Programme Update No. 1; Period covered: January to March, 2003
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Appeal coverage: 49%; for details please refer to the Contributions List for this and other appeals available on the Federation's website.
Outstanding needs: CHF 1,294,624 (USD 950,881 /EUR 886,729)
Programme Summary: Due the sound financial situation at the end of 2002, support to national societies was provided as planned. Emphasis was placed on the provision of support to individual societies rather than the implementation of regional programmes. All activities for 2003 are based on a detailed work plan. The benefits of the reorganised office procedures in the regional delegation, which were started in late 2002, are clearly visible.
During the first quarter there were no major disasters or other significant events in the region that required support from the regional delegation. Emphasis was on developing annual work plans as well as new administrative and managerial structures, required for implementation of the Federation's 'strategy for change'. Close cooperation with the secretaries-general forum, which demonstrated its capacity by taking over the ownership of the next regional Partnership meeting, was maintained.
The first indications of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak appeared in March and almost immediately had an impact on the planning and implementation of projects and regional meetings, many of which were postponed or cancelled.
Health and Care
Goal: There is a sustainable improvement in the general health of vulnerable communities in the region.
Objective: The region's national societies deliver quality health and care programmes that address the needs of the most vulnerable communities.
- There is increased capacity in the region's
national societies for effective design, planning, implementation and management
of relevant high quality health and care programmes. The RHU will support
this capacity building process by providing technical assistance and advice
to national societies in accordance with specific needs and development
- Enhanced regional networking for cross-border
transfer of technology, information sharing, advocacy, and effective resource
mobilisation and utilisation within the region. Underpinning the regional
networks will be enhanced focus on increasing the ownership of the membership,
with national societies taking on the chair/secretariat role of the networks
and, importantly, becoming more committed to supporting one another. The
RHU will be instrumental in assisting the networks in developing and implementing
- Improved coordination of health and care activities within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and with relevant external agencies in the region, to ensure development of sustainable national society health programmes. The RHU will act as a facilitator in the coordination of health and care activities in the region.
Health strategic plans
In January, both the Lao and Vietnam Red Cross Societies approached the regional health unit for support in the development of health strategic plans. Both national societies lack a clear focus, vision and priorities towards implementing their various health programmes and activities. Several projects are guided by funding availability rather than by any decision of the national society to undertake activities in a particular area. A strategic planning process involving both national societies is now underway. The strategic planning will focus more on the process than on the actual production of a strategy document. A joint introductory workshop is scheduled for the second quarter of 2003.
Health in emergencies
In March, high-level meetings for setting up parameters to disseminate the Manila Action Plan, which mandates national societies in the region to incorporate health in emergencies into nation-level health programmes, were held. The plan is to capitalise on previous regional trainings in this area by using trained personnel to further health activities. Subsequent meetings were held with the Indonesian and Vietnamese Red Cross Societies on the development of health in emergency activities in these countries. In Vietnam, the decision is to link the activities with disaster response and first aid programmes.
Water and sanitation
The unit assisted national societies from East Timor, Indonesia, Lao PDR, China and DPR Korea in the first quarter. There has been good progress with the plans incorporating water, sanitation and hygiene into a single package. With the distribution of 3,000 household water filters, the families in Vietnam's Mekong Delta now have access to potable water. Besides instructions on using the water filters, trained Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers disseminated messages on hygiene. Work on family latrines is scheduled to begin shortly.
Following last year's CBFA/PHAST (community based first aid/ participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation) training in Indonesia by the unit, the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia/PMI) has completed the translation of the PHAST manual into Bahasa Indonesia and developed tool kits for implementation. In March, the national society conducted training at the branch level. A plan for implementing PHAST in the communities is being completed. Singapore Red Cross continues to support water supply activities in Indonesia, and discussions on support for hygiene and sanitation, as well as capacity building of the branches, are ongoing.
Lao Red Cross has submitted a project proposal for support on water sanitation projects in provinces where there are no PNS activities. The national society expects that support will not only fulfil the needs of these communities but also serve as an opportunity to strengthen those branches where activities will take place. Lao Red Cross has also adopted the Federation's approach to hygiene training by adapting PHAST materials into their programme.
