On 27 and 28 January 2013, the Seychelles were hit by Tropical Depression Feleng causing devastating damage and flooding. Approximately 1,000 families were affected, with 246 families displaced. An allocation from IFRC’s DREF was made on 7 February for CHF 106,551 to assist 165 families with non-food items, as well as a larger target group of 600 families with health and hygiene promotion messages, accompanied by the distribution of mosquito nets as requested by the Ministry of Health.
An end of operation review was carried out by IFRC in June 2013 to examine if the DREF operation achieved its planned goals and outcomes, to assess outputs against the plan of action, and to capture and disseminate lessons learnt to improve future planning and response. Overall, the operation was successful in reaching the targeted families with assistance. The lessons learnt exercise and SWOT analysis activity were valuable exercises for the Red Cross Society of Seychelles (RCSS) to identify priorities and key areas to focus on in the future, as well as for IFRC to identify gaps for additional or revised support in the coming year.
a. Key Findings
The Government of Seychelles has a National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), which the Red Cross Society of Seychelles may apply for. While the first point of allocation is usually to responding government agencies, the National Society is in good standing with the government and is recognized as a key response agency. The opportunity for emergency relief and preparedness funding should be lobbied for, especially in non-disaster times.
The RCSS is included as a partner of the Government of Seychelles in emergency response, however without a clearly defined role or mandated activities.
A large number of RCSS active volunteers have full-time jobs or are full-time students, which potentially limits volunteer mobilization to a small window of available timeframes on working days and the weekend. This needs to be kept in consideration when designing relief and response activities, as well as any follow up, including carrying out surveys and beneficiary communication activities.
Operation management is led by the RCSS Programme Coordinator and supported by headquarters staff, including the Secretary General. It is important to remember the size of the National Society team (approximately 10 people) and the numerous activities and other work to be carried out, supported by IFRC as well as Movement and non-Movement partners. It is important to manage our (IFRC) expectations, and more importantly, to proactively extend support to monitor and report back on future operations.
b. Key Recommendations
RCSS should continue to play a key role as part of the Government coordination structure (led by the Ministry of Environment’s Division for Risk and Disaster Management), with a clear mandate (defined role and responsibilities of RCSS should be included and documented in the national contingency plans) and close communication in times of disaster as well as for preparedness.
For future flood or emergency situations, DREF can and should be used as ‘start-up’ support for assessment and so that response activities can begin quickly. A subsequent assessment or review part-way through the operation of activities and beneficiary needs can guide a revision of the DREF intervention, thereby increasing the speed of the initial application and response.
Clarify the lines of communication between RCSS, IFRC (Region and Zone) and PIROI during future disaster or emergency events, to ensure no confusion from the NS perspective and efficient development and processing of the funding application.
Finalise RCSS contingency planning, Disaster Management (DM) and warehousing policies, and explore opportunities to work with key partners (existing and new donors) to implement and scale-up contingency and risk reduction activities.
Continue to strengthen capacity within the RCSS DM structure, particularly around procedures for DREF/Emergency Appeals and documentation of distributions of relief supplies and activities.
Decentralise storage of volunteer protective equipment and Red Cross vests to other districts rather than only in Mahe (due to potential difficulties in access them if they are at Headquarters only and road access is blocked).
Strongly recommend that for the future, other more relevant, appropriate and effective measures for prevention of dengue fever are implemented (such as drainage of standing water around houses to eliminate potential breeding sites, fogging, use of mosquito repellent, and hygiene and environmental sanitation awareness etc.).
Support and technical advice from IFRC (including Regional Disaster Response Team members) needs to be appropriate and tailored to the country context (and care taken that no assumptions are made about the country context and situation).
IFRC supported operation reviews may have more impact when carried out either mid-operation or, at the very latest, prior to the end of the operation timeframe, to enable support to the operating National Society to revise the plan of action and budget based on the evolving situation and needs on the ground.