Red Cross activates disaster emergency relief fund

Red Cross activates disaster emergency relief fund

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society has activated its disaster emergency relief fund totaling US$50 000 to help about 2000 families across the country whose houses were destroyed by the heavy rains.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is also involved in the construction of footbridges in Nyamimyami across streams whose bridges were washed away by floods in previous years.

However, the Mashonaland West Provincial Civil Protection Committee is financially hamstrung as each of the seven districts in the province has only US$200 seed money in their accounts.

As if that is not enough, it was also highlighted how ill equipped the police sub aqua unit is, a situation that compromises rescue operations in the wake of flooding induced by Tropical Cyclone Dineo.

Mashonaland West Provincial Civil Protection Committee Chairperson, Mrs Cecilia Chitiyo called for the involvement of the corporate world and individuals in contributing towards disaster response preparedness.

Recently, scores of families in the Gatshegatshe fishing camps on the shores of Lake Kariba benefitted from the Disaster Emergency Relief Fund after their dwellings were destroyed by a storm.

Red Cross partners ZITF

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) once again partnered the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) through provision of free health and first aid services at the just-ended edition of the annual business showcase.


Zimbabwe Red Cross Society action team provides first-aid services to a casualty at the Independence Day Celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium recently

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society action team provides first-aid services to a casualty at the Independence Day Celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium recently

The humanitarian player deployed first aid action teams who were manning ZITF grounds and the main arena, responding to casualties.

Those in need of assistance got closer attention at the Red Cross clinic which was situated near the main arena where nurses were on standby.

ZRCS national president Edson Mlambo said they were duty-bound as an auxiliary to government and would continue to provide such services whenever possible.

“As an auxiliary to government and a humanitarian player whose sole mandate is to serve humanity, providing heath and first-aid services at the ZITF and other national events is in sync with our mandate and mission,” Mlambo said.

“The Red Cross is a service organisation and we felt compelled to provide the much-needed service to members of the public, as is always the norm.”

ZRCS provides free first aid coverage at key national events, including Independence and Heroes Day celebrations, Harare Agricultural Show, provincial agricultural shows, as well as political rallies and elections.

The first-aid coverages are often complemented with event tracing services aimed at ensuring the safety of minors and Mlambo highlighted that the organisation was planning to reintroduce event tracing services at next year’s edition of ZITF.

“Our health and first-aid services are usually complemented by event tracing services where our volunteers tag minors with bracelets bearing their guardian’s name and contacts as they enter the gates to the ZITF arena,” he said.

“This helps for easy reunification once the minor is lost and we have recorded great success with previous editions and we hope to reintroduce the service next year for ZITF. We are, however, planning to have event tracing at the August Harare Agricultural Show.”

The organisation is funded by the International Committee of Red Cross and Finnish Red Cross for such coverages and Mlambo said they were hoping for local support from corporates that value the welfare of citizens and minors at public events.

ZRCS has over the years continued to champion community-based disaster risk reduction programmes and initiatives that provide community-based solutions to everyday challenges.

To that end, the organisation provides top-of-the-range first aid and nurse aide training services at its various centres around Zimbabwe. These trainings target communities, industry and the mining sector.

Red Cross comes to fishermen’s rescue

Fishing is a legendary hazardous occupation, particularly among artisanal fishermen where fatalities have been high over the years. The dangers fishermen face include extreme weather, drowning and animals.

By Moses Mugugunyeki recently in Kariba

Compounding the problem in many countries, Zimbabwe included, regulations concerning safety of fishermen are only applied to big companies while artisanal fishermen are sidelined.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that each year in Africa, every 15th canoe has accident and that one of 200 200 fishermen dies in a canoe accident among small-scale fishermen.

It is against this background that the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) under its disaster management and preparedness is helping offset the risks and seasonal fluctuations artisanal fishermen at Musamba and Chalala fishing camps on the shores of Lake Kariba face.

The programme, which is being implemented in partnership with the Danish Red Cross, is being funded by the World Bank under its Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery as well as the Danish International Development Agency.

“The project aims at enhancing capacity of vulnerable rural communities to prepare for, mitigate and respond to recurrent disasters and the impacts of climate change in Kariba district,” said ZRCS secretary-general Maxwell Phiri.

Phiri said Red Cross was establishing a community early warning system to assist communities, especially fishing camps in the district. He said his organisation had kick started the project at Musamba and Chalala fishing camps in Mola (Ward 3).

