In Africa, IFRC seeks more partnerships to go local

Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Africa will shift to attract more local and regional investments and rely less on international funding. Photo by: sbmueller / CC BY-SA

Over the next few years, the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Africa will aim to attract more local and regional investments and rely less on international funding.

This shift in how African national societies are resourced is among key agreements reached at the 8th Pan African Conference, which concluded Oct. 22 in Ethiopia.

An action plan adopted at the end of the conference identifies 10 ways Red Crescent and Red Cross societies in Africa can improve their business models and become more attractive to local investments. These include continuous improvement of the societies’ governance and management, constant upgrades of the capacities of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers across Africa, and increased partnerships with the private sector, other development actors and with other societies.

This shift is not meant as a signal that African Red Cross and Red Crescent societies no longer need international funding and donations, Alasan Senghore, Africa head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stressed in a news release. Instead, it’s a change in “the mindset and philosophy of how we do business in Africa,” he explained.

As IFRC Secretary-General Bekele Geleta said in an opinion piece, the shift comes with a “renewed emphasis on partnerships with government, regional bodies, the private sector and local communities, to root financial and institutional accountability in its local context.”

The emphasis on partnerships was evident at the conference itself, where IFRC signed memorandums of understanding with the U.N. Economic Commission of Africa and the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel.

Under its partnership with UNECA, IFRC will work with the regional body to jointly develop and implement  programs in the areas of youth, gender, sustainable development, climate change and disaster risk reduction, information and communication technology, policy analysis, research, and advocacy. The two will also cooperate on efforts to help African countries meet the Millennium Development Goals, particularly targets on poverty reduction.

Meanwhile, IFRC’s partnership with CILSS will focus on sustainable food security and nutrition in Sahel and West Africa, as well as on climate change adaptation programs. Potential activities include improvement of early warning systems, establishment of a vulnerability tracking system, and the development of local capacities.

These are IFRC’s first such partnerships with ECA and CILLS, but it has signed similar agreements with the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa and the Economic Community Of West African States. IFRC is also eyeing a similar partnership with the African Development Bank.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.