Long-term development

  • We work with communities to tackle the causes of poverty through a combination of hands-on expertise, financial investment and education. In addition, we give people a voice to speak out against the laws, actions and policies that keep them in poverty.

Money does grow on trees for Rwanda’s cassava producers

Although women in Rwanda do most of the work on family farms, there was a time when they had very little control over the sale of crops or any money made at market. In recent years, however, women are breaking new ground in farming and food production – and lifting themselves out of poverty in the process.
 
One of those women is mother-of-three Madeleine, who sometimes struggled to feed her children and send them to school. The 40-year-old single parent grew potatoes and beans which she used to feed her family and sold the rest at the market. But her crops were sometimes destroyed by pests, leaving her without enough money to buy the basics.  
 
Madeleine harvests cassava leaves from her farm. Photo: Eleanor Farmer
 
“When you are a single parent, it is hard to feed your children,” says Madeleine, whose husband was imprisoned in 1997 and never returned. “One child this side can ask for school materials, when you don’t have money you become anxious. It is hard for a single parent to provide everything.” 
 
Then she heard about SHEKINA Enterprises, an Oxfam-supported co-operative in northern Rwanda which dries cassava leaves for export to Belgium, Canada, Sweden, the US and the UK. Although Madeleine had cassava trees growing on her land, she never thought about harvesting the leaves and usually threw them away. When she heard that you could sell cassava as a business, she was surprised and a little skeptical.
 
Then Madeleine received her first payment from the co-op. “I felt like I was dreaming,” she says. “I took it and said to myself, ‘Let me buy a hen so that I can have some eggs to sell and buy salt (household items)’.” She also decided there and then to expand her cassava crop from just 20 trees to more than 500.
 
Madeleine and her children, 10-year-old Denyne* and five-year-old Mytoni* with their cousin Irakoze*, also aged five. Photo: Eleanor Farmer. *Names changed  
 
Madeleine’s life has been transformed since that first transaction with SHEKINA. “Within three months, I harvested and made money, and out of it I took 30,000 RWF (€30/£26) and saved it with SACCO (the Savings and Credit Co-operative),” she explains. “I continued saving that amount until I achieved the goal that I had set.
 
“Before my life was all about sitting, feeling lonely and worrying about the future. But since I started to sell cassava leaves, I am fine… The ambitions I have for my children are that my younger children could pursue their studies, have good marks and go to advanced level.”
 
Another woman who has benefitted from SHEKINA’s presence in Rulindo District is Uwera, who used to rely on her mother for financial support. She got a job with the co-op and now works on production three days a week and collects cassava leaves from the farmers on the other two days.
 
SHEKINA employee Uwera Gisele is saving money to study business agriculture. Photo: Eleanor Farmer
 
“I like dealing with the farmers – it’s social. I tell them all the good things about cassava leaves. That’s a big part of my job. I am happy with everything,” says Uwera, 22. However, the most important thing for her is earning a salary.
 
She recently bought a cow but plans to use the rest of the money she is saving to go to college. “I want to study business agriculture,” says Uwera. “After studying I would have enough skills to set up my own business. Even if I could only employ two people, I would be happy.”

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We put women’s rights at the heart of everything we do. Join us today and be part of our movement to end the injustice of poverty. Sign up, and we’ll get you started with actions and opportunities that will equip you to change the world.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes in Zimbabwe

In rural Zimbabwe, where less than half the people have access to safe drinking water, traditionally it is the women who are responsible for collecting clean water for the home. This often involves long walks to a water source, with many of the women having to carry heavy buckets on their heads.  
 
These hours spent walking in search of water eat into the precious time that women can spend doing other things such as earning a wage, getting involved in activities in their communities or spending time with their friends and family.   
 
One woman breaking traditional gender barriers in the country is Takudzwa, an Oxfam water engineer. She has installed a solar-powered water system to deliver clean, safe water closer to the homes of the women in her community, changing their lives for the better. The new system in Masvingo District, which is funded by Oxfam, will supply water to many families in the area as well as a school and a clinic. 
 
Oxfam WASH (Water and Sanitation for Health) engineer Takudzwa at the Oxfam-funded solar piped water system in Somertone village, Masvingo District. Photo: Aurelie Marrier D'Unienville / Oxfam 
 
The 33-year-old mother is proud to work on Oxfam’s water and sanitation projects because she understands that access to clean water is vital to the survival of communities in her country. 
 
Yet despite doing a job that she finds rewarding, Takudzwa says that her decision to become an engineer wasn’t welcomed by everyone in her family.    
 
“My grandma almost came to tears to say, ‘Oh why are you choosing a male profession? What’s wrong with you, my granddaughter?’ But because it’s something that I really wanted, I had to take up the challenge, said Takudzwa, who was the only girl in her engineering class.” 
 
Takudzwa working water system in her community. Photo: Aurelie Marrier D'Unienville / Oxfam 
 
“I love water,” Takudzwa added. “There are so many things that have to be done. Having to come up with so many interventions so that we can always, at all times, have water, that is safe for drinking, that is in good quantities for the population that needs the water.” 
 
