• A Red Cross woman laughing with a girl in Africa

The Challenge

In 2010, more than 34 million people in Africa were affected by disasters.1 Diseases also pose a major threat. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected by HIV and AIDS, accounting for 70% of global AIDS deaths.2 While Africa has experienced a big decline in measles deaths due to a concerted global vaccination campaign, gaps in immunization coverage require continued engagement.

Disaster Response and Recovery

The American Red Cross plays an important role in responding to these challenges. By working with our humanitarian partners, we train and mobilize Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers to deliver lifesaving services in their communities. Our programs focus on responding to disasters and building safer communities. During times of disaster the American Red Cross works with our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners to provide relief when a disaster hits and support recovery activities to help communities get back on their feet. We meet the needs of disaster survivors by providing technical support, relief supplies and financial assistance to bolster operations led by Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.

To respond quickly, we pre-position relief supplies in global warehouses, including one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Our programs are tailored to the specific needs of individual communities, from those impacted by conflict in North Africa to those suffering from drought in the Horn.

Reconnecting Families

In times of crisis, families can become separated from each other, and many turn to the Red Cross for help. Caseworkers at the American Red Cross work diligently to locate missing family members by communicating with Red Cross and Red Crescent partners in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Disaster Preparedness

We work side-by-side with community members to better understand the risks they face, mitigate common hazards, develop community action plans and conduct disaster drills, stockpile relief goods, and identify cost-effective early warning systems to better predict and react to threats.

The Measles & Rubella Initiative

The Measles & Rubella Initiative – a partnership between the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization – works to reduce measles deaths globally by providing financial and technical assistance to governments and communities for vaccination campaigns worldwide.

For any campaign to be successful, the community must participate. The American Red Cross provides financial support and training to Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Africa on community education and mobilization. This training prepares volunteers to go house-to-house to educate families about the importance of getting vaccinated and where they can access immunization services. Volunteers then ensure that all children – even those in the most remote villages – are vaccinated during campaign week.

Since the Initiative began in 2001, it has helped vaccinate 1 billion children in more than 80 countries. In 2013, American Red Cross support will contribute to millions of children being immunized in more than 30 countries through the Initiative.

HIV Prevention and Care

American Red Cross HIV programs aim to prevent the spread of HIV and mitigate its devastating impact on communities. By strengthening our partners’ capacity to mobilize communities and volunteers, we work to raise awareness among youth, educate communities on HIV prevention, reduce stigma associated with the disease, provide home-based care services and support orphans and vulnerable children with HIV.

Where We Help in Africa

1. World Disasters Report, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 2011.
2. 2009 AIDS Epidemic Update, UNAIDS/WHO, 2009.