In China the second European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) funded project for construction of ecological latrines is underway. A Federation health delegate is supporting the hygiene component using the PHAST participatory approach. The PHAST manual has been translated into Chinese by the provincial Red Cross branch. Several participating national societies, such as Norwegian and American Red Cross Societies, have shown interest in the approach and adopted it for their bilateral programmes in other provinces.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) funded programme for reducing household vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in selected countries in Asia Pacific was officially launched in January. For two months the unit, in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross regional HIV/AIDS coordinator and the head of Cambodia delegation, worked on the development of implementation guidelines and the management structure for the programme. National societies were also provided guidance and support in developing proposals, which were nearly ready for approval by end March.
Assistance was provided to the Asian Red Cross Red Crescent task force (ART) to prepare for an external evaluation of the network's performance over the last five years (1999-2003), and the ART strategic planning workshop in July 2003. Terms of reference for the evaluation were developed in consultation with ART members and the evaluation team identified, comprising an external consultant, two national society members and a staff from the unit. The evaluation will start in mid-May 2003 and provide inputs for the strategic planning workshop in July. Of the several issues raised during the first quarter was the management mechanism of the ART network, and ways to strengthen capacity of the ART secretariat. A consultative management style has been suggested (participatory management), allowing the ART secretariat and members more freedom to work using their existing experience and potential within the network. The Thai Red Cross completes its term of hosting the ART secretariat in 2003; it will therefore be helpful to clarify key issues before the handover of the secretariat.
Regional blood donor recruitment task force
A second meeting of the regional blood donor recruitment task force was held in February, hosted and partly funded by the Singapore Red Cross. It provided national societies the opportunity to share and exchange experiences and expertise in the field, and to discuss future regional coordination. It was decided that a regional task force is no longer required, though the unit would continue to support opportunities for mutual learning, and link the specific needs of national societies that are less advanced with those more advanced in the field.
There is clearly a greater understanding among national societies on the importance of undertaking strategic planning, especially in the area of health. Even though the strategic planning process in Laos and Vietnam is still at the planning stage, some results are already evident, such as improved coordination within different sections of national societies. Two key health sections in Lao Red Cross -- the health department and the blood transfusion service centre -- are moving towards better cooperation, whereas previously they worked in isolation. Both will join the strategic planning process. Similarly within the Vietnam Red Cross, the health department and the social welfare department have started to discuss joint planning. Participating national societies (PNS) are becoming increasingly involved in supporting these initiatives, with for example the Danish Red Cross willing to support the health strategy development in both countries. Federation delegations play an important role in coordinating this support at the country level.
Ensuring better internal coordination, such as between different departments of national societies, takes time and needs substantial support. It is especially important to get the leadership on board to ensure that the strategies are officially adopted by the national society, and not only by the department or programme.
There is a need to establish a 'seed' programme to show the visible impact of including health in emergencies activities, and thus obtain the needed mandate from governments. It is necessary, now and in the next few years, to raise PNS awareness and gain support for investment in this area.
Due to the conflict in Iraq, processing of the project proposal to the Austrian Red Cross, for support of water and sanitation projects in Laos and Vietnam, has been delayed. While a response is awaited, preparations for implementation continue, though actual execution will commence only after funding is secured.
Support to and communication with the different health networks has been ongoing during the period, but the water and sanitation, first aid and health in emergencies networks have not found a forum to jointly meet. One constraint is poor funding for these particular components (water and sanitation and first aid), while another is unwillingness of national societies to take the lead in maintaining and operating the networks. Regional networks require funding and administrative support, as well as long-term sustainability. Considering the still limited potential for self-funding faced of many national societies in the region, the network model has to be further discussed and determined.
In order to strengthen collaboration and partnership in the region, an Asia Pacific regional health team meeting was held in December 2002. Since the meeting, the unit has maintained regular contact between the Federation, ICRC, national societies, and PNS health and care delegates in the region. In one instance, a Danish Red Cross bilateral health delegate assisted the Federation to undertake a review of the DPR Korea health programme.
Close coordination has been established with the Australian Red Cross, initially in relation to the OPEC fund, but gradually expanding to other HIV/AIDS programmes. The American Red Cross HIV/AIDS coordinator has agreed to be the facilitator of the ART strategic planning workshop in July.
During the reporting period, the unit participated in a number of international and regional meetings and conferences, strengthening links with a variety of national and international organisations. Meetings included the World Water Forum in Japan, and the regional Global Fund for Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) in Myanmar, both in March 2003. The latter may lead to a joint GFATM-Federation partnership symposium during the next ICAAP (International Conference on AIDS in Asia Pacific) in Japan later this year.