The powerful earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 have left devastation in their wake, wiping out coastal towns and uprooting hundreds of thousands of survivors. And the nuclear disaster unfolding at the Fukushima power plant threatens to eclipse even this enormous emergency.
All over the world, Oxfam is responding to disasters, rushing clean water and other resources to survivors. But we are carrying out no such effort in Japan. Why?
Unlike many countries around the world, Japan has had both the means and the will to invest seriously in disaster preparedness and response. The government can deliver large amounts of aid as quickly as the conditions on the ground permit, calling for specific outside resources (such as more search-and-rescue teams) as needed. So far, Oxfam’s particular expertise in emergencies—including delivering water and sanitation facilities—has not been required.
But in every humanitarian emergency, there are those who struggle to get access to the help they need. Oxfam Japan is channeling funds to local organizations that aim to fill some of the gaps in aid—providing a hotline for non-Japanese speakers like migrant workers, for example, and assisting nursing mothers. Oxfam America is accepting funds to support their efforts.
“Oxfam is an agency focused on poverty and rights, and we prioritize the needs of women in emergencies,” says Michael Delaney, Oxfam America’s director of humanitarian response. “Thanks to the strong foundations laid by the Japanese people, our role in this emergency will be small, but our hearts go out to everyone affected by the disaster.”