WASHINGTON - December 5 - A new report details Oxfam International's achievements and challenges in helping survivors of the south Asian tsunami, the international aid organization's largest relief effort to date. The report explains how and where Oxfam has spent the donations it has received, as well as its plans for future spending. Among the highlights:
-- Oxfam's most successful appeal ever raised $278 million -- over 90 percent of which was donated by the public.
-- By the tsunami's anniversary later this month, Oxfam will have spent $127 million, or 45 percent of the total sum raised.
-- Oxfam so far has helped an estimated 1.8 million people.
-- Oxfam has worked in all of the worst-affected countries: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India (including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Thailand, the Maldives, Somalia, and Burma.
-- Funds have been earmarked according to need, with Indonesia set to receive 40 percent of the total funds, Sri Lanka 31 percent, and India 22 percent.
-- Oxfam is planning to spend a further $82 million in 2006, $50 million in 2007, and $16 million in 2008.
-- Oxfam's two major areas of focus, accounting for almost 60 percent of total expenditures, have been public health interventions -- such as digging wells, providing toilets, and restoring clean water supplies -- and helping to restore people's livelihoods.
-- Oxfam has worked with almost 150 local partner organizations.
-- Only 6 percent of the funds will be spent on essential administration.
In launching the report, Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who is Oxfam's honorary president, said: "The tsunami has proved to be a unique challenge. The magnitude of the disaster demanded a response on a scale beyond any previous experience. It has also generated an unprecedented surge of generosity from people around the world. This has imposed a massive responsibility on organizations such as Oxfam to demonstrate to donors that we are spending their money transparently and wisely."
The report sets out some of the challenges Oxfam has faced. These include a shortage of suitable building materials in Indonesia; a lack of government clarity about land rights, land provision, and coastal buffer zones; insecurity in Somalia; and initial problems with coordination between aid agencies responding to the crisis. Some of these issues are still outstanding and Oxfam is working with others to resolve them.
Despite the challenges, the report also notes Oxfam's role in many successes, including the prevention of a public health crisis after the tsunami and the rapid restoration of livelihoods by providing cash-for-work programs and helping to rebuild cottage industries. It also underscores the agency's focus on supporting marginalized communities, whether Dalits ("untouchables") in India or women in temporary camps.
"Oxfam's work has been instrumental in helping hundreds of thousands of people affected by the tsunami to rebuild their lives," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. "The resilience of the people in tsunami-affected countries has been incredible. Major challenges remain, of course, but unlike with many other crises, we have the resources to be able to help rebuild people's lives. None of this would have been possible without the extraordinary support of the public, and I want to thank the American public in particular for their generosity."
-- Oxfam will be publishing two reports for the tsunami anniversary, one focusing on shelter on Dec. 14 and another on livelihoods on Dec. 20.
-- Oxfam can offer interviews from the field in the following languages:
-- Local: Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Hindi
-- Others: Russian, Dutch.
From Sri Lanka:
-- Local: Tamil, Sinhala
-- Others: Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Hindi, Urdu.
-- Local: Bahasa Indonesian, Achenese
-- Others: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, French, German, Swedish.