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Central America: Annual Report (Appeal 01.26/2001)

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This Annual Report is intended for reporting on the Federation's Annual Appeals only.
Appeal Target: CHF 3,951,408 - revised 9 August to CHF 3,155,099 - USD1.9m / EUR2.lm

"At a Glance"

Appeal coverage: 86.1 %
Related Appeals: 01.25/2001 Pan-American Disaster Response Unit; 01.27/2001 Guatemala; 01.28/2001 Honduras; 01.29/2001 Nicaragua

Update: The major earthquakes in El Salvador in January and February 2001 marked the beginning of the year and the attention of the regional delegation for Central America was focused on this disaster. As of mid year, the region has been beset by a severe drought, further complicated by the dramatic fall in coffee prices and consequent unemployment. The Golfo de Fonseca pilot project, launched in mid 2000, focuses on the strengthening of branches, creating links with vulnerable communities and building capacities particularly in health and disaster preparedness. In September 2001, the region's National Societies gathered during the meeting of "Presidents and Technical Seminars" which took place in Honduras. This resulted in the definition of strategic priorities for the region, together with the approval of regional protocols including an agreement for the provision of mutual support in times of disaster.

Operational Developments:

The beginning of the year 2001 was marked by the occurrence of major earthquakes on 13 January and 13 February in El Salvador, resulting in the deaths of 1,259 people and the destruction of 149,563 houses, 1,566 schools and 144 health posts. A major relief operation was mounted by the Salvadorean Red Cross Society, with the support of a Federation Field Assessment and Coordination (FACT) team, the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), a regional intervention team (RIT), the regional delegation for Central America and a number of PNS. Current activities in El Salvador are focused on rehabilitation (see situation reports/operations updates on the El Salvador earthquake).

Since mid year, the region has been suffering from severe drought which has impacted most on El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In conjunction with the plunge in the price of coffee, subsequent closure of plantations and unemployment, the drought and crop failure have brought increased poverty and vulnerability. In northern Guatemala, the passage of hurricane Iris brought damage to the departments of Peten and Izabal, and the subsequent passage of hurricane Michelle in late October/early November resulted in severe flooding and further damage to crops in Honduras and Nicaragua.

In addition, in view of close ties with the United States, the consequences of the terrorist attacks of 11 September have affected Central America. As a result of tighter restrictions on immigration and employment, a fall in remittances from the United States is expected, which may increase poverty and vulnerability in the region. The Inter-American Development Bank states that exports from the Americas fell by almost three per cent in 2001 and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) anticipates growth of less than 1 per cent in 2002 in the Americas.

Objectives, Achievements and Constraints

Disaster response

Earthquakes - El Salvador

Following the earthquakes in El Salvador, there was a coordinated effort between the various elements of the Federation response system. The Pan-American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) and the regional intervention teams took on a prominent role in the earthquake response and were supported by a FACT team. Moreover, from the first day of the earthquake, the regional delegation sent delegates to the field and supported the coordination of the disaster response from Guatemala.

Hurricane Iris

The regional delegation for Central America in coordination with the regional delegation for the Caribbean, monitored the development of hurricane Iris. The first regional intervention team was put in place by the regional delegation for Central America immediately following the passage of the hurricane on 8 October; the Federation's regional disaster preparedness delegate based in Guatemala and the water and sanitation delegate working in El Salvador travelled to Belize City on the morning of 9 October. The delegates provided support to the Belize Red Cross Society and helped to coordinate the damage and needs assessment and development of the plan of action.

Hurricane Michelle

In late October/early November, severe flooding occurred in Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua as a result of the passage of hurricane Michelle. The regional delegation worked with the National Societies and the national intervention teams (NITs) in order to design a plan of action to assist those affected and also secured DREF funds for relief operations in the three countries.

Drought and Food Insecurity

The regional delegation in coordination with the country delegations and National Societies drew up an appeal for drought and food insecurity which promotes an integrated programme seeking to address the cycle of drought and crop failure in those countries worst hit by water shortages: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Work is progressing and relief distributions and health and hygiene promotion took place at the end of the year. The focus in 2002 is on provision of seed and technical support to farmers to increase the chances of successful harvests. At a country level, the NITs played a critical role in the implementation of the plan of action.

The health brigades formed under the Golfo de Fonseca project were selected by various organizations providing food and relief supplies, to undertake beneficiary surveys and distributions in the areas affected by drought in Chinandega, Nicaragua.

Disaster preparedness

Objective1: To strengthen the community-based disaster preparedness (CBDP) programme and role of National Societies in preparing communities to play an active part in preparation for, response to and mitigation of disasters.

