International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

January 2004


In its mission to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, IFRC prioritises four core areas of work for the Red Cross/Red Crescent: Disaster Response; Disaster Preparedness; Health & Care in the Community; and Humanitarian Values. The focus on disaster preparedness includes risk reduction as an essential part of the work of IFRC.The IFRC’s 10 year strategy, Strategy 2010, highlights the Red Cross/Red Crescent approach to reducing vulnerability and building capacity by dividing it into three different categories:

  • preventing suffering by helping people prepare for and avoid exposure to situations that can increase their vulnerability;
  • assisting people who suffer a dramatic increase in vulnerability due to a sudden disaster or crisis;
  • and alleviating suffering by reducing vulnerability and improving the capacity of people who live constantly in situations where their socio-economic security and human dignity are threatened.

The strategy focuses on strengthening disaster preparedness planning, building effective disaster response mechanisms, raising community awareness and public education of hazards and in high-risk communities and supporting disaster mitigation and reduction measures.


IFRC comprises 181 member Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a Secretariat in Geneva and more than 60 delegations strategically located to support activities around the world. IFRC supports both international programmes and the domestic activities of its member National Societies focussed on the four core areas outlined above. A National Society presence with a volunteer network in every country enables the Red Cross and Red Crescent to work with local communities defining needs and developing solutions from within, thus building capacity and reducing vulnerability. The Red Cross and Red Crescent aims to respond to all humanitarian disasters, whether large or small scale, with an estimated 90 million volunteers worldwide.

A growing number of National Societies are taking a more proactive approach to disaster reduction and are working at both the national level with governments to integrate risk reduction into humanitarian and development efforts and at the community level to identify risk and support local mitigation measures.

Technical support, policy guidance and programme coordination is provided by the Disaster Response & Preparedness Department in Geneva, which includes a team of 9 specialist officers, and some 29 regional and country Disaster Management Delegates who support National Society programmes in the field.


IFRC supports a diverse range of preparedness and mitigation activities, including contingency planning, disaster management services and systems, community vulnerability mapping, awareness raising and local environmental protection activities. Current priorities for IFRC include the development of practical tools, such as vulnerability and capacity assessment, the documentation of good practice case studies (20 new case studies were published in 2003) and the application of a checklist for disaster preparedness planning and capacity building. IFRC also actively advocates for disaster reduction at a global level through its annual World Disasters Report and participation in key global fora, such as the ProVention Consortium and the ISDR.

For more information on IFRC’s activities in the field of disaster preparedness, see: