Emergencies

  • When an emergency hits, Oxfam is there. We work with local partners on the ground so we can save lives during times of crisis and reduce future risks. We help people caught up in natural disasters and conflicts by providing clean water, food, sanitation and protection. At any given time, we’re responding to over 30 emergency situations, giving life-saving support to those most in need.

Trapped by the blockade, the people of Gaza cannot escape COVID-19

The recent lockdowns and restrictions make it feel like a strange time to be alive. Sadly, for Palestinians, it’s part and parcel of the struggle of everyday life. And now, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, they face a new threat.

Pandemic or no pandemic, Gaza is already experiencing a dire humanitarian crisis. A 13-year-long blockade has devastated the economy, caused widespread destruction and left most people largely cut off from the outside world.

Ahmed will take his donkey and cart out several times a week to fetch clean water. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

With more than 5,000 people per square kilometre, the besieged enclave – where, as of 3rd April, there were 12 official cases of COVID-19 – is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Social distancing is key to keeping the virus at bay but Palestinians living under the blockade are trapped. Poor water infrastructure also means that proper hand washing is often impossible.

Residents have nowhere to go and no means of avoiding transmission. In an area where one in eight people relies on life-saving aid, the virus would do untold damage to two million vulnerable people.

A major outbreak is likely to see the collapse of Gaza’s ailing health system, which is already overrun with patients suffering from waterborne diseases. Gaza is also dependent on Israel for critical medical cases, but the threat of COVID-19 has created a level of collaboration between Palestinians and Israelis that has rarely, if ever, been seen before.

As well as the health system implications, COVID-19 could further destroy the economy of Gaza, which already has an unemployment rate of 47 percent. Small shops have shut their doors due to the crisis and business-owners have no income to pay their staff or provide for their own families. With movement restricted even more to prevent a further spread of the virus in Gaza, many families are already finding themselves unable to put food on the table.

With our humanitarian staff in Gaza bracing themselves for the worst, funding is vital to ensure that the weak economy and health system won’t completely collapse

What Oxfam is doing

With the support of Irish Aid, our teams have mobilised to urgently respond to the threat of Covid-19 in Gaza. We are providing protection equipment for healthcare workers, beds for patients in quarantine centres, soap and other essential hygiene products. We’re also providing hygiene kits to vulnerable families through our partner organisations.

Oxfam staff receiving hygiene and protective gear items that will be distributed in quarantine centres. Photo: Sami Alhaw/Oxfam

Our water engineers are ensuring public water taps used by the most vulnerable families can be used safely. With no other source of clean water, these families are most at risk of catching the virus.

We’re helping the vulnerable families put food on the table and buy hygiene items and access clean water to protect them from the outbreak. We are currently maintaining 14 water filling points in vulnerable communities where between 35,000 and 70,000 people will need to rely on depending on the severity of the outbreak. In addition, we’re spreading awareness about best hygiene and health practices to avoid further spread of cases across the West Bank, where 148 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed.

This disease knows no borders and does not discriminate. For the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, the worst is yet to come as the coronavirus begins to establish itself and spread quickly through communities powerless to stop it, without access to water, sanitation or healthcare.
Together, we can save lives.

Oxfam teams in Tanzania and Mozambique are prepared for Cyclone Kenneth

• Oxfam teams on standby to respond to second recent devastating cyclone

• Oxfam Ireland works directly in Tanzanian districts likely to be affected

Thursday 25th April, 2019

Oxfam teams in Tanzania and Mozambique are ready for the potential impact of Cyclone Kenneth, with strong winds, heavy rains, flash flooding and storm surges expected to hit the region in the next 24 hours.

Tropical Cyclone Kenneth formed north of Madagascar on April 23rd and is expected to pass over the Comoros islands as it moves towards Mozambique and southern Tanzania, making land on April 25th. This comes in the wake of another devastating cyclone in southern Africa during March.

Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, Jim Clarken, said: “Oxfam is ready to respond in the region and is monitoring this weather event which looks set to match the recent destruction by Cyclone Idai. We have already seen more than 700 deaths with 3 million people requiring humanitarian assistance due to Idai and Cyclone Kenneth will create similar problems on the ground.”

“Strong winds and rain have already been seen in Tanzania and people in Mozambique have been told to get to safer ground as flash and river floods are expected. It is rare that such a weather event would occur in this particular area, so we are working with the population to make sure that they are ready to protect themselves in advance.”

“Oxfam Ireland works extensively in Tanzania around economic empowerment, gender equality and gender-based violence, and this cyclone is likely to cause problems for our programmes being delivered in the Lindi and Mtwara regions. Not to mention the impact on livelihoods if damage to crops and other produce occurs,” stated Clarken.

During 2017 and 2018, Oxfam Ireland worked with thousands of people in Tanzania through projects worth €1.7 million including the provision of supplies and sanitation to refugees, supporting marginalised women to claim land rights, and income-generating enterprise development.

ENDS

CONTACT

ROI: Nyle Lennon, Oxfam Ireland: nyle.lennon@oxfam.org or +353 (0) 83 197 5107

NI: Phillip Graham, Oxfam Ireland: phillip.graham@oxfam.org or +44 (0) 7841 102535

Oxfam community activists help prevent cholera after Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

In the aftermath of the Idai Cyclone In Mozambique, Oxfam and the Ministry of Health have trained more than 60 community ‘activistas’ in Mozambique to promote public health advice to help stop the spread of cholera.

 

Cholera is easy to treat and prevent

“The tragedy is that cholera is actually easy to treat and simple to prevent.” Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Advocacy Manager in the devastated city of Beira, said. “But, if it really [takes] hold, it will flare [up and get] out of hand and the response will be that much more costly – both in terms of lives and the resources needed to stop it. We must get clean water and decent sanitation to people and [urgently promote the fact] that simple things like soap can keep cholera at bay.”

“We need to bring in far more supplies and fast, particularly to ensure clean water and safe waste management… the people [need to be prioritised and we need] to step up public health promotion in the heart of the affected communities.”

She went on to say that while the international response had been good, “the overall appeal remains just 17 percent funded – incredibly low for what the UN has described as ‘one of the worst weather-related disasters in Africa.”

Jose Arnando wades through the highly contaminated waters inside Tica village. His house can only be reached through the water. Photo: Micas Mondlane/Oxfam

The Mozambique government is working fast to set up cholera treatment centers

Cholera treatment centers are being set up in the city of Beira, Mozambique, where the threat of a cholera epidemic is high.

Six people have died from the acute diarrheal disease and the number of cases is soaring, now over 3,000. The government began oral vaccinations for 900,000 people on April 3rd.

These vaccinations need the support of a massive community outreach campaign to help people learn how they can protect themselves against cholera.

With the help of Oxfam supporters like you, 64 ‘activistas’ so far have been trained to reach local communities with vital health information, including what to do if they suspect family or friends are infected. We will also distribute water purification liquids.

Janete Luciana, is getting information on hygiene and sanitation to prevent Cholera. Volunteer Felix and supervisor Lin are handing out bottles of chlorine to disinfect contaminated water in Mozambique. Photo: Micas Mondlane/Oxfam

More community ‘activistas’ are needed to help prevent cholera now

We now need you to help us scale up this programme, and fast. To get more than 1,000 community activistas working ASAP so local communities get the health information they need in time to prevent more deaths. And so we can carry on trucking clean water, building toilet facilities and distributing water containers, buckets and soap.

You can help us save lives.

To prevent a further health emergency, we need the international community to step up funding to organisations now on the ground to rapidly scale up the response to contain and stop the spread of the cholera.

The crisis is still unfolding

The full scale of the Cyclone Idai crisis is still unfolding. Many thousands of people are still isolated in difficult to reach areas. The scale of destruction means that reaching people is costly and requires fast and flexible funding.

Oxfam’s Humanitarian Program Manager, Ulrich Wagner, led an assessment team by boat to Buzi, one of the hard to reach areas prioritized for the vaccination campaign.

“What I saw there was shocking, the perfect breeding ground for cholera. Just by looking at the side of some of the buildings you could see the flood waters had come up to way above my head,” he said.

“People were cleaning out what was left of their houses or trying to construct new shelters with any debris they could find. Toilets had been destroyed and were overflowing. We must assume all wells are contaminated but people are forced to still collect water from them. I was told that in some areas people were digging holes in the ground just to find a water source.”

Survivors of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, face water and electricity shortages and are at risk of waterborne diseases carried in contaminated flood water. Photo: Sergio Zimba/Oxfam

Oxfam is in Mozambique

In Mozambique, Oxfam is trucking clean drinking water to more than over 8,000 people living in displacement camps and distributing buckets and soap working as part of a collective of charities and with local partner AJOAGA.

A crucial next step in averting health hazards is to build toilets.

Last week (3 April), we shipped 38 tonnes of water and sanitation equipment to Beira: the shipment included over a thousand pieces of building material for constructing emergency toilets, over 20 large water containers to collect and store fresh water, 10,000 smaller water containers for people to use to carry and keep water clean and safe, three desludging pumps with generators, and over a hundred tap stands.

Thank you for your continued support.

