Oxfam America

Forty percent of the people on our planet-more than 2.5 billion-now live in poverty, struggling to survive on less than $2 a day.Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization working to change that. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 90 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. To join our efforts or learn more, go to www.oxfamamerica.org.
Jun 17, 2013

Update on Oxfam's Reponse to the Syria Crisis

Syria Crisis
Syria Crisis

In Lebanon, Oxfam and our partners helped thousands of refugees cope with the cold winter temperatures by distributing warm clothes, mattresses, blankets, heaters, and rugs, as well as plastic sheeting to weatherproof their shelters. We are now providing vulnerable families with cash and vouchers to help them afford safe housing and other essentials; we also plan to work on improving the water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions in various locations across the country.

In the Zaatari camp in Jordan, whose population has swelled to more than 100,000, we have installed water taps and tanks, and we have provided latrines for 20,000 people. Our work on sanitation takes into account the needs of people with limited mobility: we are installing showers and toilets that accommodate wheelchairs, and distributing commodes that can be used in the home.  Oxfam's work to build showers, toilets, and laundry blocks for 8,000 people is nearly complete. We are also planning programs for vulnerable refugees who are living outside the camp. The work will likely include improving access to safe water and, through cash disbursements, helping meet the expense of housing and other critical needs.

Oxfam is working with several organizations that are delivering food relief, hygiene kits, and other household items to help civilians in humanitarian need within Syria. We have also applied for approval to work with the Ministry of Water Resources in supporting emergency water and sanitation activities throughout the country.

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Sep 12, 2012

Sahel food crisis: "Now I have peace"

Across the western Sahel region of Africa, a failed harvest has triggered a severe food crisis. Oxfam is working with local partners to reach more than one million people with aid.

“It is hard not to be able to feed your children,” says Adama Diallo.  “You can’t be at peace. You can’t sleep at night.”

Diallo, who lives in the village of Tankanto Escale, Senegal, is no stranger to hunger. Each year in the run-up to the fall harvest, those who depend on agriculture experience a lean season, when the last of the stored food runs out and they must cope as best they can—reducing their meals to a minimum while they eke out an uncertain income from day labor, trading, and in some cases mining for flecks of gold.

But this year, the lean season in Senegal—as in much of the western Sahel—began months early, and the consequences have been harsh. More than half a year on a sparse diet of millet and rice has left many children severely and visibly malnourished. And farmers, many of whom have had to sell off their labor-saving equipment and draft animals to buy food, face the difficult task of cultivating crops while hungry and fatigued.

Diallo’s own story is not unusual: after the disastrous harvest of 2011, her stocks of food ran out quickly, and she resorted to a hand-to-mouth existence as a trader in the marketplace, beginning each day with no money and only borrowed goods to sell, and ending with—if she was lucky—enough food to get through another day.

“If the food is not sufficient,” she says, “we only give it to the children.”

Diallo’s struggles didn’t go unnoticed: Oxfam’s partner FODDE (in English, Forum for Sustainable Indigenous Development) included her in a program to distribute cash to the people most in need in this emergency. So recently she traveled to a credit union in the nearest large town, presented her cash voucher card and ID, and received enough money—provided by Oxfam—to feed a household of 10 people for a month (about $8 per person).

Cash buys food—and more

Why distribute cash rather than food during a food crisis?

It is a surprising fact that in the midst of a food crisis, marketplaces may be overflowing with food. In the Kolda market, for example, which serves Tankanto Escale, some local farmers – despite the crop failures—have managed to gather or grow a few items for sale. They ran out of rice months ago, but traders have filled that gap and many others by importing goods from other regions.

As long as food is available, there’s no need for an aid provider to undertake the costly and time-consuming process of shipping it in. Yet people who have lost their harvest—and with it their main source of income—may not be able to afford the food that’s there. For that, they need cash.

Cash payments quickly go to work in the local markets, benefiting not only the people who receive the money directly but also the local farmers and vendors they buy from.

And cash provides flexibility. A food distribution might involve fixed rations of beans and grains—the non-perishables that can travel long distances— but people who receive cash can buy a variety of foods, including eggs, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Furthermore, those who have pressing medical concerns can make the choice to spend some of their money on doctors and medicines.

So in southern Senegal and some of the other crisis-affected regions, Oxfam is focusing not on providing food but on providing the means to purchase the foods and critical services that are available locally.

There was enough for everyone

Diallo used her first payment to buy rice, soap, and cooking oil. “Once we received the cash, there was a big change,” she says. “Before, we ate twice a day, but never enough. The children ate three times a day, but it never filled them. After the payment, there was enough for everyone.”

The money not only helped her meet immediate needs—it released her from the daily imperative of earning money in the marketplace, so she has had a chance to plant her fields. Which means that if this season’s promising rains continue, she will likely have a harvest in October that will help her get back on her feet.

“Now I have peace,” she said, “and I am sleeping well.”

