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Author: Ania MOHAMED ISSA, Health Coordinator         July 2004


The Comoros archipelago is made up of four islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan, Moheli
and Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean, located at the northern mouth of the Mozambique
Channel, between Madagascar and the coast of East Africa.
The Union of the Comoros has sovereignty over three autonomous islands: Grande
Comore, Anjouan and Moheli (Mayotte is under French administration) and a surface
area of about 1,860 km².
The estimated total population is 583,300 inhabitants (2001), with an average density of
300 inhabitants/km² and an average annual population growth rate of 2.7%.
Children under the age of 15 make up 45% of the population, with 39% attending school
at all levels.
Health conditions are precarious, with very high infant and maternal death rates (63 per
1,000 and 517 per 100,000 live births respectively). The fertility rate is 5.4 children per
woman and life expectancy is estimated at 57 years for women and 56 years for men.
The Comoros are ranked 139th on the Human Development Index (source: UNDP


The Comoros Red Crescent enjoys good visibility in the Comoros. Established in 1982, it was
officially recognized by the State in 1985. The State provides considerable material aid for the
National Society’s functioning: customs duties waived, premises for CRC activities. The Comoros
Red Crescent is in the process of obtaining official recognition as a National Society from the
The Red Crescent has been present during the states of emergency declared in the Comoros. This
was the case in 1999, during the cholera epidemic. Volunteers were mobilized and present on all
fronts, heightening awareness and providing care.
Agreements have been signed with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the French Red Cross, which provide
financial support.
Other agreements have been reached with donors established in the Comoros, in particular United
Nations agencies (UNICEF, WHO) and the French Embassy’s local development programme in
the Comoros, and in the region with the Reunion Regional Council.
In spite of this official recognition, the Red Crescent suffers from a lack of means and activities for
its volunteers.
The Red Crescent has several decision-making, coordination and operational bodies covering the
entire territory.

The National Society’s main goals are set by the National Committee, whose headquarters are in
Moroni. The National Committee has six members:
   - the President,
   - the Vice-President in charge of cooperation,
   - the Vice-President in charge of development,
   - the Vice-President in charge of appeals for funds and volunteer policy,
   - the Treasurer,
   - the Deputy Treasurer.

The Executive Board comprises the Executive Secretary and those in charge of the health, relief
and information/dissemination programmes. The Board is permanent, and its members are paid
thanks to the support of the Government, the ICRC and the French Red Cross.

Next to the National Committee there are three Regional Committees, one for each island. The
Regional Committees are structured along the same lines as the National Committee. Their role is

   see to the implementation of the goals decided at national level;
   to act as an interface for the outlying structures in the villages.

At present, the Comoros Red Crescent has 120 Local Committees on the three islands. At the last
General Assembly, it decided to establish 14 Prefecture Committees to centralize the activities of
the local committees. To date, only three Prefecture Committees have been set up: two in Grande
Comore and one in Anjouan.

The Comoros Red Crescent currently has about 1,600 members in the different committees. The
number of volunteers should be counted again.

The Comoros Red Crescent faces numerous operational problems, partly owing to lack of
organization and the shortage of human, material and financial resources.


The CRC was present in Ouagadougou and signed the pledges made at that conference. Since
2000 it has been carrying out activities under the plan of action.

On health

The Comoros have witnessed several emergency situations in recent years, notably repeated
cholera epidemics, tropical storms and floods.

The CRC, thanks to the energy of its volunteers, mobilized to provide aid to the victims of these
exceptional situations.

A cholera prevention programme was launched in October 2002, with volunteers heightening
awareness, providing care and assisting medical staff in the quarantine centre for cholera patients.

Thanks to the CRC’s work, we came out of the rainy season with no new cases.

During the tropical storms and floods, the CRC mobilized funds made available under the Indian
Ocean PIROI programme and by the French Embassy to repair the water system, which had been
completely destroyed on Moheli Island. It also helped the victims repair the roofs of their houses
and distributed clothing provided by the Seychelles Red Cross Society.

The CRC is also present in the field and provides services at events and in times of social unrest.

The CRC has launched a hygiene and sanitation programme in schools in order to promote a
healthy environment for children, to improve their conditions of hygiene and to prevent parasitic
illnesses. The programme comprises activities to heighten the awareness of the children and the
families, the construction of latrines and water points in the schools, the treatment of fleas, lice and
other parasites frequently present in the communities and the distribution of toiletries.

An evaluation conducted at the programme’s midpoint shows a marked improvement in the
children’s behaviour, in particular concerning hygiene.

The CRC also participates in all the Health Ministry’s health programmes, including immunization
campaigns and activities to eliminate filariasis.

For all these programmes, teaching and advocacy aids (brochures, billboards with colour drawings,
play and songs) have been prepared and are used by the volunteers and the beneficiaries.

We have also developed our network of partners for technical and financial support: in addition to
the French Red Cross (since 1998), the regional delegations of the ICRC and the International
Federation, we have relations with the Government, WHO, UNICEF and the French Embassy at
local level; at regional level we receive financial support from the General and Regional Councils of
Reunion and Mayotte prefecture.


For the past two years, the CRC has been fighting the discrimination and stigmatization of people
living with HIV/AIDS by means of information and advocacy meetings for communities and the
volunteers themselves.

A drama group has been set up and has taken its play to the villages. We also have a club of
volunteer blood donors and distribute condoms.

The Comoros still have a low HIV infection rate (0.12%), but the forecasts of the Ministry of Health
and its partners are a source of concern owing to the high incidence of STI.

The Comoros do not yet have access to anti-retroviral medication (planned for 2004, in particular
for pregnant women) and no association of people living with HIV/AIDS.

The CRC is a member of the National AIDS Prevention Committee and works with the National
AIDS Prevention Programme and the blood bank.

On food security

Unfortunately, the CRC has carried out no food security activities.

On volunteer management

Although the CRC has no established recruitment policy, we have many young volunteers
throughout the territory. They take part in all National Society activities. They receive special
training in health, first aid and information.

They can call on the regional coordinators who are in charge of supervising them. Simple teaching
aids have been prepared for their level.

There is no well defined system of motivation, but depending on the means available we offer the
volunteers t-shirts, caps, meals and travel costs.


The CRC has developed considerably in the past few years thanks to the implementation of a
variety of programmes.

We endeavour to put in practice the three priorities of the ARCHI 2010 Strategy in order to

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