Food security & disaster preparedness/response
Drought has been the main hazard affecting Ethiopians for a long period of time. This results in food insecurity affecting 5 to 6 million people each year. Seasonal flooding is another issue which affects hundreds of thousands of people living in the middle and lower courses of the Awash Wabi Shebelle, Genale, Baro and Omo rivers as well as around Lake Tana in the Amhara region. The 2006 flooding was some of the worst flooding seen in the Horn of Africa in 50 years.
Apart from the natural causes of disaster, heavy human, livestock and agricultural pressure on land has contributed to the degradation of the environment leading to reduced soil fertility and land productivity.
A change in climatic conditions as a result of environmental degradation has proven to have a humanitarian impact on food security, access to clean water, increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases and shelter. Hence, the ERCS realizes the necessity and importance of disaster preparedness and response in times of natural catastrophes. Over the years, the ERCS has established a National Disaster Response Team (NDRT) and Branch Disaster Response Team (BDRT) in order to respond to emergencies as fast as possible. In terms of disaster preparedness activities, pre-positioning of non-food items by the ERCS in strategically selected areas is underway.
Community based health first aid (CBHFA)
The ERCS provides first-aid training in schools, factories, private companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations at the community level. The training integrates routine first aid service with other promotional and educational health activities by involving volunteers from the community. Every year, 2,700 volunteers are being trained on CBFA all over the country.
This programme started in 1952 but was limited to only major towns such as Addis Ababa and Harar. Now, it is the only organization providing nationwide 24-hour free ambulance service to 63 towns.
Essential Drugs Program (EDP)
This program was established in 1989 with the aim to provide essential drugs of good quality at affordable prices to the general population through the establishment of pharmacies and drug stores at different selected parts of the country. So far, the program has benefited more than 3.5 million people. The number of pharmacies has increased from 28 in 2001 to 41 in 2007. Some selected EDP outlets are also selling anti-retroviral treatment (ART) drugs at cost recovery basis only.
The Danish Red Cross (DRC) through funding from DANIDA used to provide financial and technical assistance to this program until recently.
Water and Sanitation (Watsan)
This program was established in 1987. The water and sanitation situation in this country is the major contributing factors to the existing burden of communicative diseases. On top of that, in the event of a disaster, it often affects the victims? access to safe and clean drinking water due to destruction of wells, springs and other water sources or just merely dry spells due to drought.
Watsan activities include the rehabilitation and construction of hand dug wells, ponds, earth dams and protection of springs. Bore holes are sometimes sunk in areas where the water table is very low and where large number of population has to be served. Ventilated and improved communal pit latrines are built in crowded areas and in surroundings where the facilities are lacking. San plats are produced with the participation of beneficiaries and distributed to rural households within the project area so as to improve environmental hygiene.
Training on Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) is conducted in all areas where Watsan infrastructures are put in place. This is to ensure the upkeep and sustainability of the facilities.
HIV/AIDS prevention and control
This program was established in 1998 in only two branches with the assistance of the Danish Red Cross. In 2007, the program now covers 16 branches; Addis Ababa, Jimma, East Hararghe, North Shoa/Debre Berhan, Somali, Tigray, North Gonder, West Gojjam, East Wollega, Illubabor, Gamo Gofa, Wolayta, South West Shoa, Sidama, East Shoa and Afar. The programme focuses on peer education in schools, sensitization through community conversation, advocacy against stigmatization and discrimination, community home based care in support of PLWHA and orphans. The ERCS works in partnership with the Danish Red Cross, the British Red Cross and the Netherlands Red Cross. World AIDS Day is commemorated on 1 December annually.
Ethiopia has ratified all four Geneva Conventions and two of its Additional Optional Protocols. Ethiopia has a legal obligation to observe and respect the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Optional Protocol I and II under International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
The ERCS, as a member of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, plays the main role of disseminating humanitarian values (fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the roles and mandates of the ERCS and the IHL) to the public at large. Since 1985, with the support of the ICRC, the ERCS has carried out dissemination program to government officials, members of the armed forces, police, prison guards and the general public.