China: 2007 Outlook Appeal no. MAACN001 Programme Update no. 4

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In Brief

Programme Update no. 4, Period covered: 1 September to 31 December, 2006; Appeal target 2006-2007: CHF 2.08 million (USD 1.73 million or EUR 1.30 million) Appeal target 2007 only: CHF 1.08 million Appeal coverage 2006-2007: 31% Outstanding needs: CHF 1.47 million (USD 1.17 million or EUR 0.90 million).

Programme summary:

This Update gives an overview of the progress made in the final four months of 2006 in implementing the Federation's planned support to Red Cross Society of China's health, disaster management and organizational development programmes. Satisfactory progress has been made in most areas, notably in HIV/AIDS and community disaster preparedness. During this period, the society's headquarters and several of its provincial branches have been busy carrying out relief and rehabilitation activities in what has been the worst year for natural disasters in the country since 1998. A full account of the Federation's work with RCSC, including the many projects carried out with bilateral partners, will be given in the forthcoming 2006 annual report for China.

Operational developments

In 2006, China suffered the most serious natural disasters since 1998. The ministry of civil affairs, reports that natural disasters caused the death of 2,374 people while 568 remain missing. More than 13.2 million people sought emergency shelter or had to be evacuated from their homes with over 2.02 million houses were destroyed. At the beginning of December, China's vice-minister of civil affairs announced that in the immediate months to come, more than 78 million survivors of natural disasters in China will be looking to the government for grain rations, 20.4 million people will need clothing and 5.7 million will need medical treatment.

With 2006 having defined itself by a series of record breaking storms and typhoons, China's first national assessment of global climate change, released at the end of December, reported that more extreme weather will hit China in the coming years. According to the assessment, which was prepared by 12 government departments including the ministry of science and technology and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), surface temperatures in China will increase significantly in the coming decades and the water shortage in north China will get worse. Compared with 2000, the annual average temperature in China will rise 1.3 to 2.1 degrees Celsius by 2020, 1.5 to 2.8 degrees by 2030, and 2.3 to 3.3 degrees by 2050, said the report. Rainfall will increase as well, with the estimated annual average rising by two to three percent by the year 2020.

At present, drought affects more than 20 million hectares of Chinese farmland each year, destroying ten billion kilogrammes of grain. Drought is a major obstacle for agricultural development in northern China where water is especially scarce. According to the deputy director of the China Meteorological Administration, 60 percent of the areas in China affected by natural disasters each year - hurricane, floods and drought - are in fact drought-stricken areas. Although north China is expected to have more days of rain over the coming years, the water shortage will become even more serious because of faster evaporation caused by rising temperatures.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other organizations have estimated that by 2010 there could be a generalized epidemic with between ten and twenty million HIV positive Chinese. At present, nearly, 43 percent of HIV/AIDS cases are transmitted through the sharing of infected needles during drug use. On 1 December, World AIDS Day, Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) branches throughout the country conducted awareness raising initiatives to contribute towards increased understanding about the transmission of the disease and those living with it. At the society's Henan provincial branch, for example, hundreds of people gathered for a kite flying event in the provincial capital, Zhengzhou, while in Beijing, the Peking University Red Cross branch and other Red Cross university branches throughout the city joined together to sponsor a poster competition.

The risk of HIV/AIDS, combined with incidents such as the recent serious blood shortages in Beijing, underscores the importance of Red Cross Society of China initiatives that promote voluntary non-remunerated blood donations in China. A severe blood shortage occurred in Beijing owing to the city's hospitals using blood faster than the blood bank could collect it.

As Chinese Red Cross addresses the challenges currently threatening the rapidly changing the country, it will have to take into account that at the current rate of nearly 13 million people leaving the rural areas to live in cities per year, one half of the 1.3 billion Chinese (equivalent to one tenth of the world's population) are expected to live in cities by 2010, a ten percent rise from the situation today.

This update reports on programme goals and objectives prior to revisions in the 2007 Outlook document, in which the latter will only have relevance in 2007.