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Emergencies headlines: Horn, East Central Africa

Here you can find previous headlines from the Horn, East and Central Africa. These headlines give updates from our work, and areas of concern, of the whole Oxfam confederation. For further information on any of Oxfam's emergency response programmes around the world please contact the Humanitarian HelpDesk in the first instance.


05 December, 2018

DRC Ebola: We've extended our response for another 6 months from January because there is little sign of this crisis improving. There is a general fear that ebola could spread to Goma which would be catastrophic, and we are looking into expanding our work there as a preparedness measure. Our tactic is to follow the trends of new cases being discovered, and we are thus closing down activities in Mangina while assessing needs in Butembo. So far we have helped just over 200,000 people through widespread clean water and sanitation activities in health centres and schools, and a campaign of intense community engagement to build trust and help dispel rumours.

24 October, 2018

DRC (Kasai): Agencies and authorities in Kasai in DRC are reporting that nearly 200,000 Congolese people have just returned to DRC from Angola following mass expulsions by the Angolan Government. Some of these were refugees who had fled conflict in their home towns while others had been involved in diamond mining. Critical needs for the returning population are shelter, food, clean water, essential hygiene items, and transportation back to their homes. Oxfam is working with other agencies to support people on their way home and once they arrive - our contribution will be to give cash to help people afford transport, improve water and sanitation facilities in the places where they are in transit (eg churches), and extend public health networks in a couple of the towns we are already working in whose populations will be expanded by new arrivals.

10 October, 2018

DRC: It is 8 weeks since Beni in the East became the latest city to host an ebola outbreak. As cases continue to be confirmed, the number rises of people traumatised by family members being taken away to treatment centres and not coming back. Trust in services is very low, and Oxfam is working to counter this with a Community Alert System. Individuals are chosen for their connections to peer groups (youth and women representatives, or community drivers) and trained to discuss ebola and come up with creative ways of talking about it more openly. Community leaders are given phones for alerting Oxfam every day to potential new cases. This has given us much closer insights into what people are saying and feeling, and is building trust with communities that their voices are being listened to.

26 September, 2018

DRC: There have been over 100 deaths from Ebola so far around Beni in this latest outbreak in the East. As we have reported before, this particular outbreak has been especially hard to respond to because it's in a conflict zone, and a recent flare-up of violence in the town has caused agencies to suspend activities for a few days. Oxfam has offered to help mediate between the communities and the authorities to contribute to restoring calm, which will be vital to containing the outbreak and overcoming the disease in this vulnerable area.

South Sudan: Over 30 years of working in the areas worst-affected by conflict, Oxfam's team says it has never witnessed such dire need. Aid has made a measurably important difference, halting an even greater catastrophe, stopping famine from spreading, and preventing further instances of cholera since the deadly outbreak in February this year. This despite South Sudan being named the most dangerous country in the world for humanitarian aid workers for the third year in a row, with over 100 aid workers killed since 2013.

Efforts to bring about peace and development continue though. One example is Peace of Her Mind - a radio programme that has been airing every Friday in South Sudan for three months so far. A partnership between Oxfam and Eye Radio, its strapline is 'women united are stronger than a country divided', and it aims to promote women as 'equal partners in building a future for South Sudan'. Hosted by a veteran journalist 'Mama' Hellen Samuel, it has featured Oxfam staff among other interviewees, speaking about topics addressing deep-held prejudices about women's roles in society and their capabilities. Listeners can call in to discuss issues; Loice Kiden, Oxfam's social mobilisation officer, was particularly impressed when a man rang in to publicly advise other men to 'take their wives as their partners not as their slaves'. You can find links to listen to Peace of Her Mind on Oxfam in South Sudan's public Facebook page. The programme needs additional funding to continue.

22 August, 2018

Ethiopia: A million people are thought to have fled a recent flare-up of an ethnic conflict on the border between Oromia and SNNPR regions. People are sheltering in communal buildings where in some cases early assessments found 2,000 people sharing one toilet. Oxfam has a core team in the area working to increase sanitation facilities, improve water supplies, organise a public health campaign to guard against any outbreaks of diarrhoea, and fill gaps in basic food rations. This of course is coming on top of an ongoing drought which has already brought significant hardships for many communities, and where most of our existing capacity remains focused.

South Sudan: Oxfam is engaged in some interesting work with communities and local organisations in three locations across the country, trying to look beyond the fighting and displacement towards longer term stability. In Malakal in the North the work has included a huge plethora of activities to help build viable livelihoods, such as: restocking animal herds; setting up farms; fisheries; kitchen gardens; bakeries; blacksmith and carpentry businesses; and soap-making. Alongside these practicalities much work needs to be done to create supportive governance structures - village authorities and committees which can resolve disputes and be a strong foundation for sustaining these sorts of enterprises. Early successes in Malakal include the creation of a large farm on which old and young people work together sharing skills; it has given people an alternative to joining militias while building social cohesion. Among other benefits, people have spoken about being able to save money to send children to university. The work is in its third year.

Somaliland: Similarly to Yemen, much of the water available in wells in Somaliland is saline. An emergency solution to getting water to communities in a drought is to truck it over hundreds of miles which is expensive, so Oxfam is working here too on bringing in solar pumping and desalination units. The technology for these is from Germany where a manufacturer is breaking down what used to be expensive complex machinery into its simplest form where it can easily be maintained in isolated rural areas. While we wait for them to be installed we are training local partners and the Ministry of Water, to promote solar energy as a much more sustainable alternative to diesel. These low-tech desalination plants are the first of their kind and are generating considerable interest in the sector.

08 August, 2018

DRC: The Ebola caseload is growing in North Kivu - there have already been more deaths than there were in Western Equateur province earlier this year. Because this outbreak was discovered late, the response is beginning much later than the presumed first case - therefore it has had time to spread unnoticed and the fatality rate at 84% is worryingly high (the rate in Western Equateur was 49%). Another worrying factor is that this outbreak is occurring in a conflict zone, with areas off-limits to aid workers and communities cut off from facilities. Because the area is a trade hub it means people are passing through, with the potential to spread Ebola widely.

Oxfam is sending in more staff to boost local capacity - so far 78 handwashing stations in public spaces have been installed, rapid assessments of WaSH needs in health centres have been conducted, Ebola prevention advice to churches, journalists, government officials, and community health volunteers have been circulated, and 29 water chlorination points at water sources have been installed.

3 August, 2018

DRC:  Days after the Ebola outbreak in Western Equatoria was declared over, a new outbreak has been confirmed in North Kivu on the other side of the country. 20 people have so far died of it near the city of Beni. North Kivu is the most populated province in DRC, affected by massive internal displacements and the heavy presence of armed groups.  Beni itself is a regional hub of about 250,000 people. All this is worrying because of the high risk of the disease being spread within the city and further afield. Several Ebola experts from the Health Ministry have headed to Beni to set up a mobile lab, and the World Health Organisation is moving staff and supplies to the area. No restriction of movement is planned for, but "cordon sanitaires" are being established to prevent movement in and out of affected areas.  Oxfam is positioning itself to support with water and sanitation facilities and a focus on preventing the spread.

4 July, 2018

Somalia: Early on in the drought we provided water to people by getting it trucked in ourselves. But commercial water trucking operations do exist and it isn't helpful to undercut existing operators when we could be reinforcing them. So we have been piloting various ways of giving cash to communities to help them to continue purchasing water. Two possible methods have been tried: giving money to individual households; and giving it to community-managed committees. So far results favour the latter method, because it has been easier for a committee to organise bulk deliveries and gives the water vendors the assurance of a known number of customers that encourages them to make the journey.

Tanzania: We have just completed a water system that covers all 21 zones in the camp - vast storage tanks that can hold 2.58 million litres, a network of pipes 122 km long, and 250 tapstands placed in health centres,schools, marketplaces and residential areas. Each person gets an average of 21 litres per day which is slightly higher than the required standard. The main water source is the Nyangwa river, and two boreholes. Our hygiene promotion work has recently been the subject of a Reuters report that features the development of a new, specially designed handwashing station which is becoming the latest piece of Oxfam equipment to be available via our Logistics Catalogue.

Development of the hand washing stand was funded by ELRHA's Humanitarian Innovation Fund.

20 June, 2018

South Sudan: To mark World Refugee Day earlier this week, our South Sudan team put together a series of videos and photos called #WhereToRun. The series, shared on social media, follows people who've fled violence in the counties of Leer and Mayendit using Oxfam's canoe voucher scheme.

Check out the South Sudan team's Facebook page to hear their stories.

13 June, 2018

Kenya: Rain is still falling in Kenya and is predicted to continue into July (they would normally stop sometime in May). In addition to the rising cholera cases, Rift Valley Fever has broken out in Wajir country in the North affecting hundreds of thousands of livestock animals. We are responding in two of the most heavily flooded counties - Tana River and Turkana - supporting two local organisations - the Arid Lands Development Focus and WASDA who are providing people with emergency cash grants, training hygiene promotors, and repairing water systems. So far we have helped 45,000 people in the two counties.

6 June, 2018

Kenya: Flooding is affecting about 800,000 people in Kenya this year, of whom 300,000 have had to leave their homes. The situation in parts of the country is critical; the worst affected area is Tana River county (to the East of Nairobi), where 150,000 people are currently sheltering in camps, and we are seeing a dramatic rise in cholera cases. We work through two local organisations in Tana River, and we're sending an engineer in to boost their capacity to respond. In the meantime, the team urgently needs more funding to allow it to meet the considerable needs for clean water and safe sanitation.

Uganda: Oxfam's efforts to promote use of toilets and provide people with facilities in the refugee settlement known as Rhino Camp have been very successful. The camp is home to refugees from South Sudan who are very unlikely to be returning home in the near future, and it has been a considerable job to simultaneously create the demand for household toilets while ensuring an adequate supply of building materials is available to meet the demand. There has also been a design challenge to make the toilets secure in the collapsible soils the camp is built on. Oliver Taban, one of Oxfam's Hygiene Promotors and a refugee himself, says the teams need to be vigilant at mobilising people to want toilets and handwashing facilities, but now is proud enough to call the area he works in a 'model village' for Rhino camp settlement. Read Model homes for Ariwa 1, Rhino Camp settlement.

