By Niki Clark, IFRC
Just five months after a visit in which he advocated strengthening community preparedness and resilience in Nepal, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) President, Tadateru Konoé, returned to Kathmandu. This time, his visit focused on the Red Cross response and recovery efforts following the recent earthquakes that struck, affecting one in four people in Nepal.
President Konoé expressed solidarity with the Nepali people, who are preparing for the imminent arrival of the monsoon season.
“There has been an incredible amount of goodwill to the response,” Konoé said. “We need to be able to sustain this atmosphere of goodwill and cooperation so that as we move to recovery, the focus is on making communities more resilient. And this should go beyond just earthquake preparedness.”
On Wednesday, President Konoé met with Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and thanked him for retaining the legal status of the IFRC, which ensures exemptions from customs duties on relief goods being imported into the country. They also discussed the Nepal Red Cross Society Recovery Framework, which is closely linked to the Government of Nepal’s recovery priorities. The framework, which takes a community-led approach, places priority on peoples’ needs and focuses on the key recovery elements of safer shelter, health, hygiene and livelihoods, and embracing key disaster risk reduction measures.
Following his meeting with the Prime Minister, Konoé visited Balaju, a neighbourhood in Kathmandu, where he distributed cheques for 15,000 rupees as part of the Red Cross cash transfer programme. An important tool for recovery, cash gives the recipient the dignity of making the decisions in prioritising their recovery needs.
“Since the beginning, the Nepal Red Cross Society has been at the forefront of the response, deploying 7,900 volunteers from 50 district chapters across the country so far,” said Konoé. “This sort of community-led approach – which is possible because of the extensive reach of the Nepal Red Cross Society’s network of volunteers and branches – will be critical in the country’s recovery.”
“Our response needs to be tailored to the unique topology of Nepal,” said Konoé. “There are hundreds of ‘microvillages,’ remote areas with five to ten homes. The international community is here to support recovery, but it’s the communities themselves – of which the Nepal Red Cross Society is a crucial member – that will be the ones going the last mile, ensuring the needs of the most affected are met.”
IFRC has mobilized a major global response to support the work of the Nepal Red Cross Society in meeting the immediate and long-term needs of earthquake survivors. An appeal, amounting to 85 Million CHF ($93 Million US dollar) will support 700,000 people over a period of 24 months. But with monsoon season just a few weeks away, the appeal is 49 per cent covered.
The President’s visit comes nearly 50 years after his first time to Nepal. In 1968, as a Japanese Red Cross Society officer, Konoé drove an ambulance from Kolkata to Kathmandu to donate to the Nepal Red Cross Society.