In 2013, the internal policy environment was shaped by the General Assembly which took place in November, and where we saw the endorsement of the revised Principles and Rules for Humanitarian Assistance, a process led by the Programme Services division, and the adoption of the Council of Delegates resolution entitled Strengthening Movement coordination and cooperation which has tasked the Federation and the ICRC to commence a consultation process ensuring the involvement of all components of the Movement.
In operational terms, while the humanitarian impact of major disaster events such as the Syria Crisis and its implications on neighbouring countries, Philippines Typhoon Haiyan and Central Vaiyas Earthquake was very significant, the on-going volume of core disaster management and disaster response work was quite low in 2013 compared to previous years because of the lower number of major disaster events recorded. The volume of DREF-funded operations to respond to small-scale, national level disasters and health emergencies remained high and continues to grow. This has resulted in the provision of technical support and quality assurance for the launch of 18 Emergency Appeals for a total of over CHF 116m for some 1.2m people, the formal revision of 26 Emergency Appeals, and the timely approval of 99 DREF allocations for a total of some CHF 18.7m for some 8,065,968 people.
In 2013, shelter needs arising from disasters and crises continued to reflect the emerging trend towards more frequent small and medium scale natural disasters, compounded by population movements due to conflict and instability in the Middle East due to the crisis in Syria. As convener of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Global Shelter Cluster for natural disasters, IFRC coordinated the interagency shelter response to the tropical storm in Bangladesh, the tropical cyclone in Fiji for which funding was secured from ECHO enabling continuation of the shelter cluster coordination and the response to various emergencies in the Philippines: typhoons Bopha and Haiyan, as well as the earthquake in Vaiyas.
National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies responded to 81 emergencies requiring a need for shelter assistance to affected populations through the use of IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) and Emergency Appeals. This represents 77% of all IFRC emergency response activities including the distribution of shelter items, shelter related relief items, emergency shelter, provision of shelter materials etc., but excluding health and drought specific DREFs and appeals. More than 7.6 million people affected by disaster in 2013 received shelter assistance in the form of emergency or temporary shelter and shelter-related non-food items through IFRC relief and recovery activities. Total expenditure on shelter-related disaster assistance in 2013 was CHF 108 million.
Inequitable access to health remained one of the biggest causes of vulnerability which excludes people, groups, and communities from a basic human right, and preventing universal health coverage. Other global trends affecting safe and healthy living include the rise in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, maternal, new-born and child health pressing priorities, increased population displacement with 30 million internally displaced persons and 232 million migrants (some extremely vulnerable with little or no access to health care and suitable shelter), growing urbanization and weak infrastructure causing additional challenges such as inadequate water & sanitation systems, as well as continuing priorities to address HIV, TB, and malaria, despite reduced global level funding, particularly for HIV/AIDS.
According to the FAO, between 2011-2013, there are almost 842 million people chronically undernourished. This represents 12 per cent of the world’s population, or one in eight people, of which nearly 827 million live in developing countries. An estimated 52 million children under five years of age are believed to suffer from acute malnutrition, and 165 million children under the age of five, or 26 per cent, are chronically malnourished.
In 2013, food and nutrition insecurity has been reported as alarming in Syria and Philippines. In Syria more than 4 million people require humanitarian assistance and in the Philippines nearly 3 million people require lifesaving food assistance and support to restore agricultural and fishing livelihoods. According to IRIN, over the past two years the number of severely acutely malnourished children in the Sahel has risen, reaching 1.5 million in 2013. Combined with the number of under-fives and pregnant and lactating women who are moderately and acutely malnourished (or experiencing "wasting"), the number of malnourished in the region reaches 5 million. In Southern Africa food security concerns are reported in pockets of Malawi and Zimbabwe.
The population in crisis or emergency in Greater Horn of Africa and Central Africa range from 16-19 million of which the number of DRC, Sudan and Ethiopia constituted 70% of the affected population. According to IFPRI`s latest report, countries in Eastern and Central Africa will face food insecurity in 2014 due to consequences of the changing climate.
The global economic instability continued to pose restrictions on humanitarian funding opportunities, creating an imperative for humanitarian activities in risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response to be scrutinized for effectiveness and relevance. The five year strategic plan of Global Logistics Services, Logistics 2015, remained very relevant to address the imperatives of continuing external trends, while the improvement of the supplementary services in-country model now enables National Societies working internationally to integrate into the IFRC legal framework in much easier and more efficient way.
In addition to the Syria and Philippines crises, the external landscape in 2013 was dominated by two critical policy processes - further momentum for the Post 2015 development agenda furthered by the UN General Assembly, and the Climate Change negotiations - as well as the process of consultation on the Post-2015 Framework for DRR. Another significant development was the advancement of plans for the World Humanitarian Summit. Worth highlighting is also the release of the DFID MAR Update, a critical contribution to evolving donor policies and multilateral review approaches.