International Programs for faster and more effective aid

International Programs for faster and more effective aid

“In an emergency, the people best placed to help are already there.”

That’s me on the right with colleagues from Solomon Islands Red Cross. From left to right: Fiona Inasimae, John Sumana, Dick Matewa, Clement Manuri and Ellen Kuper.

My job is like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle but with much higher stakes.

I help Red Cross teams in the Pacific understand their finances. I teach them how to integrate numbers and data with systems and tools. It's about empowering people so, with the right information, they can make informed and timely decisions.

Ultimately it means they can better support their communities. When back-to-back cyclones hit Vanuatu earlier this year, it showed exactly how critical this knowledge is.

The cyclones caused widespread destruction, leaving more than 250,000 people needing aid.

Vanuatu Red Cross was on the front lines from day one, providing tarps, blankets, solar lanterns, cooking equipment, supporting health and hygiene awareness, and more.

At their Port Vila headquarters, staff were working around the clock to get help where it was needed most. Speed and proximity make a big difference in a crisis, so I flew from Brisbane to help. Together, we matched data on community needs against the available funding and resources. Then we worked out budgets, logistics and advocacy required to deliver that support.

All year round, our International Program's staff provide coaching and technical assistance, along with support for organisational development and core operating costs to Red Cross teams in nine countries in the Asia-Pacific – one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. It's about enabling them to better help their communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other crises.

This is faster, smarter and more effective aid. Because in an emergency, the people best placed to help are already there – the local Red Cross teams who live in the communities they support.

And our goal is to ensure those local teams have the skills, knowledge and all the pieces of the puzzle. It's the most rewarding job I've ever had.

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