Waterside house raised on stilts in a slum in Manila. © Robin Hammond/Panos
People in a waterside house raised on stilts in a slum in Manila. © Robin Hammond/Panos

No Accident: Resilience and the inequality of risk

Published: 20 May 2013
Author: 
Debbie Hillier, Oxfam Humanitarian Policy Advisor, and Gina E. Castillo

Oxfam’s latest report on resilience calls on governments and aid agencies to tackle the politics and power at the heart of the increasing effects of climate change, rising inequality and people’s vulnerability to disasters.

Major external risks are increasing faster than attempts to reduce them. Since 1970 the number of people exposed to floods and cyclones has doubled. And it’s not just disasters: 100 million people fall into poverty just because they have to pay for health care. Many of these risks are actively dumped on poor people, with women facing an overwhelming burden because of their social, political and economic status.

A new international emphasis on building resilience offers real promise to allow the poorest women and men to cope with, and ultimately thrive, in the face of shocks, stresses, and uncertainty. But only if risk is more equally shared globally and across societies - this will require a major shift in our approach to poverty reduction and fundamentally challenging the inequality that exposes poor people to far more risk than the rich.

Key recommendations

  • Rich countries must take responsibility for and reduce risks that they disproportionately cause, such as climate change.
  • National governments must tackle underlying inequality and vulnerability through progressive taxation, social protection and social insurance, and giving their poorest citizens a voice in decision-making.
  • Development agencies and national governments must reduce risk and inequality as well as supporting growth – risk and resilience should be incorporated into the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. 
  • Aid agencies must break down institutional barriers – the ‘humanitarian-development divide’, with donors providing more flexible, long-term funding.
 

Watch report author Debbie Hillier explain Oxfam’s take on resilience:

 

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