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Red Cross efforts to build community resilence

28 October 2004

Report endorses New Zealand Red Cross efforts to build community resilence

Ongoing efforts by New Zealand Red Cross to help communities build resilience are endorsed by a report of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released today, New Zealand Red Cross Director General Flora Gilkison says.

The World Disasters Report 2004 finds that assisting communities to build resilience is the key to reducing the impact of disasters.

“The capacity for resilience in the face of adversity shines through all this year’s stories,” Flora Gilkison says. “People continually adapt to crisis, coming up with creative solutions. Supporting resilience means more than delivering relief or mitigating individual hazards. Local knowledge, skills, determination, livelihoods, cooperation and access to resources are all vital factors enabling people to bounce back from disaster.”

She says the New Zealand Red Cross is committed to heightening the capacity for resilience in New Zealand and overseas, through work such as community based and commercial first aid and emergency preparedness training, and the provision of first aid kits.

“When disaster strikes, immediate medical care is often not available, so it is critical to have a core of people in communities with first aid skills to provide assistance to those in need as quickly as possible,” Flora Gilkison says.

New Zealand Red Cross is also helping to build resilience with its schools programme, which teaches emergency skills to children aged between 10 and 12, and with its programmes to provide funding, structures and expertise to assess disaster risks in Pacific Island villages and take preventative actions that minimise risks, she says.

The report also hightlights the hundreds of lives saved by volunteers after the Bam (Iran) earthquake in December 2003, which killed about 30,000 people and injured another 30,000. The New Zealand Red Cross donated $217,000 and the New Zealand Government donated $200,000, which greatly assisted the relief efforts, Flora Gilkison says.

She says the report underlines that the time has come to dispel the myth of helpless victims. “Aid organisations must continue to build on the resources and resilience found in disaster-prone communities or risk undermining those capacities further.”


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