Guatemala Appeal No. 01.20/02 Programme Update No. 3

Originally published
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Appeal Target. CHF 923,090 Beneficiariesltarget groups (if available): ; Period covered. 1 July - 30 September 2002 Last Programme Update (no. 2) issued 12 August 2002


Appeal coverage: 97.2%
Related Appeals: 01.18/2002: Pan American Disaster Response Unit; 01.19/2002: Central America
Outstanding needs: CHF 25,631

Summary: Activities related to the drought operation in Guatemala were completed during the quarter, although the results of an evaluation in areas in which the Guatemalan Red Cross (GRC) worked point to continuing food insecurity due to irregular rainfall, A number of small scale disasters occurred over the reporting period, the most serious of which was a landslide in San Lucas Toliman, Solold, following which the Guatemalan Red Cross provided pychological support and set up collection centres. Preparatory work has been carried out prior to drawing up project proposals in community health and HIV/AIDS. Volunteering and dissemination functions have been separated and the proposal to establish both a national and regional training centres is under study. The leadership crisis in the National Society was a serious obstacle to programme implementation over the quarter; however, at the end of September, a new Director General, administrator and head of relief were appointed; elections scheduled for October are likely to be postponed to early 2003. The Joint Commission provided comments on the revised GRC Statutes, which were modified and the final version forwarded to the branches.

Operational Developments

With the PAC (civil protection forces set up during the conflict in Guatemala) maintaining pressure for financial compensation from the government and agricultural labourers demanding land, the quarter has seen increasingly vociferous campaigns throughout the country. Key roads have been blocked by demonstrators, often for days at a time, affecting the economy and all normal access requirements including those of Red Cross operations.

The rains began in earnest in July, continuing in August and September, bringing localized flooding and landslides, some with disastrous results including fatalities. At the same time, food insecurity remained prevalent in areas where either rains did not come or came too late to ensure a good harvest. The drought operation was brought to a close and training in agricultural techniques was completed; however, small distributions of extra anthropometric equipment (for detecting malnutrition) will continue following requests from local health authorities for more support in this area.

In the Guatemalan Red Cross (GRC) the leadership crisis remained a serious obstacle to development, relieved in part at the end of the quarter when new staff were appointed to the positions of Director General, administrator and head of relief. Progress was made with the Statutes with final comments received from the Joint Commission and a revised version was sent out to the branches. Delay with the drawing up of internal regulations and the importance of recruiting new members look set to postpone planned elections that were due to take place before the end of October.

In August, the Federation's status agreement with the Guatemalan government came into effect, this will greatly assist the work of the country delegation, as well as allowing the Federation the possibility of offering key benefits to PNS and the GRC.

Disaster Response

Various small scale, but nevertheless serious disasters occurred over the quarter. The GRC was frequently called upon to assist, for example in September the GRC was involved in the following responses

Date Event Red Cross Participation
8.9.02 Bridge collapsed / Bus accident Rescue, first aid, psychological support.
8.9.02 Industrial fire - Mixco Psychological support.
12.9.02 Landslide - San Lucas Damage and needs assessment. collection centres (clothes, blankets and food), psychological support, medical assessment.
September Floods - Mazatenango Damage and needs assessment. Distribution of food and blankets.

Of these, the worst disaster was the landslide at San Lucas Toliman in which 30 people died. The GRC has been offering ongoing psychological support to affected families (particularly children), now housed in shelters, and will also offer the services of Red Cross medical staff to the shelters in October. National intervention team (NIT)s members carried out damage and needs assessments following the disaster.

In the drought operation, training in agricultural techniques was organized with the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA). In Rabinal, a three day training session started on 12 July and in Chiquimula similar training took place in August. Health activities related to the drought continued with distributions of tape measures and upper arm bracelets for detecting malnutrition amongst those local health authorities that had previously received training. In July the GRC met with Action Contra El Hambre (Action Against Hunger) to update the organization on results of the work.

