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Oxfam's Vincent Malasador gives support and reassurance to a recipient during the distribution of hygiene items in Paypay north Cebu in November,2013.

Oxfam responds directly wherever there is a widespread threat to life, health, and livelihoods which is beyond people's capacity to cope with, and where we can make a positive difference. We are one of the world's leading providers of humanitarian aid in emergencies, with well-recognised technical expertise in several fields. These are clean water, sanitation, public health, food security, and the protection of civilians, with a strong reputation for promoting the rights of women in everything we do.

Our goal

All women, men and children affected by conflict or natural disasters will be protected from violence and receive the humanitarian aid that they need.  

Oxfam responds to such need directly, but also supports national governments and local partner organisations to respond in emergencies. Oxfam combines its programme response with global and national campaigning to ensure that the rights of people affected by conflict and disaster are upheld.

How we work

The unpredictable nature of many disasters makes it cost-effective for Oxfam to maintain a global centre of expertise at responding to emergencies. This global team offers support to Oxfam's extensive network of country-based teams which are engaged in longer term development work. Wherever a disaster strikes, Oxfam 's Global Humanitarian Team can boost existing local capacity with technical staff, logistical support, and expert advice. As well as giving direct support to people affected by disasters, where possible we work in partnership with local organisations whose strength and capability we are committed to building.  We also combine our work on the ground with global and national campaigning to ensure people's rights after crises are upheld.

Risk reduction

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.