Throughout the Yemen floods operation, the initial difficulties faced due to lack of local capacities were overcome by strengthening the Seyoun branch of the Yemen RC in Wadi Hadramout. Approximately 3,000 families (around 21,000 beneficiaries) received food and non-food items (NFIs), shelter, and water and sanitation assistance from the Yemen RC during the emergency phase.
Further to the ones conducted by the field assessment and coordination team (FACT), the Seyoun branch conducted a number of assessments to collect more information on the needs and vulnerabilities of the affected communities. The International Federation, together with the Yemen RC, locally procured items for the replenishment of the disaster preparedness stock which had been transferred from Sana'a to Seyoun at the outset of the operation. Two post-distribution monitoring were conducted in Hawra and Tarim - the two districts in which the operation was conducted.
Since the beginning of February 2009, the operation focused on a gradual transition from emergency relief towards recovery activities at community level. The focus was on training of branch volunteers in psycho-social support, hygiene promotion, first aid, vulnerability and capacity assessments (VCA) as well as on improvement of skills and knowledge of volunteers on camp set up and management, distribution of food and NFIs, health and psycho-social support, water and sanitation and early recovery.
As many as 4,500 students of primary schools in the flood affected areas of Tarim, Hawra, Shibam and Al-Katen received school kits at the beginning of their new school season in October 2009. In addition, 40 secondary schools in these areas received 150 first aid kits to improve their capacities in delivering urgent assistance to students in time of accident. 50 first aid kits were also provided to be distributed according to the needs of the branches.
800 educational sessions were conducted on hygiene promotion, malaria and influenza A (H1N1) prevention with distribution of leaflets and brochures to improve the health status of 8,000 families (approximately 56,000 beneficiaries) at community level. In addition, 1,200 educational sessions on health and hygiene promotion, 1,200 educational sessions on disaster preparedness awareness, 1,200 educational sessions on psycho-social support and 1,200 sessions on first aid with practical simulations were conducted involving students in 60 selected schools in Tarim, Shibam, Al-Katen and Hawra districts. To improve the efficiency of the Seyoun branch, 40 branch volunteers were trained on comprehensive disaster response modules including first aid components, psycho-social support and health promotion.
A total of CHF 1,380,109 (99% of the total income) was used to implement the activities in the flood-affected areas. The main areas of expenditure include supplies, personnel and transport costs. A balance of CHF 9,594 is to be reallocated to the Yemen Plan for 2010-2011.
The Yemen RC and the International Federation have been able to implement the activities thanks to the timely contributions to the emergency operation from the Netherlands Red Cross, Italian government bilateral emergency fund, Swedish Red Cross and Swedish government, Canadian Red Cross and Canadian government, Japanese Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, Western Union Foundation, Monaco Red Cross, United Arab Emirates Red Crescent, and Libyan Red Crescent.
The challenge posed by the spontaneous but uncoordinated response by donors including Red Cross/Red Crescent (RC/RC) actors was way beyond the coordination capacities of the national/local organizations including the Yemen RC. The International Federation played a key role in enabling the Yemen RC to ensure a level of coordination in the use of resources mobilized through the multilateral channel (International Federation Appeal) and the bilateral contributions by National Societies. The key lesson from this underscore the need to ensure prior communication between the host National Society and its partners to avoid duplication of efforts in the planning and management of emergency responses.
At the beginning, the operation was based on shuttle missions from Sana'a to Seyoun - about 1,000 kilometres - with increasing pressure on travel and coordination. There was also a considerable involvement from the International Federation's zone office in Amman. Initially, it was also difficult for the Yemen RC headquarters and the International Federation to ensure the required level of rapid access to the beneficiaries. However, the situation considerably improved after the branch in Seyoun was given the necessary basic support including office facilities and volunteer mobilization and development. This highlights the critical importance of ensuring local level capacities to be able to conduct successful operations.
Early contact with local authorities can be very useful to shorten the time spent dealing with national level authorities to get the necessary clearance for operations. Although there was confusion and lack of understanding at the national level regarding the role of the Yemen RC, this was immediately resolved when the focus was shifted to the local authorities - a process that proved to be very useful to start the operation.