Localization and Red Cross’ capacities - As local as possible, as international as needed.
Localization in the emergency context means recognizing, respecting and strengthening leadership and decision making by local and national actors in humanitarian action, in order to better address the needs of affected populations.
Local teams are the first to respond, and by strengthening these teams we can save more lives. Localizing helps us support in a better way affected communities, by delivering a more agile and efficient response. In the Americas, we are implementing this approach by working on three pillars: mobilizing human resources, stocking of humanitarian materials, and developing knowledge to strengthen the capacities of the Red Cross teams.
The case of Honduran Red Cross
More than 1,400 volunteers, six ERU’s and a group of IFRC specialists were activated in the operation to provide humanitarian support to the communities affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020. This disaster left more than 4 million people affected in Honduras, where more than half a million people were evacuated, and thousands of families are still recovering from the negative effects of the storms and the pandemic on the economy and livelihoods.
Since November 2020, the Honduran Red Cross and the IFRC network have supported 11,706 evacuated people in 136 shelters and performed 4,707 aquatic rescues and 147 air rescues. In total, more than 300,000 people have been assisted in 15 departments through cash and voucher PGI, WASH, health care, among other strategies.
During this operation, a “mirror model” was implemented: IFRC organized its support mirroring the Honduran Red Cross’ organizational chart, in order to promote mentoring, peer learning, exchange knowledge, and the strengthening of the skills of both national staff and international teams.
Localization wise, some of the lessons learned include the key role of anticipation and national response plans, these instruments allow to implement tailor-made, effective and good quality responses. Other crucial elements for success are providing insurance and coverage for volunteers, implementing COVID19 protocols for local and international staff, improving communication and coordination among all actors and levels, enhancing IDRL law, and empowering the NS and volunteers. It is also relevant to continue preparing communities with an early recovery approach and establish the bases for a long-term recovery.
Some of the challenges faced by the Red Cross teams in the operation have been the sociopolitical context in Honduras, the limited access to COVID Vaccines and health services, the displacement and movement populations, the armed violence in the urban context, the negative perception of Honduras at international level, and the competition for international funds.