In South-western Uganda there is another camp (Kyaka II) which currently houses refugees from numerous countries but mainly DRC citizens fleeing worsening violence in Ituri province. Oxfam is there working to keep up with growing needs (more refugees are arriving every week) for public health facilities and services. As well as water treatment and pumping we are running widespread campaigns for health and hygiene, and operating a 'cash-for-work' scheme under which communities are building a road network to link villages. The ebola breakout in DRC has put the authorities in Uganda on high alert, especially at the reception centres where people first arrive.

23 May, 2016

South Sudan: The food security situation across the country is worsening, with the most alarming estimates currently coming out of Pibor (North-east of Juba towards the Ethiopian border). 24% of households resident in the area are reported to be at 'IPC 5 levels' of hunger which is indicative of famine. This is a huge jump from last October when it was 8%. Pibor is a very isolated and marginalised place, largely dependent on cattle and with a history of cattle raiding which contributes to impoverishment, lately exacerbated by the war. Markets are few, and it takes 18 days to walk to Juba where better prices for cattle can be got. Our roving Public Health team is going in to support several nutrition centres with better water supplies and public health campaigning. Our team is keen to point out that while Pibor has some unique challenges, food security is worsening across South Sudan because of the ongoing conflict, with the worst-hit areas being those where the fighting has been most focused. Humanitarian assistance has undoubtedly kept many communities from absolute catastrophe but more must be done, and there is not enough funding to keep up with the need.

DRC: Two long-standing crises in North and South Kivu, further conflict-related disasters in Tanganika and Kasai, and now Ebola has broken out in western DRC around the city of Mbandaka. While confirmed cases are still few, everyone is rightly concerned about its ability to spread fast along transmission routes such as river traffic and cross-border trade. The possibility of it spreading to the capital Kinshasa is especially alarming. Oxfam has a long-standing office in Mbandaka and we are sending in more staff to boost technical expertise and support. We started by giving staff and volunteers training in Ebola awareness and prevention, and last weekend we began distributing hygiene items and installing chlorinated water points at health posts and schools. We have also given disinfection kits to the local Red Cross. Our volunteers will be starting a door-to-door awareness-raising campaign of the kind that was effective in West Africa during the major Ebola outbreak several years ago.

16 May, 2018

DRC: At the beginning of the week we declared the recent ebola outbreak as a Category 3 emergency (in Oxfam terms a Category 1 crisis is the most severe). Ebola occurs frequently in DRC, but we know from experience that even though the current outbreak is small it needs to be taken seriously to stop it spreading. The confirmed cases are in a remote part of Western Equateur province where we have a long-standing presence, and we are boosting capacity with additional public health and logistics expertise. We are part of a larger effort to curb the spread of ebola and minimise the risk of it appearing in cities - our particular expertise is our local staff and partners' knowledge of the communities and ability to work with people to build awareness of ebola symptoms and treatments, counter rumours, and encourage behaviours that prevent ebola spreading. We also need to be mindful of the potential longer term effects on individuals or communities known to have survived ebola - the stigma associated with it that reduces people's ability to move about or earn a livelihood.

Uganda: A few weeks ago we reported a scheme to turn human waste into fuel briquettes in the huge camps in northern Uganda. Oxfam's regional WASH Adviser has written this excellent article about the project for our website - available here: Read Parvin Ngala's blog From waste to value: Using solid waste for good sanitation in Uganda's refugee settlements.

9 May, 2018

DRC: A confirmed outbreak of Ebola in the north-west of the country has so far claimed 18 lives. We're likely to launch a response to help contain the outbreak, and are in contact with the government and World Health Organisation emergency team who are coordinating activities.

Somalia: While the early arrival of the Gu rains has eased food security concerns in some areas, they also pose an increased threat of infection to livestock. Throughout April we ran a campaign alongside the Ministry of Livestock to treat 320,000 camels across the Togdheer, Sool and Sanag regions. The treatment will contribute into improving camel health and ability to survive in the rainy season were parasites are more active. Elsewhere we've continued our health promotion work, conducting sessions in several schools and reaching more than 3300 students.

2 May, 2018

DRC: The upsurge of violence in Ituri has displaced people around the area and into neighbouring Uganda. Kyaka II settlement is now home to about 25,000 people - residents there from earlier displacements have had to reduce their landholdings to make room for new arrivals. Oxfam has been working in Kyaka II for some time, installing household toilets and water supplies, promoting public health, distributing seeds, tools, and fuel-efficient stoves. Our staff are now adding emergency toilet facilities to accommodate new arrivals.

Ethiopia: Last year there wasn't enough rain in Ethiopia - right now there is too much of it. Some communities in Somali region where we operate have been totally cut off by flood-water. The impact on the availability of safe drinking water is a very serious problem indeed, since most of the water sources have been damaged by floods, and people are drinking untreated water from rivers and ponds. This, along with lack of any safe sanitation facilities, poses a high risk of water borne diseases. We are supporting a local organisation which is responding rapidly with distributions of water purification chemicals, soap, plastic sheeting, the wherewithal to construct emergency toilets, and a cholera-awareness campaign.

South Sudan: "Being there to help my country people can be so rewarding of course, but this role has also brought some of the worst experiences of my life". .The Team Leader of our mobile Emergency Response Team has written this excellent blog describing her work, seeing the best and worst of times in her country. Read the blog: If we don't make sacrifices, who will?

25 April, 2018

Uganda: There are about 500,000 South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda, settled across various camps like Bidi Bidi, Rhino, and Mvepi. Fuel is in extremely short supply with most residents reliant on gathering wood from the surrounding areas. A UN study estimates that Bidi Bidi camp alone consumes 350,000 tonnes of firewood in a year. The resulting environmental degradation is huge, as is the competition for fuel with local communities. Oxfam staff are trialling what we hope could be a viable alternative to wood - manufacturing briquettes made from human waste mixed with crop residues (maize and sorghum husks). We have done this successfully on a small scale with a company in Kenya (Sanivation), and we are keen to develop the technology to do it on a much bigger scale harnessing the outputs of camp sewage systems. The benefits of this would be considerable, not just to the environment but also to women's safety (as firewood collectors they risk attack out in the countryside), to camp hygiene, and as a business opportunity for people manufacturing the briquettes. A big challenge though, is to ensure the idea of cooking on human waste is acceptable to people.

Tanzania: Oxfam has been trialling a new piece of kit in camps in Tanzania (where people live who fled the crisis in Burundi several years ago). While we promote handwashing heavily we have not until now had a bespoke piece of equipment for it, instead creating handwashing stations out of whatever is available. After several years of research we have come up with a ready-to-use handwashing stand that has a number of popular features, the most well-received being mirrors which noticeably lengthen the time people take over washing their hands! We have accompanied this with a handwashing campaign called 'Mum's Magic Hands' which explains the need for hardworking hands to stay clean. This too has gone down very well.

11 April, 2018

Kenya: Of the 10,000 people who fled violence and crossed into northern Kenya from Ethiopia last month, around 6,000 remain in two temporary camps. Diarrhoea cases have been on the rise, and poor drainage is only adding to the problem.

Together with our local partner WASDA, Oxfam's been attending to water, sanitation and hygiene needs; handwashing facilities have been installed, waste disposal pits dug, and soap distributed. We've also worked with local communities, trained volunteers, and used music and theatre to promote good hygiene practice.

Democratic Republic of Congo: To coincide with a donor conference this Friday (12 April), Oxfam's joined with 19 other NGOs to highlight the dire situation in the country. In 2017, only 1.7 million people out of the 4.6 million in need of clean water and sanitation received help, leaving people drinking filthy water, defecating in the open and facing high risks of contracting water-borne diseases. Today 7.7 million people are suffering from acute hunger.

Our Country Director, Jose Barahona said: "The lack of funding forces us to make choices we shouldn't have to make. We have had to limit our work to specific areas and we can only help a fraction of the people who desperately need it. Governments and international donors should learn from the past. Without sufficient aid, many Congolese people will not get the help they desperately need." Read the full release: Funding crisis pushes millions of Congolese people to tipping point

4 April, 2018

Ethiopia: Oxfam is supporting nearly 900,000 people in drought-hit Somali region - 50% of the population in need. We are proud of the amount of water we have been able to give people access to, with 14 high-yielding boreholes in operation, and we are also keeping livestock healthy with fodder and vaccination support, and providing cash to particularly vulnerable households. Currently we are reprioritising our efforts towards districts that have had less rain than others because we are spread very thinly over a vast area.

Chad: The violence we reported in Paoua in Central African Republic recently has resulted in several thousand refugees arriving in southern Chad. Many have come with livestock, and the resulting additional pressure on scarce resources is causing tensions with the local population. We have a small presence in this area but need to redouble our efforts to meet new needs - for water, public health support, food, and sanitation, but we urgently need funding to do this.

21 March, 2018

Kenya: A new emergency is unfolding in Kenya on its northern border with Ethiopia. Violence in Ethiopia's Oromia region has displaced many thousands of people, 10,000 of whom have crossed into Kenya and set up camp on a meadow. We sent an assessment team to the area to gauge needs and give out some immediate basic items; the need for clean water is clear so we will be working on this in collaboration with a partner WASDA, probably doing emergency water trucking while medium-term solutions are found.

14 March, 2018

Uganda: Uganda continues to receive refugees from its neighbours South Sudan and DRC; UN figures in early March put the total numbers of refugees in the country at 1,412,000. In the North where the South Sudanese are spread across several large camps, we are helping families acquire land and providing them with tools and seeds (the most popular being cassava, sesame, groundnuts, maize, and a range of vegetables). We work continually to keep the water and sanitation facilities adequate and functioning well, and to monitor the water quality as well as quantity. In Imvepi camp we are installing a large solar-powered water system and building household toilets for families - given the average lifespan of a refugee camp is known to be 17-20 years on average it makes sense to install sustainable facilities rather than keep replacing emergency ones. An exciting pilot is to make fuel briquettes out of human waste, which is cheap and reduces the need to look for firewood. A current challenge is seeing how we can incorporate support to refugees from DRC (who are coming into the South of the country) with scarce resources.

Somaliland: Somaliland faces a fifth consecutive season of below-average rainfall. As a result, pasture and water availability, crop cultivation, livestock reproduction, access to agricultural employment, and water and food prices are expected to be badly affected. People's ability to access food will deteriorate through June as food and income sources decline further. Communities which have migrated to crowded camps with poor hygiene facilities and the bare minimum to eat are at risk of catching diseases such as cholera. Oxfam is currently supporting over 80,000 people, improving access to water, helping with public health campaigns, funding local vets to widen coverage of livestock vaccinations, and rehabilitating rangeland to improve the quality of pasture.

