Published: 27 April 2011
This year has already witnessed enormous humanitarian challenges from the recent earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, to the civil unrest sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa and the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and neighboring countries. In all of these contexts the grassroots network of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is playing a pivotal role caring for the wounded, the displaced and the marginalized.
But away from the spotlight National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are also responding to urgent humanitarian needs arising from neglected, smaller-scale disasters. From mudslides in Bolivia to floods in Burkina Faso, the needs from neglected disasters require effective humanitarian support and more often than not, this is achievable thanks to flexible financial support from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The DREF, which has received funding of 3 million euro in 2011 from the European Commission (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection - ECHO), is specifically designed to release much-needed emergency funds, enabling effective response to small-scale or neglected disasters. In 2010 alone, it provided a record number of grants: a total of 17.4 million Swiss Francs disbursed to 113 aid operations which might otherwise have gone unsupported, exacerbating the humanitarian consequences to the affected communities
DREF is a financial reserve used by the IFRC to ensure immediate support for National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ response, both through loans of start-up funding for major disaster response operations and through grants for smaller-scale emergencies. Community-based national societies also benefit from strengthening their capacity to respond rapidly through practical experience and from evaluations which provide a basis for improving skills and contingency planning for future events.
The flexibility allowed by a funding mechanism such as DREF is only possible thanks to the trust and support provided by certain donors who understand the importance of financing readiness – that is, providing fast and flexible funding for an emergency response before the disaster actually happens to enable first response. Additionally, it underlines the increasing importance the donor community attaches to the growing number of small-scale disasters which often occur far from the media spotlight, and for which DREF is seen as a valuable tool.
The European Commission (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection - ECHO) is one such donor partner for the IFRC and, on the basis of a successful partnership in 2009 and 2010, it has decided to continue its support to the DREF in 2011. In March 2011, ECHO signed a new agreement with the IFRC committing 3 million euro for strengthing emergency preparedness and response to small-scale disasters.
The contribution to DREF will be used over a period of 16 months effective immediately. Humanitarian operations funded under this decision will address specific, imminent, sudden or slow-onset, small-scale disasters, aiming to preserve life and to substitute for the loss of basic subsistence.
The number of the people reached by National Societies using DREF resources has increased. This clearly demonstrates the added value of this funding mechanism, which in 2010 provided direct assistance and support to some 12 million people affected by small-scale disasters. Over 20 National Societies, governments, corporate foundations and the the European Commission (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection - ECHO) provide substantial financial contributions to DREF and the IFRC’s capacity to support disaster response.
For additional information please contact:
Manager, media & public communication
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
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