Oxfam America

Forty percent of the people on our planet-more than 2.5 billion-now live in poverty, struggling to survive on less than $2 a day.Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization working to change that. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 90 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. To join our efforts or learn more, go to www.oxfamamerica.org.
Jan 27, 2011

Six months into the floods

The monsoon floods that began in Pakistan in July 2010 caused a colossal disaster. Thanks to the collective efforts of the Pakistani Government, UN agencies, international NGOs, and local relief organisations, the response has achieved major successes and seen millions of Pakistanis receive vital emergency relief. However, the disaster is not over and many people still need humanitarian assistance. Ongoing emergency relief is just the first step in rebuilding devastated communities. A nationally-led, pro-poor reconstruction programme is needed now to create a path of sustainable development leading to a fairer and more disaster-resilient Pakistan.

Read our full six-month report on the flooding in Pakistan here:

http://www.oxfamamerica.org/publications/six-months-into-the-floods

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Jan 26, 2011

Six months later: Pakistan floods

The crisis in Pakistan is far from over and could get worse, international aid organization Oxfam warned today, six months after the nation’s devastating floods.

In a report, Six months into the floods, Oxfam warns that millions of people are still in dire need and that the situation could deteriorate further. According to the report, although the aid effort has reached millions, it has struggled to match the immense scale of human need.

The report says that although Pakistan’s floods are the biggest emergency of recent times with more than 20 million people affected, the funding for the response has been woefully slow. The UN appeal for $2 billion to rebuild Pakistan remains only 56 percent funded.

Six months after the rains, hundreds of thousands remain in camps and thousands are living in tents beside their destroyed homes. Sub-zero winter temperatures have increased the incidence of chest infections including influenza and pneumonia, with over 200,000 cases reported in the second week of January alone. In the south, swathes of land – both homesteads and agricultural – remain under contaminated water, and Oxfam is concerned that already worrying pre-flood malnutrition rates have risen.   

Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in Pakistan, said:

“Six months later, millions of people are still facing flood water, shivering in temporary shelters, and struggling to find food. Oxfam is currently helping nearly 1.9 million people – one of our biggest programs worldwide – but this is dwarfed by the number of people who are in need. The aid community has done a tremendous amount – but given the immense scale of this disaster, we have only scratched the surface of human need.” 

Oxfam asks the government of Pakistan to extend the emergency period until peoples’ needs are met. The Pakistan government is due to stop emergency relief operations in most areas on January 31, 2011, but Oxfam warned that this could put at risk large numbers of people who still need assistance. 

Oxfam urges the Pakistan government and the international community to learn the lessons of this disaster and seize the chance to re-build Pakistan better, specifically by providing land for landless labourers, providing better facilities for girls in schools, and investing more in disaster management down to the local level. Many landless farmers are scared to go home due to debts owed to their landlords, often for the crops that were washed away in the flood.

Khan said:

“Pakistan could salvage a new beginning from the debris of this disaster. If the country invests in disaster risk reduction, then the devastation wrought by this disaster could be consigned to history. With bold steps – like redistributing land – a fairer and stronger country could emerge. We must seize this chance to address the causes of inequality and poverty to build back a better and more resilient Pakistan.” 

Oxfam also warns that action is needed now to prevent a secondary food crisis. Agriculture was particularly hard hit in the flood with more than 2.2 million hectares of crops lost. Most farmers missed the last planting season in November, some because their land was still underwater, but others because they did not get seeds and other agricultural supplies in time. The April farming season is likely to be missed unless urgent action is taken now to rehabilitate the fields that can be planted and distribute seeds and tools to farmers. 

Oxfam also said that a disaster-prone state like Pakistan should have been better prepared to deliver an adequate and timely response, and criticized the aid community for focusing on Khyber Pakhtunkwa province in the north, at the expense of Sindh province in the south. Oxfam was in Sindh province from the outset, but many aid organizations did not extend their coverage there until two to three months later.

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Nov 23, 2010

Oxfam blasts third "talk-fest" on Pakistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oxfam blasts third ‘talk-fest’ on Pakistan as nearly seven million remain without shelter

Nov 11, 2010

International agency Oxfam today called on rich countries and institutions, meeting for the third time in as many months to discuss flood-ravaged Pakistan, to end the talking and start giving the $1.1 billion that remains unfunded in the UN’s current Pakistan Floods Emergency Response Plan needed to help save lives and start to rebuild the country. 

Pakistan will host the Pakistan Development Forum from November 14-15, which brings together donor countries and international financial institutions to discuss rehabilitating communities hit by floods and support the reconstruction effort. 

“This is the third major donor meeting since the floods and it is action that is needed, not endless talking. Funding for humanitarian work is in danger of drying up, yet the needs are still enormous, especially as winter approaches and nearly seven million people are still without shelter,” said Fatima Naqvi, Oxfam’s acting country director in Pakistan. 

“It is time for donors to show leadership. They must commit long-term funds and ensure money starts to reach those who need it now, rather than making empty promises. Pakistan needs greater support to get back on its feet and rebuild from this devastating crisis,” said Naqvi.   

More than 20 million people across Pakistan were affected by the floods.  Nearly two-million homes were damaged or destroyed, roads and bridges were swept away, and schools and hospitals damaged. Estimated losses to public and private property amount to more than $10 billion according to the World Bank and Asia Development Bank Damage Needs Assessment Report presented to the Government of Pakistan on November 5, 2010. 

The impact on the country’s already fragile economy has been devastating. Agriculture, which accounts for 21 percent of the economy and 45 percent of employment, was particularly hard hit. The floods wiped out more than two-million hectares of crops and killed millions of livestock and poultry.   

While the response from some donors and the public has been generous (the US government leads international donors with more than $326 million committed), the UN’s Pakistan flood appeal for just under $2 billion is still only 43 percent funded. Many relief and emergency programs are in danger of being closed due to funding shortages.* 

Oxfam says reconstruction can present a new opportunity to tackle Pakistan’s chronic poverty and inequality. 

“The needs of the poorest and most vulnerable must be placed at the heart of the relief and reconstruction effort,” said Naqvi.  “It’s crucial that communities are consulted in assessing and prioritizing reconstruction needs. It is also a chance for the authorities to take greater steps toward a more equitable distribution of land and prevent flood-affected families from falling into debt bondage. Land ownership is an important safeguard against poverty. But in southern Sindh, the area worst-hit by the floods, an estimated 60 percent of people are landless and many now have huge debts.” 

Oxfam and its partners have supported initiatives in Sindh to redistribute state-owned land to poor landless women peasants. The program will be fully completed, closely monitored, and rolled out to other provinces. 

* The World Health Organization and Unicef have both warned they may have to close some  emergency programs and cut staff because of insufficient funding.  

 

Read the press release on our website