Programme summary: The Pacific region experienced both large and small disasters in 2009. In the first two months of the year, Pacific Red Cross national societies responded to flooding in Fiji caused by a tropical depression; flooding caused by sea swells in Papua New Guinea and Kiribati; and devastating bushfires in Australia. Later in the year, teams were mobilized to provide immediate relief and ongoing psychological support to survivors of the sinking of the Princess Ashika Ferry in Tonga. In addition, there was also active response to a triple endemic of cholera, influenza and dysentery that broke out across a number of provinces in Papua New Guinea. In late September, an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 8.3 was recorded off American Samoa, generating a tsunami that impacted American and Western Samoa and Tonga, with the Red Cross responding to support 5,000 beneficiaries. In October and November, relief was provided to communities in Vanuatu relocated as a result of the increased activity of Gaua Volcano. Finally, the year ended with a response to extensive flooding in parts of Fiji, this time caused by Cyclone Mick.
The quick response of national societies to these disasters was due to their ability to work with the support of international and local partners to mobilize people, goods and equipment. This ability was born because of an ongoing regional commitment to integrated training and capacity development across the broad range of disaster management disciplines. Pre-positioned emergency relief items in each country also meant that help was immediately at hand for affected communities. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) provided assistance to the majority of these operations by liaising with partner societies in the region in the area of mobilizing resources and supporting the national societies on reporting and information sharing with regional partners.
Promotion of legal preparedness for disasters and the effective application of existing international legal tools in disaster management were also undertaken throughout the year at both at national and regional levels through IFRC's international disaster response laws, rules and principles (IDRL) programme. Key IDRL activities in the Pacific region in 2009 included training and capacity building of national societies and their partners, dissemination/advocacy of the IDRL guidelines and technical assistance to governments, with progress made towards establishing a technical assistance project in Vanuatu.
In health and care, the Pacific component of IFRC's Global Alliance on HIV and AIDS continued through the implementation of HIV programmes in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Micronesia and Samoa. Technical assistance was also provided to national societies for better health programming, monitoring and evaluation. This assistance included provision of resource materials and training on planning, monitoring and evaluation, voluntary blood donation, and community-based health and first aid (CBHFA). National societies were also assisted in preparedness and planning for response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic, including access to funding for Fiji Red Cross and Tuvalu Red Cross, Humanitarian Pandemic Preparedness (H2P) projects.
IFRC provided tailor-made organizational development support throughout 2009 to the Red Cross Societies of Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu in strategic and operational planning, volunteering development, good governance, financial management, constitutional reviews and the development of funding proposals.
No. of people we help: The Pacific regional office covers 14 countries and provides support to 14 national societies, including two national societies still in formation; Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands (in formation), Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu (in formation), and Vanuatu. Approximately, 16,790 people were reached by the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society in response to sea swells that caused flooding across several provinces in January. From September, 45,000 people were reached by the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society during the triple epidemic response through door-to-door dissemination, health awareness in public places, information booths and the media. In Samoa, the ongoing tsunami recovery operation is targeting 5,000 people. In Tonga, responses to the ferry sinking reached 58 people and tsunami recovery reached 330 people. In Vanuatu, relief reached 359 men, women and children affected by the volcano eruption.
IFRC supported HIV prevention and through anti-stigma activities, reached approximately 67,000 people: 17,000 in the Cook Islands; 22,000 in Kiribati; 11,000 in Micronesia and 17,000 in Samoa. During the dengue outbreak in the Cook Islands, the national society reached out to 8,000 people with prevention kits and information, education and communication (IEC) messages. Tuvalu Red Cross reached out to 3,000 youth on World AIDS day with prevention and awareness raising messages in the capital Funafuti.
Financial situation: The total 2009 budget was CHF 2,001,504 (USD 1.82 million or EUR 1.3 million), revised down from the original budget of CHF 1,988,504 (USD 1.82 million or EUR 1.3 million) which was covered up to 102 per cent. Expenditure overall was 55 per cent.
Delays in the replacement of key regional office positions in 2009 (head of office, organizational development, health, and disaster management) and the diversion of resources for the management of the Samoa and Tonga Tsunami operations and the Papua New Guinea triple epidemic response has resulted in a low expenditure rate in 2009.
Our partners: The Japanese Red Cross Society is a loyal multilateral supporter of IFRC's work in the Pacific. The Japanese Red Cross contribution in 2009 benefited a range of health, disaster management and organizational development activities. Australian Red Cross and New Zealand Red Cross worked closely with the International Federation to ensure coherence in our support to the Pacific societies. Australian Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross and Norwegian Red Cross supported the IFRC's disaster management programme. IFRC collaborates closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross' (ICRC) Pacific Delegation especially on organizational development activities. The Red Cross Pacific organizational development working group, steered in 2009 by Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society, New Zealand Red Cross and Fiji Red Cross, have been key interlocutors on a number of initiatives during this period. Spanish Red Cross contributed to capacity building initiatives in eight national societies. The Red Cross Society of China is a valued supporter to the Pacific region. The Australian, Finnish, Icelandic, New Zealand and Finnish Red Cross societies have supported delegates for IDRL, disaster management, and administration and finance activities.
The IFRC's main external partners and donors in 2009 were the Department for International Development (DFID) United Kingdom, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), Secretariat for Pacific Communities (SPC), South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (DG ECHO), New Zealand International Aid and Development Agency (NZAID) and the Pacific Island AIDS Foundation (PIAF).
IFRC, on behalf of the national societies of the Pacific region, would like to thank partners and donors for their generous support.