Chile + 8 more

South America Appeal No. 01.22/2002 Annual Report

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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 178 countries. For more information: www.ifrc.org
Appeal No. 01.22/2002;
Appeal target: CHF 4,619,036;
Appeal coverage: 59%

Overall analysis of the programme

South America's National Societies worked in an environment of growing poverty in 2002. Although some countries succeeded in expanding their economies and raising levels of social spending during the 1990s, Latin America remains the continent with the most unequal income distribution.

Argentina became embroiled in a socio-economic crisis that has become chronic. There are no indications that the situation will improve and many people survive by resorting to a barter economy. Unemployment has remained at an alarming, but stable, 25%, and the number of people falling under the poverty line continues to grow. The economies of Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia have all been hit by the economic crisis in neighbouring Argentina.

In the elections in Bolivia that took place at the end of 2002 the indigenous minorities obtained a strong representation in parliament: 30% of the new members belong to indigenous minorities and many do not speak Spanish. This is an important step towards change, but will not necessarily eliminate the upheavals that the country may face during the coming years. Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in South America, is experiencing strikes, protests and violent demonstrations against the government's economic and anti-coca policies.

In Ecuador, a new President was elected in late 2002 with strong support from the indigenous minorities. However, the country's political institutions are weak.

Despite some macro economic successes and a shift of part of Peru's defense budget towards health and education, the approval rating of the president, elected in 2001, is low. More than half of Peruvians live in poverty, and the government has not been able to overcome the corruption inherited from the former regime. There is also widespread discontent in the military establishment.

Venezuela is in the midst of a long-standing political crisis, with the opposition trying to unseat the president through a general strike. One of the richest countries in the continent because of oil wealth, Venezuela's economy is, nevertheless, quickly sliding backwards, with new groups of people falling below the poverty level.

In Colombia, the President who took office in August has begun an ambitious military build-up, decreed a state of emergency, and made a start on fiscal and political reforms. Nevertheless, violence has increased and the 40 years of internal conflict has caused the displacement of approximately 2.5 million people. It is difficult to assess the exact numbers of internally-displaced people (IDPs) in Colombia; however, trends reflect a progressive increase in the numbers and geographical expansion of the displacement phenomenon. The year 2002 again saw a sizeable increase in displacement with over 70% being women and children. Human rights organizations estimate the number of displaced in 2002 alone at 353,000.

The South American region also suffered several significant natural disasters in 2002. Floods in Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Chile had a devastating economic impact on the most vulnerable areas of these countries. Earthquakes were felt in Argentina, northern Chile and southern Peru, while extreme cold and snow caused widespread damage in Bolivia and Peru.

The Brazilian Red Cross began a recovery process after a ten year institutional crisis that deteriorated its finances, its public image, its service provision and its ability to attract volunteers. The significant changes that took place at the end of 2001, such as the holding of a general assembly and the changes among key executives, created conditions for the regional delegation to provide concrete support to the National Society. There is joint commitment from the Movement to support the reunification and recovery process of the National Society, including the renewal of Statutes, training of governing bodies, and the process of harmonization of activities in agreement with the branches and the headquarters. The process, initiated in 2002 with support from DFID and the Capacity Building Fund (CBF) and in close cooperation with ICRC and bilateral Red Cross national societies, is showing results. In the same way, the Argentine Red Cross (ARC) began a process of organizational renewal, which is reinforced by the implementation of the social crisis operation; significant progress has been achieved. Work has commenced on drawing up revised Statutes and on the development of a strategic plan.

The delegation benefitted from CBF funding for work in Argentina, Boliva, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, whilst DFID funding ensured progress in projects implemented in Brazil and Ecuador.

International appeals were launched for the social crisis in Argentina and the drought operation in Paraguay. Major achievements were made in organizational development initiatives in Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina. Although funding was not available to continue the Andean project, community based development progressed through the Amazonico and Camalote programmes, and exchange of experience was carried out with the Golfo de Fonseca integrated community development programme under implementation in Central America. Support was provided for the initial preparations of the Inter American Conference to be held in April 2003 in Santiago de Chile, and changes were made as regards the structure of support for South American National Societies in line with the regionalization process and the Federation's change strategy. As a result, at the end of 2002, a new regional delegation had been established in Lima, and a sub regional office was set up in Buenos Aires, accommodated in the headquarters of the Argentine Red Cross.

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