07 FEB 2012
Oxfam: International humanitarian system will not cope with increased case load without going local
The international humanitarian response system will fail to cope with the expected rise in the number of people exposed to crises, warned international agency Oxfam today. In a new report, Crises in a New World Order, Oxfam calls for resources to be moved closer to where disasters happen, and for more investments towards disaster prevention and risk reduction. Aid to risk reduction programmes stood at only 0.5 per cent of total aid spending in 2009.
“Shifting more money to preventing and reducing the risk of disaster makes eminent sense, but it does not mean taking it away from urgent humanitarian response. It is not a case of either or. We will still need the funds to immediately respond to dire human crises,” said Jane Cocking, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Director.
More emphasis is needed on preventing crises from escalating. Not only would it save lives, but it would also save money. The United Nations estimated that in Niger in 2005 it cost US$1 to save a malnourished child’s life. Once Niger’s food crisis was in full swing, it cost US$80.
In 1991, a cyclone struck Bangladesh and killed an estimated 140,000 people. A similar sized cyclone hit again in 2007, killing 3,406 people, still a high death toll but much reduced, due in part to the government’s efforts at implementing early warnings and evacuating people to safety.
People affected by crises need peace, security, justice, development, and good governance. They also need humanitarian action that always provides the assistance and protection people need, and wherever possible supports their long-term development. Ethical and effective humanitarian action should be owned by the affected population, and strive to be sustainable. Capacity building should be at the heart of humanitarianism, as it has been at the heart of development for years.
The report has five main principles for humanitarian work in the future:
- Build the capacity of states and civil society
- Build communities’ resilience to cope with disasters, climate change, violence, and economic and political shocks
- Encourage states and others to uphold humanitarian principles
- Encourage new and different sources of funding and action from emerging economies, private companies, and others
- Strengthen the quality and accountability of INGOs, including through some form of certification of effective humanitarian action
Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 92 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.
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