IFRC is committing to support the sustainable recovery of communities in LAC from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through an environmentally-responsible response that will contribute to building a safer, healthier, and more equitable and resilient future for the affected countries in the region. IFRC will provide guidance and technical support to partner National Red Cross societies in the Region, who will recognize this Commitment by developing and implementing projects to achieve three main pillars: 1) Sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19; 2) Greater community resilience to COVID-19 and climate-related threats; and the 3) Adoption of greener practices into emergency response and resilience/preparedness activities.
To accomplish the first pillar, activities will prioritize the unique needs of communities in major situations of vulnerability and risks, and focus on restoring key livelihoods of each community while also making these livelihoods more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Potential activities (depending on community needs) could include: reforestation, promotion of environmentally responsible agriculture, vouchers, or development of resilient small business practices. Additionally, activities will focus on supporting community cohesion through means that could include training of local leaders, support of community groups, and networking opportunities with other communities.
To support the second pillar, IFRC and its partners will carry out awareness building activities around COVID-19, climate related-events, and climate change initiatives. They will also equip communities with risk mapping capabilities and needs assessments to bolster evidence-based decision-making by communities. They will also support the adoption of more risk mitigation methods such as Early Warning and Early Action systems, and contingency planning to support communities' preparedness for and resilience to crises such as disease outbreaks and natural or anthropogenic hazards. These will particularly focus on the introduction of ecosystem based approaches.
Finally, to support the third pillar, IFRC and its partners will implement Red Cross Green Transformation and Green Response activities, focusing on knowledge transfer to and within the Network of National Societies on how to improve the environmental sustainability of programs, particularly how to take a "do no harm" approach to humanitarian response, improve environmental outcomes of humanitarian action, and utilize nature-based approaches. IFRC will support the technical and practical development of Community Disaster Response Teams (CDRT) at all levels of response to align relief and recovery practices with green equipment, materials and green logistic supply chains to execute green recovery needs.
The COVID-19 outbreak has had devastating short and long-term effects in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) communities already susceptible to hazards (for example hydrometeorological hazards such as drought and hurricanes, and earthquakes) and social crises and poverty, limiting access to basic needs such as food, drinking water, and sanitation and hygiene, and forcing people to adopt harmful mitigation mechanisms that affect their long-term security and resilience, such as the sale of long-term productive resources, migration, or crime.
Before the outbreak, a large part of the LAC region already depended on the informal economy and/or lived on day to day earnings with little or no savings to support a prolonged period without income. The pandemic only made socioeconomic inequalities more evident. Additionally, LAC countries are severely threatened by climate change and the worsening impacts of natural hazards that climate change contributes to.
In 2019, IFRC did an analysis on the humanitarian price of climate change and how it could be avoided. The organization found that by 2050, approximately 200 million people per year would require international humanitarian aid as a result of climate-related disasters and the socioeconomic impact of climate change. By 2030 alone, this number could increase almost 50 percent from the estimated 108 million people who need humanitarian aid today, with funding requirements ballooning to $20 billion per year.
However, rapid action to implement climate and disaster risk informed development practices has the potential to significantly decrease the numbers of people in need of aid in the future. Now, as organizations are providing relief to communities impacted by COVID-19, there is an opportunity to strengthen communities' abilities to manage multiple or cumulative threats and create long-term recovery that will equip communities to cope with current challenges and even face other crises in the future. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Red Cross National Societies in the Americas, with its broad network of volunteers, is positioning itself not only to respond to the challenges that weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic pose to the communities we serve, but also to become a major stakeholder in addressing the root causes of the climate crisis through its recovery and resiliency programs.