As local as possible, as international as necessary
In 2016, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that humanitarian action should be “as local as possible, as international as necessary”. At the Italian Red Cross, we believe in this and we are confident that our response activities to the Covid-19 emergency in Italy, have strongly demonstrated that going local is the best answer.
In fact, since the very first beginning of the emergency, thousands of ItRC volunteers have been on the ground (and still they are), working tirelessly to address the needs of their communities across the country. Ambulance teams have been transporting and treating thousands of patients, contributing significantly to the prevention and control of the virus, raising awareness and crucial information on how to cope with it; they have been lending a helping hand to those who were most vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly or immunocompromised, by providing them with necessities like groceries and medications right to their doorstep and assisting those who were in need with food boxes, shopping vouchers and even psychological support. In addition, thousands of volunteers are currently involved in the vaccination campaign.
This was possible because they were there, they knew the needs of the community as they are part of the community themselves. Just to be clear: what staff and volunteers have been provided to their community wasn’t (and it still is not) a kind of top-down support: it was more something that belongs to mutual aid.
But, of course, for the local committees, it has been crucial to receive support, coordination, management and facilities from the National Committee, as well as it has been decisive for the National Committee to share best practices and knowledge at an international level, to enhance the relations with national and international stakeholders and to work closely with the government institutions. In conclusion, we can say that the key to success has been close cooperation between strategy at community, national and local levels.
On this basis, being part of the PANDEM- 2 project is a great opportunity to enhance the Italian Red Cross’ competencies and tools to predict, prepare and plan our response to epidemic emergencies, working especially on the risk reduction, starting from our localization capacities to reach the community as much as possible.
The collection of multiple data, the integrated analysis and the information-sharing platform being produced by the project will improve the resource management capacities and effective response, at all levels from the national to local. This will help us to work closely with the community, preparing them and ourselves to reduce the epidemic risk while mitigating the impact of future pandemic situations.