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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.

5 things you need to know about climate change and hunger

 
60 million people are facing a food crisis but the public has not heard about it. This is roughly the same as the number of refugees in the world, and is also a global phenomenon. But the crisis has not made the headlines because it was a slow, creeping disaster.
 
The 2015/16 ‘super El Niño’, combined with climate change, brought severe droughts and flooding to people in the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Central America, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.  31.1m people are currently food insecure in the Horn of Africa1.
 

But, what does hunger have to do with climate change? A lot.

 
Pascaline from Pissila community, in Burkina Faso, is growing sorghum. Burkina Faso suffers an extreme, variable climate: the same area can be affected by both flooding and drought within only a few months. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam 
 
 
1. Lost livelihoods:  Recently, harvests and livelihoods have faltered as drought has taken hold across equatorial regions. Right now, 39 million people in Southern Africa2  do not have enough to eat, after drought has devastated several cycles of crops. Without climate adaptation strategies suited to each reality, farmers, fisherfolks and pastoralist communities face a difficult choice: to migrate in search of other livelihood opportunities or to stay and face hunger. 
 
2. Food trade and prices spikes: Even where food exists, extreme events can block main roads, railway tracks, harbors, and food cannot reach markets. Besides, extreme weather events such as the recent “super” El Niño, can wipe out entire harvests and trigger dramatic food price spikes. In July this year, maize prices in Malawi were 192 percent higher than the five-year average, and are expected to continue increasing towards the end of 20163. By 2030, 95% of maize and other coarse grains consumed in sub-Saharan Africa could come from the region itself, meaning that local climatic shocks are likely to have dramatic impacts on local production, prices, and ultimately on consumption.
 
Women in search of water in Hadigala district, Siti Zone, Somali Region. 8th July 2015. Photo: Poon Wai Nang/Oxfam
 
3. Water resources: Ethiopia is suffering its worst drought for 30 years and the search for water has become more desperate: women walk for two to six hours a day just to get water, and people have to dig wells deeper and deeper to access water.
 
4. Nutrition-health: Increased water scarcity due to climate change reduces the capacity to produce food and its quality, which has serious implications for food security, nutrition and health. In Ethiopia alone 9.7 million people are currently in need of emergency food aid. People have no choice other than to cut down on the quantity and variety of the food they eat, leading to malnutrition. Tragically, children are the hardest hit: in particular, climate change is intensifying the threat from the three biggest killers of children – diarrhea, malnutrition, and malaria. 
 
Habodo Gele age 35, with her baby Habiiba* (3 ½ months), and her son Saffi* age 5, at their home in Bisle, Siti zone, Ethiopia. “Until now, the drought has mainly affected animals. Today it is affecting humans. It is scary. We don’t have enough food. We get a bit of help. We are supporting ourselves.“
 
5. Climate change as a driver of inequality: The impact of global warming and extreme weather events will be higher in the developing world. Many climate impacts will be greater in the Tropics and poor countries are least able to adapt to the changes. Women are often the hardest hit, as they are the ones left to tend small farms and families, and have fewer alternative livelihoods when crops are lost. 
 

You can help 

This food crisis shows clearly what happens when we fail to invest enough in helping communities adapt to climate change and to grow and buy enough food in a warming world. Acting early in a drought costs 40% less than acting late4. Funds are urgently needed now to support the most vulnerable communities to build their resilience to the changing climate, and to protect lives now and in the future.

 
Sources
1 - FSNWG monthly update: Food and Nutrition Security Situation as of September 2016.
2 - SADC, Regional Situation update on El Nino-induced drought, issue 3, 24 October 2016. 
3 - FEWSNET, Malawi Food Security Outlook Update, August 2016.
4 - DFID, ‘The Economics of Early Response and Resilience: Summary of Findings’, January 2013.
 

Lorraine Keane and a host of fashion and entertainment stars launch fundraiser extravaganza FASHION RELIEF – now nationwide!

 

TV presenter rolls out events in Cork, Dublin and Galway in aid of Oxfam Ireland

TV presenter Lorraine Keane brought together Ireland’s favourite fashionable stars today to launch FASHION RELIEF 2019 as the fundraiser extravaganza goes nationwide in aid of Oxfam Ireland.

Keane teamed up with Miriam O’Callaghan, Maia Dunphy, Noel Cunningam, Mary Kennedy, James Patrice, Clémentine MacNeice, Joe Conlan, Triona McCarthy, Sarah McGovern, Laura Woods, Mo Kelly, Cathy O’Connor, Caroline Morahan, Teo Sutra and Joanne Northey to call on the public to join them at three FASHION RELIEF events across the country in 2019.