In September, the Federation conducted an informal evaluation of the operation visiting all three areas in which the GRC had worked including Jalapa, the area supported by the Spanish Red Cross. Early indications are worrying due to lack of rainfall, or irregular rainfall and it is expected that the food insecurity situation will persist in many parts of the country, exacerbated by the effects on the wage economy of the collapse in coffee prices.

The drought operation was complicated by a series of resignations in the relief department leaving the Federation without counterparts. As a result, the disaster preparedness delegate had to take on increased responsibilities. This has now been resolved with the confirmation of a new head of relief at the end of September.

On 29 and 30 July, Pope John Paul 11 made his third visit to Guatemala. The GRC set up seven first aid posts along the route and also offered a family reunification service and psychological support. In all, over 200 Red Cross volunteers and paid staff were involved and the first aid posts dealt with 931 cases, of which 23 were transferred to hospital. An additional 102 cases were dealt with by the reunification / psychological support teams. The Federation, the American Red Cross (ARC) and the Spanish Red Cross (SRC) provided technical and financial support and the Federation / GRC set up a press and coordination centre in the premises of the Federation regional delegation.

Disaster Preparedness

Objective 1: To strengthen the community based disaster preparedness (CBDP) programme increasing the capacity of communities to prepare for and respond to both natural and man made disasters.

The regional delegation has been working on the revision of CBDP training materials with inputs from the country level and from the American and Spanish Red Cross Societies. Standardizing these materials and relaunching CBDP as a shared programme remains a priority in Guatemala.

Both the regional and country delegations promoted the submission of joint applications to ECHO for disaster preparedness funds. However, in Guatemala separate proposals were presented by the Netherlands and Spanish Red Cross Societies.

The American Red Cross continues to support the Central American Mitigation Initiative (CAMI) programme, focusing on the branches and communities of Escuintla and Jalapa, as well as communities in Chiquimula. Courses cover evacuation, risk management, damage evaluation, shelter management, needs assessment and psychological first aid amongst other topics. In Izabal, the SRC is also involved in community education in disaster preparedness; over 25 communities have completed local level risk analyses and 20 communities have established local emergency committees; Red Cross volunteers have also been trained and are active in the programme.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - two micro projects, one in Guatemala city and the other in Retalhuleu, that were partially completed as part of the CBDP programme, will be finalized. In September, both communities were contacted and have produced details of the work still needed for a communal meeting room in one case and a school in the other. Both will be used as shelters in case of disaster and as educational facilities at other times.

Objective 2: To strengthen the capacity of the Guatemalan Red Cross to respond quickly and effectively to local and national disasters.

As stated above, much of the quarter saw a reduced and finally inoperative relief department, thereby affecting all disaster preparedness objectives and making progress very difficult. To resolve difficulties and help move the process forward, the Federation assisted in drawing up a position profile for the head of department. The delegation also assisted the GRC in the interview and selection process and a new head of department was confirmed at the end of September.

Progress with a proposal for maintenance of the radio network has been slow, however quotations for a maintenance contract have now been received and these will be discussed with the new counterpart. The American Red Cross is also interested in supporting this initiative.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - With joint ARC support, a visit to El Salvador with the new head of relief, will take place in early October and form part of his briefing process. The possibility of contracting a second person in the department is also being reviewed with the GRC. The focus remains on the establishment of regional response units, revitalizing the national intervention teams and GRC response and contingency planning.

Objective 3: To strengthen inter and intea-institutional coordination, networks and strategic alliances for disaster response and preparedness.

The disaster preparedness delegate has been much involved in the preparation of a national meeting on risk management in disasters that is being organized by the Federation together with the national emergency body, CONRED, UNDP, GTZ, the General Secretariat for Planning, (SEGEPLAN), the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) and the University of San Carlos, to take place on 17 October. The regional delegation has also been involved in designing and printing pamphlets and posters publicizing the event and the GRC and country delegation have organized two press conferences. Various Red Cross presentations will be part of the agenda and the Red Cross will have a display stand staffed by volunteers explaining and promoting the work of the Movement in Guatemala.