Achievements

During the second semester of the year, the CBDP programme was resumed in El Salvador, having been interrupted as a result of the earthquake. Response brigades were formed in selected communities in order to ensure initial response measures, to support ongoing preparedness activities and to contribute to awareness-raising. In Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala micro-projects in mitigation were strengthened through enhanced community involvement and coordination in the identification and implementation of projects.

An country-based evaluation of the CIDA-funded community-based disaster preparedness programme took place in Guatemala January 2001; previous reviews had been held in Costa Rica and El Salvador in late 2000. Following the evaluation in Guatemala, a regional assessment was held. The evaluations pointed to the need for increased facilitator training both in disaster response and in community work methodology, the need to ensure improved programme integration, the benefits of improved visibility and in some cases, improved administrative and financial support to facilitate the relationship between headquarters and the branches. In response to these recommendations, modifications to facilitator training were made to include additional technical elements, as well as greater involvement of local and national authorities. Support to programme coordinators and National Societies in addressing administrative and financial management issues was also provided on a country basis. Increased emphasis was placed on the follow up with communities and mitigation and risk management activities.

The delegation provided support to the Red Cross Society of Panama in the initial identification and design of an integrated programme proposal to be implemented by the Darien branch. The proposal contains a water and sanitation component and is being designed with community involvement. A thorough analysis of communities took place, together with the complex issue of displaced persons, and lessons learned from the Golfo de Fonseca project were taken into account.

Given recommendations put forward at the disaster preparedness conference in El Salvador in May 2001 and the decisions taken during the XVII Presidents' and Technical Seminars meeting held in Tegucigalpa in September 2001, the CBDP programme is being reviewed in order to build upon the successes and develop a more integrated community approach which further helps communities to address identified risk factors. A working group was formed in mid November and the Pan American Health Organization (OPS), the Coordination Centre for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) and several NGOs are supporting the initative. This process will be completed by mid February 2002 with agreement among the National Societies, PNS and other actors on an integrated model for CBDP planning.

Constraints

Limited funding was available over the year for CBDP activities. There are a large number of actors involved in CBDP initiatives with different, and sometimes competing, agendas and methodologies. Historically, the programme has lacked strong coordination inter-institutionally, as well as between the departments of the National Societies.

Objective 2: To increase the capacity of National Societies to prepare for and respond to local, national and regional disasters.

Achievements

The second regional disaster preparedness conference held in May 2001 in El Salvador focused on five themes: human resources, volunteers, gender and ethnic groups; organizational development and branch development; communication, information and strategic alliances; community-based disaster preparedness; response and rescue. From each working group, recommendations were forwarded to the country delegations which, in turn, prepared country specific commitments and recommendations.

During the second semester of the year, national intervention team training courses were held in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Curriculum revision to ensure coordination of the NIT curriculum with that of the regional intervention teams and the FACT training course, has been initiated with a meeting held in Guatemala in October, and consolidation of material used for NITs training is taking place. These initiatives were undertaken in coordination with PADRU.

Discussion and technical support continues to take place with the Red Cross Society of Panama to assist persons affected by displacement and insecurity as a result of the conflict in Colombia. Better programming initiative (BPI) promotion has continued and presentations were made to several National Societies, together with identification of participants to attend the training of trainers' session in BPI in March 2002.

Regional training in SPHERE standards was conducted in El Salvador in June for members of the Federation, RITs, National Societies and NGOs. During this event, a SPHERE network was initiated to share experiences and promote inclusion in operational planning and implementation. As a result, SPHERE training was conducted at national and inter-agency level in Honduras and El Salvador with further training planned for 2002. SPHERE standards have also become a standard part of operational procedures and a focus for coordination of recent operations throughout the region.

As a result of experiences in response from the earthquake operation in El Salvador and decisions taken at the meeting of directors of disaster response/preparedness and of RITs representatives held in Antigua in March 2001, a series of three further meetings were held with disaster response/preparedness directors. These resulted in the development of a "regional agreement for mutual support in disasters" and the drawing up of associated protocols and decision flow charts, subsequently approved during the meeting of Presidents and Technical Seminars in September in Tegucigalpa. It was also agreed that standardization of regional training, disaster preparedness programmes and integrated disaster planning would be promoted, and this has begun with the support of PADRU. Results were consolidated at the Presidents' and Technical Seminars meeting in Tegucigalpa, leading to the formulation of a clear plan and priorities for the next two years. With the recent nomination of the head of PADRU, it is expected that significant progress towards achieving integrated pan regional systems and planning will be achieved.

In addition, significant effort has been made by national and regional delegates in strengthening the institutional position of disaster response and preparedness personnel and departments in the National Societies. This has resulted in stronger departments, particularly in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras where greater recognition and support from the Presidents and executive board has resulted in more effective action.

