Emergency responses must be based on a good understanding of key markets or they risk undermining livelihoods in the long-term. Market analysis is a critical part of Oxfam's emergency response. Understanding the key constraints (environmental, legal, logistical) and opportunities allows us to determine which activities will strengthen market systems for the future.
Oxfam delivers immediate aid through market structures wherever possible. At the same time, we aim to support and strengthen markets more generally by assisting in the development of enterprise and financial services, or rehabilitating infrastructure. This can include: giving cash grants; in-kind distributions (such as food aid); supporting people's small-holder agriculture; and, social protection. Working with closely with traders and other market actors helps to strengthen local economies and ensure sustainable responses.
Cash grants have proven particularly effective. Giving cash provides households with the options, empowerment, and flexibility to support economic recovery. Cash grants (or cash for work) also reduce the risk that families will sell off important assets, take on debt, or engage in dangerous activities in order to survive. Oxfam is one of the leading organisations in emergency cash or voucher distributions, and we are a founding member of the Cash Learning Partnership which is building
momentum across several humanitarian sectors for recognition of the benefits of market-based programmes.
Cash is not always the solution, however. Food aid can save lives where food is unavailable any other way, and Oxfam also distributes seeds, fodder, livestock, animal care, agricultural and business skills training.