Appendix A: NEPARC Chairman's Report
General Assembly

5th AUGUST 2006

I take this opportunity to welcome you all to this 2nd General Assembly of NEPARC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Let me on your behalf, extend my gratitude to the Ethiopian Red Cross Society: the President, Mr. Shimelis Adugna, the Secretary General, Mr. Takele Jemberu and his team for hosting the meeting and for their hospitality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now two years since Johannesburg where NEPARC was founded. NEPARC has grown to 18 member societies and it is with great pleasure that I welcome the newest members of NEPARC - Ghana Red Cross Society, represented at this meeting by the Secretary General, Mr. Andrews Frimpong; and Burundi Red Cross Society. The Secretary General, Mr. Anselme Katiyunguruza has sent his apologies.

  • Develop the argument for the need to build local capacity to address the relief and development challenges in Africa
  • Benchmark NEPARC member capabilities relative to world-class standards in
    • Transparency, Accountability and Governance
    • Organizational Sustainability
    • Program Effectiveness
  • Foster peer support and networking
  • Create partnership of "equals" between NEPARC members and Partner National Societies (PNS)
  • Access private sector resources
  • Enhance members' relationships with their respective governments
  • Generate media coverage focused on the success stories of NEPARC members

As I highlighted in my last year's report, there has been openness and willingness among the PNS to new ways of working and investing in local capacity through a consolidated approach. This is in response to five questions raised by NEPARC leaders to the PNS, namely:
  • How do you (the PNS') select your partners?
  • Can we share analysis of what actually works?
  • How can we develop new ways of supporting organizational development in African National Societies?
  • Can you (the PNS') better coordinate your engagement with ANS so as to limit the risk of fragmentation and double work?

The Secretary Generals of the British Red Cross, the Canadian Red Cross, the Netherlands Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross decided to address these and other key questions together in an open dialogue with representatives of NEPARC.

Stemming from that dialogue between the NEPARC and the 4 PNS, the "8 in Africa Initiative" has emerged and it is an outgrowth of NEPARC from discussions in Nairobi, Oslo, Geneva and London in 2005.

The goals of this initiative are:
  • To create a synergetic capacity building process
  • To increase sustainability and decrease dependency
  • Improve coordination among PNS'
  • Demonstrate learning within the Movement by putting identified lessons into practice

The four PNS will work together with the four ANS to improve their capacity and to better coordinate engagement with the ANS to limit the risk of fragmentation and duplication.

One PNS will take the lead in one ANS. For example British Red Cross will take the lead in Sierra Leone Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross in Liberia Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross in Ivory Coast and Norwegian Red Cross in Mozambique.

Sierra Leone held a meeting with the partners recently in which a priority Plan of Action plans was developed. NEPARC was represented at that meeting by the Coordinator. I am pleased to note that the British Red Cross and other partners offered substantive assistance to the National Society.

The 8 in Africa initiative is a pilot initiative that once proven successful will be replicated to address the challenges of capacity building for the African National Societies. NEPARC supports the 8 in Africa Initiative and hopes that it will provide a transparent channel for disseminating the lessons learned.

Ladies and Gentlemen, last year, the most significant achievement for NEPARC was the third party audits which saw quite a number of African National Societies achieve world class standards in governance, transparency and accountability.

Eleven member societies undertook the SGS audit in Governance, Transparency, and Accountability. While six of the national societies received certification, all of the societies who participated were challenged to new ways of strengthening their societies.

While no new audits have taken place in the first half of 2006, we have received updates from societies demonstrating their approaches to filling in the gaps identified by the SGS audit.

To this end, I am happy to report that South African Red Cross Society will be re-audited on the 10th and 11th of August and Mozambique Red Cross Society will be seeking to renew their certification on the 7th and 8th of August.

First-time audits scheduled for this year include Somalia Red Crescent Society on the 30th of November and 1st of December and Burundi Red Cross Society on the same dates.

Kenya and Uganda Red Cross Societies have scheduled audits to renew certification for the 27th and 28th November, and 4th and 5th December respectively.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you will recall that last year you challenged the Partner National Societies to participate in the SGS audits. I am happy to report that the Spanish Red Cross took the audit on February 6th and 7th and received 12-month certification. In addition, a branch of the American Red Cross, the Bay Area including San Francisco undertook the audit on the 18th and 19th of July and received 18 month certification.

