In a world of global challenges, continued poverty, inequity, and increasing vulnerability to disasters and disease, IFRC - with its global network - works to accomplish its Global Agenda, partnering with local community and civil society to prevent and alleviate human suffering from disasters, diseases and public health emergencies.
The programmes for 2009 [as outlined in Philippines Country Plan 2009-2010] were in support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) plan which focuses on organizational development, with priority on increasing chapter and local community [barangay] capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability. Strengthening of capacity would be attained through 'Project 143' - an initiative that reinforces the presence of PRC in all 42,000 barangays across the country. According to the plan, some 44 volunteers (comprising a team leader and 43 members) would be recruited, trained and mobilized from each barangay to augment the capacity of their respective Red Cross chapters in the core areas of disaster preparedness, disaster response, health and care, and humanitarian values.
Implementation of programmes started in earnest during the second half of 2009. Through the disaster management programme, some 25 barangay disaster action teams (BDATs) were formed and provided with essential response and personal protective equipment. Working closely with the national disaster coordinating council's READY project, PRC was able to build synergies and coordinate efforts. As of end-December 2009, communities in 25 barangays had produced their vulnerability and capacity assessments (VCAs). The National Society had also produced information, education and communications (IEC) materials that are to be used in raising awareness of safety and disaster prevention among children during 2010.
The community-based health and first aid (CBHFA) programme attained some notable progress as 100 community health volunteers were recruited and trained. The volunteers immediately started playing an active role in promoting community health and safe hygiene practices, through dissemination of health and hygiene messages. Through the HIV and AIDS project, some 84 peer educators (14 of whom are trainers of trainers) came on board. Collectively, they reached some 2,000 persons with messages on preventing further HIV infections, expanding care, treatment and support, and reducing stigma and discrimination.
Under Project 143, PRC recruited some 800,000 volunteers within the year under review. This is remarkable progress towards achieving presence in all 42,000 barangays. Appropriate and relevant training opportunities were provided for the new volunteers as well as for new and existing PRC management and technical staff. Besides training, workshops and meetings, PRC collaborated with other national societies for peer-to-peer learning and experience-sharing. An example is when the National Society hosted a team from the emerging Maldivian Red Crescent. Also in 2009, the PRC held an organizational development forum, a management retreat and its 28th biennial national convention.
Exposition of the fundamental principles and humanitarian values formed an integral part of all programmes - disaster management, health and care, and organizational development. Promotion of principles and values also entailed highlighting gender issues, awareness of non-discrimination and promoting tolerance.
Meanwhile, in response to the typhoons that struck the Philippines during the last quarter of 2009, PRC launched a massive relief and recovery operation to assist affected families. The operation, which comprises both relief and recovery components, is being implemented over an 18-month period. The series of disasters, however, meant an interruption to the National Society's long-term programmes. All the same, PRC used some of the resources obtained for the intervention to boost its essential non-food items preparedness stocks.