Constraints

Limited financial and human resources were available, particularly to conduct NITs training in each country. The focal point nominated in May for the standardization and development of RITs and NITs training continued to be highly engaged in the operation in El Salvador. As regards the drought operation, the slow onset nature of the disaster and the complexity of the situation, as well as the reticence to declare states of emergency, slowed down the response. In general, demands placed on the National Societies in the region exceed limited capacities. The relief department within the Nicaraguan Red Cros has institutional weaknesses and the change in the director of the disaster department in the Guatemalan Red Cross also affected programme implementation.

Objective 3: To consolidate and strengthen the regional disaster response network in coordination with the Pan American Disaster Response Unit.

Achievements

The regional network was strengthened at all levels, from the community to the NITs and RITs, in coordination with PADRU. All regional events focus on coordination and standardization which will facilitate mutual integrated response.

A two day meeting regarding the Pan American Disaster Response Unit and the regional intervention teams (RITS) was held in Antigua Guatemala in February. The focus of the meeting was further definition of the concepts of RITS and PADRU, together with further clarification of the relationship between the two.

To date, four delegates have followed FACT training, thereby promoting integration of the response system between FACT, RITs and NITs. The regional delegation assisted PADRU in coordinating the holding of a pan regional logistics workshop held in mid December in Panama, with the aim of strengthening National Society capacity and knowledge of Federation response procedures. The support of PADRU has resulted in the development of further expertise in water and sanitation at National Society level and the establishment of a technical unit within the Guatemalan Red Cross.

A NITs/RITs data base is being maintained and updated and has recently been modified in order to include further relevant information on team members. This has proved to be a useful tool in the identification of personnel both at a regional level and within National Societies.

The responses to the El Salvador earthquake, drought, floods and hurricane his, the work carried out during the Presidents' meeting and other regional events in which all levels of the regional network take part, together with the strengthening of PADRU, represents progress towards a strong regional network.

Constraints

Limited financial and human resources are available for planning and coordination. Personnel changes within the National Societies are frequent and staff are faced with competing priorities.

Objective 4: To enhance the integration and coordination of disaster preparedness activities among the components of the Movement and with external actors and project the Federation's strategies and expertise within the region.

Achievements

Cooperation between the regional delegations in the Americas has improved, as illustrated through the close collaboration and effective response to hurricanes Iris and Michelle. Coordination and collaboration with external actors in response has also been strengthened in recent activities due to both improvements in Red Cross coordination mechanisms and prior preparations through joint meetings and training sessions. Coordination with NGOs and UN agencies has been reinforced over the year. This trend was in evidence in the El Salvador earthquake response, the drought response and in the support provided through PADRU to the Buenos Aires delegation following the earthquake disaster in Peru.

As part of the response to hurricane Iris, OXFAM provided livelihood assessment training to volunteers from the Belize Red Cross Society. WFP and the Federation have begun discussions with a view to reaching regional agreements; coordination during the drought operation has been positive, and in Guatemala resulted in an agreement between the Federation, the Guatemalan Red Cross and the WFP as regards the provision of food to beneficiaries. The Pan-American Health Organization

(PAHO) is supporting revision of the CBDP methodology, together with CEPREDENAC, CARE, GTZ, CRS, World Vision, FLACSO and UNDP. All Federation training courses which involve members of partner organizations include sections on the SPHERE project, NITs/RITs, logistics and so forth. The regional delegation participated actively in the Hemispheric Conference in December in Costa Rica, with two plenary presentations and attendance at bilateral meetings and working groups.

Constraints

More work needs to be carried out in building alliances and this will be a major focus in 2002.

Humanitarian Values

Objective 1: To support Red Cross school brigades and youth leadership training and to develop a peer education programme for HIV/AIDS focusing on youth.

The Federation provides technical assistance to help national societies in strengthening their youth networks through national youth leadership training, school recruitment programmes in community service activities, and youth fund-raising activities.

Achievements

A work plan for the regional youth network was drawn up by the youth directors, with emphasis on the following aspects: organization and structure, up-dating of regulations, projects and activities, training of volunteers and youth leaders, fund-raising, international cooperation, implementation of the youth policy and strategic planning. New coordinators for the regional network were selected and topics such as the production of leaflets, a virtual data base, virtual (chat) meetings, editing of personal guides, image campaigns for the Red Cross youth network and the international year of the volunteer, were discussed. To improve communication between the youth directors and to help the regional network to function, it was decided to continue virtual chat meetings every month. As a result, the majority of national societies in the region are now participating in these meetings on a regular basis.