Following the success of the first fundraiser in Dublin in May 2018, events will now be held in Cork’s City Hall on Sunday 17 February, Dublin’s RDS on Sunday 10 March and Galway’s Galmont Hotel on Sunday 31 March.

Each event will offer people the unique opportunity to bag a bargain from the wardrobe of their style icon or beloved brand, boutique or designer, all while raising vital funds for Oxfam’s work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

With donations from stars like Saoirse Ronan, Vogue Williams, Dáithí Ó Sé, Mary Kennedy, Miriam O’Callaghan, Rob Kearney, Anna Geary, James Patrice and more – as well as event host Lorraine Keane – FASHION RELIEF is not-to-be-missed.

Attendees of each event will also enjoy two free fashion shows and get fashion advice and top tips from leading Irish stylists and social influencers on the day.

Lorraine Keane is calling on the Irish public to join her in Cork, Dublin and Galway: “We were blown away by the success of our first ever FASHION RELIEF in May 2018, including the incredible generosity we experienced from the Irish public, our corporate and media partners and designers, boutiques and brands across the country.

“This year, we’re determined to make it bigger and better – starting by taking the show on the road! We’re so excited to bring FASHION RELIEF back to Dublin’s RDS but also to fashion-savvy shoppers in Cork and Galway.

“Over the last few weeks, stock has been pouring in from a host of amazing designers, retailers and of course, celebrities and influencers. Now I’m calling on people across Dublin, Cork, Galway and beyond to join us on the day and bag yourself a bargain. By buying your ticket in advance, you’ll skip the queues and ensure you don’t miss any of the action, including two fabulous free fashion shows.

“If you want to do more, you could even donate your own pre-loved clothes and accessories for sale on the day, get your workplace on board to do a bigger donation drive, or volunteer to staff your own stall at the events – why not get some friends together and make a day of it?”

All profits will support Oxfam’s work in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive as well as saving lives when disaster strikes.

Keane continued: “In November 2018, I had the privilege of travelling to Ethiopia to see Oxfam’s work there and how the money raised through FASHION RELIEF could help people facing hunger and poverty. It was the most difficult part of this journey so far but also the most rewarding. I met a little five-year-old girl called Samia who, in the midst of the devastation surrounding her – hunger, disease, violence – beamed the most beautiful smile and reminded me of my own daughters. I met people who are lifting themselves out of poverty through innovative farming techniques and saw families forced to flee because of hunger, drought and conflict receive life-saving aid like clean, safe water.

“The are many reasons to join me at FASHION RELIEF but the most important is that we’ll be raising vital funds for Oxfam’s work across the world – funds that will help make sure children like Samia have the future they deserve. Get your ticket today and together, we’ll beat hunger and poverty for good.”

FASHION RELIEF 2019 will take place in:

  • City Hall, Cork on Sunday 17 February from 11am – 5pm
  • RDS, Dublin on Sunday 10 March from 11am – 5pm and
  • Galmont Hotel, Galway on Sunday 31 March from 11am – 5pm

Tickets for each event are just €10 and available at www.fashionrelief.ie. For more information on tickets, organising a donation drive or volunteering on the day, email IRL-fashionrelief@oxfam.org or call 01 672 7662.

ENDS

CONTACT: Interviews, images – including of Lorraine Keane’s trip to Ethiopia – and more information available on request contact Alice Dawson-Lyons on  alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

 

 

Biggest-ever waste treatment plant in a refugee camp is ‘step forward’ for safer human waste disposal in emergencies

Author: Kelsey-Rae Taylor, Oxfam New Zealand
 
 
Oxfam has opened the largest human waste treatment plant ever built in a refugee camp, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The industrial-scale plant, funded by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, can process the waste of 150,000 people – a population bigger than Tauranga. 
Being able to treat large volumes of faecal waste on site, rather than having to transport it elsewhere, is a big step forward in how to safely and sustainably dispose of such waste in emergencies. 
 
Last year more than 200,000 cases of acute diarrhoea were reported in the Rohingya camps, as well as respiratory infections and skin diseases like scabies – all related to poor sanitation and hygiene. 
 
Over seven months, Oxfam engineers and Rohingya refugees have built the massive system which has been specially designed for the steep, hilly terrain and to have the cheapest possible operation and maintenance costs. 
 
A suitable site was provided by the Government of Bangladesh and the project was delivered in collaboration with the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner's Office in Cox’s Bazar.   
  