28 February, 2018

South Sudan:We have published a report on the latest statistics coming out of South Sudan giving the official estimates of who will be hungry this year. In short the numbers are increasing, just as they have been increasing since 2013. This year about 6.3 million people will need assistance - one million more than last year. Oxfam's report tries to break down what is behind the statistics and highlight what they maybe don't show, such as the effect of bad water and sanitation on people's nutrition, and the fact that hunger tends to affect women and girls disproportionately within families. Read Hungry for Peace: Exploring the Links Between Conflict and Hunger in South Sudan.

10 January, 2017

Ethiopia: New refugees are fleeing fighting and hunger in South Sudan for the Gambella region of Ethiopia, and last week a new reception centre was opened at a place called Pamdong. 4,000 people are there now, and the number is expected to rise. Oxfam quickly set up two temporary water storage points for new arrivals, although the lack of containers for collecting it is a problem. Facilities for safe sanitation are also needed urgently, and we will be installing more of the tried-and-tested urine-diversion toilets which are designed to separate and compost solid human waste for fertiliser.

Zambia: Cholera is on the rise around the capital Lusaka and reaching alarming levels. The authorities have been testing the water quality of a large number of wells and a huge proportion were found to be contaminated. The Government has banned gatherings of more than five people, closed the border to trade with Zimbabwe, imposed a curfew for traders, and begum a vaccination campaign. We are procuring chlorine for distribution and planning a public health campaign. This is a bit challenged by the ban on bringing people together, but considering a house-to-house campaign instead. Our team is less used to responding to emergencies than teams in many other countries, but being very proactive and doing well.

Central African Republic: An upsurge of fighting near Paoua city forced nearly 60,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter in town. We have a base there, already supporting 45,000 people, so we are well-placed to scale up our efforts to help more people who lack food, shelter, and public health facilities, and who are concerned for their safety. We are seeing what resources we can redirect towards this. We have also written a briefing paper, 'The Future of CAR is still at risk' because of chronic underfunding and persistent violence.

13 December, 2017

DRC: Publicity at last - BBC journalist Fergal Keane visited Kasai region and his trip is being broadcast this week on the BBC. 'The Hunger Road' is an 8-minute video about a 250km stretch thronged with destitute people. Keane asks our CD Jose Barahona if agencies are being asked to 'play God' by choosing who gets the half-rations we can afford, to which he replies 'we are not ready to play that role'. . Humanitarian aid for the DRC is so severely underfunded that we are having to scale back at the very time when more is needed - right now in Kasai we are preparing to drill a series of deep wells, while training volunteer health workers and running a radio show broadcasting cholera awareness messages. But next year we are likely to have to reduce our coverage in DRC in order to do useful work with the little we have.

South Sudan: "We wish the love that we had for each other will come back again". Friday 15th December marks the 4th anniversary of the current conflict, and Oxfam is running a campaign on social media to give voice to South Sudanese people talking beautifully about 'their South Sudan' and remembering when times were better. The campaign was launched yesterday and will run till Friday this week. Please check out the Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the week, share and retweet!

Next year is predicted to be a very bad one for the country - with almost no planting going on, the lean season will begin in March rather than June, and hundreds of thousands more people will go hungry. Our team is already planning for a bigger food aid programme next year, while using our influence to call for civil society groups to be listened to more.

Uganda: We are working with South Sudanese refugees in a number of camps. Given the terrible situation in South Sudan, these communities are highly likely to spend many years as refugees and therefore do need some form of livelihood. The Ugandan authorities have given families small plots of land for growing vegetables, and many are using this as an opportunity to sell food and set up businesses. Fuel is a problem - refugees leaving the camps to gather firewood are often attacked. Oxfam is working alongside partners to influence the idea of making fuel out of human faeces missed with rice husks which can be dried to make briquettes. Although many people have misgivings at first, it provides a safe and cheap fuel source and could easily be expanded to other communities, and maybe also make an income for the refugees.

22 November, 2017

South Sudan: The rainy season ended towards the end of October, although road usability is still patchy to some more remote areas. People continue to leave the country at a rate of anywhere between 30,000-50,000 per month. We are currently supporting communities in 9 different areas - responding to famine conditions in 5 of these - with a combination of emergency support (water, sanitation, hygiene promotion, cholera awareness, and protection activities) and attempts to boost local production of a diversified diet. This latter includes digging fishponds and training communities in sustainable fishing techniques, and encouraging community gardens and the production of okra, cabbages, onions, tomatoes, and eggplant. Planting large-scale crops is still extremely difficult because of conflict - people either can't plant at all, or can't harvest what they grow. Dependency on aid thus persists. Do join Oxfam in South Sudan's Facebook group for testimonies from people who have benefited from support, such as Rebecca, who says:

"When this garden is going well we produce so much that you can't carry it to the market on your own. I hire a motorbike and strap it on to that instead! We eat a lot of vegetables in the house every day and then we take some to the market. There is nothing that will stop us from working. The generator can pump water from the river so we can cultivate throughout the year. Once we have sold our veg, we use some of the surplus to buy fuel.

One of my children was diagnosed with hepatitis this year, but because of this garden, I had enough money to take him to Juba to be treated. He's fine now: back in school."

08 November, 2017

South Sudan: The latest official predictions for food security across the country make worrying reading. Food insecurity is worsening. The latest IPC report (integrated phase classification) shows the highest proportion of the population at crisis levels of food insecurity ever recorded. Even more worryingly, these hunger levels have been recorded at harvest time when people should have crops but don't, because of the fighting. So while the pockets of extreme hunger are too small individually for Famine to be declared, the fact that more people than ever are at crisis level, and that water-borne diseases are increasing, and the longest deadliest cholera epidemic did not die down in the dry season (as normally expected), all point to a country in desperate straits. While Oxfam and other agencies can keep people from actually starving, we are only holding off the worst. South Sudan really must have a lasting peace if we are going to see any improvements.

03 November, 2017

DRC - a 'Cinderella Crisis'?: Our staff have called this the 'Cinderella crisis' - the overlooked, underfunded series of crises in a country where nearly 4 million people have fled their homes, making this the largest displacement crisis in Africa. We run a sizeable programme in several provinces of DRC - spare a thought today for Alain Nkingi and the team in North Kivu, DRC. They were stuck for six hours en route to a field visit. As Alain told us: "the drivers of Oxfam are real heroes, very resourceful. They are able to get us out of the worst situations, especially during the rainy season when a field visit quickly turns into an odyssey, sometimes forcing our staff to spend the night in the surrounding community."

You think your commute is bad? Digging out an Oxfam vehicle in North Kivu, DRC. Credit: Alain Nkingi / Oxfam

South Sudan - fighting to keep education alive: "Our big ambitions were suddenly put on hold and we were fighting just to keep education alive - we must try and prevent this war from creating another lost generation of young people."

Martin Lubajo had his own education in a refugee camp in Uganda, studying under trees at desks made of grass and sticks. He's since returned to his native South Sudan, and now, working for Oxfam, is helping others affected by conflict get an education. Because as he puts it, as well as shaping lives, it helps save them. Read his brilliant blog Keeping education alive in South Sudan. There are also plenty of short testimonies and images on Oxfam in South Sudan's Facebook group.

20 October, 2017

South Sudan: The huge job of keeping people adequately fed in vast areas of famine and near-famine is made much more difficult in the rainy season. With roads impassable for several months, the only viable way in is by airdropping food to the most isolated locations. This is logistically complex, requiring planes to fly as low as possible, and porters to be waiting on the ground to collect the supplies as they drop, and organise how they are distributed. It works as a short-term coping mechanism but the operation is spread too thinly to give sufficient rations to everyone. Next year's food availability will be hit by the lack of harvests coming from Equatoria state - normally one of the country's food suppliers but itself hit by conflict this year, which affected the planting season.

Sudan: A number of South Sudanese refugees have fled war in their country to seek shelter in Eastern Darfur. Without any form of livelihood they are dependent on aid, and current predictions estimate they could live there for several years. Oxfam therefore carried out a survey of the labour market to gauge what the effect has been on the local population of 30,000 or more additional people in the area, and to see what forms of livelihood might be established. Activities so far being investigated are grain milling, recycling oil drums to make stoves, kitchen gardens, and producing alternatives to fire fuel (eg dung and grain husks).

27 September, 2017

Kenya: This year's drought is at least as bad as previous recent droughts. We are active in Turkana province improving water points. For example, we built our largest ever solar system for pumping water near Lodwar, which is providing for 200,000 people. Water ATMs, in which people use prepaid cards to release given quantities of water, are working well in some communities, and we have been very successful at reducing open defecation in several villages after a long campaign to change perceptions and build acceptance of latrines. Our practical research into urine-diversion toilets is paying off too, as the technique is being adopted as the preferred sanitation standard by the UN.

Our presence in the neighbouring province of Wajir had reduced over recent years, but the drought is so bad we are going back in to run water trucking operations as an emergency measure.

Uganda: Our emergency response programme with refugees from South Sudan ranges across three areas: Yumbe (includes BidiBidi and Imvepi camps); Lamwo; and Arua (includes Rhino camp). New arrivals continue, and we are continuing to expand and upgrade public health facilities to accommodate them as well as undertake all the maintenance work on existing systems. Hygiene promotion teams make household calls and hold group discussions on matters such as malaria prevention, safe food handling, and excreta disposal. We are also helping people set up kitchen gardens by providing fruit and vegetable seeds. A large amount of work is being done to raise awareness,  and reduce incidences, of domestic violence.

Oxfam in Uganda has launched its own website. The site gives a comprehensive view of everything Oxfam is working to achieve in Uganda, as well as listing all the local organisations we work with.

13 September, 2017

Ethiopia: The situation in Somali province remains bad and could still get worse; even if the next rains are good it will take several more months for livestock to recover and crops to grow. Our response to the drought (water trucking, improving boreholes, setting up water tanks at hospitals) has now reached 670, 873 people which is impressive given the distances to travel and the scattered nature of populations. In Gambella in the West, a sudden new influx of refugees from South Sudan (mostly women, children, and elderly people) has left thousands of people with no accommodation, basically 'sleeping in sludge'. We are working with the UN to move them into an established camp but this will effectively double the size of it, so we will also be expanding our activities there to ensure everyone is catered for.

6 September, 2017

Uganda: So far, our emergency response has reached nearly 285,000 refugees from South Sudan, but numbers continue to rise across the country. Estimates suggest there are over one million of them right now, and the resources needed to cover all their emergency needs are not there. We are all working hard to reduce dependence on expensive trucking operations in Bidibidi and Imvepi settlements, by getting new water sources into use. Rains are making everything harder, flooding bridges into camps, damaging food supplies, and hampering latrine and shelter construction. Malaria and respiratory infections remain a high risk. There is also a huge amount to be done to maintain protection standards in the camps and ensure residents feel safe. This is especially true for young women as there is a high rate of underage pregnancy reported.

30 August, 2017

DRC: Amid the several different crises affecting people across this vast country, one of the most overlooked and under-reported is the crisis around Kalemie in Tanganika province in the East. It is an area where tensions between various ethnic groups, notably the Luba and the Pygmies (or Twa), have flared up dramatically. The Pygmies are a traditionally marginalised and isolated group living mainly in forest areas, who have recently begun attacking Luba villages sending people fleeing to large towns for safety. About 500,000 people have left their homes, and the countryside is now a 'landscape of scorched earth' marked by the remnants of burned houses. In March Oxfam sent one of our mobile Rapid Response teams to the spontaneous camps set up around Kalemie town, and they did some impressive work setting up robust latrines and water pumping networks using Oxfam-designed equipment. We are one of very few agencies responding. This is evidenced by the lack of material goods or plastic sheeting in use by the displaced communities. We cannot be confident that people will remain in these sites given some of them have been attacked again by Pygmy militia, and there is more we could be doing on Protection of local civilians as well as on improving access to food. But at the moment our work seriously lacks funding.

Oxfam Great Britain's CEO has just visited DRC. In the video below, he talks about what he saw. 

18 August, 2017

Uganda: This week the number of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda exceeded the 1m mark. In BidiBidi, the world's largest refugee camp, we are providing life-saving clean water.

11 August, 2017

Ethiopia: This week the Ethiopian government released its mid-year humanitarian requirements document, and it paints a desperate picture. At least 8.5m people will require relief food assistance in the second part of 2017, while over 10m will need support in accessing regular safe drinking water.

Oxfam's humanitarian programme manager in the country - Manish Kumar - responded to the figures: "A deadly mix of severe malnutrition coupled with acute watery diarrhoea could put thousands of lives at risk, particularly the elderly and children. People will have to wait until the next rains in October for any reprieve. Urgent action is needed to prevent this crisis from turning into a catastrophe."

So far in the country we've reached 600,000 people, providing cash transfers, promoting hygiene messages, and delivering drinking water for health facilities and institutions. Read our latest situation report.

Kenya:Last week our team in Kenya shared a video about how our 'Shifting the Power' project is strengthening the capacity of local actors to respond to drought and other disasters.

Maiyana David, from the Turkana country, explains how the assistance she's received through the project has helped her livestock survive.

DRC: There are now 3.8m people displaced within the country - 1.4m throughout the Kasai region alone. And a recent attack in the south seems likely to force more people to flee towards Tshikapa, Kasai, where we've recently established a base. News that elections won't take place this year has also led to an increase in demonstrations and tensions.

Through our interventions across the country we reached 352,000 people in July. Our work's included building latrines, distributing items such as buckets and tarpaulin, and conducting fairs where people can exchange vouchers for food.

04 August, 2017

Kenya: Figures released at the end of July show there's a growing number of households slipping into food insecurity. Assessments now put the number of those requiring food assistance at 3.4m. Oxfam continues to work in Wajir and Turkana - including rehabilitating water points and providing cash transfers.

DRC: While the security situation around Tshikapa means we can't explore too far beyond the city, our team there have managed to report a further 92,000 displaced people in surrounding areas. A response plan to include this increased number is now being worked on, but any response would be dependant on us gaining access as military operations are ongoing. Meanwhile we continue to provide safe water and construct latrines inside Tshikapa where 72,000 are displaced.

South Sudan: "Forced displacement, lack of humanitarian access and collapsed markets have created conditions that have left six million people in South Sudan severely hungry and in need of urgent assistance." Colm Byrne - Oxfam Ireland's Humanitarian Manager - has written a piece about the food crisis for Irish News. Read 'Platform: Food crisis in South Sudan needs urgent action'.

28 July, 2017

Horn of Africa Drought Response: Most areas have remained seasonally dry in recent weeks following the poor performance of March-to-June rains. Decreased water availability in southern Somalia, south eastern Ethiopia, and north eastern Kenya will likely result in deteriorating pasture conditions across the coming dry season. Livestock's already in poor state (causing a serious shortage of milk) and it'll be early next year at the least until they recover. In Ethiopia, some estimates suggest people lost up to 90% of their livestock. Our current activities include: rehabilitating water points and training community health workers in Kenya; providing safe water for almost 100 sites - while water trucking to a further 150 institutions - in Ethiopia; distributing hygiene kits in Somaliland.

"The magnitude and human cost of this emergency really cannot be overstated." That was the assessment of Nahuel Arenas, Humanitarian Director from Oxfam America, in an interview with Al Jazeera recently. Watch it on Youtube (he's about 12 minutes in).

DRC: We've now established our base in Tshikapa, in the Kasai region, and are scaling up our response in the area. To date we've been working to provide safe water while also forming protection communities to help provide security to those displaced. So far we've reached 37,000 people, with a target of 63,000 in total. Access to some surrounding areas of Tshikapa remains an issue though as military operations are ongoing.

14 July, 2017

South Sudan: This week South Sudan marked its sixth birthday, but sadly there's been little reason to celebrate. While much was written about the fact famine is technically no longer occurring in the country, more people than ever are going hungry. 

Corrie Sissons, our Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihoods Coordinator, has written a blog about the food crisis and the desperate situation facing millions. Read South Sudan: though famine has ceased hunger has spread

Tanzania: The refugee population in Tanzania has continued to increase adding pressure on available facilities. There are currently 250,000 living in camps, and with no new land being made available for refugees, existing camps are being expanded. Most are already beyond their original capacity and we've been assisting in the search for alternative water sources to provide for the increased population.

In addition we've constructed child friendly latrines and new bathing shelters within the last month, while also reaching over 80,000 people with health promotion messages. This included awareness sessions to mark Global Menstrual Hygiene Day.

07 July, 2017

Uganda: The number of South Sudanese refugees in the country continues to rise at an alarming rate - currently 950,000 - and the main challenge remains a lack of funding to cover the emergency needs.

We were heavily involved at the recent Refugee Solidarity Summit in Uganda, calling upon governments to increase funding - especially for local agencies - and to tackle the root causes of the crisis through backing a peace process. More funds were promised, and while it's a start, we felt it fell short of what's needed. Read our full response.

Post-summit we've been part of a joint-agency group, exploiting the strength of working together, and seeking further lobbying opportunities. You can keep up to date with our work in Uganda via our social media pages - @OxfaminUganda and Facebook.com/OxfaminUganda

30 June, 2017

Horn of Africa Drought Response: Despite parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somaliland receiving some rains between April and June, the number of people facing 'crisis' or 'emergency' levels of food insecurity has risen to 13.6 million. We're also concerned that a lack of access to water and sanitation facilities could cause the spread of disease.

In Kenya so far we've improved access to safe water for 200,000 people, while 30,000 have been reached with hygiene promotion activities. In Ethiopia we've been working in the Southern Somali region, where so far more than half a million people have benefited from our water distributions. We've also set up and deployed two rapid response teams to support with an acute watery diarrhoea response. In Somalia our intervention has been focussed in Sool and Sangaag where we've provided water, sanitation and hygiene support, as well as cash transfers for those affected.

Oxfam plans to provide assistance to 1.8 million people across the Horn of Africa.

DRC: Following on from our recent updates, we're establishing a base in Tshikapa, Kasai district, to respond to displacements caused by local fighting. While we're scaling up our response - with an aim to support 64,000 people - we've already started some activities, reaching around 5,000. This has included constructing latrines in schools and churches were people have sought refuge, providing chlorination points and recruiting local health team promoters. We've also been setting up basic protection alert systems for communities in the area.

23 June, 2017

South Sudan: While famine's been pushed back in the Leer and Mayendit counties, this certainly doesn't reflect an improvement nationwide where the situation has actually worsened. More people than ever are hungry, and we predict more than half of the population (six million people) will be severely food insecure by next month. 45,000 are still facing humanitarian catastrophe. The rapidly deteriorating situation in Jonglei state is very concerning with one million people living in extreme hunger. Oxfam's been working in the area, establishing new drop zones, and distributing food to 300,000. We're also planning support for traders where local markets have been destroyed.

Uganda: There are currently 1.2 million refugees living in Uganda, the most hosted in any African country, and this number has doubled in the last year. Against the backdrop of this growing crisis, the Ugandan government with the support of the UN is this week hosting a refugee Solidarity Summit in Kampala. In the run up we've been engaging with governments and we'll be using the event as an opportunity to highlight the refugee response in the country, as well the need to tackle the root causes of the displacements.

You can follow updates from the summit through social media - @OxfaminUganda and Facebook.com/OxfaminUganda

16 June, 2017

Uganda: There are now 910,000 South Sudanese refugees in the country - with over a quarter of a million arriving since the start of the year. Some estimates suggest as many as 2,000 are arriving on a daily basis in the West Nile region alone - and with the volatile situation in South Sudan, there's the real and worrying possibility this number may rise.

Oxfam's providing water trucking and working to install water storage tanks, as well as conducting hygiene awareness sessions and distributing seeds and tools. Our priorities over the coming weeks include building additional emergency latrines in the Imvepi settlement - to cope with new arrivals - and training hygiene promoters on cholera preparedness. So far our emergency response has reached 280,000 people.

Somaliland: Following reports of around 10,000 suspected cholera cases in the Togdheer region, we've had a team on the ground carrying out an assessment. We're now planning a water and sanitation response to start in the coming days. We've already been working in the territory on our drought response which has reached 42,000 people.

DRC: The already dire situation in the country continues to deteriorate. Along with our ongoing responses in the Kivu regions, and in Tanganyika (where half a million people were displaced following intercommunity violence) we're now also establishing a field office in the Kasai province. Previously stable, there's no humanitarian presence in the area where recent fighting has led to large-scale displacements. And this is in an area where food security was already at emergency levels.

There are serious problems accessing many in need, making any response very challenging. Because of this, we're beginning our response with quick 'drop and go' food distributions. We're then aiming to provide water, sanitation, livelihood and protection support to 50,000 affected people in the province.

12 June, 2017

Ethiopia: The spring rains have underperformed, severely affecting livestock and decimating the country's milk source. There's a concern that cow herds may not fully recover for several years with more unusual weather predicted over the coming seasons. 7.9 million people have officially been declared as requiring food assistance, though some suspect this number may be significantly higher. Food's increasingly becoming less available and, as such, more expensive. Along with our cholera response and water sanitation work, we're now also assisting by providing cash grants. We have 10,000 households registered for these, with plans to roll out to 26,000.

You can learn more about cash transfers in humanitarian responses in our recent podcast: Are cash transfers the answer to humanitarian aid?

19 May, 2017

South Sudan: Recent offensives by government forces in Jonglei have lulled but the effect on displacements has been considerable. Our Rapid Response Teams are making quick 'in-and-out' visits to areas of extreme insecurity delivering essential goods such as soap and buckets, and food (cereals, dried fish, and corn-soya blend for children) - reduced to half-rations to allow us to cover a wider population at speed. Engineers are going in to make quick repairs to water points. Support by the World Food Programme has enabled us to use helicopters at no additional cost to Oxfam which is hugely appreciated. In the last three weeks we have been able to reach 130,000 people. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of people we are helping in states across the country.

The imminent rainy season could spark further violence as militia groups make a final push for territory; the rains hinder movement and fighting tends to stop for the months when roads become impassable. We are also concerned about large numbers of homeless people possibly trying to cross into Ethiopia, because the Gambella area where they would arrive is at absolute capacity.

Ethiopia: The hoped-for April rains were disappointing in Somali region which means crisis conditions will persist until much later in the year at least, and official figures show a massive hike in hunger levels from March. We have expanded our operations into two new areas of the region and fine-tuning our targeting to allow us to reach more of the most desperate people (we have diverted water trucks away from places that have had a bit of rainfall towards areas that have had none). We have five rapid response teams travelling around areas where cases of acute diarrhoea are spreading; they are training community health workers on water purification, good handwashing, and keeping household water supplies free from contamination, as well as giving them information about the efficacy of oral rehydration salts and the importance of early referral. We have reached 500,000 people so far and we're now increasing the number of people we need to target to one million.

Ethiopia - Dolo Ado camp: Senior officials from the United Nations visited Hellowvyn camp in Dolo Ado - the camp we helped set up for people fleeing conflict and hunger in Somalia in 2011. They were very impressed with the work what we did there, finding the latrines and water system still functioning very well. They commented that Oxfam's work is 'incomparable'. The camps at Dolo Ado have become a permanent residence for hundreds of thousands of Somalis who came, and are still coming, to seek safety.

05 May, 2017

Uganda: South Sudanese refugees are arriving in Uganda via two main routes - a few weeks ago over 2,000 per day were coming in. There are now about 850,000 South Sudanese in Uganda, and the site known as Bidi Bidi became the world's largest refugee camp last month (with 270,000 people), although it isn't so much a camp as a sprawling set of several settlements with long distances between them. The Ugandan Government is taking the view that given the situation inside South Sudan refugees could be in their country for 20 years, and are allowing them to work and giving them land to farm. Oxfam has been doing a huge amount of work, designing mini water systems to reduce the need for trucking water across this huge area, and setting up solar panel installations which will provide a long term cheaper option than fuel. In addition, the usual huge job of providing and maintaining storage tanks, tapstands, pumps, and latrines, and large-scale health and hygiene campaigns. Malaria is a significant upcoming risk.

28 April, 2017

Somalia: A small team just visited an area beyond where we are working, to assess the cholera outbreak there. The region - Buhole - is a contested area claimed by several different administrations - Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Puntland... so tensions are high. The team report a very bad situation indeed with an unacceptably high death rate and no one responsible for improving public health facilities. They think this should be a high priority for Oxfam, and they are talking to our two partners with whom we're already working in Sool and Sanaag, with the idea of operating small mobile implementation teams which can go in and out daily to reduce security risks.

In Sool and Sanaag we are trucking water to 13,000 people and this week will distribute cash to nearly 2,000 families (at a rate of $140 per family which will last up to three months). The small team of international staff expect to hand over operations to national staff in a few months time.

Ethiopia: One of the areas we are working in in Somali region is Dollo, one of the most neglected areas of this already marginalised region. Visitors report much worse conditions than usual there - vast areas of desolation where even the camels are now dying (camels being well adapted to dry conditions, as well as the most closely protected by their owners because of their value). We anticipate we may have to continue water trucking for the next nine months, although it is important to see what alternative measures we could take by looking at the regional water market and what local structures may still be working. We will start to give cash to families for food and fodder - keeping a core breeding stock is extremely important to avoid long-term destitution in this largely pastoralist region.

Across Somali region we have now supported over 325,000 people with daily water supplies.

South Sudan: We are scrambling to reach as many as possible of the 160,000 people made homeless in Jonglei over the last few weeks. We have been flying teams in to distribute food and repair water sources to communities who have fled fighting but are still very close to the front line. Before this latest outbreak we were supporting 80,000 people with food and help setting up vegetable gardens and fishing ponds. Many more people are crossing the border into Ethiopia and making their way to camps in Gambella where Oxfam is working, but for many the journey is too far to walk and too expensive to buy transport for.

DRC: A 'silent crisis' is unfolding in central Kasai province, which for many years has been a relatively stable part of the country. Since last year's elections tensions have been rising and conflict spreading between local armed groups, with civilians caught in the middle. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled homes and there are reports of whole villages standing empty. Oxfam has not had any emergency response presence in Kasai for many years now, but we are sending in an assessment team to investigate.

21 April, 2017

South Sudan: A renewed push by government forces has occurred in Jonglei (in the east) in the past few days as a quick tactic to secure territory before the annual rainy season halts activity. About 90,000 people are now camped in settlements not far from three of our bases, while many more will have fled into the bush. Teams in Juba are packing helicopters with emergency food, water treatment kit and repair tools, to send to the settlements with a small team of engineers who will assess the situation and start giving out emergency supplies and repairing water sources. We're planning more distributions over the coming days. The worry is that if the government continues to push on to the rebel-held town of Akobo it will cause another huge outpouring of refugees into neighbouring Ethiopia. Staff who travelled recently elsewhere in South Sudan report high levels of fear among displaced communities who have no foreseeable plans to try to go home. Our teams are drafting in additional support from staff in Asia to help with our response, which needs to be extremely agile at responding in such fast-changing conditions.

Somaliland: "We will live with water trucking and we will die with water trucking". This is what villagers in Somaliland told our team, which has been travelling round the areas we are now helping supply with trucked water through a local organization. Surface water is in particularly short supply when conditions are as dry as this, and some of the sources they saw are very contaminated. Available water can also be saline which makes even purification fairly pointless. We have managed to get drinkable water to 12,000 people in the last couple of weeks, and we will be starting to distribute cash to 10,000 people in two of the districts worst affected by the drought; $135 per family per month for three months to tide them over. Food and other basics are available if traders know communities have money to spend. We hope to be starting work in a third district soon. The April rains are due and there has been some rain, but it's predicted to be less than needed, in which case we will need to keep supporting people throughout this year. The possibility that famine will be declared in South-Central Somalia at some point is very worrying.

Sudan:The number of refugees entering Sudan from South Sudan has increased - 85,000 since the beginning of the year. The Government is reducing restrictions on humanitarian agencies operating in the area, and UN teams are able to access areas that have been off-limits for five years. We are working in Nimer and Kario camps in East Darfur where there are about 33,000 new refugees, arranging for latrine slabs and basic household items to be dispatched from Khartoum.

07 April, 2017

Somalia: The assessment made by a team in Jan-Feb has resulted in a programme through two good local organisations. They are based in the semi-autonomous region of the country known as Somaliland, where communities have exhausted all their means to support themselves through this crisis - their livestock dying, their cash pooled to pay for water supplies that might be contaminated. We closed our programme in Somalia eighteen months ago so this marks a return for us, and our small team has had to accomplish a lot in a short time. This week one of our partners began trucking clean water to areas of severe shortage (reaching 13,000 people), and we are arranging to give cash next week to communities to buy the commodities they currently cannot access. We will be sending in equipment to help our work - bladder tanks, tapstands, water testing kits etc - from the warehouse in the UK.

South Sudan regional crisis: The numbers of people fleeing the country jumped again recently. In the first two weeks of March more than 41,300 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Uganda, over 7,200 in Ethiopia's Gambella region (at a rate of 660 per day compared to 200 per day in February), and over 10,000 went into Sudan (around 690 per day). Bidi-Bidi settlement in Uganda - about 40 km from the border with South Sudan - now has 270,000 residents and has become the world's largest refugee camp. Oxfam is working in Bidi-Bidi, and we are part of a government assessment to locate new sites.

31 March, 2017

Regional: Oxfam has just declared this year's drought in the Horn of Africa to be one of our top priorities. Repeated rain failures have driven nearly 11 million people (predominantly pastoralists who live off livestock) into crisis in Ethiopia, Somalia, and northern Kenya, and parts of Somalia are now considered to be on the brink of famine. Oxfam began responding to worsening conditions in late 2016 by opening a programme in Ethiopia's southern Somali region, where we have so far supported 313,000 people with water supplies, and teams are assessing needs in other areas too. In Kenya we are repairing boreholes to support 50,000 people, and helping local authorities transport livestock feed to remote areas. One positive aspect of the situation in Kenya is a government-run social safety net programme that gives regular cash to very poor households. Oxfam helped get this scheme going, and its success means that far fewer people are in the sort of dire need we are seeing in Somalia, and will reduce the amount of emergency assistance required now. It is really good to see our past efforts paying off here. In Somalia we are sending a new team in to support local organizations to deliver urgent support to about 20,000 people.

This crisis won't be over soon. If the Spring rains are also poor (as they are predicted to be) people will have to wait until October for any reprieve.

