Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Committed to Strengthening Climate Change Adaptation

16/11/2011 - by Catherine Ntabadde, Uganda Red Cross

In light of the latest report summary from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns that the world is likely to face more extreme weather events, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on governments and civil society organisations to be better prepared to manage the impacts of climate change.

The IPCC findings are consistent with IFRC reports gathered through its global Red Cross Red Crescent network.

Through disaster risk reduction initiatives like early warning systems, strengthening disaster laws, the impacts of climate change can be reduced.

IFRC Secretary General Bekele Geleta says Red Cross Red Crescent societies are focusing on disaster risk reduction and community resilience. “We believe communities have a key role to play in managing the risks they face and can reduce the impacts that could come with an increasing number of extreme weather events,” he says.

This calls for re-enforcement of preparedness, response, recovery and education about climate change. 

These risks are playing out on a world stage for example in Thailand and Cambodia, which are currently battling devastating flooding, and on the Pacific island of Tuvalu, which is facing a national drought emergency.

IFRC also continues to respond not only to the big mega-disasters that hit the world headlines, but also to the many small catastrophes which have equally devastating consequences for the most vulnerable communities.

“Climate change is one of several factors having an impact on vulnerable communities. Urbanization, migration and border changes are also some of the other factors that affect a community’s ability to adapt to extreme weather events,” says Bekele Geleta.

The IFRC also underscores the IPCC’s finding that climate change is just one element in the risks facing vulnerable populations. For instance, unplanned urbanisation and environmental degradation, also affect communities’ vulnerability to extreme weather events, and their ability to adapt.

In Uganda where the IPCC is being launched, years of investment in disaster risk reduction by the Uganda Red Cross have better prepared communities for the impact of extreme weather related events such floods and landslides.

For instance, in consultation with local communities, the Ugandan Red Cross has designed a flood resistant hut using local materials. These huts are raised and have a Damp Proof Course layer, a type of waterproofing applied to building foundation walls to prevent moisture from passing through the walls into interior spaces.

The Uganda Red Cross is also working to restore and conserve forest cover in areas prone to landslides. Communities are planting trees, and in addition, a fuel-saving basket has been introduced that reduces the use of firewood, and also allows women to spend more time in their gardens. A local dish in Uganda takes 2 hrs and 30 minutes to get ready.  With the fuel efficient stove, meals are cooked for only 30 minutes and placed in the basket to boil for 2 hours. 

Source: IFRC Fednet