“Part of the programme that we are doing in Kariba includes the establishment of a community early warning system where Red Cross is working with government departments that include Nyaminyami Rural District Council, Meteorological Services Department and the Lake Navigation Control,” he said.

He said the project would go a long way in addressing issues such as occupational safety and health as well as social security protection.

Phiri said the programme had seen ZRCS training 16 volunteers on a community early warning system while 30 were trained in community disaster response, contingency planning and basic first aid.

Community disaster response teams were equipped with first aid kits, life jackets with whistles and life buoys.
“We also procured an automated weather station which will soon be installed near Bumi Hills to improve local weather forecast accuracy and relevance to local communities,” Phiri said.
“One hundred people from the fishing communities are receiving weather forecasts and adverse weather warnings through messages on mobile phones. These messages are issued by the Lack Navigation Control and based on daily inputs from the Meteorological Services Department.”

Fanuel Maridzanyere, who has been staying at Musamba Fishing Camp for 10 years, said the intervention by ZRCS had reduced deaths.

“Fishermen are frequently exposed to unpredictable dangerous conditions. However, we have seen a reduction of fatalities due to training programmes and awareness campaigns that Red Cross is facilitating,” said Maridzanyere who leads the community disaster response team at the camp.

“Our biggest challenge was the weather. Many a time, fishermen would go into the lake not knowing how the weather would be like, resulting in their canoes capsizing due to heavy winds. We now receive frequent weather alerts and this is helping a lot.”

Maridzanyere, who has basic training in aquatic safety, risk management and aquatic rescue, said a large chunk of fishermen lacked such knowledge.

“I am previledged because I did aquatic rescue training, but most of my colleagues lack that. It becomes a challenge when one is involved in a canoe accident and they cannot swim to safety,” he said.

“While Red Cross has trained us in first aid, we feel there is a need to train some colleagues on aquatic safety. We also need a diver and equipment for rescue operations.”
Another resident at the fishing camp, which is home to 400 families, said apart from aquatic tragedies, they were prone to waterborne diseases.

“We did not have toilets and hygiene was not part of this community,” said Penitah Makanuka, who has been at the camp since 2008.

“Open defecation was the order the day and we had no source of safe water. Diseases such as typhoid, cholera and dysentery were common because we never practiced safe hygiene. The coming in of Red Cross in this area is helping a lot.”

ZRCS is building 423 latrines, including 28 communal toilets as well as upgrading 12 community wells in Mola, including at the two fishing camps – Musamba and Chalala.
“We are excited that Red Cross helped us with the toilets at the fishing camp. We have also received training and we hold awareness campaigns on water, sanitation and hygiene,” Makanuka said.

The ZRCS project which is being bankrolled to the tune of $857 300 is part of the organisation’s goal of mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Red Cross Society responds to drought

by Sunday News Online Sunday, Dec 18, 2016 | 460 views

drought crop

Tinomuda Chakanyuka Sunday News Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has come to the aid of drought stricken villagers across Zimbabwe with vulnerable families in Gwanda rural and Lower Gweru set to benefit from a water and sanitation intervention while villagers in Binga will benefit from a cash transfer programme.

This is part of the organisation’s overall response to the El-Nino induced drought through an emergency appeal project which is presently covering eight districts across the country.

The districts are Kariba in Mashonaland West, Mudzi in Mashonaland East, Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central, Chipinge in Manicaland and Mwenezi in Masvingo and lately Binga in Matabeleland North with the cash transfer component.

Lower Gweru in Midlands, Gwanda in Matabeleland South are set to benefit from a water and sanitation component of the intervention through rehabilitation of water points as well as drilling of some boreholes.

The cash transfer programme is the first phase of a $5 million emergency appeal in response to the drought situation and is backed with a $2 million disbursement of funds.

Other components of the drought relief programme include agricultural seed support.

ZRCS secretary-general Mr Maxwell Phiri told Sunday News that the organisation will continue working with the Government and other humanitarian players in alleviating human suffering.

“Drought and any such natural or man-made disasters are not unique to Zimbabwe and as the nation’s leading humanitarian player and an auxiliary to the Government, we will continue playing our part in aiding the affected communities.

“Zimbabwe and the entire region has been largely affected by the El Niño-induced drought and our response is both emergency and developmental so that while providing present pressing food needs we also provide seed support to ensure better harvests come next season,” Phiri said.

The drought relief efforts are being funded by Partner National Societies from the Red Cross family among them the British Red Cross (BRC), Danish Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, American Red Cross and Norwegian Red Cross.