Donate now to Oxfam's flood response

Top photo: Julia Pedro (right), a hygiene promotion volunteer for Oxfam. Julia’s family home collapsed and they are living with an aunt now. But still she wants to volunteer because, “these people do not know enough about dangerous diseases like cholera. I want to help them and save their children.” Julia is doing household visit and chlorine distribution in in Praia Nova, a poor area in Beira that has been hit hardest. Credit: Micas Mondlane/Oxfam

Oxfam issues urgent appeal to help 775,000 affected by Cyclone Idai

  • Families in Malawi report losing their homes and all source of income

Friday 22nd March 2019

Oxfam and partners on the ground in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are urgently supporting families who have lost everything, including their food, shelter and only source of income as a result of Cyclone Idai.

With an estimated 2.6 million people affected after a cyclone, heavy rains and severe flooding devastated the southern African region, Oxfam is scaling up their response. They aim to reach 775,000 and have launched an appeal to meet the immediate needs of those affected by the disaster.

Daud Kayisi, Oxfam’s Communications Coordinator in Malawi, has been meeting with people in the Phalombe district, one of the worst affected areas in the country.

David said: “I spoke with a couple in Phalombe, Agnes and Alfred, who told me that their house has been entirely washed away. Now they have nothing. They don’t even have enough plastic sheeting to build a shelter where their home once was.

“In another village, Maria and her six-year-old daughter Grace told me about what happened when the water started rising. They thought that it would go away but it didn’t, and Maria’s house was washed away along with their livestock leaving them with no food, no clothing, no animals and no home.

“Maria used to keep 26 chickens and four goats to provide food for her family but to also cover the cost of her children’s education. This family and hundreds of thousands of others are now trying to survive but without any food, shelter or livelihoods.”

Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said: “People are not only trying to survive after essentials like food and shelter were washed away but they are also facing into rebuilding their lives from nothing – our teams on the ground are meeting people who have lost everything, including their livelihoods and sole source of income after the devastation of Cyclone Idai.

“We’re there and responding to immediate needs first. One priority is to distribute water purification kits and hygiene supplies to stop the spread of deadly disease – we’re extremely concerned about the overwhelming amount of water that has collected on land which makes it difficult to ensure safe sanitation.

“We will be providing essential aid, including shelter packs and ready-to-eat food to 525,000 people in Mozambique, 200,000 in Malawi and 50,000 in Zimbabwe.

“We’re urgently appealing to the public to be generous by donating at oxfamireland.org, or in any of our local shops. Every single donation will go a long way to providing vulnerable people with life-saving support. Thank you.”

To donate to Oxfam Ireland’s Cyclone Idai Appeal, visit: https://www.oxfamireland.org/cyclone-idai

ENDS

CONTACT:

Spokespeople are available in the region and in Ireland.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Alice Dawson-Lyons – alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

Notes to the editor:

Please see a selection of multi-media content here: https://oxfam.box.com/s/8o75oqt78l22v3qxlhoq1p8pr48tb62o  (Please credit: Oxfam)

 

 

Oxfam responding to devastating Cyclone Idai

 
Following on from the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa, Oxfam’s local humanitarian teams have been assessing the damage caused by this deadly weather event.
 
The most affected countries include Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with estimations of 1,000 casualties at this early stage. This figure is likely to grow significantly as the real scale of the destruction is understood.
Mozambican flood victims have said that they had to pay to make the trip by canoe. Those that did not have the money remained behind.
 
People trudge through a muddied path to safer ground in Chimanimani, about 600 kilometers southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe. Credit: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/REX
 
These rising numbers of people to internally displaced persons camps are already putting a strain on limited water supplies. 
 
There are additional concerns that sanitation will soon become a problem and food assistance will need to be brought in to provide extra immunity to the people affected.
 
Oxfam teams are assessing the needs of people in all three countries. They are reporting extensive damage to homes, crops, roads and bridges, and communications. 
 
Some areas have been rendered inaccessible because roads, bridges and phone lines have been washed away.
 
Oxfam teams will be prioritising shelter and sanitation as part of a large-scale evacuation of the worst affected areas. 
 
We urgently need your help to reach people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe who have been affected by Cyclone Idai. Please give what you can today. 100% of your donation will go to our emergency response.
 
The coming hours and days will be absolutely critical to our life-saving efforts. 

You can help

A donation of €50/£40 can give a month's supply of clean and safe drinking and cooking water for families in need
A donation of €100/£90 can provide a hungry family with enough money to buy food for 3 months
A donation of €125/£100 can give sanitation to 120 people to stop the spread of life-threatening diseases.

 

For more information , please contact:

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