Other meetings during the quarter have taken place with WFP as regards food security and the San Lucas disaster, and discussions have been held with disaster preparedness delegates at the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) in Panama. Meetings were held with CONRED re possible ECHO funding, with Design Without Borders concerning its shelter project, with the NGO, Consejeria de Proyectos - Council for Projects - to discuss better coordination with local NGOs in disasters. and ongoing meetings took place with the UN disaster management team.

On 9 July, the 2002 World Disasters Report was officially launched in Guatemala with the support of the regional delegation. Delegates from the country delegation and the vice-president of the GRC also attended, together with representatives from a number of external organizations and the press.

During the quarter, the GRC launched the second Diploma for Information in Disasters. This is aimed at media employees and students of communication, and as was the case last year, this is supported financially and technically by the Federation. At the second session in September, the HoD gave a presentation on the components of the Movement and other Federation staff will be involved as the course continues. A Norwegian university student who has been writing a thesis on GRC coordination in disasters made his final presentation to the National Society during the quarter.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - to continue as above, following up on the planned SPHERE meeting and on the risk management event.

Humanitarian Values

Objective 1: To assist the GRC in the internal promotion of peace culture and humanitarian values.

Following a Federation proposal, the GRC accepted the separation of training from dissemination. Training is now being transferred to the newly established volunteer department, ensuring more capacity in both these key areas of the GRC's work.

There has been some delay with the contracting of a second trainer for Principles and Values; initially the post was advertised internally, however insufficient candidates applied. The post was then advertised externally and by the end of the quarter, suitable candidates had been short listed.

Support from the ICRC is on going. In August, members of the board from seven branches: Puerto Barrios, El Estor, Chiquimula, Jalapa, Mazatenango, Escuintla and Coban were trained in the history of the Movement, the fundamental principles, use of the emblem, international humanitarian law, the Seville agreement and Strategy 2010. The sessions on the Seville Agreement and Strategy 2010 were facilitated by the Federation; other sessions were shared between the ICRC and the GRC. A similar workshop was completed in the El Palmar branch for 27 volunteers.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - To finalize the selection and contracting of an additional trainer. To train leaders of the GRC and of PNS on the Seville Agreement. To train new management staff on the Movement and the role of the Federation.

Health and Care

Objective 1: To assist the GRC through strengthening its organizational capacity and focusing on preventive activities in community health.

In July, the Federation participated in and assisted with two workshops on mother and child health (MCH) together with the GRC, the ARC, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), local NGOs including INTERVIDA, FUNDABIEN, APROFAM, CAFESANO, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. The objective for the Red Cross was to help with the planning stages of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) projects that are being supported by the Federation and the ARC.

In August, support to IMCI continued with a workshop on implementing methodologies in Retalhuleu. Representatives took part from four branches in which IMCI projects will take place: Retalhuleu, Tecun Uman, Coatepeque and El Palmar, as well as local health staff, Federation and ARC staff, GRC health staff from headquarters and representatives of PAHO. The workshop strengthened the relationship with the Ministry of Health and gave branch and local health staff a guide that will allow them to put together project profiles. Also in August all branches were visited to collect data that they had been compiling on the current health situation at local level, and at the end of the month this information was presented in a further workshop in which the branches shared their priorities with local health authorities. On this occasion target communities were identified for future work.

In September, staff from headquarters and the branches that will be involved in IMCI were trained in financial and administrative procedures. Subjects included budget information, opening of bank accounts and monthly financial reporting systems required by the GRC and the Federation. At the end of the month, this was followed by a planning workshop in which branches presented their experiences of qualitative diagnosis and were trained in planning techniques.

