Every year in the Americas more and more people are living in conditions of vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change. To help reduce disaster risk and enhance community resilience in the region, the American Red Cross is working with Red Cross partners in the Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru to address local hazards and vulnerabilities in more than 70 disaster-prone communities. This initiative began with a Red Cross-led assessment process in which communities themselves identified the most significant risks they face and the actions they can take to mitigate them. Some examples of community interventions include strengthening water and sanitation systems, delivering key messages about health promotion and disease prevention, and training and equipping community members with first aid skills and supplies. In addition to addressing specific hazards, another key program component is working with communities so they are able to self-organize and self-manage advocacy or education efforts that will help them be better prepared for future disasters. The American Red Cross is also helping strengthen the capacity of Red Cross partners in the region to deliver services to communities.
Saving Lives in the Caribbean through Preparedness
Since 2011, the American Red Cross has been working with local partners in the Bahamas, Belize, and St. Lucia to increase disaster preparedness in the Caribbean by training staff, volunteers and community members in first aid, disaster preparedness, emergency response, and shelter management, as well as helping individual communities recognize their specific vulnerabilities and devise plans to reduce risks. Building on the success of these activities, the American Red Cross is currently working to further build preparedness in Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago by developing locally-customized mobile applications (apps) to deliver lifesaving information directly to people’s phones. The apps allow residents to track local hazards, directly receive warnings and alerts, and notify friends and family of their safety during and after disasters. They also contain information, instructions and checklists to educate people about both first aid and local hazards. The program will also continue to offer regional and national first aid trainings. This initiative is a partnership of the American Red Cross, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and Red Cross partners in the region.
In 2014-2015, the American Red Cross also initiated a project with the Red Cross of Belize under a competitive proposal process offered to National Societies in the Region focusing on the organizational development of the National Society. The five National Societies to be awarded funding under this competitive process were Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru. As one of the recipients of the award from the American Red Cross, the Red Cross of Belize is using the funding to undertake a process to develop a strategic plan for organizational sustainability.
In 2014-2015, the American Red Cross also initiated a project with the Red Cross of Antigua and Barbuda under a competitive proposal process offered to National Societies in the Region focusing on the organizational development of the National Society. The five National Societies to be awarded funding under this competitive process were Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru. As one of the recipients of the award from the American Red Cross, the Red Cross of Antigua and Barbuda is using the funding to strengthen their youth and volunteer management systems.