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Gansu Floods
Crops severely damaged by floods in Chenhe Village, Guoyuan Township, Dongxiang County, Gansu Province. (Photo: Oxfam)

Disaster Situation

Since mid-July, Gansu Province in mainland China has been badly hit by rainstorms. The rainfall has triggered floods, landslides and mudslides in large areas and has led to severe causalities, left many missing, and damaged houses, farms, community facilities and infrastructure. Dongxiang County is recognised by the government as a 'national-level impoverished county'. It has a mountainous landscape, and dry climate with little rainfall.

Severe rainstorms have even ravaged Dongxiang County in Linxia Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province since 18 July, which caused casualties. This has damaged village houses or left them in ruins, and locals are struggling to farm under these conditions as the floods have destroyed villagers' crops.

In response, Oxfam Hong Kong staff immediately conducted a disaster assessment in the severely affected area. The assessment found that because landslides have swept away and destroyed farmland and houses, a large number of crops have been lost. With the loss of crops, it is expected that there will be a severe food shortage.

Oxfam’s response

When disasters hit, we go to the most vulnerable. Together with our local partner Rainbow Volunteer Club, we at Oxfam have reached out to survivors in impoverished regions such as Dongxiang County’s Guoyuan Township, Fengshan Township and Daban Township. We have assessed the situation and launched a response.

Oxfam Hong Kong received HK$655,000 funding from the Hong Kong SAR’s Disaster Relief Fund on 10 August 2018 to purchase supplies and respond to the floods in Gansu. Continuous torrential rains have left Dongxiang County with potential geological hazards and have displaced countless people. The rains have also damaged houses and farmland, and as a result, increased the number of affected people compared to that which was stated in the application to the HKSAR’s Disaster Relief Fund.

On 24 August, the Disaster Relief Fund, in responding to our project adjustment application, agreed to expand the response to reach more people and distribute more relief items. The total amount of relief items exceeded RMB82,311 from that of the Disaster Relief Fund’s approved amount, and Oxfam Hong Kong has borne the additional costs accordingly.

Whenever we respond to disasters, we ensure that donations are used for the people affected by the disaster. We have a strict programme quality monitoring and financial auditing system. Also, Oxfam staff are in charge of the whole process from sourcing to purchasing to distributing relief supplies, and the entire process is open, fair and transparent.

The Disaster Relief Fund requires that this fund be used for this specific disaster, in accordance with the funding application submitted by Oxfam Hong Kong and approved by the Disaster Relief Fund. After the completion of our relief work, we will carry out an evaluation, and submit an evaluation report and financial report (including external auditing report) to the Disaster Relief Fund.

Procedures to protect women and prevent the abuse of power in Oxfam’s response

Oxfam focuses on the protection of women and prevention of any abuse of power. Women’s right to know and participate will be safeguarded throughout Oxfam’s response, and communication channels will be kept open. Oxfam staff and members from our partner organisation will verbally explain the details of the response to affected households, particularly women. A list of details will also be posted on the community notice board, including the details of the response, the list of the people who will receive relief items, the criteria for aid distribution, and a hotline for enquiries and complaints. If any misconduct should arise, people can contact Oxfam Hong Kong directly by telephone or email. To ensure women are treated fairly during the response, staff members from Oxfam Hong Kong will pay particular attention to women and their needs during the aid distribution process and post-distribution visits.