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How does Oxfam respond during humanitarian disasters like floods?
During last 4 years, over 920,000 people affected by recurring floods that hit Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have been supported through Oxfam India. Our primary response is ensuring that the affected are provided relief kits and clean water. A large part of our humanitarian work includes hygiene promotion and safe water provisioning. In the year, 2015, when Nepal was rocked by a devastating earthquake, Oxfam India extended its operation outside Indian and responded immediately.
Since last year, we have been able to reach out to over 19,000 most vulnerable households across 5 states of India.
Here is how we respond to a disaster:
- Provide clean water and ensure better Water-Sanitation & Health (WASH) facilities for the disaster-affected communities.
In the event of a disaster like floods and earthquake, clean water supply is hit the hardest. Flood water soon becomes stagnant and turns into a breeding ground for diseases. This creates a threat for a second disaster. Women, children, adolescent girls and people with disability are the worst affected by the WASH related challenges during disasters and throughout the year.
- Provide food security for the worst affected and most vulnerable households.
With farms flooded and major transport routes clogged, people lose their source of livelihood and access to food sources. Any humanitarian effort’s success does not limit itself to providing immediate relief but enable communities to be resilient to other disasters and help them get back on their feet. We ensure better nutrition for women and children from the worst-affected families through supplementary nutrition/ food distribution to ensure their immediate survival. We also provide Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) support for the affected.
- Put gender at the heart of our humanitarian response. Not many people know that natural disasters affect different genders in different ways. Women and children not only lose their homes and safe spaces, but also become more vulnerable. They are not in control of their resources, have no permanent place in decision- they suffer traditional, routine gender-bias. Their care giving roles expand dramatically after a disaster. Their special health needs, in fact especially those of pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls are ignored Oxfam’s Minimum Standards for Gender in Emergencies are used as a tool to ensure a consistent approach for promoting gender equality in humanitarian preparedness and response programming.
- Lens on education in emergencies. This refers to the quality and equal learning opportunities for all ages in situations of crisis. Education in emergencies can help provide physical and psychosocial protection that can sustain and save lives and ensure the safety and security of children, adolescent girls and boys during disaster and throughout the year.
- Influencing stakeholders at various levels to develop a system and culture of taking concerted action on disaster management. Here, the stakeholders include the government, local governance systems (PRI), Civil Society Organisations and the affected communities that need to work in a cohesive manner to reduce the impact of future disasters.
- Using technology to save lives. We use ICT based application to enhance the effectiveness of the humanitarian and DRR interventions. The effective use of technology ensures wider coverage with effective support to the disaster affected communities.
- Putting people first. We encourage implementation of ground work through local partners under supportive supervision our Humanitarian Team. The major part of the resources are used for providing support to the communities. Training and capacity building of partners and providing them with handholding support for planning and managing disaster response projects, including logistics and procurement activities that act as a step towards sustainability of interventions at the community level.
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