Oxfam believes that the crucial factor making people vulnerable to disasters is their underlying poverty. People with precarious livelihoods, few economic buffers, living in the most dangerous or marginal places, always suffer worst and longest from a disaster. It is therefore vital that in addition to supporting people immediately after a disaster, we make efforts to reduce the risks that disasters pose. This kind of preventative action addresses the underlying causes of risk as opposed to the symptoms alone, and generally saves a lot more money (for example, a study in northern Kenya
found that it was three times more expensive to restock a core herd than to keep animals alive through supplementary feeding).
There are various tactics for reducing people's vulnerability to crises. It might be helping communities adapt to permanent changes such as increasing drought, with training in new business skills. It might be strengthening measures to prevent disasters having such a serious effect such as raising flood-prone houses or building sea defences and earthquake-proof buildings. Or it might be improving early warning systems through education or technology. Ultimately, when communities can work together with their governments and influence international policy, they have the
best chance of reducing their vulnerability in the longer term.