09 MAY 2013
Oxfam’s post-quake rehabilitation work in Wenchuan to be completed by year’s end
The agency ensures that all donations will be used on rehabilitation programmes
It has been five years since the 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan on 12 May 2008. The massive disaster killed 69,277 people, injured 374,643 and incurred an economic loss of 845.1 billion yuan. Oxfam responded promptly after the quake and began our emergency relief work in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi. Up to March this year, Oxfam has raised HK$172 million for the Wenchuan Earthquake emergency appeal, and has allocated HK$171 million on 224 projects in the three quake-stricken provinces. They include 28 emergency relief projects and 196 post-quake rehabilitation projects, benefiting over 850,000 people. The remaining HK$1 million is being used on rehabilitation projects that are still going on, and are expected to be completed by end of 2013. Oxfam will ensure that all donations will go towards the relief and rehabilitation work for the Wenchuan Earthquake.
“Donations for the Wenchuan Earthquake were a record high for Oxfam Hong Kong’s appeal for our global relief responses. It is also the biggest relief effort that Oxfam Hong Kong has directly engaged in. In January 2009, Oxfam, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and the International Poverty Reduction Centre in China jointly signed an agreement entitled ‘Framework Agreement on a Pilot Programme to Implement Post-quake Reconstruction in Poor Villages in Wenchuan’, making Oxfam one of the first international NGOs authorised by the Chinese government to engage in post-quake rehabilitation in China. The earlier phase of our rehabilitation efforts focused on repairing and rebuilding small-scale infrastructures, and laying foundations for livelihood development. The later phase emphasised restoring livelihood to a level equal to that before the disaster by way of crops and livestock farming, and enhancing the community’s capacity for sustainable development, disaster mitigation and self-organisation,” said Howard Liu, Director of China Programme of Oxfam Hong Kong.
While working with government agencies, Oxfam, on the one hand, hopes to ensure that these agencies respect and follow our open, transparent and participatory programme management principles, and on the other hand, hopes to convince them to adopt and promote our approach through our partnerships. We also work with local organisations in our relief and rehabilitation work, hoping to advance their development and capacity building, as well as enhance their accountability and credibility.
The earthquake has created additional financial burden for impoverished villagers, many of them carrying multiple debts. Helping them increase income and enhance their productivity was, therefore, of prime importance. In Mao’ergou Village of Xujiaping Township, Lueyang County, Shaanxi, the average net income dropped from 816 yuan to 564 yuan as a result of the earthquake. Oxfam launched a livelihood project in the village, where we trained the villagers in walnut planting and silkie chicken farming, and introduced a chemical-free farming technique that causes no harm to the environment. After joining the project, the average net income of the village bounced back and increased to 1,266 yuan. The community also set up a disaster warning system. With the newly acquired capacity for disaster prevention and mitigation, they can contribute to the improvement and protection of the eco-environment.
In our relief and rehabilitation work in Wenchuan, we prioritise the needs of impoverished and marginalised people, women, ethnic minorities and remote rural villages that have no access to external assistance. We also emphasise the affected community’s participation in discussing and determining the contents of the projects so as to ensure that these projects can truly meet their needs. With their active participation, the projects help advance the community’s capacity and organisation.
During the emergency relief phase, a total of 60 Oxfam staffers were directly involved in rescue, supplies procurement and communications work. In June 2008, we set up a relief and rehabilitation office in Chengdu, which has since taken up the task of implementing Oxfam’s emergency relief work in Sichuan. In August of the same year, Oxfam’s rehabilitation work was launched, and two months later in October, we set out our five-year rehabilitation plan for Wenchuan Earthquake.
Up to March this year, Oxfam has allocated HK$171 million to the emergency relief and rehabilitation programmes in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi, of which HK$32 million was used on emergency relief work. Oxfam stresses the importance of transparency and accountability, and has in place a strict financial auditing and programme monitoring mechanism to ensure that all donations are appropriately used on the disaster area and affected people. Quotation, procurement and distribution of relief supplies are handled directly by Oxfam staff; the entire process is open, just and transparent. In an effort to save money while safeguarding the quality of the supplies, Oxfam quotes prices from three sources. During supplies distribution, recipients are required to sign on a roster, which will be posted in public places for them to see whether the distribution is fair and proper. Afterwards, Oxfam staff visits the recipients to ensure that the correct materials have been supplied and to collect feedback on the distribution process.
In April this year, Oxfam published the “Wenchuan Earthquake Five Years On” report.
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, national and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in 1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 94 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.
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