Before disaster strikes

Once disaster takes hold it’s a matter of life and death.

Meanwhile, knowing that we can save up to $7 in emergency response for every $1 spent on disaster risk reduction* makes a convincing argument that reducing risk not only saves lives; it makes good sense.

San At lives in Takeo Province, Cambodia. When his village was hit by storms, his house collapsed with all his young children inside. Many houses in Cambodia are made of wood and built on stilts, making them vulnerable in the face of a storm.

Amazingly, while San At’s home was destroyed, everyone in his family survived.

How Oxfam is helping

When Oxfam arrived to help, our disaster risk reduction teams did three things:

  • Practical survival help: San At’s family received stronger materials to rebuild their house with, so it can now withstand storms
  • Long-term protection: a protective canal was dug to direct flood water away from the village. The canal also provides a clean and safe water source.
  • Sustainable food production: Oxfam provided San At with home gardening training so his family are able to plant drought and flood resistant crops.

“In the past, floods and drought have ruined our rice crop … we would face food shortages for many months. It was very difficult,” says San At. By introducing faster growing rice varieties, San At’s family can harvest more frequently, before droughts or storms arrive. They also have more to eat. “Before when I made money I needed to spend it repairing my house. Spending less on repairs means more money to afford food and we no longer go hungry,” San At explains.

San At’s story is not unique. When storms and cyclones strike, they can cause devastation long after the wind dies down and the water recedes. We see families struggling to re-grow lost crops, or care for injured family members year after year.

* as reported by the United Nations Development Programme