South Sudan: Most of the recent coverage of South Sudan has focused on the famine in Unity, but this is certainly not a sign that conflict is cooling in other parts of the country. One sign that violence is continuing to escalate in the Equatorias is that the flow of people out of the country has picked up pace again. 40,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Uganda in the first two weeks of March, compared to an average of 65,000 people arriving in Uganda per month since the beginning of the year. On 9 March alone, over 5,000 refugees arrived in Uganda. Our emergency response in South Sudan is being regularly documented on the Oxfam in South Sudan Facebook page

17 March, 2017

South Sudan: Oxfam's team in Panyijar County is racing to provide food and other aid to people who have crossed huge swamps fleeing violence. Many of them are fleeing as their villages are burned down by soldiers. Depending on their physical state, they have trekked up to five days across the Sudd swamp, with nothing to eat except water lily roots which they peel, boil and mash into a paste. It's not very tasty or nutritious but it's all they can find. For now, they are housed in makeshift shelters.

On Thursday Oxfam chartered a small plane to fly in beans and oil from our warehouse in Juba, South Sudan's capital and, after finding enough supply in the local markets, we have also bought salt for distribution. From here, we will take the food to villages in Panyijar County by car, and send more on canoes to remote island populations. We will also distribute canoe vouchers to island populations so they can reach the next official UN food distribution at the end of March and are planning to work with local traders to source enough food to supply the people living on the islands.

Oxfam staff on the ground estimated that possibly half the children who have arrived in one village are suffering from malnutrition, while some of the elderly arrived too weak to stand or talk. This is an exceptionally remote area and no one knew where the closest village or market was. Indeed, no one felt safe trying to find one. You can see Oxfam staff talking about the situation and the race against time on the Country Team's Facebook page at this link: https://www.facebook.com/oxfaminsouthsudan/?fref=ts

Tanzania (Burundi crisis): Nearly 15,000 Burundians crossed into Tanzania in February, and once registered they are being transferred to Nduta camp. High levels of malnutrition are being recorded among new arrivals - a clear indication of the deteriorating food security situation inside Burundi where high levels of violence have disrupted agricultural work and poor weather conditions have exacerbated the situation. About 66,000 people have been put in Nduta since October 2016, and the camp continues to stretch. With no other land allocated by the authorities to date, Nduta's capacity is likely to increase beyond its original limit of 120,000 and reach 150,000 by the end of March. This is causing tension between camp residents and the surrounding communities, some of whom are demanding compensation. Nyarugusu camp is also at capacity with 133,000 people. Oxfam remains busy upgrading and extending water supply networks and maintaining sanitation facilities in both camps, while supporting partners working on vegetable gardens and the construction of fuel-efficient stoves.

03 March, 2017

South Sudan: After last week's declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan, Oxfam is finalising plans to scale up in some of the areas worst hit by the food crisis. In Panyijar, where thousands of people have fled fighting to shelter on remote islands in the middle of dense swamps, we'll be expanding a canoe voucher programme which has already helped thousands of the most vulnerable to access aid. Without the vouchers we provide, many would not be able afford the journey to the mainland where aid is distributed. This could either leave them going without vital aid or wading for hours through the thick bogs, often carrying young children and then risking spilling supplies on the way back from collection. We'll also expand food assistance programmes in Panyijar, in former Jonglei State and in drought-hit Kapoeta in the south-east of the country. Another key cog in our response to the food crisis will be continuing to improve access to safe water sources and sanitation facilities and promoting good hygiene. Getting these three things right is always necessary, but where people don't have enough to eat and malnourishment is already rife, the risk posed by water-borne diseases becomes even more dangerous.

24 February, 2017

South Sudan: On Monday the government of South Sudan declared famine in parts of former Unity State, where three years of war and spiralling economic problems have left 100,000 people on the brink of starvation. Half of the country's population is expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July and more than one million children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, leaving their lives at risk. It's possible that famine will spread as the country heads deeper into the lean season, but the very worst can be averted as long as aid is allowed to access the worst affected areas. Oxfam is already working in Panyijar county, very close to where the famine has been declared, and we're now going to scale up activities there. This will mean more food, water and sanitation assistance. Panyijar receives many people from Leer - the county that is already in famine - who leave their homes in search of aid and safety. Not only is the area facing famine, but we're also responding to a cholera outbreak in swampy land around Nyal, just south of Leer. Here, we've been digging and repairing boreholes to provide clean water sources, as well as promoting good hygiene practices. We're also going to scale up operations in former Jonglei state, another of the areas most affected by the food crisis.

All of this comes in the context of a brutal civil war in which civilians including women and children have been attacked, schools and hospitals have been looted and burned and over 3.4 million people have been forced from their homes. The dry season, which will run until May, brings mixed blessings because although it means aid can more easily reach remote areas, it also brings an escalation of conflict as armed groups move around more easily. Either way, the need to get emergency stocks in place before the rains hit is urgent. Oxfam already has a large programme in the country. Last year our humanitarian team, based in six locations around South Sudan, supported over 400,000 people.

03 February, 2017

Ethiopia: As hundreds of South Sudanese refugees continue to arrive in Ethiopia each day, Oxfam is further scaling up our response in camps in Gambella. Our staff have played a pivotal and increasingly influential role there since the beginning of the crisis; initially, we provided water trucking and a temporary water system in Kule camp. Then, we designed the water network system in Jewi camp to provide for 59,000 people, later taking on the full running of the network. Our staff also provided innovative sanitation facilities in Jewi, including tiger-worm toilets (in which live one of the very few breeds of worms who can thrive on an unstinting diet of excreta), and toilets that separate the liquids from the solids, reducing both smell and risk of disease. As mentioned in previous weeks, Oxfam is now starting work in a third camp, Nguenyyiel and this time the UN have asked us to provide an even more comprehensive water, sanitation and hygiene response. We'll be addressing the immediate, short-term needs, as well as building sustainable solutions for a camp that is likely to be occupied for many years to come. This means designing and running the water system, installing toilets with an eventual aim of one per household, as well as running hygiene campaigns and providing the required facilities for good hygiene practices.

20 January, 2017

Ethiopia: More than 280,000 refugees have arrived in Ethiopia since civil war erupted in South Sudan in December 2013. Last year Oxfam successfully set up a permanent system to supply water for over 50,000 people in Jewi camp, Gambella, and with that work completed, we are now getting going in another camp, Ngunnyiel, which was a grassy field just a few month ago. Oxfam has started work on a temporary water system to quickly meet the needs of 20,000 South Sudanese refugees who have recently crossed the border. Ethiopia is also facing further severe challenges of its own, as drought continues to grip large parts of the country. We've been providing water for 50,000 people in the south of the country, and we're planning a rapid scale up in water-trucking which would see us reach 280,000 people across hundreds of locations.

11 January, 2017

Ethiopia: The drought in the Horn of Africa is getting worse, and predictions are that it will be at least as bad as the drought of 2011. We are responding to a request by MSF to supply water to 11 health centres they are running in southern Somali region - a huge remote area where 85% of the population currently has no reliable access to water. In the short term we will do this by trucking in supplies (not ideal, and certainly not sustainable) but we'll be investigating better ways of supplying it in the longer term. We will also be developing plans for support in other areas such as access to food, and the maintenance of livelihoods.

Sudan: Oxfam is involved in two separate emergency responses in the Darfur region - one area affected by drought brought on by El Nino, and the other supporting communities displaced by violence about a year ago in the Jebel Marra. Oxfam's team of national staff, alongside local organisations, have been working extremely hard in very difficult circumstances (given the remoteness and prevailing insecurity) to bring clean water supplies and cash to communities, and have received very good feedback from them that our support prevented the necessity of families splitting up so men could find work elsewhere. We are starting a third response in the Darfur region, to 60,000 people who have fled from violence in South Sudan and have settled into 2 camps in East Darfur.

16 December, 2016

Uganda: There are now nearly 400,000 refugees from South Sudan living in a series of camps and settlements across the border in Uganda. They are being welcomed by the Ugandan Government which provides a continual convoy of buses from the border to transport them to places where they are given small plots of land.  Aid agencies are providing emergency assistance - the largest part of our programme is the water and sanitation, and we have staff busy trucking water supplies to people as they arrive which has been called 'literally life-saving'. One of the camps we are working in - Bidibidi - was an open piece of land in August 2016 and is now home to 250,000 people. And all this in a region where 50% of the local community live below the poverty line. Nevertheless, the work we and our partner are doing, to bring local and refugee communities together, to build cooperatives that do handicrafts etc, and to bring vital facilities to new settlements, have earned Oxfam a good deal of praise from the Government and other agencies working in the area.

South Sudan: Three years on from the start of this conflict, South Sudan is in a precarious place. These are difficult times in which to operate, but we continue to reach people across the country with life-saving and resilience programmes. Our 'Food for Assets' (FFA) pilot programme in Akobo - which brings food assistance to communities while supporting them to build and run businesses, take literacy classes, or do vocational training - was recently singled out for praise by the head of the WFP. In particular, she highlighted a project that provides women with literacy classes as a condition for food assistance as a good example for all agencies to follow. Other FFA projects include setting up a women's baking group, which has got off to a strong start (the women had sold out of bread by midday every day last month and one group, a widows' collective, was able to buy themselves more baking flour from their sales), as well as two hair salons and a barber shop and various construction, agriculture and training projects. So, small positive stories do exist.

09 December, 2016

South Sudan: Oxfam's team in Wau town has joined a global campaign demanding an end to violence against women and girls. The 16 days of activism, which was kicked off on November 25 by a marching band, brought communities together to learn more. Female leaders spoke out on the importance of equality between women, men, girls and boys, while there was a mass campaign for girls' access to education and training sessions focussed on promoting women's and youth rights. This is part of a longer-running project Oxfam is running in Wau trying to get women into leadership roles in their communities. In many villages it is now increasingly a female chief and her committee that deals with disputes including domestic abuse, as well as other issues like asset ownership. One Oxfam staff member said: "At first it wasn't easy, but we did mass training on equality and the importance of inclusion and when you give them a few examples, people soon started to get it. Other African women have made it, becoming leaders and ministers, so we ask: why not your daughters and wives?"

Read 'Leading from the front: 16 days of activism against GBV'.

