Topic: Natural disasters

Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

This week, the Guardian ran a very nicely edited ‘long read’ extract from How Change Happens covering some of the book’s central arguments, under the title Radical Thinking Reveals the Secrets of Making Change Happen. Here it is: Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later […]

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On World Food Day, 5 reasons why cash transfers aren’t always the best option

Since the Asian Tsunami of 2004, providing cash to people in an emergency has become increasingly mainstream. But (babies, bath water) there is more to food response than ‘just give them the money.’ On World Food Day, Oxfam Social Protection Adviser Larissa Pelham sets out the case: The King asked The Queen, and The Queen […]

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Parts of the aid system just don’t work – the dismal cycle of humanitarian response

Every now and then an email stops me in my tracks, reminding me that Oxfam is stuffed full of bright, motivated, altruistic people. Here’s one I got a few weeks ago from Debbie Hillier, one of our Humanitarian Policy Advisers, in response to my request for thoughts on the state of the aid business. Her […]

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Desertification is a dangerous Myth – A new book explains why

Oxfam researcher John Magrath reviews an explosive new book I started off life as a newspaper journalist so I appreciate the power of a good story. And that’s what the concept of desertification provides. Since the great Sahelian droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, we’ve become familiar with the idea that humans cause environmental desiccation […]

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Great new 110 page guide to humanitarian campaigning

Just been browsing through a brilliant new Oxfam guide to humanitarian campaigning. A treasure trove of 110 pages crammed full of wisdom, experience and 32 case studies on everything from addressing tribal conflicts in Pakistan to gender responsive work with Syrian refugees to influencing Australia’s humanitarian policy. And no sign of an executive summary. Sigh. […]

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After the Summit: What next for humanitarianism?

Here’s this week’s vlog – still trying to sort out a better camera and sound, sorry! Spent a fascinating morning recently, discussing the state of humanitarian response with a bunch of fairly senior people from inside ‘the system’ – UN, donors, INGOs etc. It was Chatham House Rule, so that’s as much as I can […]

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Book Review, Augusta Dwyer: The Anatomy of Giving (on the aid industry and Haiti)

If you want a readable and short (167 pages) introduction to the many contradictions and debates that beset the aid business, I recommend The Anatomy of Giving (apologies for Amazon link – couldn’t find another). Dwyer’s subject is Haiti – ‘At just a two-hour flight from Miami, Haiti is the Western Hemisphere’s own little piece of […]

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If governments don’t tackle the causes of conflict and the refugee crisis, will the World Humanitarian Summit be a damp squib?

Ed Cairns Oxfam’s humanitarian policy adviser, sets the scene for next month’s World Humanitarian Summit as we publish our curtain raiser for the event. After years of preparation, and a roller coaster of expectations plunging and soaring, it is almost upon us. One month from tomorrow, dozens of world leaders will gather in Istanbul for […]

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China’s rise, Cyclone politics and extreme patronage: Impressions of Vanuatu

As part of their support for the How Change Happens book, the Aussie government is also giving me a crash course in development in the Pacific. Last year, they took me to Papua New Guinea (blogs here), then last week, I headed for Vanuatu (small island archipelago, 270,000 population, best known – at least in […]

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Is the International Humanitarian System hitting a tipping point on ‘going local’?

Marc Cohen, Senior Researcher at Oxfam America, is excited about the new World Disasters Report Over the past two years, a boatload of reports and studies has pointed to the need to shift to greater local leadership of disaster prevention, preparedness, and response. In part this is driven by mounting humanitarian needs and the growing […]

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