How toilets fight poverty

Safe water, good hygiene, and improved sanitation save lives

Whether in an emergency, or for everyday use at home or at school, toilets are essential. Yet, more than 4.5 billion people don’t have a proper toilet. That’s according to the UN and the good people behind its World Toilet Day effort, launched in 2013 and celebrated every year on November 19, which raises awareness about the role toilets play in fighting poverty.


Living in a world without decent toilets (especially ones connected to a system that safely handles waste) puts people at risk of disease, pollutes the environment, and discourages girls from attending school.

That’s why Oxfam provides toilets, clean water, and encourages good hygiene practices in the wake of natural disasters and other emergencies, and works with communities to build decent latrines and proper sanitation systems for everyday use. Safe water, good hygiene, and improved sanitation can save as many as 842,000 lives per year, according to the UN. Toilets can actually save lives!

See for yourself the difference toilets make, every day and in emergencies.

Toilets and Clean Water Overlooked Essentials

The women rebuilding Nepal

They’re recovering from an earthquake and coming back even stronger. From the woman training and employing women to weave, to the women building houses and bringing clean water to their communities. Nepalese community members spoke with two amazing women from the UK, Hifsa and Jacqui, about how life has changed for them since the disaster.

How are farmers using polytunnels to make a decent living?

How are farmers using polytunnels to make a decent living in Nepal? | Oxfam GB

Local farmers growing cabbages, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, chillis and more talked to Oxfam supporter Jacqui about their farming techniques.

“This is something completely new that we are doing,” said farmer Kamala, who farms tomatoes in the Arghakhanchi district of Nepal.

This woman trains others how to weave

This woman trains others how to weave in Nepal | Oxfam GB

Sunita, who lost her business after the Nepal earthquake has now reestablished it – with support from Oxfam and Fair Trade Group Nepal. She employs ten women.

“We give them looms and provide training as well as work,” Sunita said.

Engineers in Nepal have come up with this gravity fed water system

Engineers in Nepal have installed this new gravity fed water system | Oxfam GB

Looking out over deep, deep valleys in Nepal, local engineers tell Oxfam supporter Jacqui about their community water tanks.

“We lost many things in this place. We were struggling for a long time to fix the problem of proper water supply,” said Sushila, who lives in a village in the Dhading district of Nepal, where the earthquake made the underground water supply move and the existing water supply completely dried up.

“The engineers came up with this fantastic gravity fed water system where there’s no pumps required. It doesn’t matter if it rains or not, the water still comes from underground.” supporter Jacqui said.

This community built a space that helps empower women

This community in Nepal built a space that helps empower women | Oxfam GB

Women in the Nepalgunj district of Nepal sing songs about empowerment. They spoke with Oxfam supporter Hifsa about their women’s group, which is supported by Oxfam’s partner Social Awareness Concerned. Social Awareness Concerned work to reduce child marriage and violence against women, to protect and empower women and girls. Sita Pun, a member of the Sathi Community Discussion Centre said, “when women get married at a young age, we face and suffer many difficulties. We do not want to see our children suffering.”

“We are happy.” These women in Nepal are building houses and bringing in clean water tanks

These women in Nepal are building houses and bringing in clean water tanks | Oxfam GB

Women on local management committees in Nepal told Oxfam supporter Hifsa about what they are building.

One woman, 25 year-old Kopila is the Treasurer of the Water User Committee in a village in the Dhading district in Nepal. She said, “before, water came directly from the pipe. We drank dirty water. Now we will be able to drink clean water directly from the tank.”

Reflecting on their conversations in Nepal, Oxfam supporter Hifsa said, “I don’t want to leave a world for my children and my grandchildren where they are still having to worry about the rest of the world. I want to start creating a world that is a lot more fair because I think it’s our duty.”

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5 Reasons to Volunteer This Winter

With over 45 shops, we need people from all walks of life to volunteer for all kinds of roles that help beat poverty.

You can give as little or as much time as you like. If you’d like to talk to someone about what’s right for you, just pop into your local Oxfam shop and have a chat with the shop manager.

We have almost 1,200 shop volunteers at the heart of our community and our volunteers are a part of a powerful movement of people united by one goal – an end to poverty, for everyone.

Without volunteers like YOU we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do.

Philip, sits by the till in Oxfam’s shop in Portlaoise, where he serves customers each day. Photo: Maria Gillan
Philip, sits by the till in Oxfam’s shop in Portlaoise, where he serves customers each day. Photo: Maria Gillan


Volunteering is linked to better physical, mental and emotional health – and helps us feel more socially connected.

Volunteer in an Oxfam shop and you’ll meet some amazing people at the heart of your community, who are united by a common cause.


It’s the time of year for giving, and what better present to give than the gift of your time? Every shift you volunteer raises vital funds to transform the lives of people living in poverty – helping people around the world to grow more food, educate their children, and lead healthy, productive lives.


Volunteering works both ways. There are so many benefits to volunteering, whether you’re looking to share your knowledge, meet new people, or get valuable experience that looks great on your CV or UCAS form, talk to us, we’d love to talk to you.


Oxfam Shops are a great place for buying quality second hand clothes, unique sustainable gifts and cards that help beat poverty – and you’ll be surprised at how much festive fun you can have by helping people find special Christmas presents for their loved ones.