Through the British Red Cross, the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL) has availed £225 000 for the programme for 2016 while the Tyce funds £50 000 to the programme.

The Tyce have supported the previous food security programme and provided full support to the Chivi WASH programme.

The funding from Tyce and PPL through BRC is supporting Community Resilience and Food Security programming in Chipinge and Mwenezi.

Target beneficiaries of the Red Cross initiative include among others lactating mothers, the elderly as well as widows and child headed families, the chronically ill and generally disadvantaged members of the community. The ZRCS is working closely with relevant Government departments and the local leadership to ensure aid reaches the intended beneficiaries.

Responding to comments on the Red Cross’s resilience focused approach, Mr Phiri said it was important that beyond the remedial support they capacitate communities to better prepare and respond to disasters like drought.

“The Red Cross is looking at empowering the affected communities, which is why beyond the emergency relief efforts we are also looking at supporting communities with seed support to guarantee better harvests in the event of adequate rains. We are also looking at water and sanitation so that we provide potable water which is safe from water-borne diseases,” said Mr Phiri.

More than 40 000 beneficiaries across the country are receiving support from the Zimbabwe Red Cross emergency food security intervention.

ZRCS has over the years continued to champion community-driven programmes, among them food security and livelihoods, water and sanitation, health and social services, disaster preparedness and management, restoration of family links, youth, orphans and vulnerable children support as well as first aid and nurse aide training services.


Trading sexual favours for food and school fees in Zimbabwe

Published: 28 March 2014 8:40 CET

Katherine Mueller, IFRC

“He fondled my breasts and had sex with me.” It is a statement a 15 year old girl should not be making. But faced with growing hunger, from the moment of waking in the morning until laying down to sleep at night, Melody (not her real name) felt she had no other option but to give herself to a man more than four times her age.

“It started when I was 12,” says Melody. “I kept going to him because I was hungry. He fed me and helped with my school expenses. I was happy he paid because, as a family, we were not able to raise the funds.” Her family accepted the assistance from the man they considered a friend, not realizing the sacrifice Melody was making. “He threatened me if I told anyone what he was doing to me,” she whispers quietly.

The Zimbabwean teenager is not alone in turning to desperate measures to survive. Across southern Africa, approximately 9 million people are affected by lack of food, particularly in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Namibia. As a consequence, people are adopting a wide range of negative coping mechanisms. In Zimbabwe, this includes eating one meal a day instead of three, illegally digging for gold, children dropping out of school, trading livestock for cereal (which erodes a family’s assets), and the trading of sexual favours for food.

It is a chronic crisis with multiple causes, including recurring droughts and rising food prices. With people earning less than one dollar a day, having to pay two dollars for a head of cabbage is prohibitive. Trends show that, over the years, the food insecurity situation in Zimbabwe has been worsening. A report from the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee indicates 2.2 million people, or 25 per cent of rural households, do not have enough food right now. That is a 32 per cent increase compared to the year before.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is providing support to more than 10,000 people in Gwanda district in Matabeleland South province. It is one of the worst affected districts, and while other agencies are present, none is working to address the issue of acute food security.

“We are providing 2,100 families with three monthly cash transfers of 50 US dollars, to help them survive through to the annual harvest in April,” says Tabani Khumalo, field manager, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society. “People can spend the money how they wish, but of course we advise them to purchase a complete food package which includes cereal, pulses and oil.”

The money means families are now eating healthier and more often, but it does not mean people are out of the woods just yet. There has been rainfall, and crops of maize are growing, readying themselves for the annual harvest. However, in some parts of Gwanda, there has actually been too much rain and crops are rotting in the fields, reducing the yields for families which are already struggling.

Also, the emergency appeal launched by the Red Cross was designed to ensure a potential food security crisis was averted, by addressing emergency life-saving needs. A longer term, strategic intervention is still required to meet food insecurity needs across southern Africa.

Melody is no longer trading sexual favours for food and school fees. The man abusing her is behind bars. “I am really angry with him,” she says. “Even now, sometimes we have enough food, sometimes we don’t, but I would never again accept an offer of exchanging food for sex. I am slowly healing. My faith helps me to forget,” adds Melody before returning to her Sunday church service.

An orphan’s struggles to put food on the table in Zimbabwe

Published: 26 November 2015 6:44 CET

By Stambuli Kim, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society

Life has not been fair for 18-year-old Micho Gatsi, an orphan who stays in the flood prone and drought stricken Mukombwe village, 340 kilometres north of Zimbabwe’s capital.

He had to drop out of school in grade 3 as his peasant parents could not afford tuition fees. He then lost his parents to an AIDS-related illness three years ago. Since then, he has been faced with the daunting task of fending for this 14-year-old brother, all by himself.

“We are surviving at the mercy of the community who give us some food handouts. We count ourselves lucky when we have a meal of porridge in a day. Things are really tough for us these days as fellow community members who used to give us some food handouts are also in the same predicament as ours – the rains failed us and no one harvested anything,” says Micho with a heavy face.

The area was affected by incessant rains during the past rainy season which badly affected their maize field.

“We had planted our small field with untreated maize seeds and without any fertilizers or manure, hence the crop was affected by too much rain over a short period. While our neighbours can sell their livestock to buy some food, we have nothing to sell, not even chickens,” adds Micho.

Sharing water sources with cattle and goats

With temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Celsius in the low lying areas of Muzarabani, the water and sanitation situation is also dire. Community members in Micho’s village draw their water from the Msengezi River. It is also the same water source for their domestic animals such as cattle and goats. Their village borehole broke down some years back and has not yet been repaired.

“My plea is for urgent food assistance to sustain me and my brother until the next harvest season. We are hard workers but that does not yield anything if you are unlucky with the rains. Our situation is very grim and we urgently need food on the table, even at least a meal for the day,” says Micho.

Zimbabwe is facing a year of food insecurity following a poor harvest season. The lean season is commencing earlier than usual in a context of already high levels of chronic vulnerability.

Micho and his young brother are among the 10,830 people targeted in Mudzi and Muzarabani Districts for support by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society through the recently launched emergency food security appeal. The operation, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), seeks to provide basic food assistance, agriculture and livelihood support, clean water and hygiene promotion, so as to ameliorate the adverse effects of reduced nutritional intake. The assistance will also aim at reducing negative coping mechanisms adopted by affected households during the hunger period.

According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee, at least 1.5 million Zimbabweans, or 16 percent of rural households, are likely to be unable to meet their food needs during the 2015/2016 hunger season. The main contributing factors are a 50 per cent reduction in maize production compared to the previous harvest year, and an associated cereal deficit of 650,000 metric tonnes, not including the 350,000 metric tonnes required for livestock and industrial purposes.

Hungry and living with HIV/AIDS

Published: 1 December 2015 11:00 CET

By Takemore Mazuruse, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society

At the age of 31, Simbarashe Dube is an average villager from Zakatani in the eastern part of Zimbabwe, but she stands out from the others as a symbol of hope and life in this community where many are affected by HIV.

The proud mother of one has been a Zimbabwe Red Cross Society volunteer for the past five years. She works with her community to encourage positive living so that those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS can find hope and confidence to wake up and face another day.

Her work, like that of many other Red Cross volunteers across the country, involves counselling, health and hygiene promotion, promoting adherence to anti-retroviral therapy as well as home-based care services in some instances. She has lost friends and family to the disease, and now cares for relatives widowed by it.

“I am a villager like any other. Having borne the brunt of HIV/AIDS, I felt an urge to assist fellow community members affected by the pandemic. I joined the Red Cross as a volunteer and have not looked back,” she says.

The current food insecurity in the area is adding to the struggles faced by those who are HIV-positive. Simbarashe urges hungry people living with HIV to not default on their medication as this might result in treatment failure and drug resistance. “2015 is even worse for people living with HIV and from the time I became a volunteer I can attest that I have never seen such suffering. As you can see, the drought has affected everything, animals included. People living with HIV require enough food for them to adhere to anti-retroviral therapy, but with the current food challenges, some are no longer taking the drugs, given the side effects associated with taking them on an empty stomach. It’s really a sad situation but we are doing the best we can to make life bearable.”

The challenges of taking medication on an empty stomach

Flooding and drought hit farmers hard during the previous agricultural season, leaving many with no or limited harvests. With no reliable sources of income outside of agricultural produce, people living with HIV face increased risk.

“Taking drugs on an empty stomach is risky and some actually collapse because of that. Most of the people living with HIV do not have other sources of income which also affects their children who end up dropping out of school.”

Simbarashe admits she faces her own challenges in this period of food insecurity but, thanks to the training she has received from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, she remains strong, not just for her child’s sake, but for that of the infected and affected who look up to her.

