The International Federation's office has been present in Azerbaijan since 1993 and the impact of the 15 years of engagement has been improved living conditions of thousands of people and enhanced capacities of the National Society to deliver quality services.
Since 1993 the Azerbaijan Red Crescent with the support of the International Federation has developed a number of characteristics that make it a better supporter of vulnerable people, including country-wide network of regional and local branches; experienced, enthusiastic and committed staff and volunteers; sufficient infrastructure, and stronger links with the government agencies, local and international organizations. The role and function of National Society governance and management was separated. Branches have been empowered to be better partners of their communities. More and more youth and volunteers take active role in Red Crescent services. Furthermore, on 8 May 2007, after four years of intense work by the National Society, the president of Azerbaijan signed the Law on Red Crescent to be adopted at the parliament.
Despite the achievements above, a number of challenges are still there. The National Society continues to depend on the International Federation's annual appeals to be able to implement its programmes and projects. The Red Crescent has, however, pursued intensive efforts to achieve its financial selfsustainability. Fund-raising and marketing skills have been enhanced and new partnerships forged to develop additional expertise as well as new funding sources. The National Society has made remarkable progress in extending its partnership with the government resulting in the adoption of the Red Crescent Law, which will increase governmental support for the Azerbaijan Red Crescent. Thus the National Society has managed to cover staff salaries and administrative costs with the support of the government since January 2007. Additional partnerships have been established with other National Societies such as the Polish Red Cross, the Israeli Magen David Adom and the Turkish Red Crescent. These partnerships have contributed in diversifying the sources of funding. From 2007 to 2008 the National Society developed its strategic plan for 2008-2010, which clearly indicates the direction of the organization the coming years.
Currently Azerbaijan is experiencing economic growth, ongoing reforms, foreign investment and assistance by international organizations. The share of the population living in poverty has decreased from 49 per cent to 16 per cent since 2003. Nevertheless, humanitarian needs still prevail. Children, orphans and women, elderly people living alone, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and disabled people are the most vulnerable groups in need of assistance. People living in rural areas still experience difficult living conditions as the largest scale of economic growth is concentrated in the oil sector which is a capital-intensive industry that provides employment for less than 1 per cent of the workforce. According to the UNDP 8.5 per cent of the economically active population is unemployed.