At the beginning of the year, a focus on two areas of community work: school brigades and education and prevention of HIV/AIDS, was decided upon.

Throughout the region, the youth network has carried out activities through school brigades. Progress has been achieved in harmonizing intervention criteria and educational material used by each of the National Societies. Measurable indicators have also been introduced against which results achieved can be tested.

The school brigade programme has been implemented in four National Societies: Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama. A training of trainers workshop was held in March 2001 in Tegucigalpa, followed by national workshops in order to train facilitators at country level. The aim at the beginning of the year was to set up 15 groups per country of school brigadeers aged between 8 and 18. This was greatly surpassed, with the following numbers of groups established: Mexico - 203; Honduras - 200; Costa Rica - 25; Panama 100. Members of the school brigades receive training in the following topics: disaster prevention; basic first aid; humanitarian law; HIV/AIDS prevention; volunteerism and security in schools.

On 11 December, an evaluation of the work carried out in the region in HIV/AIDS prevention took place in Panama with the participation of 140 young people. In the context of the work of school brigades and the youth network, there are currently the following numbers of trained HIV/AIDS facilitators: Costa Rica 188; Honduras 135; Panama 50; El Salvador 120. The following numbers of beneficiaries were reached during the year: Costa Rica 3,500; Honduras 16,800; Panama 2,000; El Salvador 665. Furthermore, other activities included the marking of World AIDS Day in Panama, El

Salvador and Honduras, the Youth Week against AIDS held in Honduras, a vigil held in memory of those who live with or have died from HIV/AIDS held in Panama and Honduras, together with the publication of magazines, folders and posters and the airing of radio and television programmes.

Constraints

Transportation poses problems since in many cases, schools are at a considerable distance from the Red Cross branches. The fact that youth projects within the Red Cross are little known or publicized poses problems as regards entry to educational centres; it is felt that the Red Cross image, particularly in relation to youth initiatives, needs to be strengthened. A lack of funding is also a major constraint.

Objective 2: To promote initiatives in peace-building and non-violence.

Achievements

While the proposed pilot project in the culture of peace was not implemented because of a lack of funding, progress has been made in the promotion of this area of work and the recognition of its importance for National Societies. The review of community-based programming, for example, has found this to be a theme of importance for communities, National Societies and other organizations. There is a strong incentive to see this area incorporated into an integrated community programme during the course of 2002 and to develop a strategy. A concerted effort will be required to identify and test the most appropriate programming and the role for the Red Cross in this area. In March 2001, the regional disaster preparedness delegate participated in a Better Programming Initiative training of trainers (ToT) workshop and has developed a commitment to support three National Societies in its implementation. In early 2002, a regional ToT workshop will be held and each National Society will develop a plan for implementation and particiapte in a regional steering committee.

The theme of the culture of peace was included in the work of the school brigades: in Panama, conflict resolution through dialogue, and teaching children the importance of peace. A campaign entitled "leave your mark" was held with the participation of school children, teachers and members of the Ministries of Education and Youth whereby finger prints were made in ink on pieces of cloth which were then exhibited. In Honduras, a group of volunteers was formed working in conflict resolution with children and young people housed in shelters. In Mexico, the theme of the culture of peace was introduced through discussions on the fundamental principles which led to debates on violence, respect for women and non discrimination. Similarly, in Costa Rica, school brigades included topics on education for peace, non-discrimination, the participation of women in society, gender equality and conflict resolution through dialogue.

Constraints:

A pilot project at regional level was not implemented given lack of funding.

Health and Care

The regional programme for health and care in the community aims to support the Central American National Societies in the planning, implementation and evaluation of effective health programmes which target vulnerable groups.

Objective 1: To promote integrated community development through the Golfo de Fonseca pilot project focusing on:

  • Community health care and health promotion.
  • Community education in disaster preparedness.
  • Basic sanitation and environmental protection.
  • Branch development.

The Golfo de Fonseca pilot project launched in mid 2000 works to promote integrated programming, strengthening branches and increasing volunteer involvement, reinforcing the coping capacities of vulnerable communities through capacity building initiatives in health and disaster preparedness.

Achievements

In El Salvador, after a pause following the earthquake, branches involved in the project, La Union and Santa Rosa de Lima, increased activity. Following a baseline study, 12 communities were selected for participation in the project. In the last six months of the year, Intipuka branch began activities in preparation for full inclusion in the project. Health committees were established in the communities, including the teacher from the local school and the health promoter from the Ministry of Health.

