Oxfam closes historic tsunami response
Oxfam International is preparing to close its response to Indian Ocean tsunami at the end of this month, four years after the disaster. Oxfam and its local partner organizations assisted 2.5 million people in seven tsunami-affected countries in the largest emergency program in its history.
In a report published today, Barbara Stocking, the chair of the Oxfam International Tsunami Fund Board, said: “What has been achieved is astounding. Hundreds of thousands of people are now living in better conditions than they were in before the tsunami thanks to the generous support we received from the public, the hard work of our staff and local partners and the resilience of the affected communities to rebuild their lives”.
Oxfam received $294 million in donations to help affected people – more than 90 per cent of it from the public. The sum was used in Indonesia for instance where Oxfam was the first international agency to provide housing to tsunami survivors in Aceh, going on to build 1,566 permanent houses. In Sri Lanka, the international aid agency helped to restore the livelihoods of almost 170,000 people. Oxfam also funded, amongst other projects, the reconstruction of eight tsunami-affected secondary schools serving around 6,000 students each year. In India, Oxfam helped to restore the livelihoods of 660,000 people and create structures to allow them to save money.
“The money we received allowed us not only to help meet the immediate emergency needs of tsunami-affected populations, but also to try to address the factors that made them vulnerable: not least poverty and a lack of influence over their own lives,” Stocking said.
The activities of Oxfam and its partners ranged from the provision of emergency clean water and sanitation to people displaced by the disaster; improving the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of poor and displaced people, especially women; and the construction of permanent houses to better protect communities against future disasters.
“The tangible results, such as the new houses and fishing boats, are only one marker of progress,” Stocking said. “The less visible interventions are just as important. We have helped to give people better access to markets for their goods. We have helped them gain the knowledge they need to protect themselves against future disasters and the confidence to demand a say in decisions that affect them.”
Oxfam hopes that the world’s generous and speedy response to the devastation wrought by the tsunami will be regarded as landmark. There are processes in place to keep improving the coordination between international agencies. Oxfam itself has extracted many lessons from the tsunami response which have already been applied in subsequent disasters.
Notes to Editors
The Oxfam International Tsunami Fund was established in March 2005 as an independent company and registered charity in the UK. The Fund officially closes on 31 December 2008
Oxfam has received $294 million, more than 90% of it from the public. Less than five per cent has been spent on administration and fundraising costs. The Oxfam International Tsunami Fund End of Program Report can be found at:
Among the many successes of the Oxfam tsunami program are:
In Indonesia (where Oxfam spent $114.4 million, or 44% of the total program spend):
- As well as delivering emergency water supplies, Oxfam built a piped municipal water supply system in Lhokseumawe to serve 10,000 people and constructed or repaired more than 50 gravity flow water supply systems serving 170 villages.
- Oxfam’s advocacy efforts led to the agreement by Indonesian authorities to grant all people in Aceh who rented or squatted on other people’s land before the tsunami the legal right to their own home, as well as giving women joint ownership with their husbands of newly constructed houses.
- Oxfam paid for the construction of 30 elementary schools, serving 7,000 children, and the training of 1,200 teachers.
- Oxfam helped strengthen the fledgling civil society sector by helping to fund 75 organizations.
- Oxfam was the first international agency to provide housing to tsunami survivors in Aceh, going on to build 1,566 permanent houses.
In Sri Lanka (where Oxfam spent $86.6 million, or 33% of the total program spend):
- Oxfam helped to restore the livelihoods of almost 170,000 people. Our partner, BRAC, assisted 60,000 women to set up small businesses and now reports that 88 per cent of them have higher incomes today than they did before the tsunami.
- Oxfam funding, technical assistance and market research helped more than 3,000 poor women coir (coconut fiber) workers in southern Sri Lanka to revive and expand their businesses. They have now doubled, and in some cases tripled, their incomes.
- Oxfam funded the reconstruction of eight tsunami-affected secondary schools serving around 6,000 students each year.
- Oxfam has funded the establishment of a national disaster risk reduction resource center
In India (where Oxfam spent $45.2 million, or 17% of the total program spend):
- Oxfam helped to restore the livelihoods of 660,000 people and create structures to allow them to save money for the first time.
- Oxfam provided 360 new boats to fishermen and repaired another 900 boats and 800 outboard motors.
- Oxfam funded the creation of Village Information Centers in 106 villages, which now provide services such as a disaster early warning system, market information and computer training courses to 34,000 people.
In Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India Oxfam also funded the Green Coast program, which combined environmental rehabilitation, the restoration of livelihoods and disaster risk reduction. This program directly helped 106,000 people.