The Canadian Red Cross postponed its SGS audit from July to later this year due to their involvement in the evacuation of Canadian citizens from Lebanon.

The British Red Cross has committed to taking the SGS audit in the first quarter of 2007. Finally, the Danish Red Cross Society is working with SGS to identify a convenient date.

I am also very happy to report that following discussions with SGS in Geneva, it has now been agreed that any Society receiving certification will be able to use the "SGS mark" on its letterheads and other publicity material.

Dear Members, you will recall that during last years' General Assembly, NEPARC requested Fritz Institute to identify or develop audit tools in organizational sustainability and program effectiveness.

In April, Fritz Institute engaged KPMG East Africa to develop a sustainability audit tool that assesses the ability of members to generate and attract the resources necessary to achieve their objectives. The team collaborated with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society to develop the draft tool and I would like to formally thank the Society for hosting the team in June. Once the draft tool is completed, it will be piloted later in 2006 in two or three member societies.

The third audit, is program effectiveness, assesses member programs to establish the link between capacity and program effectiveness. Fritz Institute selected Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to research and develop a program effectiveness tools for the HIV/AIDS programmes. The team of doctors and health specialists from Harvard visited the Kenya Red Cross in January and in May submitted a robust draft tool. I would like to formally thank the Kenya Red Cross Society for hosting the team during their three week visit in January.

As you are aware, during the first General Assembly last year, we commissioned Winnie Ngugi and Abbas Gullet to draft a NEPARC Constitution and I am pleased to report that the Constitution has been drafted, approved by the Board, and is in your files for ratification at this General Assembly.

In keeping with the NEPARC calendar, a Board Meeting was held in May of this year in Sebastopol, California and hosted by Fritz Institute.

The following are the outcome of that meeting:
  • Established a new communications strategy for NEPARC with clear communication guidelines between the board, secretariat, members and partners.
  • The Constitution Sub-Committee submitted the draft Constitution which was reviewed and approved by the board
  • Membership guidelines were clarified
  • Status of each of the three audits were discussed
  • Board reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen partnerships with the IFRC and other Movement entities
  • The position of NEPARC Coordinator was created

A meeting with Partner National Societies and the Federation followed to update all parties on the progress made by NEPARC since its inception in 2004, current initiatives and future forms of collaboration. Outcomes from the meeting include:
  • The Federation reaffirmed its commitment both at the Secretariat and in the field
  • Fritz Institute and NEPARC are working with the Federation to establish a newsletter for Africa, which will speak to all of the initiatives, collaboration and activities with a wide readership
  • The Canadian and British Red Cross committed to taking the SGS audit

In terms of engaging with the government, media and private sector, Kenya Red Cross has made tremendous progress. The Society was appointed lead agency by the Government of Kenya to coordinate the drought that has hit Kenya recently. The Society's local fundraising with the private sector attracted approximately 5 million euros. They are in discussion with the private sector regarding a long-term disaster mitigation strategy. This constitutes an important session of today's meeting during which Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross, will share his Society's experience and successes.

NEPARC has also been able to provide peer support to its members. Ghana Red Cross Society has reached out to NEPARC for assistance in resolving some long standing partnership problems with the Swiss Red Cross. There has also been learning, exchange of information and networking among NEPARC members.

The last General Assembly decided on a membership criteria. Founder members had 24 months within which to undertake the SGS audit.

The 2nd General Assembly extended the mandate of the current Board for another year and also resolved as follows:
  • To finance the NEPARC secretariat
  • Involve our Governments in our activities
  • Expel members who have not fulfilled the membership criteria
  • Engage in cross border assistance between neighboring national societies
  • Ratify the Constitution

I would like to thank you all sincerely for the roles you have played individually and collectively. In particular, I would like to thank Fritz Institute for its continued support to NEPARC, empowering it to become a voice in African humanitarian. I would like to also thank the Partner National Societies for their willingness to try new ways of partnering with the African National Societies. I would also like to thank the Federation for embracing and appreciating NEPARC's efforts to create a strong African membership. Finally, I would like to share my appreciation to all of you members for your commitment to striving towards excellence.

NEPARC is happy to collaborate with all of its partners in fulfilling its aspiration to become a network of excellence.

Let me end this brief report by inviting all of you to revisit the goals we set up for NEPARC in our first meeting in Johannesburg and critically discuss what has not been achieved so that we recommit ourselves to do better in the future. I urge you all to actively participate in deliberations for these two days.

Thank you
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