“This food insecurity is common place and in as much as I have challenges of my own, that doesn’t deter me from playing my part in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Most of the people living with HIV in this community have nothing to supplement their nutrition with and they find it difficult to take the drugs on empty stomachs. But I will never give up as I believe in a better world for all. Regardless of my situation, I strongly believe I can positively inspire the infected and affected.”

On marking 2015 World AIDs Day, Simbarashe yearns for a world which embraces those living with HIV, while at the same time promotes zero new infections, so that HIV and AIDS challenges can be curtailed.

“As we mark World AIDS Day, it is my wish that we spare a thought for the infected and affected, especially in disadvantaged parts of the world like ours. It is my sincere wish that these people can be remembered with food and adequate drugs. Stigma and discrimination should be a thing of the past so that together we can make the world a better place for all. Above all, I would be happy to see people living with HIV being supported with less strenuous income-generating projects which they can run for their own survival and that of their children.”

Zimbabwe: Curbing hunger through mobile technology

Published: 8 August 2016 8:00 CET

By Katherine Mueller, IFRC

It has been six seasons since Patricia Nhauro’s family has harvested a viable crop. It has been even longer since her family has eaten three meals a day. “Probably not since before Mugabe was born,” Patricia says with a laugh, referring to Robert Mugabe, the 92-year-old President of Zimbabwe.

Sitting on the concrete stoop of a homestead she shares with her mother and seven children, Patricia says the family survived by selling off all their livestock, what non-governmental organizations refer to as ‘negative coping mechanisms’. But this year, with her home in Mudzi district in the grips of one of the worst droughts on record, they are struggling. “The situation is getting out of hand,” laments Patricia. “We managed to salvage some cow peas and ground nuts from the fields, but they won’t last for long.” It has now been four days since they have eaten anything substantial.

Based on preliminary results from the recent Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment, 4 million people, or approximately 42 per cent of rural households, are food insecure, due to failed rains and a strong El Niño. Maize production, a staple in this southern African country, has dropped, pushing prices 17 per cent higher than the same time last year (FEWS NET).

Unable to harvest this year – “absolutely nothing,” asserts Patricia – and with no income, she watches the children as they lie, lethargic, on a mat. “Their health is being affected. They have little energy. And, at the moment, I can’t afford to send them to school. I feel I am failing as a parent.”

Mobile assistance

In response to the drought, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is helping people like Patricia and her mother through mobile cash transfers. Both widows have been identified by their community as being among the most vulnerable. “The Red Cross came to our community and we were picked to receive assistance,” explains Patricia. “We were given a line by Econet, the mobile cash provider and, for the last four months, we have been getting money sent to the phone.”

After receiving a text message, Patricia heads to the distribution point to collect her $40 US dollars. After having her identification checked, and four crisp $10 American bills in her hand, she heads promptly to the nearby market. On this particular day, the family will eat well. “Being given cash, it gives me a choice,” says Patricia. “If I’m only given food, just a bag of maize only, what else will I do? Then I don’t have cooking oil, or salt, in the home. The bag of maize would not help me as much.

“This money has made a lot of difference. It’s quite different from going on a hungry tummy every day. We are very thankful for the support we have received.”

Back at home, as she watches one of her chickens dying in front of her, another victim of the drought, this single mother cannot help but wonder what will happen when the aid dries up. “We are leaving it to God,” she says quietly.

In May 2016, the IFRC announced a 110 million Swiss franc initiative to tackle the drought that is currently affecting tens of millions of people across southern Africa. The plan will see Red Cross relief activities increase significantly in seven of the hardest hit countries, alongside a dramatic expansion of long-term efforts designed to strengthen the resilience of 1 million vulnerable people.

The initiative falls under the One Billion Coalition for Resilience – an IFRC-led initiative that is bringing together aid organizations, governments, the private sector, academia and community groups to support 1 billion people over the next ten years to take action to strengthen their safety, health and well-being.

In Zimbabwe, the IFRC has increased its Emergency Appeal to 5.1 million Swiss francs. The Appeal aims to support the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society in reaching 38,330 people affected by the drought through interventions focusing on livelihoods, cash transfers, and nutrition. The Appeal is currently 33 per cent funded.

In Pictures: Zimbabwe drought lingers on

Across Zimbabwe, the impact of a severe El Nino-induced drought continues to drastically affect families. The most recent Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report indicates an estimated 2.2 million people are in need of immediate food aid, with that figure expected to climb to more than 4 million by 2017.

