Oxfam: Learning the lessons of the Tsunami: One month on

Published: 1 November 2005

The response of the world to the Tsunami has been impressive but important lessons need to be learnt according to a new report issued today by international agency Oxfam, one month after the Tsunami struck.

The report, which summarises Oxfam's response to the Tsunami, 'Learning the lessons of the Tsunami: one month on', shows how immense the response has been from governments, international aid agencies, the United Nations,local charities and the world's public. The aid effort has helped savecountless lives and one month after the Tsunami many communities arealready well on the way to physical recovery. Oxfam alone has already helped over 300,000 people across the disaster zone. For example in India Oxfam has now distributed over 17,000 hygiene kits, provided safe water and latrines for over 20,000 people living in camps, and assisted over 1,000 families with temporary shelter.
The report shows that despite the scale of the response, the crisis has bought with it real challenges that remain. In particular it calls on those coordinating the response to ensure that all agencies working in the region are appropriate to the task. In some cases the influx of money has meant that there are too many organisations working without the appropriate experience, competencies and skills. In some parts of Southern India for example the coordination of agencies is a significant problem, while in others local governments are coordinating the effort very effectively.
National governments with the support of the UN need to implement processes immediately to accredit international agencies and ensure their work is suited to their experience.
Aid agencies are also urged to do more to consult with the communities they are there to help. A lack of consultation has meant that some of the aid delivered has not always been what is most needed. For example in Sri Lanka some of the housing is being built without consultation and is not appropriate. Donors and those co-ordinating the response need to ensure that all agencies are working to meet the internationally accepted 'Sphere'standards for disaster relief.

"One month ago the world responded to the Tsunami with an unprecedented aid effort. Oxfam too launched a global response and is already helping over 300,000 people. Undoubtedly this work has saved lives but there are manychallenges that cannot be ignored. The amount of money raised means that governments and aid agencies must address issues of the quality, not just quantity of aid," said Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam Great Britain.

The report also urges governments to deliver the aid that they have promised and calls on them to address the broader issues that have beset the region for years. The great majority of the victims of the Tsunami already lived in extremely difficult circumstances and so far governments have not address the underlying inequalities.

"The issues of conflict, debt and trade have not yet been adequately addressed by the international community. Unless they are, the victims of the Tsunami will never escape poverty," added Barbara Stocking.

Contact Information

Contact Brendan Cox of Oxfam''s Media Unit: tel: 44 (0) 1865 312498; mobile: 44 (0) 7957 120 853.