02 December, 2016

Ethiopia: More and more people are arriving in the Gambella region, fleeing South Sudan. Having filled existing camps to capacity, refugees are now being directed into a new camp where Oxfam has been delivering emergency water supplies. However, the high likelihood that people will be staying quite some time means the camp needs more sustainable systems for both water and sanitation. One of our top engineers has been designing a water supply system for the new camp, taking in 43 km of pipeline with the potential to serve up to 70,000 people for the next 10 years. Building the network will take the next 8 months or so, and we will also be constructing family latrines and a camp waste disposal system. To free up our capacity for this we are handing over the similar network we built in the older Jewi camp to a local partner to manage, but Oxfam is maintaining a presence in Jewi doing trials of Tiger Worm toilets.

Rwanda: This week Oxfam officially opened a new permanent water treatment plant in Mahama camp. The new system is a sophisticated piece of engineering that will not only serve the refugees coming in from Burundi, but the local communities too, with a capacity to give clean water to 60,000 people. Both women and men helped to build the new construction.

28 October, 2016

Uganda (South Sudanese refugees):  Since July the number of new refugees arriving from South Sudan has reached nearly 240,000 people, who arrive with 'horrendous stories' of ambushes and massacres on the road down from Yei. Uganda by contrast feels calm and orderly; arrivals are put on buses and taken to be registered. The Government is doing some commendable work trying to ensure refugees integrate with local communities, and both South Sudanese and Ugandans receive better access to water and sanitation facilities. We have worked with a local partner to support 62,000 people so far, with the capacity to help up to 130.000.

Ethiopia (South Sudanese refugees): We are building an emergency water supply system for 30,000 new refugees from South Sudan using our water tanks and tapstands.  But as the numbers increase, the UN is planning to open up a new camp to settle them in. We have agreed to design and oversee the building of a new water system with the capacity to serve 60,000 people in this camp, which will be near the existing camp we have just completed a similar system in.  Assessments are ongoing to determine the most appropriate design - it could include some overlap with the existing system.

7 October, 2016

Burundi: Tensions remain in Burundi, where violence continues to flare up while the economic situation deteriorates and food prices go up. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the region, leaving it especially vulnerable to shocks. After a recent outbreak of cholera along the Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika we're urgently seeking funds to expand our programme further to meet water, hygiene and sanitation needs.

South Sudan: Oxfam with Unicef and the Juba City Council organised a 'Clean Up Juba' campaign last week to promote responsible waste management. More than 500 residents joined in, and the Mayor of Juba made a speech in which he pushed home one of Oxfam's messages; fighting cholera requires both basic services and a collective effort to keep the environment clean. Oxfam has been providing ongoing support to Juba City Council in addressing the issue of waste management by providing rubbish collection trucks, information, interactive public campaigns and household visits.

30 September, 2016

South Sudan: The situation in South Sudan remains dire, with little sign of improvement to come. The food security situation is at its worst since 2013, and with tensions and insecurity continuing to rise, the expectation is that the number of people fleeing their homes will increase too. Oxfam is sending an emergency team to Lankien in the east of the country, which will focus on providing water and hygiene items; and as people continue to steam out of South Sudan, we are racing to set up life-saving facilities in bordering counties including Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. 

Uganda: In Uganda, where the number of people who have arrived since July's outbreak of fighting has passed 100,000, Oxfam's programme is up and running. We're prioritising water, hygiene and sanitation facilities and have installed hand-washing facilities and blocks of communal latrines to a resettlement zone close to the border. We're also trucking in water and providing water tanks.

Sudan: Nearly 250,000 people have travelled north to Sudan since fighting broke out in July. We've carried out a rapid assessment in East Darfur and identified needs which include drilling and rehabilitating boreholes, trucking water and doing hygiene promotion activities. We're currently talking to the government and hope to reach an agreement that will allow us to start working soon.

Ethiopia: In the past few weeks, over 27,000 people have crossed into Gambella region, where many South Sudanese refugees are already hosted. Oxfam is providing water services in Jewi camp and we are in discussions about providing water to a possible new camp in the region.

23 September, 2016

Ethiopia: About 18,000 new refugees have arrived in Gambella from South Sudan. UN staff are trying to accommodate them and are considering opening a new site, even as they continue to relocate existing refugees from a congested transit camp into the one we have been working in. Oxfam has spent the past year designing and building a water supply network for the camp to stop us having to truck water in, and we have moved quickly to increase the number of working water points to support new arrivals. As yet it isn't clear why this latest influx has occurred.

09 September, 2016

Burundi: Cholera has broken out in the capital Bujumbura and in the districts along Lake Tanganika - the rainy season hasn't begun yet so there is a high risk of it getting worse. Very few organizations are active on this, and it is being dealt with by MSF and local hospitals. Oxfam's own technical capacity in-country is low, but we have staff in surrounding countries going in to assess needs next week with a view to seeing if we need to respond.

02 September, 2016

South Sudan: The situation in Juba is currently quite stable. The vast majority of staff from international NGOs operating in the country (including Oxfam) have now returned and programmes in the capital continue to be built up. We're currently carrying out assessments as we plan to restart programmes in Malakal, in the north of the country. Across the whole of South Sudan, we have supported 690,000 people this year.

Uganda: As we have reported over the past few weeks, many of the people fleeing violence in South Sudan have entered Uganda. Since 7 July, around 82,000 people have crossed the border. Oxfam is responding to quickly meet the needs of this large new group of displaced people, setting up key water and hygiene interventions in resettlement areas, chlorinating water, providing water purification tablets and raising hygiene awareness.

Sudan: People have also been crossing South Sudan's northern border, with 52,000 refugees recently arriving in Eastern Darfur. Our team is negotiating with the government and hopefully we will get the go ahead to start working in the area soon.

Ethiopia: In Oromia region, flooding has followed drought and cholera cases are on the rise, not helped by landslides, which have damaged pumps and contaminated water sources. One of our partners is training health extension workers in community health posts, and training local water and sanitation committees to keep facilities in good shape and promote good hygiene. These committees can have the double benefit of providing women with a springboard to get involved in key organising roles in their communities. One woman we met has built on her experience as cashier in a committee to set up a women's cooperative, buying and selling goods like jerry cans. This is a great example of the potential benefits that working on water committees can bring. Oxfam has also rehabilitated water sources in the area, which aside from the obvious benefits, also means young women (who would otherwise spend hours walking to collect water) have the chance to get back into school. Afar region, where we are working with a partner to deliver emergency water and sanitation work, has also been hit hard by this year's drought. It's largely a pastoralist area, but farmers have struggled to feed their animals and many of the livestock have stopped producing milk, which also has health implications for pregnant and lactating women who rely on the milk. Recent flooding has compounded an already difficult situation and the rains are not enough to counter the severe affects of the drought on livestock and communities: "Rain cannot be milk," one woman told us.  Oxfam is working to keep water supplies up and running and promoting good hygiene practices in these regions but the lasting effects can still be seen.

19 August, 2016

Burundi: An evaluation team recently carried out an evaluation of Oxfam's response to the Burundi crisis which started in April 2015 and resulted in 280,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries and displacing an unconfirmed number of people within Burundi.  A team or 5 visited DRC, Tanzania Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to assess Oxfam's response.  The main findings of the evaluation team were positive and it is clear that Oxfam implemented a variety of appropriate, good quality programmes on the ground that the teams should be congratulated for. Technical responses on the ground were widely considered by internal and external stakeholders to be of high quality.  Particular credit was given to the DRC team, whose support to the region as a whole proved essential. From their base in Goma, they provided key materials to the Rwanda and Tanzania programmes, including water tanks and pumps. 

South Sudan: We are gradually scaling back up our response in Juba, after violence rocked the city last month. Twenty international staff have now returned to the capital, from where we are focusing efforts on countering outbreaks of cholera across the country. This latest spate had seen 1,015 cases, with 22 deaths. We're currently reaching more than 20,000 people in Juba's Munuki, Gudele and Kondokoro neighbourhoods with soap, buckets and water treatment tablets, as well as borehole repairs and public awareness campaigns on cholera prevention and treatment. The Uganda programme is urgently planning to scale up their response programme, with more than 70,000 new SSD refugees having arrived there over the last weeks.

05 August, 2016

Sudan: It's rainy season in the region; we are supporting a partner working with the Ministry of Agriculture to distribute sorghum and groundnut seeds.  In Sortony, where we are supporting thousands of people displaced by fighting, an outbreak of acute jaundice has killed two people and affected over one hundred, most likely due to water quality problems. Oxfam and our partner are working hard to counter local resistance to chlorinating water, raising awareness about its importance and assigning members of the community to chlorinate water every day. We have appointed additional hygiene promoters, increased soap distributions, and organised two camp cleaning operations a week, to continue throughout the rainy season.

South Sudan: The team that re-entered Juba last week continues to assess the security situation. Meanwhile, the staff who remain in Juba are continuing hygiene promotion activities and our engineers have started repairing water points damaged since conflicts escalated. So far we have rehabilitated nine water points, with another 25 to go.

Uganda: Meanwhile, the flow of people leaving South Sudan for Uganda has started to slow. Since the conflict erupted in Juba at the beginning of last month, 53,000 people have made the journey across the border, but the number arriving each day is now in the hundreds, rather than thousands. We're set to start water trucking in the next few days and staff are arriving on the ground as we ramp up our response.

29 July, 2016

South Sudan: As planned, a small team of staff returned to Juba to carry out a security assessment and help scale up our response to the recent cholera outbreak. The scene that met them was heartbreaking. Fighting has taken a heavy toll on the city and the number of deaths is thought to be much higher than initially reported. One organisation had reportedly run out of body bags. The situation in the city at the time of writing was tense but quiet, with conflict continuing to rumble south of Juba.

Cases of cholera continue to rise throughout South Sudan. We have started our response in Juba and hope to scale up as more staff re-enter. We are promoting good hygiene practices through drama and theatre performances, which are bring a few smiles and a bit of relief to a community traumatised by war.

Uganda: There has been a sharp increase in the number of people crossing the border from South Sudan to Uganda, with 37,000 arriving since conflicts escalated again recently. This follows the 220,000 who have already made the journey south. They are arriving tired and hungry at transit centres and settlement sites which are increasingly congested and stretched for resources. Oxfam is already working in refugee camps in Uganda, building communal latrines and bathing shelters, and providing additional water through water trucking, and we are hoping to expand our programme. At the moment, we are discussing a proposal with UNICEF to begin working at a new site for new arrivals, with the aim of providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene promotion for over 60,000 refugees and members of host communities.