The initial rehabilitation phase of La Union branch was completed, including repair of the roof, electrical and plumbing systems, and the construction of a warehouse in the branch grounds. New income-generating schemes were begun and the formation of an income generation commission at each branch will also facilitate such initiatives. Weekly health training sessions for youth volunteers began, focusing on reproductive health and rabies since there had been an outbreak of the disease. First aid training sessions were held and new volunteers recruited. By the end of the year, La Union benefited from 25 and Santa Rosa from 30 volunteers respectively. Disaster preparedness training was carried out, focusing particularly on risk mapping and the carrying out of surveys. Computer courses began in the La Union branch for youth volunteers as the result of the donation from the Federation of an old computer. Furthermore, the branch executive boards have been strengthened and their membership has increased. Two evaluations were carried out by the headquarters during the year, in April and October, and links have thus been reinforced between the headquarters and the branches.

At community level, weekly visits took place by the volunteers in order to ensure coordination. A campaign was carried out each month within the communities including village clean-ups, treatment of stagnant water, information sessions for school teachers on dengue fever, vaccination of dogs against rabies, chlorification of wells and fund-raising events. First aid training was also carried out in schools and first aid kits donated. Strong links have been established with other agencies working in the area.

The programme coordinator's move from El Salvador to Nicaragua on 20 September has resulted in more direct contact with the branch in Chinandega, an area much affected by poverty and disaster. Over the year, meetings took place in El Salvador and Nicaragua between the project teams working in both countries in order to exchange experiences and put forward potential solutions. Regular meetings are held with representatives of the Spanish Red Cross which is also working in the Chinandega region and which is focusing on strengthening capacity.

A total of 25 communities from five municipalities were selected for participation in the project based on the following criteria: vulnerability to disasters, economic vulnerability and lack of access to health services. A baseline study was carried out in March/April 2001, through a family questionnaire. Five coordinators were selected and trained in AIEPI methodology ("atencion integrada en enfermedades prevalentes en la infancia") - prevention of childhood diseases. 495 health/disaster preparedness brigadeers were selected to take part in community initiatives. A two day training session in disaster preparedness was held, focusing on risk mapping, evacuation plans and temporary shelter management. Eight disaster simulations were also held, with the participation of other agencies. Community campaigns were undertaken in coordination with the Ministry of Health to ensure clean-ups, treatment of stagnant water, chlorification of wells, fumigation, vaccination of dogs against rabies, treatment of insect breeding sites and water chlorination; a survey of schools within the communities included in the project took place, looking particularly at sanitation issues. First aid training within the communties began in November 2001.

At branch level, rehabilitation work has taken place including repair of the roof, of the electrical and sanitation systems and the auditorium. The project has promoted the holding of regular meetings which are now held between the staff working on the project and members of the branch.

An evaluation of activities taking place under the Golfo de Fonseca project is planned in early 2002 and terms of reference are currently being drawn up.

Constraints

In Chinandega, Nicaragua, the project has been affected by migration as a result of drought conditions since a number of health brigadeers moved to Honduras in search of work. The distance from the branch to the communities (some three hours by car) poses a problem. In El Salvador, the small numbers of volunteers at the outset of the project, together with the need to reinforce the executive boards hampered the initial progress of the project. In addition, the election process within the Nicaraguan Red Cross during the latter part of the year, affected project implementation.

Objective 2: To promote the establishment of health departments within the National Societies in order that they may implement health initiatives in accordance with regional priorities.

Achievements

The regional health delegate is working with the National Societies of the region to set up health departments, particularly in the "Mitch" countries which have considerable funding for health activities. Departments have been created within the Guatemalan and Honduran Red Cross Societies, and the Salvadorean Red Cross is in the process of setting up a department.

Coordination with PNS improved considerably and promising strategic alliances are in place, particularly with OPS and UNICEF.

Constraints

The health sections of the National Societies continue to lack resources and capacity.

Institutional and Resource Development

Objective 1: To support and strengthen National Society governance and management

Achievements

A series of training workshops focusing on national society governance and management planned and conducted jointly with the ICRC, took place throughout the year. By December, all National Societies had undertaken at least one workshop involving personnel from headquarters and branches. The regional delegation provided support to the change process which is taking place within the Guatemalan Red Cross (GRC) and work on revision of the GRC Statutes was initiated.

Constraints

The major constraint was the lack of a dedicated organizational development delegate as of mid April 2001; thereby limiting the number of activities which could be carried out.

Objective 2: To promote integrated strategy and programme development.

Achievements

The Customized Assessment and Performance Indicators (CAPI) 2 document was translated into Spanish, and organizational development delegates jointly revised and adapted some key sections. The Costa Rican Red Cross was supported during its self-assessment process, and a specific workshop focusing on strategic planning and Strategy 2010 was held as a direct result of this.

