VIDEO STORY

A paradigm shift

Forecasts trigger rapid deployment of resources that help alpaca herders protect their animals from extreme cold and snowstorms.

Reporting and videography:
Manuel Rueda

Production:
Irina Ruano

Photos:
Bruno Chávez
Peruvian Red Cross

As glacial snowstorms become more extreme, a new programme run by the Peruvian Red Cross seeks to dramatically reduce the number of people impacted by completely reversing the way disaster relief happens. The idea is to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people before disasters hit, so that they can stay safe and healthy during these extreme events.

“We have been a humanitarian organization that traditionally focused on responding to disasters,” says Kemper Mantilla, the project’s national coordinator for the Peruvian Red Cross. “What we are doing now is a paradigm shift.

Pioneered by the German Red Cross and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, based in The Hague (Netherlands), the approach is known as Forecast-based Financing (FbF) and has been rolled out in numerous countries around the world, from Bangladesh to Togo.

Kemper Mantilla, Peruvian Red Cross

What we are doing now is a paradigm shift.

In Peru, it is being tested in three areas that are prone to extreme weather events: towns along the Pacific Ocean coastline impacted by extreme rainfalls related to the El Niño phenomenon; villages high in the Andes mountains, located at 3,800 metres above sea level, where alpaca farmers struggle to deal with cold snaps and glacial snowstorms; and parts of the River Amazon basin around Iquitos.

In the case of the alpaca herders, forecasts trigger funds that enable construction of shelters and provision of medicine for the livestock. “We lose 15 to 20 alpacas each winter,” says Flavio Cabana, who has a herd of 400 alpacas in the Arequipa region of southern Peru. “The young ones are the most likely to die from the cold.”

The programme works with the national meteorological and hydrological service of Peru, which analyses incoming weather patterns and provides Peruvian Red Cross staff with advance warning of extreme events headed towards vulnerable communities. That gives humanitarian workers time to prepare and distribute help to people in need.

“We try to get scientific information into the hands of decision-makers as fast as we can,” says Juan Bazo, climate science adviser for the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, another key partner in FbF projects around the world. “The benefit of this programme is that it uses weather forecasts, which give us a window of time to act, so that we can get help to the most vulnerable people.”

Bruno Chávez /Peruvian Red Cross

Related

What happens when machines can decide who to kill?

It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.

‘Wildfire diaries’ and radical change in communications

In this episode, we talk with humanitarian communicator Kathy Mueller who produced our first magazine podcast series, The Wildfire Diaries, about massive wildfires in Northern Canada in 2017. We talk about that series, her many international missions, and the big changes in humanitarian communications since she began with the Canadian Red Cross almost 20 years ago.

The power of storytelling

In this episode, we talk about the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. “Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human communication,” says our guest Prodip, a volunteer and multi-media storyteller for the Bangladesh Red Crescent. “It inspires us to be a hero of our own community.” We also speak with one such community hero, Dalal al-Taji, a longtime volunteer and advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities in emergencies response. “In disasters. persons with disabilities sometimes get forgotten.”

This post is also available in:

Discover more stories

Get stories worth sharing delivered to your inbox

Want to stay up to date?

This might interest you...

Expert Sources: Covid-19 in Syria’s sizzling summer heat

Ahmada Mohamedy Siogope talks about caring for people displaced by war, living in tents and dealing with Covid-19 in northeastern Syria’s sizzling summer heat.

Check it out