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.

These five Oxfam innovations are changing the way people fight poverty

Author: Divya Amladi
 
Diaa', a Syrian refugee living in the Za'atari Camp, is a team supervisor in the Superadobe construction project that is bringing temperature-resistant homes to the camp. Photo: Nesma Nsour/Oxfam
 
From futuristic homes that adjust to extreme temperatures to apps that allow refugees to speak up for their own needs, here are just a few of the creative solutions implemented by Oxfam and our partners on the ground to help vulnerable communities take on new obstacles
 
What comes to mind when you imagine the word innovation? Is it a shiny new gadget, a hack, or an app that helps you get whatever you need at a touch of button? Or, maybe it’s a new way of seeing things? Oxfam thinks of innovations as solutions to problems that are keeping people in poverty. Here’s a look at some of the tools, programs, and yes, even apps, we developed this year to help tackle some of the challenges faced by people we work with.
 

Rice farming goes digital

 
 
Development and Partnership in Action (DPA) is one of Oxfam's partners on the ground implementing the BlocRice project. Photo provided by: Development and Partnership in Action
 
In November 2018, Oxfam launched BlocRice, a program that aims to empower rice farmers in Cambodia to increase their negotiation power for better and fairer pay. The initiative will use digital contracts between rice farmers who are working in agricultural cooperatives, exporters in Cambodia, and buyers in the Netherlands. These contracts are tools for social and economic empowerment, Solinn Lim, Oxfam in Cambodia’s program director, explained at the launch. “Farmers thus gain collective bargaining power since agricultural cooperatives will be parties to the contracts.”
 

An app for when words fail

 
The app helps aid workers address the needs of the nearly one million Rohingya people who are living in severely crowded conditions in makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: Kelsey-Rae Taylor/Oxfam
 
Aid workers in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, encountered a challenge working with Rohingya refugees, whose language is similar but not close enough to the local dialect to ensure effective communication. With nearly one million refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, it is imperative that nongovernmental organizations clearly communicate with the refugees to allow them to speak for themselves. That’s why in June, Oxfam, Translators without Borders, and UNICEF released a glossary app with translations in the five languages spoken in the camps: Bangla, Burmese, Chittagonian, English, and Rohingya. The app is helping Oxfam and others on the ground address the needs of the Rohingya population.  
 

Growing barley grass in the desert

 
The hydroponics project is the brainchild of Oxfam engineer and Sahrawi refugee Taleb Brahim. Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam
 
In the harsh climate of the western Sahara, it is nearly impossible to grow anything naturally. There are frequent sandstorms, and temperatures can exceed a blistering 122 degrees. Sahrawi refugees from western Algeria have been living in camps there for more than 40 years, and one-quarter of them face chronic malnutrition. Food assistance helps, but it’s not a long-term solution. In 2017, Oxfam started a hydroponics program—using a technique for cultivating plants that doesn’t require soil—to feed the goats the camps’ residents depend on for milk, meat, and income. So far, the project has yielded sweet success with greenhouses producing about 132 pounds of fodder each day—enough to feed 20 goats. 
 

Managing Waste

The Oxfam in Bangladesh team celebrates the installation of a centralized waste treatment plant in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Salahuddin Ahmmed/Oxfam
 
When an influx of people in a temporary refuge creates demand for latrines, and then pit latrines start to fill up, how do you treat all the waste? That was the question facing Oxfam in Bangladesh earlier this year—which has been providing water, sanitation, and hygiene support to more than 266,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar since 2017. In November 2018, the team in Bangladesh built an industrial-scale centralized sewage management plant at Cox’s Bazar with the capacity to process the human waste of 150,000 people. The process is completely environmentally friendly, and to our knowledge, this has been the first successful attempt to carry out something of this scale in a refugee camp.
 

Homes designed to be out of this world

 
A new construction project called the SuperAdobe is taking shape in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, in which freely available materials—such as sandbags and barbed wires—are used to build simple shelters. These temporary houses are more comfortable, environmentally friendly, and more liveable than the current caravans refugees inhabit. Most importantly, the SuperAdobes are warm in the winter and cool in the summer, a necessity in a desert environment where summer temperatures reach as high as 104 degrees.

Innovative SuperAdobe Houses: Building a dignified future for Syrian refugees in Jordan

Two Little Pigs make a big difference

Roald Dahl once wrote:

The animal I really dig,
Above all others is the pig.
Pigs are noble. Pigs are clever,
Pigs are courteous.” 

