Tony Vaux

Born in 1950, I studied at Reading School and then from 1968 to 1971 at St John’s College, Oxford. I graduated with an MA in English and, after a brief period in international banking, joined Oxfam in 1972 as an Information Assistant, writing short papers for public distribution on topics relating to aid and poverty. I married Sally, a social worker and former Oxfam colleague, in 1974. In 1976 I was appointed as a Field Director in India. After a few months based in New Delhi we moved to set up a new office in Ahmedabad (Gujarat State) covering Western India. We lived and worked there for nearly four years. We returned to the UK for two years from 1980, while I continued with Oxfam, supporting its work in Central and East African countries. In 1982 we returned to India (by now with three young children) for a further two years, this time based in Kolkata (Calcutta as it was then) covering Oxfam’s work in Bihar and other Eastern States of India as well as Bhutan.

Returning to the UK in 1984, the media were dominated by the Ethiopia famine. Oxfam asked me to study the reasons for its slow response. I was then appointed as Emergencies Coordinator, a global role which in the 1980s was focused mainly on the Horn of Africa. I supported Oxfam responses to emergencies in Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Mozambique and many others. My special responsibility at that time was the cross-border programme bringing assistance to people in the rebel-held areas of Ethiopia from Sudan. By the 1990s I shifted focus to the humanitarian crisis in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Because Oxfam initially had no field offices in these countries this was a huge task and absorbed most of my time. Having set up offices across the region I became Regional Manager for this region in 1994 and continued in this role until 2000. At that point I decided that a change was necessary and was fortunate that Oxfam enabled me to spend a sabbatical year as a Visiting Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford. During that time, with the guidance of Dr David Turton, I wrote ‘The Selfish Altruist’.

During my last years in Oxfam I had become deeply concerned about the role of aid in conflict situations such as Bosnia and Kosovo. In 2001 I was fortunate to join a team, led by Dr Jonathan Goodhand of SOAS, developing a method of conflict analysis for aid agencies, sponsored by DFID. Over the following decade I applied this method in around twenty countries, mainly for DFID. The studies were used mainly as a basis for strategic plans but I also found ways to use the same method for evaluation.

As a consultant, I also advised aid organizations on humanitarian policy issues and conducted evaluations. These included the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) evaluation after the Gujarat Earthquake of 2001 and then the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. I have also undertaken programme evaluations for various agencies and taken part in large-scale multi-agency evaluations, notably in South Sudan in 2010 and 2015.

I have decided to retire from aid work (unless something comes up that I cannot refuse) and live peacefully in Cumbria with wife Sally and visit my three daughters  –Rebecca, Amita and Miriam (and three grandsons) – whenever possible.

Full Publications List for Tony Vaux


 Published Conflict Studies

  • ‘Conducting Conflict Assessments –Guidance Notes’ –DFID 2002 (with J Goodhand and J Walker)
  • ‘Education, Conflict and International Development’ –DFID Issues Paper, 2003 (with A Smith)
  • ‘Disturbing Connections: aid and conflict in Kyrgyzstan’ –Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College 2001 (with J Goodhand)
  •  ‘War and Peace in the Southern Caucasus –a strategic assessment of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict’   –Humanitarian Initiatives, 2002 (with J Goodhand)
  • ‘Conflicting Interests –Moldova and the impact of Transdniestria’ Humanitarian Initiatives, 2003
  • ‘Strategic Conflict Assessment, Georgia’ –Humanitarian Initiatives 2003
  • ‘Strategic Conflict Assessment –Nigeria’ Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, The Presidency of Nigeria, 2003
  • ‘Aid and Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo –Strategic Conflict Assessment’  (with A Bewa and P Sampson, August 2007

Published Evaluations

  • ‘Independent evaluation of the DEC Response to the Earthquake in India, January 2001’ –DEC London, 2001
  • ‘Independent evaluation of the DEC response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster summary for the Board’ DEC London, 2005
  • ‘Evaluation of UNDP Contribution to Disaster Prevention and Recovery’, UNDP New York, 2010

Published General Reports

  • ‘Disaster and Vulnerability’ -Disaster Mitigation Institute/Self Employed Women’s Association, Ahmedabad 2002
  • ‘Human Security of Working Women: Response to Crisis’ (with Francis Lund) in Chen, Fukuda-Parr and Seidensticker (eds) (2003) ‘Human Insecurity in a Global World’ Harvard University Press
  • ‘Work-focused Responses to Disasters: India’s Self Employed Women’s Association’ in Enarson, E and P Chakarabarti (eds) (2009) ‘Women, Gender and Disaster’, India: Sage
  • ‘Beyond Relief –review of a human securities approach to the Gujarat earthquake’–All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, Experience Learning Series No 32, 2005
  • ‘Data or Dialogue? The role of information in disasters’ in World Disasters Report 2005 (principal author)
  • ‘Humanitarian Trends and Dilemmas’ in Eade, D and T Vaux (Eds) (2007) ‘Development and Humanitarianism -a Development in Practice Reader, Kumarian
  • ‘Humanitarian Trends’ in Richter, Berking and Muller-Schmid (Eds) (2006) ‘Building a Transnational Civil Society’ Palgrave Macmillan
  • ‘Proportion and distortion in humanitarian assistance’ synthesis of evaluations in ALNAP (2007) ALNAP Review of Humanitarian Action, ODI London
  • ‘Women’s Experience of Communal Violence’ Seminar 619, March 2011, New Delhi
  • ‘Building Back Better after the earthquake’ Rebuilding Nepal, Issue No 134 July 2015, p14
  • ‘Traditional and non-traditional humanitarian actors in disaster response in India’ in Sezgin, Z and D Dijkzeul The New Humanitarians in International Practice, Routledge: London and New York
  • ‘Humanitarian Intervention in Wars of Liberation in Africa in the 1980s –an Oxfam perspective’, in Bennett, Foley and Krebs eds (2016) ‘Learning from the past to shape the future: lessons from the history of humanitarian action in Africa’, HPG Working Paper, ODI London