Apr 13, 2011

Oxfam Partners in Pakistan

Oxfam’s partners
Pakistan flood response

Below is a list of the partner organizations that Oxfam is working with in response to the flooding in Pakistan. This list was last updated in September, 2010.

The Doaba Foundation (DF) aims to improve the quality of life among disaster-prone communities through optimal utilization of resources. Using a rights-based approach, DF seeks to build the capacity of communities for disaster risk management and sustainable development. DF is also working to expand its influence through strategic partnerships and policy interventions. www.doaba.org.pk (Punjab Province)

The Foundation for Integrated Developmnet (FIDA) aims to mobilize and build capacity within existing political and social structures and to act as a link between civil society and marginalized communities. FIDA works to bridge the gap between traditional and modern systems of governance. Its areas of work include social mobilization and advocacy, health and education, community infrastructure,  renewable energy, and environmental protection. www.fidapk.org (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

HELP is a non-governmental organization based in southern Punjab that works with marginalized and vulnerable groups to build their capacity for disaster response and risk reduction. (Punjab Province)

Human Development Organization Doaba (HDOD) is a development organization that aims to empower rural communities. Its areas of work include ecology, education, environmental protection, health, infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, rural development, and women’s empowerment.  (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

The Integrated Regional Support Program (IRSP) is a development organization whose mission is to empower local communities to pursue and attain their own developmental goals through integrated development and participatory approaches. www.irsp.org.pk (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

The Laar Humanitarian and Development Program (LHDP) is a development agency focused on areas of Sindh province that are vulnerable to disasters. Its areas of focus are sustainable livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, emergency response, and the development of marginalized communities. (Sindh Province)

The Lasoona Society for Human and Natural Resource Development aims to support poor and marginalized communities through social mobilization, strengthening local capacity, and managing natural resources. It is committed to environmentally sound development in remote areas of Pakistan. www.lasoona.org (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

The Pakistan Community Development Program (PAK-CDP) aims to improve the health status of women, men, and children through safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) is dedicated to upholding the rights of indigenous fishing communities in Pakistan. It aims to bring about a change in the socio-economic conditions of these communities by ensuring the restoration of their historical rights in relation to water resources. PFF is working toward a future in which fishers have lives of dignity, can realize their right to life and livelihoods, and are empowered to promote democracy, equity, social justice, sustainable development, and the responsible use of natural resources. http://www.pff.org.pk (Sindh Province)

Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI) is a youth-led NGO focused on promoting participatory, pro-poor, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and gender-balanced development. PDI is engaged in advocacy, campaigning, community awareness, mass mobilization, participatory community development, and participatory research, as well as networking on local, national, and global issues that negatively affect the poor – particularly women. www.pdi.org.pk (Sindh Province)

The Pirbhat Women’s Development Society is a non-governmental organization led by women activists in Upper Sindh, Pakistan. It promotes women’s empowerment and - through advocacy and campaign work - fights gender-based violence and discrimination. Other major program areas include education, health, and emergency relief. www.pirbhat.org  (Sindh Province)

The Research and Development Foundation (RDF) is a non-governmental action research and social development organization. Its aims include improving livelihoods through conserving and promoting natural resources, developing skills for generating and diversifying employment, reducing environmental hazards, conserving bio-diversity, and promoting climate change adaptation. www.rdfoundation.org.pk  (Sindh Province)

The Sindh Agricultural and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organization (SAFWCO) aims to support communities to carry out sustainable development and achieve equitable economic, social, political, and cultural development through grassroots development institutions. SAFWCO is dedicated to social change that will reduce the vulnerability of the rural poor. Social mobilization and development interventions are two of its core activities. www.safwco.org (Sindh Province)

The Social Action Bureau for Assistance in Welfare and Organizational Networking (SABAWON) is a civil-society organization dedicated to combating poverty and discrimination. SABAWON aims to provide access to primary education and health resources, to prevent the spread of disease, to promote development, and to build local capacity. www.sabawon.org (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

The Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) focuses on democratic governance, social justice, and building peace  through action research, raising awareness, building capacity, advocacy, policy dialogue, dissemination of information and literature, mobilization of communities, and supporting peace movements. SPO also responds to disasters. www.spopk.org (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

The Sungi  Development Foundation (SDF) is working to bring about policy and institutional changes by mobilizing communities to transform their lives through sustainable use of resources, without discrimination based on social origin, gender, race, caste, or religion. SDF promotes good governance and the eradication of poverty. www.sungi.org (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province)

The Thardeep Rural Development Program (TRDP) is an organization dedicated to reducing poverty and enlarging the choices of marginalized people, focusing on women and working children. Its goal is to help vulnerable groups benefit from the development process through participatory, gender-balanced approaches, and to eliminate poverty and child labor in arid zones of Sindh province. www.thardeep.org  (Sindh Province)

Youth Action for Pakistan (YAP) is an organization that promotes the participation of young people in decision-making processes by organizing trainings and workshops, as well as dialogue with policy makers. YAP is working to end violence against women through education and activism, and by partnering with aid providers to offer health care and awareness sessions. www.yap.org.pk

(Sindh Province)