Tell your loved ones how much you “dig” them by sending them hogs and kisses with our clever Two Little Pigs card (€40/£35). Part of Oxfam’s Unwrapped collection, this gift will support communities who depend on healthy animals for their livelihood. 

It will support people like Agnes, from northern Rwanda, an area where many still suffer the after-effects of conflict and live in poverty. Life hasn’t been easy – but Agnes is doing well, having learned how to rear pigs and make a decent living.

Agnes, who is now president of an Oxfam pig cooperative, said:  “The impact that the pigs will have on my life [is] that I will achieve food security, earn money as well as improving my life.”

This gift can help someone living in poverty to earn a better living. Farmers can use the manure to fertilise crops, and piglets can be sold to pay for essentials like food and education.

Money raised from this gift supports our Livelihoods projects. Oxfam Unwrapped helps people to build happier, brighter futures.  

Unwrapped Gifts: The Road to an Education

Every child dreams of waking up on Christmas morning and finding a bicycle under the tree. Because nothing comes close to the magic of that first bike – and the feeling of independence it brings. As part of the Oxfam Unwrapped charity gift range, this year we have launched a new, wheely great gift – The Road to an Education (€65/£55) – which is helping children to get to school.

Left: Esnat* with her Oxfam bike. Photo: Corinna Kern. Right: Zainab* was always late for school. Photo: Corinna Kern

For some children, a bike can even be life-changing. Young girls like Esnat*, who used to walk 25km to get to school. She used to doze off in the classroom and fall asleep as soon as she got home.

“When I got home, I didn’t study as I was too tired,” she said. “My body and legs would ache; sometimes I would skip lessons.”

As part of the Oxfam Unwrapped charity gift range, this year we have launched a new, wheely great gift – The Road to an Education (€65/£55) – which is helping children to get to school.  With this gift, you can help to educate a girl like Esnat* who almost gave up on school before she received her Oxfam bike. Giving feels great - it's true. But we also know how good it feels to receive something truly life-changing - like a gift that lifts people out of poverty. That's what makes Unwrapped so special.

Because Esnat* isn’t the only girl to face challenges getting to school. For vulnerable communities, there can be many bumps in the road to an education.  The daily struggle of travelling long distances and threats to safety along the way mean many children, especially girls, are forced to drop out.

Put them on The Road to an Education with our gift – and it will help change their lives. 

*Name has been changed

Money raised from this gift supports our Investing in Futures projects. Oxfam Unwrapped helps people build happier, brighter futures.

Give something different this Christmas with Oxfam

Oxfam’s Fair Trade and ethically-sourced gifts change lives for good

Give something different this Christmas with Oxfam Ireland – give a gift that changes lives for good.

From quirky stocking fillers and ethically sourced crafts, to fab Fair Trade food, unique decorations and the Unwrapped alternative gift card range – Oxfam’s life-saving and life-changing gifts are the something special you’ve been looking for.

These gifts are guaranteed to help beat poverty for good by raising vital funds for Oxfam’s work across the world – from development projects that change lives in Rwanda, Tanzania and beyond to saving lives in places like Yemen where millions of people face hunger and disease.  

Send your loved ones lots of hogs and kisses this year with the Unwrapped gift card range. Available online and in Oxfam shops across the island of Ireland, these beautiful printed or electronic cards start at just €10/£7 and support a wide range of life-changing projects.

New additions for 2018 are Two Little Pigs (€40/£35), A Cow (€50/£46), or The Road to an Education (€65/£55). Every gift in the Unwrapped range helps to create a brighter, happier future for people living in severe poverty – from supporting people who depend on animals for their livelihoods and helping people get the education and training they need to thrive to ensuring people caught up in emergencies have essentials like clean water. To see Oxfam’s full range of Unwrapped gifts, visit oxfamireland.org/unwrapped.

Meanwhile, in Oxfam shops nationwide, a host of Fair Trade and ethically-sourced gifts cater for all your Christmas essentials. There are brand new stocking fillers from €1.50/£1.20 like chocolate coins, mulled wine and spiced cider, retro games and novelty socks plus cards and gift-wrap paper.  

All of the quality food treats in-store are Fair Trade, so whether you choose from the new offerings of the Double Chocolate and Raspberry Shortbread (€5/£3.99), Beer Bread (choose from Chilli & Garlic or Olive & Rosemary, both €6/£4.99) or the Trio Sauce Set (Peri Peri chili sauce, Baobab spicy relish and Safari BBQ – €15/£12.99), these thoughtful present ideas will be sure to delight your foodie friends.

