Prevent disasters with the Princess Margriet Fund
Natural hazards occur every day and often affect the same vulnerable people. Time and again homes are damaged, crops are lost, and families are torn apart. Billions are spent to repair damages and save lives at the last moment.
We cannot prevent natural hazards from happening, but we can limit their consequences by acting in advance. This is why the Princess Margriet Fund was founded: to enable the Red Cross to take action before disaster strikes.
The Princess Margriet Fund develops and provides financial support to projects that increase the resilience of vulnerable communities. By making preparations with local populations before disaster strikes, we can save lives and prevent damage and suffering.
people were affected by natural disasters over the past 10 years
About the Princess Margriet Fund
Why wait with aid until disaster strikes? By taking measures in advance – like training volunteers, installing an early warning system or planting mangrove forests – we can save lives and prevent damages. On top of that, preventive action is much more efficient economically.
Still, taking preventive measures does require financial input. That is why the Netherlands Red Cross founded the Princess Margriet Fund in 2011. This Fund provides financial support to innovative projects focused on sustainable disaster prevention, allowing the Red Cross to take action before disaster strikes.
Do you wish to contribute to disaster prevention? You can by donating to IBAN NL67INGB0000007447 by name of Rode Kruis Prinses Margriet Fonds.
Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet has been involved with the Netherlands Red Cross since 1966. She started as Red Cross-assistant first class (nurse) and worked both in the field and behind a desk, from holiday projects on the Red Cross vessel Henry Dunant to the Standing Commission of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
From 2000 onwards, Princess Margriet devoted herself to highlighting the link between climate change and natural disasters. “The discussion was about the causes, not the consequences,” she says. “So when we pointed out the disastrous consequences of climate change-related disasters for the world population, we managed to get this subject on the humanitarian agenda.”
The last twenty years, Princess Margriet worked as vice-president of the National Board of the Netherlands Red Cross. She resigned from this position in January 2011. To thank her for her tireless efforts, the Red Cross established a Fund in her name: the Princess Margriet Fund. To this day, the Princess devotes her time and energy to the Fund and its mission.
The Netherlands Red Cross Princess Margriet Fund enables the Red Cross to take action before disaster strikes. This way, we prepare people for disasters and aim to prevent damage and suffering.
Disasters affect all sectors of society. So should our preparation. This is why we don’t just train disaster response teams, but also take the natural environment into account and work on business models that increase household income. By investing in healthy ecosystems, safe communities and thriving businesses, we build disaster resilience on all fronts.
Many disasters can be traced back to (sometimes unavoidable) mismanagement of natural resources. Deforestation, for instance, increases the risk of floods and landslides. Landscape restoration and Nature-based Solutions are therefore crucial to sustainably improve community resilience. Because the Red Cross is not specialized in these matters, we work together with environmental organizations and other partners.
The Princess Margriet Fund supports innovative, sustainable and scalable projects with a strong long term vision. Local populations are at the center of the design, implementation and continuation of each project. After all, nobody knows the risks that a community faces better than the inhabitants themselves. And by providing the community with materials, skills and knowledge, they can continue building their resilience after the project has finished.
The Green Pearl Programme, Haiti
Our dream is to see Haiti become the Green Pearl of the Caribbean again.
A green and prosperous nation in which the inhabitants live in harmony with their natural environment. Propelled forward by a new generation of Haitians who are resilient to natural hazards, develop a green economy and have hope and ambition for the future.
Once called the Green Pearl of the Caribbean, Haiti was renowned for its great natural wealth and lush tropical forests. Today, that nickname seems mostly a distant memory. Only 2% of the original forest remains and natural disasters regularly strike the country.
Hurricanes, floods, droughts and earthquakes all occur in Haiti. In addition to this, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. This deadly combination affects Haitians over and over again. People hardly have enough time to rebuild their houses or sow their crops before the next disaster strikes.
The country is stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability. Deforestation and overgrazing result in less and less rainwater being absorbed by the soil, leading to more frequent flooding and landslides. In periods of drought, this arid soil is not able to support the crops which the population depends on for survival.
Our goal is to break the vicious cycle of vulnerability and poverty in Haiti. Over the coming twenty years we aim to support thirty Haitian communities in becoming more resilient to natural hazards, restoring their hope for the future.
With sufficient land available for forestry and agriculture, enough rain, and a young population that yearns for a better future, the possibilities for Haiti are enormous.
We want to assist communities in creating this better future by working together to establish green pearls: safe and thriving communities that are supported by a healthy balance between human needs, natural resources and economic development.
The first pearl in La Vallée-de-Jacmel, in southern Haiti, is in its third year now. Work on a second pearl in Corail will start at the beginning of 2022. Preparations for another two pearls are underway. Together, these four initial pearls will serve as the foundation and inspiration for the thirty pearls to be created in the next twenty years.
Landscape restoration is central to our approach. In collaboration with the local population and experts, we aim to reforest eroded mountainsides, install small dams to regulate the flow of rainwater, and work to identify and establish new sources of income. Alongside this, disaster response teams are being trained and schools are being upgraded to serve as emergency shelters.
This approachhas already proven itself. In a similar project in Côtes-de-Fer, a system of small dams protected the lower-lying areas from flooding and landslides when Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016. Rainwater now also better infiltrates in the soil, which in turn increases agricultural yields. The situation in Côtes-de-Fer has improved so significantly that people who previously moved to the city are returning.
This programme began in 2019 and is currently in the first phase, which will continue until 2024. The entire programme (realization of thirty pearls) will last twenty years, until 2039.
