IKEA Foundation and Oxfam EUR 7.3m partnership to improve disaster response

Innovative new programme will boost local communities’ ability to respond to emergencies

Oxfam is partnering with the IKEA Foundation to launch an innovative EUR 7.3 million, three-year programme to ensure that local humanitarian actors in Bangladesh and Uganda are able to cope more effectively with crises, from severe flooding to large numbers of refugees fleeing conflict.

The announcement comes ahead of Monday’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, where politicians, aid agencies and disaster-affected communities will discuss how to tackle the increasingly frequent and complex crises the world is facing. An estimated 125 million people worldwide are currently in need of aid, and responding to the rising demand is stretching the global humanitarian system to near breaking point.

Oxfam has a long history of working with local organisations on the ground to get rapid and appropriate help to those in need. This new venture is part of the organisation’s commitment to improve the ability of local humanitarian actors to take a leading role in humanitarian work, supported by the international humanitarian community.

The IKEA Foundation grant will enable Oxfam to draw on more than 70 years’ expertise providing essential assistance such as, water, and toilets, food, shelter and cash, to people hit by catastrophe, to support local organisations in disaster-prone Bangladesh and Uganda, to lead this vital work themselves.

Oxfam’s long-term aims are both to ensure people are better prepared for when the worst happens and to increase recognition for local and national humanitarian actors in the global humanitarian system. This includes an increase of the share of humanitarian funding that local organisations receive from international donors – currently only 0.2 percent. The vast majority goes to large organisations such as the UN and global aid agencies like the Red Cross, Save the Children and Oxfam, which are at present seen as better equipped to lead emergency responses. Oxfam is committed to increase the share of its own humanitarian funding going directly to local organisations from 20 percent to 30 percent by 2018.

Farah Karimi, executive director of Oxfam Novib, said “We are very pleased to partner with IKEA Foundation to help the local communities in Uganda and Bangladesh to prepare themselves better for emergencies. Local actors are in the best position to respond quickly, and they know the local context better than international aid workers. What we can offer them, is our experience in humanitarian assistance, the means to be prepared for emergencies, and access to donors.”

“More people are in need of assistance due to the growing number of conflicts and climate change, but the international humanitarian system is overstretched. Boosting the capacity of local actors to respond to crises is the best way to ensure that the right aid can be delivered quickly to those who need it most.”

Per Heggenes, CEO of IKEA Foundation, said: “There’s a huge potential for improving the efficiency and quality of disaster response by putting a stronger focus on empowering local actors and increase preparedness levels.  Local organizations are often better placed to provide immediate assistance because they are on the ground and understand the community and culture.

“We are really excited to launch this partnership with Oxfam, especially as climate change means that disasters are becoming more frequent, making it more important than ever to respond effectively. We believe this programme could help families get back on their feet more quickly and help restore a safe place to call home for all children impacted.”

Bangladesh and Uganda were selected as places especially at risk from regular crises that often don’t make the headlines but play havoc with the lives of millions of people. Both countries are affected by floods and droughts and climate change is expected to increase such extreme weather events and force more people to abandon their farms. Uganda is home to more than half a million refugees fleeing conflict in South Sudan and the DRC, while also Bangladesh experiences massive internal displacement.

The IKEA Foundation-funded programme will enable Oxfam to share its long operational experience and networks with local humanitarian groups – for example through facilitating collaboration at country and district levels, developing tools and resources, or arranging peer learning in specialist areas, from cash programmes and delivering water in conflict zones, to how to set up robust monitoring systems and manage finances. The collaborative process will also support local organisations to be recognised as vital partners at an international level.

Around 76,000 people will benefit from the initial three-year programme but Oxfam hopes that demonstrating the effectiveness of transferring significant resources from global agencies to local groups could be a game-changer for the way that humanitarian aid is delivered.


For more information please contact:

Oxfam Novib: Ruud Huurman, senior press officer, +31 6 5117 5316

IKEA Foundation: Radu Dumitraşcu, Communications and Media Relations Manager, +31 6 556 98 570


Notes to editors

  • In 2014/15 Oxfam responded to 39 emergencies across the world, reaching 8.1 million people through our humanitarian work.
  • Oxfam also speaks out on the big issues that keep people poor, like inequality, discrimination against women and climate change.

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