Chile

Chilean Red Cross Annual Report 2013 (MAACL001)

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This report covers the period 1 January to 31 December 2013

Overview

During 2012 there was no separate report on the support provided to the Chilean Red Cross (ChRC) in the 2010 earthquake operation that ended in March 2013. In 2013, a country support plan was elaborated, including the technical and financial support of the IFRC. This Annual report refers to the results of the implementation of the 2013 plan.

Chile is a country located in the extreme southwest of South America. Its official name is the Republic of Chile and the capital is Santiago. In May 2010, Chile became the first full member of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in South America and the second in Latin America, after Mexico. However in 2009, 15.1 per cent of the population were living in poverty, equivalent to 2,564,032 people. Nonetheless, the greatest socio economic problem in Chile is not poverty, but the large inequality that exists amongst the Chilean people.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 2010 to2011 data, Chile has a population of 17,295,000 of which 50.5 per cent are women. It has an urban population of 87.5 per cent. Life expectancy is at 76 years for men and 82 years for women.

The main social challenge for the Chilean government is building a Social Protection System, with the purpose of “generating conditions that provide security to people during their lifetime, guaranteeing social rights that allow them to reduce risks in employment, health, education and welfare, creating conditions of greater equality and opportunities for progress”.

The social policies of this Social Protection System aim not only to overcome poverty but also inequalities and discrimination. These are the foundations of social risk that affect families and people, such as the loss of employment, unstable employment, low income, illness and education quality, which threaten children, women, elderly people and people with disabilities.

Due to its geographical location, Chile is a country exposed to all types of disasters. The most recurrent are earthquakes. On 27 February 2010, the country suffered one of the strongest earthquakes in its history, which was accompanied by a tsunami. Together they caused an impact that extended over 600km of the country and affected 80% of the most populated areas. The disaster caused over 30 thousand million US dollars in material damages, 521 people dead and 56 disappeared. The reconstruction of the country will take several years. In addition, over the last 12 months, Chile has been exposed to volcanic eruptions, snowstorms, floods and drought. This appears to indicate that climate change is affecting the country.

Following the 27 February 2010 earthquake and tsunami, the Chilean Red Cross (ChRC) took the strategic decision to use the disaster as an appropriate opportunity to modernise, professionalise and develop its structure, thus creating a renewed National Society in which traditional activities were combined with other more innovative actions. This productive combination is essential for providing an efficient response to new challenges that undeniably entail a great effort and preparation by the ChRC. The National Society has gone from engaging in external activities in clinics, training in first aid, and working with the elderly, to employing a community-based approach that incorporates areas like psychosocial support, water and sanitation, livelihoods, recovery and others.

The ChRC has taken enormous strides in its institutional development and it continues to consolidate these achievements and expand on this growth. The ChRC currently has paid professional staff in the national headquarters with well-defined tasks. It has started to professionalise some regional branches with qualified staff that support the branches in their regions. This process has facilitated the strengthening of the youth department. The ChRC now has a modern communications unit, and the finance department has introduced administrative and financial procedures all complimented by the National Society’s technological modernisation. The resource mobilisation department has a professional approach which oversees the National Society´s longer-term sustainability. Furthermore, the planning and development department, as well as the crosscutting operational management unit, has been strengthened, together with the departments of human resources, logistics, IT/telecommunications and social welfare.

The IFRC has provided the ChRC with financing resources and technical support during this change process. The National Society’s development impelled by the earthquake and the increasing development of the country motivated the installation of an office in Chile. The goal, among others, is to help consolidating changes and achieving sustainability in the development of the ChRC.