When emergency strikes and people are displaced, there's no greater danger than waterborne disease—and no greater need for Oxfam.
Standard of excellence
For more than 20 years, Oxfam has set the standard for the quick and expert delivery of clean water, showers, and latrines. Consider that
- Oxfam's water kits—pipes, pumps, taps, and tanks—can be trucked or flown in to any situation in under 48 hours.
- Oxfam's water and sanitation systems are used by the UN, Red Cross, and other agencies.
- Oxfam maintains a continuing humanitarian presence in approximately 70 countries, including Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and other hotspots. This presence allows us to respond quickly when emergencies arise.
- Oxfam responds to every major refugee crisis, averaging two to four large-scale emergencies annually.
Tools of the trade
Engineers: Oxfam's approximately 50 international technical staff are mechanical and civil engineers and hydrologists by trade. In emergencies, Oxfam recruits additional staff, such as the 1,800 local staff who assisted one million refugees during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
Tanks: One Oxfam water tank holds and purifies 70,000 liters—enough to provide daily water for 4,666 people. These "bladders" can be flown in and set up in a matter of hours while truckloads of water are being driven to the scene.
Buckets: Used to distribute water, the Oxfam bucket has a built-in cap and spigot to keep water clean. The bucket also contains a standard hygiene kit with cooking utensils, detergent, and disinfectant soap.
Many poor communities are vulnerable to the same crises over and over again. Oxfam seeks not simply to rebuild what was, but to construct a better reality—improving lives and preparing people for the next disaster.
Oxfam's innovative approach to disaster relief involves three critical phases:
Before disasters occur, we've got a plan.
In more than 100 countries, Oxfam has contingency plans to respond to emergencies immediately and effectively. Working through local partners, Oxfam helps communities secure radio access, identify evacuation routes, and designate responsibilities—preparing them to implement their own solutions, rather than waiting for outside aid.
When disaster strikes, we're already there.
Most lives are lost within the first 15 days of disaster. In addition to acting on community-specific contingency plans, Oxfam partners help provide water, sanitation, and other forms of emergency assistance.
When others have left the scene, we're still there.
Many relief efforts last only three to six months following a disaster. Oxfam takes the time needed to help people restore their assets and livelihoods. This can take years, but the payoff is great: by strengthening communities, Oxfam helps build resistance to emergencies in the future.
While the 17 Oxfam affiliates maintain autonomous operations, we come together frequently to leverage the strength of our global Oxfam family.
In order to respond with signature Oxfam speed and effectiveness, Oxfam's emergency response is integrated across all Oxfam affiliates. Where one is able to provide on-the-ground water engineers, another manages the logistics for trucking in emergency supplies. Still other Oxfams lobby for a broader international response and raise funds to support the combined Oxfam effort.
Together, Oxfam affiliates push for change in international policies and laws that keep people in poverty. Affiliates also work to educate and mobilize the international public.
Where several Oxfams may be working in a single region, Oxfam affiliates frequently coordinate funds and efforts to achieve the greatest impact.
Every day, our work with people around the world illustrates that change is urgently needed. Oxfam campaigns to make the world fairer, safer, and more just for poor people.
In the past several years, Oxfam has developed capacity as a global campaigning force. We continue to expand our campaigning efforts by doing the following:
- Increasing the number of people who work with Oxfam to campaign for change.
- Aligning ourselves with partners and other organizations, so that our combined efforts have greater impact.
- Communicating with media, as well as with decision makers at country governments, the UN, and other key institutions and centers.
- Ensuring that our campaigns are informed by the people we work with in communities around the world.
Oxfam's work with local partners brings together the following:
Local skill and knowledge
Communities often have a clearer idea of what could help them overcome their problems, but lack the resources to make it happen. When empowered to take ownership of a problem, they create solutions that last.
Global strength and experience
Oxfam provides funding, training, and support to get solutions started. With our decades of development experience, we offer tested ideas of what has worked for other people in similar situations. Our position in the international community also enables us to tap into institutional and governmental players that communities may need to realize change.
Oxfam adheres to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which entitles all people to the following:
A secure livelihood
Making a living means having access to the resources needed for your work; the skills to produce enough to meet your needs while respecting the environment; and a market to sell your wares. Oxfam helps people move beyond poverty toward greater security.
Basic social services
Poor people and minority groups are often the first to be excluded from basic health services, clean water, sanitation, and an education. Oxfam offers emergency relief, literacy training, and other programs that help people access basic services.
Oxfam promotes the right of every individual to live free from violence, conflict, and fear and to receive protection from natural disasters.
A voice in decisions that affect them
Oxfam believes that all people have a right to be heard. To this end, we help people become informed, authoritative, and effective spokespeople, having influence in decisions that affect their lives.
Focusing specifically on women, indigenous populations, minorities, and other oppressed groups, Oxfam helps people value themselves as equal human beings.