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Oxfam has one of the largest stores of life-saving eqiupment in the world. Photo: Crispin Hughes/Oxfam
Oxfam has one of the largest stores of
life-saving equipment in the world.

Internationally, Oxfam has around 60 experts in water and sanitation, health care and nutrition, on call at all times, ready to travel immediately to any emergency to share their knowledge and skills with local people.

And because it takes time for public donations to an emergency to start arriving, Oxfam maintains a Disaster response fund, ensuring that work can get underway immediately.

Oxfam also has the largest store of life-saving equipment in the world; equipment worth over NZ$4 million. Much of this equipment has been specially designed for use in emergency situations — that's equipment like the Oxfam bucket and water tank, which are now used as standard by relief agencies around the world.

The Oxfam bucket

Phool Abbasi drinks water from an Oxfam bucket following the Pakistan earthquake in 2005. Photo: Carlo Heathcote/Oxfam
Phool Abbasi drinks water from an Oxfam
bucket in a camp for people made homeless
by the Pakistan earthquake in 2005.

Until 1997, Oxfam used jerry cans to supply people with clean, safe water during an emergency. They were bulky, expensive to transport, and if the lid was lost, the water could become contaminated.

Gathering feedback from health workers, water engineers, and people living in refugee camps, Oxfam developed its own bucket, paying attention to even the tiniest details. For example, the moulding process leaves a small, sharp pimple on the bottom of normal buckets. But on the Oxfam bucket, this pimple has been removed – an essential, but easily- overlooked consideration in countries where loads are usually carried on the head.

The bucket is also moulded from plastic that doesn’t deteriorate in sunlight so it lasts longer than other containers.

Water tanks

One of Oxfam’s 70,000-litre tanks can provide 4,666 people with enough water for one day. The specially designed water tank has become the standard for use in emergencies. Constructed from corrugated iron with a rubber lining, each tank is fully self-contained, easy to transport, and strong enough to withstand harsh environments. The tanks are designed to be quick and easy to assemble, and can be put together on the spot, with a little guidance from Oxfam staff.