico project in the community in Nauta, which is expected to be concludedw ithin the year.

The preparatory work for the planned evaluation of the Amazónico programme continued during the months of July and August. The evaluation team was selected and will start work during the month of September. Along with the results of the review of the Camalote programme, this evaluation will provide an important methodological tool for National Societiest o usei n community integrated programmes. The two evaluations will be examined along with the "Lessons Learned" document which examines the experiences of the five regional programmes in Central and South America: Amazonico, Camalote, Andino, Gente Fuerte and Golfo de Fonseca. The "Lessons Learned" document was prepared by an external consultant in coordination with Federation programme coordinators.

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

No funds were available for this project. For its part, the Federation will provide support to the National Society by recruiting a new Federation Representative for Colombia who will be in post by the beginning of November 2003. However, due to theg ravity of theon going humanitarian crisis in Colombia, it is imperative to underline the importance of future support to this critical programme, and to focus attention on the outstanding needs in this area.

Impact

Red Cross involvement in IMCI has proven effective: the consensus of health authorities and PAHO on the importance of the Red Cross role n i this programme area has resulted in increased involvement by the National Societies in projects to reduce childhood illnesses. The American Red Cross is currently working with the Federation in this area in an effort to develop a system form onitoring and evaluation th at can be used to measure impact in targeted communities.

The role of the Red Cross in HIV/AIDS prevention and care in the region has been strengthened with the approval of the Argentine Red Cross proposal to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. This example will lead the way for other National Societies in the region to follow.

The establishment of monitoring and evalu ation committees for the Amazónico programme facilitated the formation of social networks which are being developed with local authorities and NGOs. The community based approach and processes of this programme are now being used by National Societies elsewhere. The external evaluation is expected to be completed in November 2003and will a llow the Federation and National Societies to examine the impact of the Amazónico programme in the region.

Constraints

Social crises and in ternal problems are affecting the development of certain Amazónico projects, especially in Venezuela and Colombia.

Lack of appropriate technical staff is slowing down the Amazónico programme in some National Societies.

Lack of funds for health activities and Local Development Plansi n Colombia has hamperedach ievement of objectives.

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