Constraints

The major constraint was the lack of a dedicated organizational development delegate as of mid April 2001; thereby limiting the number of activities which could be carried out.

Objective 3: To promote human resource development and volunteering.

Achievements

In the international year of volunteering, the forum for communication and development proposed the undertaking of a study of volunteering in the Red Cross, the development of career plans for volunteers and the implementation of an internal strategy for the recognition of volunteers. The Ecuadorian Red Cross was appointed as focal point for volunteer issues. Furthermore, the regional delegation provided technical support to the Guatemalan national commission on volunteering in the definition of its mission, vision, strategic objectives and plan of action, and participated in the national forum.

A three day workshop on gender and multiculturality was held in early October for delegates and staff of the Guatemalan regional and country delegations.

Constraints

The major constraint was the lack of a dedicated organizational development delegate as of mid April 2001; thereby limiting the number of activities which could be carried out.

Objective 4: To promote financial resource development.

Little was achieved in relation to this objective, given the lack of an organizational development delegate during most of the year. In 2002, the regional delegation is committed to working towards improved fund-raising in the region.

Objective 5: To strengthen National Society capacity in communication and information.

Achievements

The forum for communication and development which took place in Panama between 19 and 23 February reviewed the use of the emblem, particularly in resource development activities. The Guatemalan Red Cross currently provides first aid instruction and courses in pulmonary resuscitation to external organizations which brings in a small income (approximately USD 1,750 in 2001), and it is hoped that this can be developed further in 2002 as a lead activity of the National Society. In addition, a marketing suvey was carried out, focusing on the GRC image.

In February, a two day seminar was organized to evaluate the first semester of the communication and information project. The most significant achievements emphasized were: a general strengthening of the communication offices, greater interest in communications on the part of presidents and senior managers, availability of staff/volunteers in the branches to collaborate with the communications departments in the headquarters, production of materials by the branches and, in some cases, development of the Internet. In general, the communication offices in the branches have been strengthened and a communication channel between the branches and the headquarters has been established.

The long-distance education project: 113 persons completed the educational sessions over the year: 55 from the Nicaraguan Red Cross, 23 from the Costa Rican Red Cross and 35 from the Red Cross Society of Panama. The three basic modules have been completed and participants have begun work on module IV focusing on resource development. The material for the institutional development module has yet to be printed, given a lack of funds. In the year 2002, the project will be expanded to include the Guatemalan Red Cross. Those who graduate from the course become "information promoters" and contribute to the information network which is being strengthened throughout the region.

Pilot Project for capacity building in communication: a main focus of work was the strengthening of communications departments at headquarters level and the creation of communications functions in the branches. At branch level, communicators are working with volunteers and developing contacts with journalists at the local level. By December, there was a total of twelve communication offices at branch level: three in each of the National Societies of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama which are participating in this project. An important development towards the end of the year was the support from governance for the development of communications departments which was achieved through the approval of two documents entitled "guidelines for communications and image for the Americas sub region 1" and "the decalogue of communications and disasters". This took place during the XVII Presidents' and technical seminars meeting held in Tegucigalpa in September last. Six National Societies in the region: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama carried out training courses for journalists, together with workshops for Red Cross personnel. A particular success was the teaching of a university diploma in communication and disasters which was carried out by the Guatemalan Red Cross, training 30 university teachers within the communications/media faculties on the subject of communication in disasters. The course was completed on 1 December. In addition, a total of 13 new communication materials were produced during the year.

Special project on disaster preparedness, media and the web site: A separate web site for disaster preparedness initiatives has been created. Disaster preparedness workshops and activities held in the region include a component relating to information and the media to promote awareness of the role of communications.

Development of the Regional Delegation's web site: Through the support of a technical consultant, the presentation of the regional delegation's web site has been improved. Informal training sessions were provided to those responsible for the web page in the National Societies of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Uruguay. Coordination with the regional delegations in the Caribbean and South America has improved considerably and the publication of articles and information on the web site during the emergency operations in response to hurricanes his and Michelle was well managed. The regional delegation for Central America also worked in coordination with the regional delegations for the Caribbean and South America to provide information and articles relating to World AIDS Day and World Volunteers' Day.

A total of 181 articles were published on the web site over the year, as opposed to 78 in 2000 and 52 in 1999. As of mid December 2001, 641 electronic messages were received compared to 397 in the year 2000. It is estimated that, on average, there are a total of 7,166 visitor sessions per day to the regional delegation web site.

National Web Sites: the regional delegation provides technical support for the creation and maintenance of National Society web pages. The situation, at the end of 2001, is as follows: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica have active web pages. The National Societies of Guatemala and Honduras are in the process of setting up the page and is hoped that progress will be made in early 2002. The Red Cross Society of Panama is currently re-designing the web page.