Staying with food, Sally Butcher’s book Veggiestan (€20/£15.99) is a vegetable lover’s tour of the Middle East, while other reads include Cath Tate’s hilarious Christmas: The Season To Be Jolly (€7/£5.99), which pairs vintage photos with witty captions.

Among the quirky new additions to Oxfam’s gift range for the home are the Recycled Tyre Picture Frame (€10/£7.99), colourful ceramic tile hooks (€4/£2.99), and a ‘nosey’ spectacles holder (€10/£7.99).

New gifts for her include a Hand-made Embroidered Purse (€6/£4.99), a Hand-made Embroidered Pouch (€9/£6.99), 2019 Family Organisers (€10/£7.99) by either Ailsa Black or Clare Wilson, or how about some Belgian Pralines (€10/£8.49)?

New gifts for him include a fascinating spotters guide book on the world’s top Film and TV Locations (€7/£5.99); and if that involves some travels then he will also appreciate the gift of a Hand-made Paisley Washbag (€9/£6.99).

Younger children will love reading Hoot (€7/£5.99), a ‘hole-some book of counting’, while there are new additions to the Matchbox Trivia Games and Puzzles for kids of all ages (€5/£3.99).

Whatever you buy from Oxfam’s Christmas range, you’ll be supporting their work worldwide, helping to change lives for good through their long-term development work, emergency response and campaigning to tackle the root causes of poverty and injustice.

Give something different today: simply call into one of Oxfam’s shops across the island, phone 1850 30 40 55 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800 0 30 40 55 (Northern Ireland) or visit www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped.

 

For more information or to request further images/the full list of gifts on offer, please contact:

ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons on 083 198 1869 / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

NI:        Phillip Graham on 07841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

Calinie and Theophile

Like many Burundians living in rural communities in this small landlocked country, life for Calinie and Theophile and their four children until recently was a struggle.
 
 
With home a small, poorly-built house with a roof that leaked during the rainy season, sporadic income from crops (beans, peanuts, cassava and maize) meant the family struggled to make ends meet, put enough food on the table and pay regular medical bills. These periods of food insecurity also left their mark on the children, now aged six to 22 years.
 
“We often didn’t have enough food for three meals a day, the kids would sometimes go to school on an empty stomach,” said Theophile.

 

But their lives changed two years ago thanks to the Oxfam’s ‘Support to Agricultural Productivity in Burundi’ (PAPAB) project.  A key feature of this four-year project, across six provinces and part of Oxfam’s broader Sustainable Food programme, is the innovative Integrated Farm Planning approach (‘Plan Intégré du Paysan’ or PIP) that turns small-scale subsistence farming households into more integrated, productive and sustainable farms. The power of PIP is its ability to change farmers’ mind-sets by motivating them to transform realities through collective action that results in integrated farm planning and resilient farming systems.

“Our yield has increased (50 to 250 kilograms of beans). We sell our surplus. There is now money for school fees, clothes for our children, medicine, we can buy livestock and even hire people to work the land,” said Theophile.

 

For Calinie and Theophile and 30 other families from their village, like all PIP participants this farmer-to-farmer approach starts with each family producing two drawings that visualize their current farming situation and the family’s desired future. Sandwiched between the drawings is a participatory analysis of potential household interventions and an inventory of skills and assets.

“They told us to go home, draw what we see and then draw how we want our future to look. They taught us as husband and wife, to ensure we understand the project and our objectives,” said Calinie.
 
With a vision of the future committed to paper, Oxfam supports each family to bring it to life.
 
 
A series of trainings follows on integrated agricultural techniques (crop production, land management, livestock rearing and income-generation activities) so each family has the knowledge and tools to cultivate a better future. Project team and agronomist house visits ensure technical aspects of interventions are addressed.

Two years after Oxfam’s PIP approach planted the seed and changed the mind-sets of Calinie and Theophile, they are determined that resilient and sustainable farming systems will continue to blossom in Kanyosha and other rural communes in Burundi. 

“Before we were dependent on outside help, now we can produce enough for ourselves. Today, I don’t need an agronomist and next year we will grow more crops,” said Theophile.
 
 
This PIP-inspired community empowerment has also translated into collective action with Theophile leading the way in encouraging families to support a village tomato crop with 2,300 plants.
 
“Our idea and vision for the future is to form a cooperative. This is a dream we have,” said Calinie.
 

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