What better way to support sustainable fashion and our fight against climate change than by volunteering during the festive season.

You may even be able to tick off some pressies from your own Christmas shopping list while you’re there too!


With a new year just around the corner, you can get ahead of the game and tick off a resolution before 2020 has even started. If you’re in need of some inspiration, volunteering with Oxfam could help provide some fresh perspective. You’ll find people that you can learn from, and who can learn from you.

From window dressing to managing our social media, whatever you choose to do, join a friendly team at the heart of your community.

Think you’d enjoy a few hours volunteering this winter?

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8 Reasons Why Oxfam Unwrapped Cards Make the Perfect Ethical Gift

Child smiling washing hands
Photo: Rodney Dekker

With more people on the hunt for ethical Christmas presents, an Oxfam Unwrapped card is a gift you can feel good about giving to someone you care about.

With these unique cards, you can make a loved one smile, while fighting poverty and protecting the environment, one gift at a time. Here’s how Oxfam Unwrapped makes an impact.

1. Helping people to overcome income inequality

Oxfam Ireland’s work is focussed on providing families with sustainable, resilient pathways out of poverty. When you buy a gift such as a cow, goat or honeybees, you’re helping people to develop a sustainable way of living and lift their communities out of severe poverty in Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia. The animals are well looked after and the aspiring farmers are offered support and training to give their ventures the best chance at success.

2. Improving access to education

We’re working with schools and families around the world to give children, especially the next generation of girls, a quality education. Oxfam’s approach is wide-ranging that help people access vital services like education and healthcare.

3. Supporting those most in need

When cyclones hit, Oxfam is on the ground directly where there is a threat to life, health and livelihoods. Cards such as A WEE Gift For You or Water for a Family help to provide necessities for those affected by natural and man-made disasters, such as refugee crises.

4. Promoting gender equality

Educate and empower the next generation of women’s rights activists with the Educate a Girl card. Women are supported with opportunities to generate sustainable livelihoods, and aspiring activists are trained in effective ways of campaigning for gender equality and the eradication of violence against women.

5. Go plastic free

Christmas Day can easily lead to an overload of waste, so we’ve made sure that your gift comes in organic, compostable and recyclable packaging and courier bags. Or even better: select a digital (PDF) card which you can download and send to be completely waste-free.

6. Showing kindness to animals

Our farmers given training to provide their animals with the best possible care and on visits to our programmes we find them healthy and enjoying life.

7. Fair Trade all the way

Not only will you help aspiring farmers get a fair price for their produce. This means those all along the supply chain are paid a fair price for what they sell, leading to a more equal world for everyone involved.

8. Spreading good vibes and generosity

By gifting a gift card like Feed 6 Families, you can enjoy your festive meal, with the knowledge that you’ve helped a family in need purchase food during a hard time. Cards like these help to provide vouchers for families, to purchase necessary food in shops, helping to support local trade.

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Pakistan: Who takes the heat for the climate crisis?

“Yesterday, my daughter fainted in assembly,” says Hooran. “Her teacher told her to start eating fruit in the mornings before she comes to school so she has enough energy. It made me so upset to hear that, because we barely have enough money to buy roti (bread). Fruits are a long shot away.”

Pakistani woman looks at the camera
Photo: Khaula Jamil/Oxfam

This is what life on the frontline of the climate crisis is like for Hooran in Badin, Pakistan. She’s one of the 1.8 million people living there who endure frequent floods, but also drought-like conditions caused by a lack of water and changing rainfall patterns. All of this means it’s harder to grow crops, feed livestock, and get by from one day to the next.

Woman waters her dry crops
Photo: Khaula Jamil/Oxfam


This is worlds away from the childhood Hooran remembers.

“Growing up, I used to go to school, cut wood to earn money, and help my mother with the chores. In our house there was livestock, farming and my mother’s tailoring business, and all of this meant we had multiple sources of income. I had a very happy childhood because of this.”

But as the years went on, the weather became less predictable – and so did the harvests.

Very dry cracked land
Photo: Khaula Jamil/Oxfam


In 2003, a cyclone caused flooding that destroyed all of Hooran’s crops and land. Oxfam is helping people prepare for climate change, deal with its effects, and adapt when disaster strikes. In Badin, we’re focusing on supporting women, young people and people with disabilities to develop new farming methods and learn other skills to make a living.

Hooran learned new skills so she can earn money beyond farming.

Woman learns to tailor for new livelihood
Photo: Khaula Jamil/Oxfam

“I learnt how to stitch, make soap bars and gurda (a local drink made from sugarcane). I chose to be a part of the training to learn how to sew undergarments. I wanted to make it better for women and girls here when they go through their period. We have to suffer through really unhygienic conditions because we don’t have the resources to buy pads, and they are so expensive. So I want to start making these undergarments so they can use them during this time.”

She’s also learned how to grow vegetables even under the unforgiving conditions that the extreme weather brings. “Before the training we could only buy stale vegetables, but now we can grow our own fresh vegetables with our own hands… now we are free from that stress.”

Hand touching a seedling
Photo: Khaula Jamil/Oxfam

There is still much work to do but Hooran is adapting fast so she can earn a living. This shouldn’t have to be her reality. It is a fact that he world’s poorest people have contributed the least to the climate emergency, yet they are suffering the most.

Urgent action is needed to save our planet.