South Asia regional delegation (SARD) has revised its resilience approach and related programme support structure, and formed a regional ‘Resilience Unit’. The updated concept and structure were shared with country offices and Asia Pacific Zone (APZ) office in mid-November of 2014. This comes as a result of a close internal review as well as consultations with country head of delegations (HoDs), South Asian National Societies, South East Asia regional delegation and APZ disaster management unit (DMU). The position of resilience coordinator was filled in early December 2014, which will help to start the implementation of the resilience unit’s main priorities as well as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)’s global commitments.
SARD continued its technical advisory and programme support to country offices and National Societies in the region, although with a reduced programme team, following the recent alignments of positions. Significant progress has been made in strengthening the tools and mechanisms in disaster preparedness; availability of more trained personnel in emergency response, including health, WASH and volunteer management; organisational development (OD) process; humanitarian diplomacy and communications; planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting (PMER); and beneficiary communications. SARD has contributed to programme enhancement of National Societies that includes the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS), Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC), Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS). In India and Maldives, where there are no dedicated IFRC country offices, as well as in Bhutan, which does not have a National Society, SARD has been providing a more hands-on programme management support.
SARD also extended support to a number of IFRC offices and National Societies outside South Asia region like Indonesia, Mongolia and Cambodia. The regional OD manager provided facilitation support to Mongolian Red Cross in their organizational capacity assessment certification (OCAC) process, in August 2014 and also during Global Volunteering Forum in Bangkok in December 2014. Similarly, regional WASH manager co-facilitated urban sanitation workshop in Mongolia and emergency specialized water and sanitation (WatSan) training in Bandung in August and October 2014, respectively. The regional beneficiary communications delegate provided support to Combodia Red Cross in their baseline assessment and workshop, in late August and early September 2014.
Communication support to the South Asian National Societies was rendered in coordination with APZ, which in turn, had facilitated more coverage of media internationally and domestically on disasters in South Asia. Furthermore, liaisons were established or reinvigorated with diplomatic and international community, and academic institutions, information was shared as appropriate.
Factors affecting operating context:
In South Asia, the complex work environment, volatile security situation, political changes and conflicts continued as major challenges for a smooth implementation of project activities in many countries of the region. In Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Pakistan, political demonstrations and strikes remains a major concern for all the Movement partners, which limits their scope of activities and implementation schedule. Security issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan due to increase in attacks on soft targets such as schools, hospitals, foreign institutions, but also government and humanitarian agencies further contributed to those limitations. National elections in Afghanistan and India brought to power a new government; tensions arising during this period and election protocols also restricted community level activities.
South Asia had experienced a number of small and medium scale disasters that includes heavy flooding and landslides in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and India, tropical cyclone, and water crisis in Maldives, resulting in population displacement, significant damages to lives and livelihood which led to emergency interventions and Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) mobilisations and calling for international support from the IFRC, partner National Societies (PNSs) and other institutional donors. Under such circumstances, certain priorities of National Societies had to be revisited and more focus and resources put in emergency response.
For SARD, challenges remain in meeting many needs at country level with a reduced programme team and limited financial resources. With the re-structuring of the SARD programmes unit, its capacity to support National Societies and country offices is significantly stretched. Adding to that pressure is the additional responsibility given to SARD to provide direct programme support to Maldives and Indian National Societies. To maintain support and close dialogue with the National Societies requires considerable amount of time, resources and effective coordination mechanisms. Hence, the regional office has been continuously updating its support plans in relation to those needs and priorities.