Takudzwa with her one-year-old son at her parents’ home in Masvingo before heading out into the field to see the solar-powered water system. Photo: Aurelie Marrier D'Unienville / Oxfam 
 
Delivering clean water to rural communities is only part of the work being carried out in Zimbabwe, where Oxfam has been working for almost 60 years. Through our WE-Care programme, we are also tackling the issue of women being left to do most of the household work, which is seen as being less important than paid labour. 
 
This water project also feeds into a larger programme, which is helping to bring about significant change across the country. The work is empowering women and supporting communities in Bubi, Zvishavane, Masvingo Rural and Gutu districts by installing 10 water points as well as 15 laundry facilities. 
 
This means that women will no longer have to travel such long distances to collect clean water or do their washing, ensure household work is shared equally between men and women and help women to have more free time so that they can take part in activities outside the home. 
 
The world will only improve if women expand their role as political, economic, family and social leaders. The cost of excluding women is well-recognised. Yet women bear the biggest burden of poverty, and most of those living in poverty are women. We work to advance women’s wellbeing and increase the benefits of the contributions that women and girls can make to societies and economies. The untapped contribution of women is a priority that we are working to correct by supporting organisations that focus on gender equality, legal reform and ending violence against women. 

JOIN THE MOVEMENT

We put women’s rights at the heart of everything we do. Join us today and be part of our movement to end the injustice of poverty. Sign up, and we’ll get you started with actions and opportunities that will equip you to change the world.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes in Zimbabwe

What kind of Europe do you want?

With the EU elections taking place later this month and the chance to elect a new European Parliament, let’s talk about the kind of Europe we want.  

For decades, the European Union has promoted peace, democracy and shared prosperity. The EU makes decisions on important issues that have consequences in Europe and beyond, including climate change, rising inequality, migration and aid for poorer countries.

Oxfam challenges EU policies to make them work for people in poverty, ensuring they have a far-reaching, positive impact on the lives of those most in need. With the help of our supporters, we can ensure that our EU representatives show strong leadership to create justice and equality for all. You can read more in Oxfam’s manifesto for the 2019 European Elections here

Ahead of the elections, we want to let MEP candidates know about #AEuropeWeWant.  Watch this video featuring Oxfam staff talking about the Europe they want. Share it on your social media channels – that way, we can let MEP candidates, family and friends know about the kind of equitable and fair Europe we all want.   

EU Elections - A Europe We Want

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The Importance of the European Elections

 

The European elections which take place in May are your chance to ensure a more equal and fair society – not just in Europe, but around the world.  

Decisions made in the European Parliament extend far beyond the EU and directly affect countries worldwide. Global issues such as the threat of climate change, rising inequality, ongoing conflict and migration, and the need for aid for poorer countries means that the outcome of these elections is more vital than ever before.

Oxfam challenges EU policies to make them work for people in poverty, ensuring that they have a positive impact on the lives of those most in need. We must use this opportunity to ensure that major global challenges are addressed by MEPs and that they promote progressive, fair policies that benefit everyone.   

Elections are held every five years, giving European citizens the opportunity to decide who sits in the European Parliament, and to have their say on the future direction of Europe. This is an important moment in our fight against global poverty. You can read more in Oxfam’s manifesto for the 2019 European Elections here.

Meet the Inspirational Women of Oxfam

 

International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazing women we work with – and their incredible achievements.

These women work tirelessly in clever and innovative ways to make change happen and to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. They inspire us every day. 

Sobia, 26, teaches Urdu to students in the city of Multan, Pakistan, where Oxfam has set up Accelerated Learning Centres (ALC) to educate women and girls who never went to school. “Mothers of young girls come forward to appreciate the progress their children have made in my classes,” said Sobia, who was herself trained under the ALC programme. “It’s extremely heartening.”

Fifty-two-year-old Katembelwa is the only female brazier maker in Kenani refugee camp, Zambia. The widow and mother of three fled the Democratic Republic due to conflict and arrived in Zambia with nothing. She said she joined a male brazier-makers group because she wanted to make a living independently, adding: “I was very proud and happy when I had finished making my first tub.”

In Jordan, Oxfam is supporting female plumbers to teach other women the trade. Mariam, a mother of four from the town of Zarqa became a plumber five years ago and now has several male plumbers working for her. Last year, the 44-year-old former housewife, who was selected by Oxfam to train other women to be plumbers, expanded her growing enterprise by opening a hardware shop.

Iffat is an Oxfam public health promoter at the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, where our emergency response team is providing vital aid to at least 266,000 people. Her job is to tell the refugees about the importance of hygiene which helps to prevent disease. When an elderly man recently thanked her for her help, she said: “That made me feel very happy. That is my reward.”

These are just some of the millions of women and girls who have worked hard to break the cycle of gender inequality and to achieve their full potential. Oxfam is on the ground helping women like Mariam to become leaders in their communities, to have the same rights as men and to free themselves from violence.

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