Oxfam water and sanitation engineer Salahuddin Ahmmed said: “Safe sanitation is vital to prevent outbreaks of disease but disposing safely of human waste in the world’s biggest refugee camp is a major challenge. This ecological plant will help to keep refugees healthy by treating 40 cubic meters of waste a day – a huge amount. The initial investment is well worth it because the plant is cheap and easy to run and could last for 20 years – benefitting local communities when this emergency is over. We expect to replicate this model in future crises.” 
 
In emergencies, the most common method of waste disposal is to use tankers to suck out the sewage from latrines and take it away. But around 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are in developing countries, often lacking adequate sewage systems to deal with all this extra waste. Treating it on site reduces the risk that it will which end up being dumped in a field or polluting a local stream. 
 
The new, ecological plant, made up of treatment ponds and wetlands, is safe for people and the environment. It has multiple treatment stages to prevent contamination of local water sources and a high-density polyethylene liner and covered anaerobic unit to stop unpleasant odours escaping. 
 
The plant also produces biogas – Oxfam is exploring how to get this to refugee families to cook with. 
 
Aki is an 18-year-old Rohingya refugee who works as a community volunteer for Oxfam, talking to fellow refugees about good hygiene, handwashing, and keeping toilets clean. After a tour of the new plant, she said she had a better understanding of how her work is part of Oxfam’s wider efforts to stop outbreaks of disease. 
 
Aki said: “I didn’t know what happened to all the waste from the latrines. I’m happy that Oxfam has built this plant as it will help prevent the spread of diseases. Last year lots of people were sick with serious diarrhea. But we are seeing improvements. We can tell our community that this plant is doing something that will help for the future, and maybe also produce cooking gas. It’s great.” 
 
Close to a million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh still need food, water, shelter and other essential aid to survive. Oxfam is calling for more aid and resources to improve conditions beyond the basics and keep people safe. 
 
Oxfam is providing vital aid including clean water and food vouchers to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and has so far reached at least 266,000 people. 
 
Notes to editors: 
 
The plant was designed by a German organisation called BORDA - specialists in sanitation systems in developing countries. 
 
In 2018 there were more than 200,000 cases of acute diarrhoea reported in the Cox’s Bazar camps, according to the WHO and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 
 
The UN calculates that 85 per cent of refugees are in developing countries. 
 
-ends-
 

In 2018, 43 people owned the same wealth as half the world – this year, 26 do.

In 2018, 43 people owned the same wealth as half the world – this year, 26 do.

A report released by Oxfam this week highlights that our current global economy is rewarding those at the top - while hundreds of millions of people living in poverty are getting poorer. Last year, the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw their wealth decline by 11 percent while billionaires’ fortunes rose by almost the same amount. 
 
One of the main drivers of inequality is the failure of governments to clamp down on tax dodging by big businesses and wealthy individuals and ensure everyone is paying their fair share. Tax dodging by corporations and the rich is costing poor countries $170 billion a year. This means less funds for vital public services like healthcare and education, which are key to reducing inequality and helping people to build better lives for themselves. 
 

This just doesn't make sense

 
This human cost of inequality can no longer be ignored. Every day, 262 million children will not go to school and almost 10,000 people will die because they cannot access healthcare.
 
 
Nellie Kumambala, a secondary school teacher from Lumbadzi, Malawi tells us her experience of fighting inequality. “My father inspired my sisters and me to become teachers. I’ve taught at the community secondary school for my area for 19 years. Our children come from very poor families. Many walk long distances to get here. Many come with empty stomachs. We have a problem of too few textbooks, dilapidated classrooms and teaching materials. 
 
"Over the years, I have seen so many girls and boys who score highly despite coming from poor backgrounds. I remember Chimwemwe Gabisa – she was brilliant at mathematics, the best I have taught. She finished secondary school but could not proceed to college for lack of funds." 
 
The private schools in the city, for children from rich families, have very good facilities. It does not seem right that it is so much harder for children in a government school to be educated. I pay tax every month on my little salary. I don’t understand why the people that have everything are failing to pay their taxes. 
 
With more money a lot could be done at our school. We could provide students with breakfast. We could provide them with textbooks and basic necessities like school uniforms and exercise books. At least this would give them a better chance in life.”
 
Rising inequality is preventing us from beating poverty for good – but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is enough wealth in the world to provide everyone with a fair chance in life.
 
Dedicated teachers like Nellie are the lifeblood of great public services that benefit the poorest. Share her story to help fight inequality and beat poverty.
 
 

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