Cereal production has declined by 42 per cent in Zimbabwe compared to the previous five-year average. With a cereal deficit of 650,000 tons, the government has had to look to other countries to import staples. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


The Mudzi river, which normally goes dry in September, was already void of water in May. People who do not have access to a functioning borehole in their village come and dig in the riverbed for water which they find, approximately 30 centimetres below. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


In response to the drought, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is rehabilitating boreholes to give communities improved access to potable water. Communities are responsible for managing the boreholes, constructing fences to protect them, and to make any necessary repairs. Some boreholes were rehabilitated using material salvaged from damaged wells, some dug as far back as 1989. Many of the boreholes also have connected cattle troughs to catch any runoff and provide much needed water for livestock. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


As the drought deepens, herders must travel greater distances to find water and suitable grazing land for their livestock. Already, 25,000 heads of cattle across the country have died during the drought, impacting a farmer’s ability to secure income for his family. Photo: Jamie LeSueur, IFRC


It has been six seasons since Patricia Nhauro’s family has harvested a viable crop. It has been even longer since her family has eaten three meals a day. “Probably not since before Mugabe was born,” Patricia says with a laugh, referring to Robert Mugabe, the 92-year-old President of Zimbabwe. The Zimbawe Red Cross Society, with the support of the IFRC, is helping people cope with the lingering drought through the distribution of monthly mobile cash transfers. Recipients, like Patricia, receive a text message indicating their monthly allotment of $40 US dollars is ready to be collected. “Being given cash, it gives me a choice,” says Patricia. “This money has made a lot of difference. It’s quite different from going on a hungry tummy every day.” Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


Aside from focusing on the immediate needs of those affected by the drought, IFRC’s Secretary General Elhadj As Sy, announced, in May, a 110 million Swiss franc initiative which will also aim to strengthen the resiliency of people to cope with shifting weather patterns. The initiative aims to reach 1 million people in seven southern African countries through 2019. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC

Red Cross celebrates founder’s birthday anniversary

Red Cross celebrates founder’s birthday anniversary

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday held commemorations to mark World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.

By Moses Mugugunyeki

Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi (extreme right) at the belated commemorations of the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day on Thursday

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is celebrated on May 8 every year as the birthday anniversary of founder of the Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Henry Dunant. Dunant was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1828 and was the most famous person in humanitarian work, which made him the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.

The commemorations were running under the theme, Red Cross Everywhere for Everyone.

Guest of honour at the commemorations that were held in Mt Pleasant, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, gave thumbs up to the work that Red Cross was doing in the country.

“As the theme for this year aptly highlights, Red Cross Everywhere for Everyone, I wish to reaffirm the fact that indeed here in Zimbabwe, the Red Cross is visible in virtually all the vulnerable communities, extending its helping hand, commitment, energy and time to the needy,” said Sekeramayi.

“While the gap between humanitarian needs and humanitarian funding is both historic and growing, it is my firm belief that strengthening local and national humanitarian capacity of the Red Cross will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian assistance. Of this, we have no doubt that the Red Cross is best placed to deliver rapid, appropriate and sustainable humanitarian assistance.”

Sekeramayi said government acknowledged Red Cross’s partnership programmes with institutions such as the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre meant to improve living conditions in prisons, improve international humanitarian law and promoting humanitarian demining standards respectively.

ICRC head of regional delegation Thomas Merkelbach said the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were visible across the globe where they were assisting vulnerable communities.

“The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement reaches more than 160 million people through its network of around 17 million volunteers and 450 000 staff across the world,” he said.

Merkelbach said his organisation was committed to work with any government in improving the lives of people.

ZRCS national president Edson Mlambo said World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is celebrated every year to pay tribute to volunteers who render precious contribution to people in need.

“Red Cross volunteers are working in virtually every community, giving their commitment, energy and time,” said Mlambo.

“World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is an opportunity to recognise the contribution and achievements of the millions of volunteers and staff around the world who are keeping our commitment to humanity everyday — by making the last mile effort to ensure that no one is left behind.”

Locally, ZRCS reaches out to thousands of vulnerable people by building safer and stronger communities through a diverse and innovative range of home-grown services.

“In complex contexts and increasing vulnerabilities, our ability to access people in need is constantly changing,” said Mlambo.

“However, our volunteers and staff are finding creative and innovative ways to adapt local solutions to reach people in need and help them prepare for, deal with and recover from these challenges.”

Musician Alick Macheso, who is also ZRCS humanitarian ambassador provided entertainment.

1 2