In August, the GRC held a meeting on HIV/AIDS with participation from the Federation, the American Red Cross, the Spanish Red Cross and the "Red de Orientadores de Salud Sexual de Guatemala" - Guatemalan Network of Advisors on Sexual Health and "Gente Positiva" - Positive People. During the meeting, ideas were put forward for revising the GRC HIV/AIDS project proposal, and participation from local organizations already working in the field of HIV/AIDS were particularly valuable. As a result, the project will be modified, further delaying activities, except in Izabal where with the Spanish Red Cross, preparatory activities are already underway.

Also during this quarter, the Federation and the ARC supported the drawing up of materials re prevention of dengue fever and malaria that will be used by the Ministry of Health in response to a rising number of cases within Guatemala. It was also agreed to share support for the production of educational materials covering feeding and nutrition. In another development, 41 crisis intervention technicians (known as TICS) graduated in July, having completed ARC-supported training in psychological support in disasters. As can been seen from the disaster response section, the TICS have already shown their worth.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - To finalize the HIV/AIDS project proposal and contract a manager to lead the project within the GRC. The four branches which will introduce IMCI will produce a final analysis of data before moving ahead with project profiles. Local health authorities will be supported with additional anthropometric equipment. There will be continued emphasis on the production of the GRC health plan.

Objective 2: To assist the GRC to promote safe water use, community hygiene and preventive activities in the identified communities and to raise GRC water and sanitation capacity in disasters.

The water quality monitoring project continues. Most systems tested are not sufficiently chlorinated and in many communities, water is of poor quality. The GRC is informing local health and municipal authorities and making recommendations as to how to improve the situation.

The water equipment donated from the Federation in El Salvador was warehoused; however, its condition needs to be checked and a proposal will be presented for additional equipment needed. This became particularly important after the disaster in San Lucas Toliman when the GRC was considering offering support for temporary water supply, but had insufficient information regarding the condition of its own resources.

The GRC water unit has started to present projects to donors, making various visits to Embassies including those of Germany, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. It is hoped that this will start to produce the required sustainability that was an integral part of the original proposal for supporting the unit. In the meantime, both the ARC and the SRC have continued work on various latrine and water supply activities with a number of projects completed during the quarter.

The six month course for the training of 18 water technicians continues with ARC and Federation support. Copies of all modules have been presented to the Federation and the GRC giving the possibility of running the course again in the future if it proves successful. Topics covered this quarter have included topography, baseline studies, design of water systems, technical drawing and community evaluation techniques with students studying for 160 hours each month. In August and September the ARC continued Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) training reaching a total of over 1,000 men, women and children.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - The Federation is considering the funding of a latrine project in Sacapulas Quiche that will be implemented by the branch and the water and sanitation technical unit. The termination of ARC support for water and sanitation at the end of the year will be a test for the GRC technical unit, hence the added importance of finding other sources of funding. The delegation has recommended that future project proposals presented for Federation support be located in the same branches that are being supported in community health.

Organizational Development

Objective 1: To support the GRC in the strengthening of selected branches.

Federation involvement has been limited to ongoing support for training in project management that has been taking place in branches of the GRC. From 4 to 8 September, 23 GRC members from the headquarters and the branches of Coban, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, Zacapa, Escuintla, Mazatenango, Chiquimula, Jalapa, Tejutla, Tecun Uman, El Palmar, San Juan Cotzal, Coatepeque, Palestina de Los Altos and Concepcion Chiquirichapa, were trained in management and evaluation of projects. Support has been provided jointly with the ARC and the SRC.

At the end of the quarter, the board approved the establishment of a branch in Guatemala city. This has long been a priority and should help separate the national support functions of the headquarters from the localized administration and service provision in which many members of governance and management had been involved.

The ARC continues to focus its OD support on four branches: Escuintla, Retalhuleu, Jalapa and Quiche, providing a range of activities designed to improve capacity and service provision. These branches will remain a focus for the ARC in organizational development. This support will also contribute to the achievement of Federation objectives, moving forward the OD programme under Federation coordination. The ARC branch experience will bring added value and help to ensure the strengthening of the GRC at all levels, through combining both headquarters and branch perspectives.

