The four-pronged purpose of the International Federation's programme supporting the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) in its four core areas of work, which are aligned with the International Federation's Global Agenda goals, is as follows:
1. Strengthen the IRCS capacity in disaster preparedness and disaster response and enhance cooperation with the government and other stakeholders (Global Agenda goal 1).
2. Improve the IRCS capacity in planning, to raise awareness on the preventive health needs and by responding to public health emergencies, including HIV/AIDS, through prevention, care and support by strengthening the Red Cross volunteer network (Global Agenda goal 2).
3. Strengthen the systems and structures so that IRCS has improved capacity to provide effective services to reduce suffering of the vulnerable (Global Agenda goal 3).
4. Integrate principles and values in national society programme planning and disaster response activities (Global Agenda goal 4).
Programme summary: During 2008, the country witnessed a number of emergencies like heavy monsoon flooding and landslides, a cyclone, avian influenza threat and a series of terrorist attacks and bomb blasts. The IRCS was heavily involved in providing efficient and effective response to these disasters/incidents, which hampered the implementation of some longer-term developmental activities.
Despite these constraints, most planned activities made progress during this period. The International Federation continued to support the IRCS to strengthen its capacity for preparedness and response to disasters and public health emergencies, promote disaster risk reduction, improve awareness on HIV and AIDS and the quality of life of people living with HIV, scaling-up and strengthening of its humanitarian values programme, as well as strengthen areas such as volunteer management, finance development, communications development and resource mobilization. A final draft of the IRCS's National Strategic Development Plan 2009-2012 was completed during the reporting period and shared at the India partnership meeting held in February 2009.
The consolidation process between the International Federation's South Asia regional office and the India country office was also completed during this period.
Financial situation: The total 2008 budget is CHF 3,349,274 (USD 2,876,022 or EUR 2,255,736), of which 112 per cent covered. Expenditure overall was 39 per cent.
No. of people we help: Approximately 1.16 million people benefited from IRCS programmes during 2008.
Our partners: Ministry of health and family welfare, National AIDS Control Organization of India, UN agencies (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO)), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are the main partners of the IRCS outside the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. The national society also has a number of Movement partners, such as the American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, German Red Cross, Hong Kong branch of the Red Cross Society of China, Italian Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, Swedish Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
During the reporting period, heavy monsoon flooding and landslides in different parts of the country, resulted in a loss of many lives and property; and affecting millions of people. In addition to the annual flooding, a breach in the embankment of the Kosi river in south-eastern Nepal in August 2008 caused devastating floods in the state of Bihar, killing hundreds of people and affecting 4.63 million people. The Indian Red Cross Society's (IRCS) state and district branches in the affected areas provided emergency relief and response to save maximum lives and livelihoods and worked closely with government authorities in channelling and distributing family packs and other emergency relief items. The International Federation also released CHF1 million (USD 864,259 or EUR 665,059) from its disaster relief emergency fund (DREF) to assist the national society in its flood operation. Furthermore, the IRCS responded to cyclone Nisa and subsequent flooding that hit the state of Tamil Nadu in end-November 2008, affecting approximately one million people. Besides natural disasters, a public health concern was felt in January 2008, when avian influenza was reported in the state of West Bengal. The IRCS's West Bengal state branch responded to this threat in a coordinated manner.
India also witnessed a worsening security situation during 2008, with a series of terrorist attacks and bomb blasts especially in the country's major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. The Mumbai attack at the end of November 2008 led to a sharp rise in tensions between Pakistan and India, but the situation seems to be calm at the moment. The IRCS provided efficient and effective response to these incidents of violence by deploying ambulances, providing blood and psycho-social support to the injured in hospitals, among other services.
During the last six months of the year, the consolidation of the International Federation's South Asia regional office and the India country office was completed, in an effort to optimise financial and human resources. Despite some constraints and delays due to the security situation, extensive engagement in responding to the monsoon flooding and the strained funding coverage of some programmes, most planned activities continued to make progress during this period, the details of which are outlined in this report.