Southern Africa Regional Office SP163 Annual report 2012

This report covers the period 01/01/12 to 31/12/12

Overview

In line with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC’s) Strategy 2020, the role of the Southern Africa Regional Office (SARO) is to strengthen the capacity of the National Societies (NSs) to better enable them to deliver services that increase community resilience to disasters and public health emergencies, protect livelihoods and strengthen capacity to recover from disasters and crises, and promote healthy and safe living, social inclusion and a culture of non-violence and peace.

SARO directly assists nine countries in the region: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia, while also supporting the Zimbabwe Country Office. SARO faced a year of upheaval and change during 2012. At the beginning of the year, the regional representation was down-sized to 20 per cent of its former Johannesburg-based office, and relocated to Gaborone, Botswana. This geographic shift in office location was done for cost-efficiency purposes, but meant that during 2012, much effort was spent on building up the new office’s staff and resources. By the end of 2012, with the appointment of a Regional Representative in May and an established team and network of NS contacts, the operational capacity of the SARO was in a position to focus on the external factors that were forcing an adjustment to the priorities for the office and its relationship with funding partners.

Donors that had sustained the Federation's work for over a decade had opted to channel support bilaterally through NSs and no longer use the multilateral mechanisms of IFRC. Meanwhile, some NSs also saw a drastic down-sizing of staff, especially the South Africa and Zambia RCS. The year was further marred by institutional crises occurring within a number of NSs, with common themes of unsustainable structures, financial liabilities with the resultant slowdown of service delivery and threat to asset bases, and poor and inadequate donor reporting. Incidents of mismanagement of funds understandably shook donor confidence. As a result, partners withdrew or withheld funds, which impacted on morale of staff and volunteers and the long-standing good reputation of the Movement. Many services simply ground to a halt.

As the year progressed, internal NS management factors were creating uncertainty and concern about capacity to deliver. SARO began to focus on strategies that would promote NS recovery. The Southern Africa region is prone to natural and human-caused disasters, exacerbated by the effects of climate change. In recent years, the region has suffered recurring devastation from floods, mostly along the Zambezi River. The socio-economic imbalances and shortages of social services and high unemployment has led to urban-based violence, migration and an escalation in the demand for inadequate water and sanitation services.

IFRC continued to respond to a number of disasters across the region, as detailed in the map contained within this document.