Constraints

As regards the long-distance education project, material for the organizational development module has yet to be printed because of a lack of funds. A major constraint continues to be the gap between the commitment entered into by the governance at National Society headquarters level and the degree of interest and support afforded to the project in practice.

The project seeks to consolidate activities developed in 2001, particularly at branch level, and to strengthen national networks of communicators.

Regional Cooperation

Objective 1: To promote the training and recruitment of delegates from the region.

Achievements

The regional delegation for Central America proposed BTC-trained candidates from the region for missions during emergency operations such as the earthquake in El Salvador. Today, around half of the delegates working in the region are from the Americas. In the case of recruitment of delegates from within the region, the regional delegation forms a vital link with the national society for which the future delegate has worked and the relevant Federation country delegation.

An improved briefing package has been compiled by the regional delegation.

Constraints

Given the enhanced role of the regional delegation in recruitment, there remains a need to further integrate Secretariat briefing systems with those in use at the regional delegation. Increased involvement on the part of the National Societies continues to be sought.

Objective 2: To promote effective cooperation between the National Societies of the region and Red Cross partners.

Achievements

The successful Presidents' and Technical Seminars meeting took place in Tegucigalpa in September and centred on key themes of strategy 2010. The structure of the meetings allowed for more interaction between national society governance, staff and volunteers, and promoted active participation and dialogue with a wide range of external partners. The role of volunteers was discussed widely, leading to a shift in paradigm, from the traditional youth, relief and women volunteers to a more integrated vision including "social" volunteers better equipped to deliver services in community health and disaster preparedness.

During the meeting, a number of key documents and protocols were finalized and adopted, including a regional agreement on disaster cooperation. A separate mechanism for follow up was established and funds set aside. A report on the meetings is available.

A special session of the Inter American Regional Committee (CORI) was also held during the meeting. It was agreed to develop a concrete plan of action for the implementation of the Santo Domingo Declaration, in order to provide closer follow-up of its recommendations. The regional delegation supported the drafting of a document in a small commission of three National Societies, the ICRC and the Federation, and this has now been presented and approved by the CORI during a meeting in Chile in January 2002.

Between 21 and 23 November, the Mexican Red Cross hosted a convention in which some 3,000 volunteers from the National Society took part. The Federation gave three presentations: one on the SPHERE project, one on Strategy 2010 and one on volunteerism in the region. Throughout the Convention, the Federation maintained an information stand providing information on the work in the region.

Constraints

The fact that the HoRD was cumulating both functions as head of delegation and organizational development delegate, hampered the promotion of further links with both PNSs and external organizations.

Objective 3: To promote effective cooperation, partnerships and alliances with non-Red cross partners.

Achievements

Relations with institutional partners such as UNDP, the WHO, the regional disaster information centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (GRID) and the Coordination Centre for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) continue to be strengthened, especially in the area of health and disaster preparedness.

The CEPREDENAC sponsored a civico-military conference in San Jose which provided an important opportunity to coordinate activities with the humanitarian relief entities ("Unidades Humanitarias de Rescate") of the regional armed forces, and with others, including OPS and OCHA.

The Federation's disaster preparedness approach was successfully represented at regional fora in Costa Rica and Washington. Well received interventions from the regional delegation and the New York office will serve to maintain and build upon relationships with inter-American structures.

Strategic alliances were established with the "Weather Channel" in March and were discussed with other institutions in the private sector, including Copa Airlines and Ericsson. These alliances are intended to go beyond fund-raising, to include areas such as in-kind support, technical cooperation, training and publicity.

There has been regular contact with the UN agencies in order to support activities in relation to the International year of the Volunteer.

The launch of the World Disaster Report in July 2001 took place according to a different format. Five external partners provided a critical analysis of the main points, followed by a forum debate. The event was well attended and was also covered on national television.

A status agreement with the government of Guatemala was finally signed on 14 September after almost four years of negotiations. The agreement has now been passed on to various government departments as part of its formal ratification process.

Constraints

The cumulation of the functions of HoRD and organizational development delegate hampered initiatives in the building of strategic alliances.

Coordination and Management

Objective 1: To manage and coordinate Federation support to National Society programmes in the region effectively and efficiently.

Achievements

After over three years, the HoRD finished her mission in early April. The deputy HoRD/regional organizational development delegate was assigned as interim HoRD until mid December 2001. At the same time, the HoD for the Guatemala country programme was assigned to El Salvador and the current HoD, responsible for the national programme, was appointed in August 2001. A new head of regional delegation has been nominated and will take up his post on 25 February 2002.

