How can we make Disasters Dull? Book review

October 13, 2016
Oxfam Senior Humanitarian Policy Adviser Debbie Hillier can barely contain her excitement – today is International Day for Disaster Reduction. To celebrate, she reviews a new book on the issue While policy frameworks on Disaster Risk Reduction have proliferated – the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework – the practicality remains elusive. This is the issue addressed by Dull Disasters? How

How are disasters linked to inequality? Review of ‘The Disaster Profiteers’

September 18, 2015
[The IT guys tell me they’ve finally found a fix on the email notification problem. If you get an email about this post for the first time in months, please either leave a comment, or vote in the poll to the right, to tell us it’s working] Debbie Hillier, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Policy Adviser  reviews The Disaster Profiteers: How natural disasters

What can we learn from a great example of high speed policy response to the Nepal Earthquake?

May 19, 2015
For a while, I’ve been arguing that policy wonks need to grab the windows of opportunity created by shocks, scandals and crises, producing reactions, research and proposals in the immediate aftermath of such a ‘critical juncture’. For example, we know there are going to be floods in Somerset or Pakistan at some point in the next few years, so in

Transform or be Haunted by Ghosts: How can the Philippines ‘build back better’ after Typhoon Haiyan?

November 28, 2013
From the middle of the response to Typhoon Haiyan, Lan Mercado, our Deputy Regional Director in Asia (and passionate campaigner and Filipina) reflects on what lies ahead. She was the one who asked me to pick your brains on disasters as opportunities – thanks for the responses. The massive impact of Typhoon Haiyan claimed thousands of lives and destroyed physical

What are the global trends in humanitarian response? How well is Oxfam responding?

November 18, 2013
Twice a year Oxfam’s Regional Directors gather with its UK-based big cheeses to swap notes (they let me join them, for some reason). It’s an opportunity to allow the collective mind to catch up with all those accumulating individual impressions of how the world and our work is changing. Last week’s ‘deep dive’ was about humanitarian work: two days of

Take a pause: what do the Uttrakhand floods tell us about India’s development model?

July 1, 2013
Vanita Suneja, Oxfam India’s Economic Justice Lead, looks at the underlying causes of the devastating floods in Uttrakhand The recent flash floods in Uttrakhand have already claimed around 1000 lives and more than 3000 people are still missing.   One of the worst calamities caused by an extreme weather event in the form of cloud burst and high intensity rains in

The IPCC Special Report on Disasters and Adaptation: more than just climate science

May 20, 2012

Channel 16: a new crowdsourcing initiative on disasters and conflict

September 1, 2010
This is exciting – a new crowdsourcing initiative on humanitarian emergencies that combines wikipedia, youtube and Ushahidi to dig deeper, be more user-generated and more linked to taking action than standard media coverage. It’s called Channel 16, and here’s the blurb: “Named after the broadcast frequency of an international distress signal, Channel 16 creates a new frontline for responding to

How to insure crops with a mobile phone – an experiment from Kenya

March 24, 2010
For technophiles everywhere, an uplifting story from a recent issue of The Economist: ‘One of the things holding back agriculture in developing countries is the unwillingness of farmers with small plots of land to invest in better seed and fertiliser. Only half of Kenyan farmers buy improved seed or spend money on other inputs. Many use poor-quality seed kept from