22 July, 2016

South Sudan:  The situation in the country has been one of our top concerns this week. Oxfam works from 8 bases across several states, and much effort this week has gone into keeping regular contact with all staff to ensure they are safe and well. Flights from Juba to several towns have been suspended, which makes resupplying our bases with equipment or money very difficult. Our Juba-based international staff have been managing the programme remotely from Nairobi, but are planning to return with a small team to assess new needs arising in Juba from the current cholera scare. Our national team in Juba is beginning a cholera response today, and there is a plan to bring our mobile Emergency Response Team out of Wau (see previous week's headlines for that response) to boost capacity.

Sudan:  We continue to support communities in Sortony, Jebel Mara, who fled violence in Darfur. Continuing violence regularly disrupts operations, and water trucking periodically has to stop, but our team has continued to construct latrines and organize hygiene and camp clean-up sessions.

El Nino has been affecting parts of Sudan, and Oxfam is working with communities in North and South Darfur to provide work opportunities; activities include building classrooms, community centres and restoring water streams. As Darfur approaches the rainy season, we are supporting local organizations to ensure farmers have access to seeds (groundnuts and sorghum) and tools so they can start the farming season on time.

08 July, 2016

Ethiopia:  We have achieved an important milestone in one of the camps in Gambella (western Ethiopia) for refugees from South Sudan. Until now the 50,000-or so inhabitants have been relying on trucked water supplies which is an expensive and unsustainable operation. Now, half the camp is being supplied with running water since we completed the treatment plant, pumping centre, and distribution network that pipes clean water directly to tap-stands within the camp. We designed the system and have been working in collaboration with other agencies to construct it, and the other half is being worked on now. When finished, it will have the capacity to give 60,000 people a regular water supply.

South Sudan:  "This was meant to be the South Sudan's fifth birthday - I cannot think of a more horrendous gift: more fighting, loss of lives, more displacement and less hope." So said our Country Director this weekend as fierce fighting broke out in the capital Juba. An estimated 36,000 people fled to collective locations such as schools, churches, and UN compounds, and unknown numbers have left the city. Oxfam has suspended work in Juba and is focusing on ensuring all our staff are safe (it was a 'big relief' when we had accounted for every individual); non-South Sudanese nationals based in Juba have been evacuated to Nairobi. Our other programmes around the country are continuing for the time being. One of the urgent things for Juba is water supply because the city is dependent on trucked water, and trucking operations did stop for a few days last week. But overall, it has been frightening, depressing, and very very worrying for South Sudan and its people.

08 July, 2016

Tanzania: A year has passed since we installed latrines in refugee camps in Tanzania, and a recent inspection found that they continue to work well. We've also been trialling some latrines for children, who make up a big chunk of the camp population. Our designs have smaller, less intimidating superstructures and come in very different shapes to your regular latrine: one is shaped like a fish, one like a frog and another like a chair. The chair-shaped potty has proved the most popular one, with some parents even saying that their children found it so comfortable that they fell asleep on it!

South Sudan: The world's youngest nation turns five this weekend, but any celebrations will be muted as fighting continues to hit the war torn country. The situation for people in South Sudan is grave, with 4.8m in dire need of food, 2.3m displaced by conflict, and rampant inflation lifting the cost of a food basket by 260% in the past year. Oxfam is campaigning hard to ensure that people from all walks of society have a voice in peace negotiation and this week we put out a collection of photos highlighting the will of ordinary people for piece, which was published in the UK and German press.

01 July, 2016

Ethiopia: The capital city is facing an outbreak of Acute Watery Diarrhoea, and the Government has set up 35 cholera treatment centres as a measure to prevent it spreading outside the city. Oxfam is working in 12 of the most affected districts mobilizing community volunteers for a mass awareness-raising campaign, and monitoring water quality at public points and with individual households. We are also supporting MSF in some of the cholera treatment centres making sure the water and sanitation facilities are adequate.

Read a new article by Oxfam about conditions for pastoralist communities in Ethiopia during this year's 'record-breaking drought'. It makes some interesting points about men and women's respective roles in society and how the drought affects people differently - do give it a read.

South Sudan: Insecurity in and around Wau town has been persistent in the last months, and last week fighting broke out in the town itself. The attacks included massive looting of market shops and homes; killings of civilians; destruction and burning of homes and road blocks. About 80,000 people fled, half to areas outside Wau and half stayed within, seeking refuge in informal sites including schools and a church, while about 12,000 congregated next to the UN base. The UN fenced in an additional area as a temporary measure to protect people. Oxfam has a long-term team in Wau which was joined by our Emergency Response Team over the weekend. They immediately began a distribution of jerrycans, buckets, soap, plastic sheets and other items, and a campaign to promote good hygiene. Distributions will continue and increase in the coming days, covering several of the sites including the one at the UN base.

The latest official figures for levels of hunger in South Sudan are just out. They show about 4.3 million people are between 'IPC Levels 3-5' - which signify between crisis and catastrophe. This is considerably higher than the 2.8 million from March, and the number is predicted to increase to 4.8 million during the lean season in July. Not good news at all.

24 June, 2016

Ethiopia: We have now helped over 440,000 people in a wide-ranging response, which has provided clean water, livelihood support, food assistance and other essential services to some of the areas worst hit by the drought. The programme continues to reach new places too, with operations in Fafan Zone starting with a borehole rehabilitation that will benefit 8,400 people.

Democratic Republic of Congo / South Sudan: The two countries are working together on a programme to exchange three staff from each country for three months. Exchanges like this provide staff with exposure to different emergencies and are a great opportunity for programmes to learn from each other's successes.

17 June, 2016

Sudan (Darfur): Fighting continues, and is expected to continue by air throughout the rainy season while ground operations more difficult. Oxfam and our longstanding partner - the Kebkabiya Smallholders' Charitable Society (KSCS) - have drilled a second borehole 4km from the main camp which has reduced our trucking operations massively (the previous one was 50km away). We would install a pipeline for that distance, but the risks of it being attacked are too high. People who were only getting 3-4 litres of water each day are now receiving 12 litres per day which is a great improvement. Partnering with the KSCS and the local health authority, we're starting a major assessment of hygiene conditions in advance of the rainy season - particularly to ensure latrines are in a good enough condition to withstand heavy rain and won't overflow and raise the risk of disease outbreaks.

Burundi: Our plan for working inside the country is taking shape; our response to this political crisis so far has focused on helping Burundians who have fled into neighbouring countries. We are planning to work with communities in the three provinces bordering Tanzania where we have local partners, supporting the livelihoods and improving the safety of 42,000 people over the next eight months.

Tanzania: Decongestion at the first camp, Nyarugusu (by the opening up of other camps), has increased water availability to 18 litres per person per day. The installation of 207 solar panels to power the pumping system is now complete, and work is now underway decommissioning filled up latrine blocks and digging replacements. In Karago, one of the newer camps, borehole drilling has been held up because of collapsing soil. We are now working alongside a hydrogeological charity to find ways to overcome this setback.

10 June, 2016

Ethiopia: The short rainy season is now, and it is indeed raining across much of Ethiopia! In West Arsi it has caused some localized flooding, and we are taking measures to limit the risk of serious water-borne diseases with supplies of chlorine, soap, and household hygiene kits. In Siti zone, however, the rains have replenished some of the dried-out surface water sources and we have been able to suspend water trucking operations as a result. The team has also managed to reach 400,000 beneficiaries in their drought response - no mean feat in a country of small, isolated communities which are widely dispersed and hard to reach.

3 June, 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo: Oxfam teams are responding to an outbreak of cholera.  While endemic in parts of the country, the concentration of travellers along the main river course through the country means there is a high risk of it spreading fast, and if it gets to the cities it could become a major disaster. Oxfam is managing chlorination points at communal water sources for people to get a measured shot of chlorine in their water free of charge. They are also carrying out cholera-specific awareness work for people as they wait in the queue. Staff are also making efforts to disinfect the places where people embark and disembark from the boats which continually sail up and down the Congo river.

25 May, 2016

Tanzania: The situation in Burundi is no better, but without any dramatic deterioration there have not been any mass movements of people into neighbouring countries recently; those arriving in Tanzania are trickling in at about 100 per day. Oxfam is the main agency supplying clean water to the two largest camps of Nyaragusu and Nduta - now both at capacity at 138,000 and 55,000 respectively. We have been asked to take the lead supplying water to two new camps at Mtendili and Karago, but efforts so far to find sufficient water in these locations have failed.  We are also running dangerously low on funding to keep even existing work going, and may have to rein back on vital work.

20 May, 2016

South Sudan: It's now over two years since war broke out, and the effect on food availability has been catastrophic. Farmers are no longer cultivating as insecurity has driven them from their land and the cost of food has risen massively. An estimated 2.8 million people - almost a quarter of South Sudan's population - are in urgent need of aid. The majority of those in the most need are in the Greater Upper Nile states of Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile. Oxfam continues to address critical needs by increasing access to safe water and food by distributing emergency supplies of sorghum, oil and salt and investing in fishing tools and skills. On 28th April, Oxfam launched 'Missed Again: The role of local actors in the humanitarian response in the South Sudan conflict', a report that seeks to understand the strengths and challenges of working with national and local non-governmental organisations in South Sudan's conflict-driven emergency./p>

Ethiopia: Last year we undertook the design and building of a permanent water supply network for one of the camps in Gambella, in the west of Ethiopia, where thousands of refugees from South Sudan have settled. The network was completed in April, except for a couple of pumps and a generator which were delayed because of intermittent violence that prevented full staff movements around the area. The 50,000+ camp residents are currently receiving 12 litres per person per day, and the system has been built to accommodate up to 60,000 over the next 10 years. Our staff are now setting up WASH clubs (water, sanitation, health) in several schools - club members are trained in good handwashing, general hygiene, and safe food practices and environmental cleanliness, and are given supplies of hygiene items and stationery materials for organizing games and exercises with other children.

22 April, 2016

Burundi:  We are now planning a response inside Burundi, likely to start with small-scale cash distributions to people facing hunger.  The violence in the country has limited employment opportunities and raised food prices, and official figures for malnutrition are on the rise. Our plan is to reach up to 50,000 people in the 4-5 provinces neighbouring Tanzania, and we will work with partner organizations while sending in additional staff to boost capacity.