There are three "shared" delegates in the region (El Salvador - head of delegation /Spanish Red Cross team leader, Honduras - head of delegation/Italian Red Cross regional representative, regional DPP delegate/Canadian Red Cross). These delegates share responsibilities between the Federation and a PNS, which facilitates cooperation, but which also creates considerable pressure.

As of late 2000, financial management in the region was strengthened with the establishment of a regional finance unit in Guatemala providing support to delegations in Central America and the Caribbean and, as of October 2001, to delegations in Southern America. In January 2001, a regional reporting delegate was assigned covering Central American programmes, and in July a reporting delegate with the mandate to undertake pan regional reporting work joined the team.

With the recruitment of a regional health delegate (placed in Nicaragua) a process of "outposting" of certain regional delegates to countries was initiated as of April 2001. However, it has been decided that the new regional health delegate to be appointed in mid 2002 will be posted in Guatemala, reinforcing the cohesion of the regional team.

The regional delegation for Central America was selected for an external evaluation of programmes supported under the DFID partnership. The evaluation took place in October and initial indications are that the evaluation was favourable, stressing, however, the main challenges of long term planning and funding for regional delegations, as well as staffing issues.

Over the reporting period, initial steps were taken towards the setting up of a regional reporting unit which will eventually also cover the delegations in the Caribbean and in South America. The pan-regional reporting delegate who joined the delegation in early July, held discussions with the delegates from the Caribbean and South America delegations, seeking solutions to ensure information flow and coordination. The delegate is currently covering the editing of all standard Federation reports in the Americas, together with a number of donor-specific reports. Much progress has been made in meeting the Federation's minimum reporting requirements. During the latter part of the year, emphasis was placed on the appeal documents for 2002 and in the first semester of 2002, the focus will be on the establishment of the reporting unit and identifying training needs and methodologies.

Constraints

The cumulation of different functions by the head of regional delegation placed an additional burden on the regional team in Guatemala, resulting in some delays in programme implementation.

Objective 2: To support the financial management of Fedreation regional and country delegations in Central America and the Caribbean.

The regional finance unit (RFU) was set up in late 2000. The work of the unit has resulted in improvements in the accounting work undertaken throughout the Americas. During the last quarter of the year, all delegations completed their accounting on time and also sent in a timely cash request, in accordance with procedures. In addition, each delegation receives feedback and follow up from the RFU on its accounting work. All annual appeal budgets for programmes in the Americas for the year 2002 were processed under the new BuSy format.

PADRU received support from the RFU in the setting up of its finance office. A mission to Belize resulted in timely completion of all financial donor reports for the hurricane Iris operation. In addition, the unit assisted in completing outstanding ECHO reports due from the Caribbean region.

Over the year, ongoing support was provided, in particular, to the delegations of El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Constraints

It was planned that the RFU would be fully operational by October 2001. However, given that the unit did not have full access to CODA data transferred from the Secretariat, it is now expected that by March 2002 the unit will be in a position to achieve all functions planned. Training sessions in

Guatemala provided by the Secretariat, initially scheduled for August, were held in November, facilitating the smooth running of the unit.

Conclusions

The fact that the head of regional delegation cumulated the role of HoRD and organizational development delegate since mid April has impacted on the work of the regional delegation. In 2002, a full team will be in place with the appointment of an organizational development delegate in late December 2001 and the arrival of a new HoRD in late February 2002.

Nevertheless, over the year, significant progres was made in each of the programme areas. The commitment of the National Societies of the region was highlighted in the meeting of Presidents and Technical Seminars. This meeting also respresented progress in the planning capacity of the National Societies and produced positive and concrete recommendations for action over the next two years. Close follow-up of progress in relation to recommendations put forward will take place by the monitoring body.

The regional delegation seeks to dedicate more time and resources to the building of strategic alliances in 2002, given the potential in the region, and the need to expand sources of support. In addition, the regional delegation will focus increased support in Honduras and Nicaragua, as delegate/Federation local staff numbers in these countries are being gradually reduced. At the same time, it will seek to strengthen links with Mexico and reinforce support to Costa Rica and Panama in coordination with PADRU.

Furthermore, through the review of the Golfo de Fonseca project and of the CBDP programme, the regional delegation will continue to focus on the developoment of strong integrated programming in health, organizational development, disaster preparedness and humanitarian values at a community and branch level.

For further details please contact: Olaug Bergseth, Phone: 4l 22 730 45 35; Fax: 4l 22 733 03 95; email: bergseth@ifrc.org

All International Federation Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org.

John Horekens
Head
Relationship Management Department

Santiago Gil
Head
Americas Department

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