The SRC continues to focus on branches in Izabal, particularly Puerto Barrios. The Netherlands Red Cross awaits confirmation of EU funding for support to activities in Coban. The Norwegian Red Cross and the American Red Cross are providing support for construction at the branch of Retalhuleu.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - Continued promotion of standardization between branches. Support for the establishment of the new branch and training of its board members. Finalization of the agreement with ARC re the transfer of the OD programme. The implementation of the third module of project management training which covers financial and human resources.

Objective 2: To support the GRC in strengthening its governance and management bodies.

Comments on the Statutes were received from the joint (ICRC / Federation) commission in Geneva and were incorporated into the revised version of the Statutes by the GRC board. This was sent to all branches for comments before the next step of proceeding with publication in the civil register and hence the document becoming legally binding. This process should take 2-3 months.

The delegation has been following up agreements that were made with the board on 15 June. Progress has been made in some areas:

Agreed Action Progress
External Financial Audit Ongoing - Deloitte & Touche have started work auditing from 1999 until June 2002.
Review of Price Waterhouse recommendations Completed and report produced.
Human Resource procedures for salaried staff A draft of the internal regulation has been produced.
This now needs to be reviewed and disseminated.
Revision of all staff contracts Limited progress, however a new administrator has been contracted.
Finalization of organigram at Headquarters Draft produced. Still to be approved.
Finalization of budget for Headquarters Still pending.
Fundraising plan - HQ salaries Still pending.
Internal regulations Drafts produced for human resources (salaried staff), the board, the Assembly and regionalization.
Significant advances also made in volunteering /emblem / uniforms.
Recruitment of new members Various activities agreed, limited progress.

Where delays exist, these are in part related to the crisis within the board and in part to the fact that for much of the quarter the GRC was operating without a Director General and administrator. The board now functions with just six members of an original I I and it is under consideration whether to allow Federation / ICRC participation as observers, or whether to create a working group that would have delegated responsibility and include participation from the GRC, the ICRC, the Federation and PNS.

With support from the Federation, (including contracting an external employment agency, helping with job descriptions and the interview process), the GRC has now confirmed a new Director General and a new administrator. Together with the new head of relief, these key staff took up their roles at the end of September. This immediately helped to fill the counterpart vacuum that had been created by various firings and resignations at all levels of the GRC and it is hoped that this signals the start of a period of stability and consolidation. Advances in these areas, and in particular with the Statutes, are positive signs that the GRC; however the National Society remains weak and an ongoing priority for Federation support in the region.

The delays with internal regulations and in other areas, particularly recruitment of new members, makes it unlikely that the GRC will hold elections before the end of October or indeed in the following months. It is more likely that elections will be held in the first quarter of 2003. The delegation is encouraging the board to communicate related decisions to the Assembly as soon as possible.

Throughout the quarter, the Federation, the American Red Cross and the Spanish Red Cross have continued support for salaries of the GRC at the level of headquarters. The GRC has been asked to produce a plan for future funding of salaries (see above table) to finalize whether, and in what form, this support will continue.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - To assist new GRC staff as much as possible through the role of the Federation and the OD process. To fund a retreat for the management team with the objectives of producing a work plan for 2003, incorporating new staff and promoting team building. To continue to support the drawing up of internal regulations. To support the recruitment of new members (through events, publicity), awareness-raising amongst existing members re elections and dissemination of the new Statutes once they are ratified. To attend an OD regional meeting in Managua together with key staff from the GRC. To finalize an MOU as regards salary support.

Objective 3: To assist the GRC in developing its fund-raising capacity.

The consultants with whom the Federation and the GRC have been working produced a revised proposal relating to fund-raising within the GRC which is not felt to be satisfactory, and other delays have been caused through the absence of a Director General who was the main counterpart for this process, together with the Vice President. If it is not possible to reach agreement with the consultants, the delegation will look at other ways in which we can support this initiative.

Priorities for the remainder of the year - Final meetings with consultants and a decision as to whether or not / how to proceed. Briefing and inclu