Oxfam launches emergency 365 Alliance for Aviva and other corporate donors to fund disaster relief

20 Sep 2006

International aid agency Oxfam today launched a new, unique alliance for corporate donors to fund its initial response operations which will enable it to deal immediately with disasters whenever and wherever they occur.

This includes a global rapid response team of aid workers and the UK’s biggest warehouse with a stockpile of emergency supplies.

Oxfam is aiming to raise Ł7.9 million per year through the fund, which is called the Oxfam 365 Alliance and already boasts Aviva and Vodafone as its first corporate partners. To join the Alliance companies must commit in the region of Ł500,000 to Ł1 million over three years.

Oxfam’s director Barbara Stocking said: “The Oxfam 365 Alliance is a pioneering new approach to corporate collaboration that establishes a long-term relationship with Oxfam, enabling us to be prepared when disasters strike. This is the first time Oxfam has ever had such a substantial and strategic involvement with corporate donors that will help save lives in the world’s worst humanitarian crises and we’re delighted to have Aviva and Vodafone on board.”

The Oxfam 365 Alliance’s Ł7.9 million annual spend will comprise:

  • A Ł6.5 million revolving fund to cover Oxfam’s immediate response to humanitarian emergencies
  • Ł1.1 million for Oxfam’s 90-strong global rapid response team of water engineers, project managers and experts in logistics, public health and nutrition
  • Ł330,000 to run Oxfam’s emergencies warehouse and immediately dispatch goods to a disaster area.

Oxfam’s aid workers will be able to access the funds immediately in the vital first few days of an emergency, as well as later on when a situation has dropped off the media agenda but when people are still suffering.

Anthony Sampson, director of corporate social responsibility at Aviva, said: “Aviva believes in ‘Forward thinking’. Whilst appeals after an event deliver enormous help, we have learnt from Oxfam that the earliest possible help makes a critical difference in emergency situations. Our participation in the Oxfam 365 Alliance means that we are helping to strengthen Oxfam's hand in all its emergency work, when it really counts, at the outset. For Aviva the Oxfam 365 Alliance is a perfect demonstration of ‘Forward thinking’ in practice and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The Oxfam 365 Alliance was born in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. Many companies wanted to take a long-term approach to supporting relief work but were unsure how to best get involved. Oxfam designed the 365 Alliance so corporate donors could give strategic support to Oxfam’s humanitarian work.

"Vodafone is committed to changing lives in communities across the world," says Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Group Foundation. “We are pleased to be able to use our charitable funds as part of the Vodafone Global Foundation's longstanding commitment to disaster response initiatives.

"This innovative programme will enable Oxfam to respond not only to those disasters which are well reported, but also to serious incidents and tragedies which remain less well-known.”

There are now more humanitarian emergencies around the world than ever before. Since the tsunami there has been a food crisis in west Africa, the Pakistan earthquake and the on-going conflicts in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In reaction to this during 2006 the global rapid response team is undergoing a 50% expansion from 61 employees to 90 and Oxfam plans to increase its spending on water and sanitation by 50% over the next three years.

When emergencies strike Oxfam is uniquely placed to help. Its warehouse, based in Bicester, Oxfordshire, is stocked with Ł1.7 million of emergency equipment which is used together with locally purchased supplies and expertise.

Oxfam’s emergency stocks include enough water tanks to hold 4.4 million litres (equivalent to almost two Olympic swimming pools), 14,000 buckets and two-and-a-half miles of piping. It also has 30 laptops and Ł30,000 of communications equipment and keeps track of 130 satellite phones.

Oxfam’s Barbara Stocking said: “We know there will be emergencies in the future, and that Oxfam’s help will be needed in order to save lives. That’s why we are now looking for other sector-leading companies to get involved in the Alliance. It will be a powerful complement to the money the public generously gives in the days after an emergency.”

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For more information contact:

Oxfam
Sean Kenny on 01865 472 359, 07881 655 715 or skenny@oxfam.org.uk

Aviva
Vanessa Booth, Group Media Relations Manager, on 020 7662 2482

Vodafone
Caroline Dewing, Corporate Responsibility Communications Manager, 07919 444 546

Notes to editors:
A VNR is available which will include footage of Oxfam’s warehouse, flights and aid work on the ground.

Further details are available in an Oxfam background briefing which will have been sent out with this press release.

Oxfam works on over 30 emergencies at any one time.

Each year more than 30m people flee their homes as a result of conflict and natural disasters and over 500,000 are killed in war.

Companies which get involved will receive regular updates, trips to projects for members of staff and close association with one of the world’s leading international aid agencies.

The UN has highlighted 12 countries as experiencing under-funded emergencies. Apart from Haiti they are all in sub-Saharan Africa. These include the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 42 million people are at risk from hunger, disease and violent death. Over the last eight years 3.9 million people have died in the Congo in a grinding, drawn-out conflict. But this devastating war and its aftermath are largely unknown to the general public.

Money raised by the Oxfam 365 Alliance will be split between a revolving Catastrophe Fund, an emergencies warehouse and a "humanitarian support personnel" team.

The money will go on immediate relief work rather than long-term development projects, but the work done now will have a beneficial effect for a long time to come. For example childhood malnutrition causes long-term health problems, so by reducing the problem now Oxfam can help improve the long-term outlook for individuals and communities.

Aviva is the world’s fifth largest insurance group and the largest insurance services provider in the UK, where it trades as Norwich Union.

The Vodafone Group Foundation is driven by a passion for the world around us. The foundation makes social investments that help the people of the world to have fuller lives by: sharing the benefits of developments in mobile communications technology as widely as possible, protecting the natural environment, and supporting the local communities in which Vodafone's customers, employees, investors and suppliers live.