For this project we are working together with Commonland, an organization which specializes in landscape restoration. Within Haiti, we are currently working on the initial business models and value chains together with LEOS. For the second pearl in Corail, we collaborate with local organization Aquadev and receive technical guidance from The Nature Conservancy. The Haitian Red Cross is our most important partner for implementation, and we use the analyses of the Red Cross data team 510 for the identification and monitoring of project areas.
Coastal protection in Tacloban, the Philippines
Every year the Philippines are hit by natural disasters. The population is plagued by typhoons and monsoons, as well as the disastrous floods which often accompany these storms.
Proper preparation for these disasters can prevent a great deal of suffering. By supporting this project, the Princess Margriet Fund aims to establish such preparation in the Philippines, specifically in the city of Tacloban and its surrounding area.
Large parts of the city of Tacloban were destroyed by typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Buildings were demolished by strong winds and floodwaters travelled many kilometers inland.
Leyte, the island home to Tacloban, was the most heavily affected island in the Philippines. More than 6,300 people died and more than 26,000 were injured. In all, 1.6 million families were affected by typhoon Haiyan.
Although Haiyan was an exceptionally devastating typhoon, this type of natural disaster is unfortunately not a rare occurrence in the Philippines. Approximately 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, while storms and monsoons result in frequent flooding. The population lives under constant threat due to these disasters, and faces extreme difficulty building a safe and stable life.
With this project we aim to help more than 17,000 people from 7 neighborhoods in and around Tacloban become more resilient in the face of the typhoons and floods that will most certainly reoccur.
As is usual for projects supported by the Princess Margriet Fund, we aim to increase the resilience of communities in and around Tacloban through a range of activities:
- Restoration of mangrove forests. These trees grow in coastal water and anchor the soil, which blocks wind and creates mud banks. By restoring the coast with mangroves, natural breakwaters are formed, thus reducing the risk of flooding during storms. The forests are planted and maintained together with local residents and with expert consultation to optimally position the mangroves and use the most suitable plant species.
- Better warning systems, education about disaster risk reduction and emergency response trainings. With better warning systems for bad weather, more information about disaster preparation, and training for emergency response teams, the local population will be equipped with the knowledge of what to do when disasters strike.
- Trainings and projects regarding hygiene, clean drinking water, and waste. Hurricane Haiyan destroyed numerous toilets and water pumps. Furthermore, many displaced people moved to live with others in more densely populated areas. In such situations, the health risks become much higher, as diseases can spread much more rapidly. Therefore, trainings on sanitation, water pump repair, and emergency sanitation help lower this risk. Repairing water pumps or placing them in alternative locations, as well as creating fixed locations for waste processing significantly reduce the health risks for the local population.
- New, more diverse and sustainable sources of livelihood for the local population. This is strongly linked to the mangrove reforestation. Mangroves play an important role in the local ecosystem, as fish and other sea life thrive there. Residents can catch these fish for their own consumption or to sell.
This project started in 2018 and will continue until the end of 2022.
Our most important executing partner is the Philippines Red Cross. Additionally, we collaborate with international organizations such as Commonland. We also collaborate with local stakeholders such as the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, the Department of Education and the local water district.
Living with Floods in Beira, Mozambique
In the city of Beira, floods caused by heavy rains, full rivers or tropical storms are a yearly reality for many vulnerable urban dwellers. These recurring floods severely impact people’s lives, homes and livelihoods.
Strengthening a community’s resilience to flood risks can prevent these negative impacts. In this project, local and international partners work together to increase the capacity of local communities and other actors to apply nature-based water risk reduction measures and ensure they have access to timely flood early warning & early action information.
Over the last twenty years flooding alone accounted for 47% of all weather-related disasters. Climate change will further increase flood risks in the future. If no action is taken, flood disasters will continue to harm many vulnerable people in Beira. As recent as March 2019 cyclone Idai caused major floods in areas around the city, leading to hundreds of deaths and 1.7 million people affected.
While cyclone Idai was an exceptionally disastrous event, many communities in Beira experience multiple flooding events in their streets and homes every year during the rainy season. There are multiple causes for these flood events, but local partners and affected communities point out that many areas are not well connected to existing drains and that a lot of waste is blocking the discharge of flood waters during rains.
Through our collaboration with local and international partners, we aim to help the inhabitants of three urban areas in Beira (appr. 60,000 people) to become more resilient to urban floods.
In 2020 the Netherlands Red Cross called out to private sector partners, knowledge institutes and local organizations to join the Living with Floods challenge. The question to be answered: how can vulnerable people become better able to anticipate and act, minimizing the impact of floods?
Since 2020, through two initial pilots, we have built up a local network of flood resilience actors supported by global partners to work on three priority areas:
- To reduce urban flood risks by improving the efficiency and impact of community-based drainage management. This includes a strong focus on the (informal) community-level drains and their connection to the existing drainage system.
- To help nurture informed and empowered communities able to increase their flood risk awareness and take preventive and anticipatory action on flood risks.
- To support the development of a community-driven urban flood resilience model adapted to the needs of flood-affected communities, able to provide them and key stakeholders with timely information to initiate and support flood early warning and early action.
The initial pilot period started early 2020 and the current stage of this initiave will continue until December 2023.
Our local implementing partner is the Mozambique Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. We work very closely with local partner Associação FACE and with international organizations such as HKV and UNESCO-IHE. We also collaborate with local stakeholders such as the Municipality of Beira and the Water Board.