Simple Water Solutions, Diverse Benefits

Photo: Abdiaziz Adani/Oxfam

"I collect water four times per day for our household's cleaning, laundry, and other uses. Where I used to collect water was 40 minutes away," explains Caasha Xasan, a mother of seven who lives in Barwaaqo IDP camp in Kismayo.

Recurrent drought in Somalia caused not only food insecurity and displacement but there is also severe water scarcity in rural and urban areas. Rainwater is the primary source of water, and lack of adequate water storage facilities worsens the situation as any rain quickly dissipates.

In many parts of the country, the physical and economic accessibility of water remains a challenge for the poorest and most marginalized communities. Women, who are traditionally responsible for collecting household water, are often most at risk of violence and other risks when fetching water. "Where I used to collect water was 40 minutes away. We would collect water by hand and carry it. Only sometimes would we use donkeys. It would take 40 minutes there and 40 minutes back," says Caasha Xasan.

Photo: Abdiaziz Adani/Oxfam

Because of the long distances to the water facilities, women spend extensive time collecting water, struggling to get enough time to feed their children and do other household chores, which are burdens that reduce other opportunities for women's empowerment, such as study or work.

As part of our humanitarian response in Somalia, Oxfam and partner WASDA rehabilitated four shallow wells in Kismayo IDP camps, intending to ensure regular and easy access to water and provide women with more time to pursue other endeavors.

 "We get lots of benefits from the shallow wells. Firstly, it's very close to the front of my house. I can fill jerry cans at any time, so I don't need many jerry cans. Now, I do household chores and support my children in my spare time. It would be difficult to prepare food for them before, but now it's easier. I feed them before school. It's also beneficial for the broader family," says Caasha.

Photos: Abdiaziz Adani/Oxfam
Besides the benefits that she gets from the water kiosk, Caasha believes these facilities have improved integration amongst displaced people and host communities. "We benefit a lot thanks to Oxfam and WASDA. The town has improved as a community because we share all the benefits, which reduces clashes over resources. We are united," she concluded.
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One woman's fight against inequality saves lives in her neighbourhood

Janet Fuentes leads a march in her community of Santa Rosa in Lima, Peru. Miguel Villalobos/Oxfam

In Peru, Janet Fuentes mobilised her community to save lives during the pandemic while they received little to no support from the government.

Peru is the country with the most COVID-19 deaths per capita in the world. When COVID-19 hit in Santa Rosa, a neighbourhood of Lima, people weren’t just dying from getting sick, but also from starvation. Janet Fuentes witnessed dozens of her neighbours fall seriously ill and sometimes die, while the government provided no support and their local health centre shut down.

“The levels of inequality are horrendous... When [a family] waved a white flag from a house, it meant they didn’t have anything left to eat,” Fuentes says. “People are dying in Santa Rosa and nobody is coming."

Fuentes brought together members of her community to found the Anti-COVID Committee to support her neighbours at the height of the crisis. The committee collected and distributed medicine and bottles of oxygen, organised food deliveries to vulnerable families, took care of children with ill parents, and distributed masks. Fuentes’s efforts likely save hundreds of lives in her community.

“Something that hurts us deeply is that these deaths could have been avoided if we had a government that truly cared,” she says.

Janet Fuentes delivers food and aid to her neighbours suffering during the pandemic. Miguel Villalobos/Oxfam

Tackling the root of the problem

When the pandemic hit Peru, there were only 248 intensive care beds for more than 30 million people. That number has now increased to 3,700 ICU beds through contributions from organisations like Oxfam in Peru and its partner ‘Foro Juvenilde Izquierda’ (Leftist Youth Forum), a grassroots organisation led by young activists promoting among other initiatives the Anti-Covid Community Committees. However, while groups like these are making strides within their communities, the systems and those in control of them are stilling failing people every day.

“We are facing a neo-liberal system that only prioritises wealth,” says Fuentes. “How is it possible that this pandemic has made billionaires out of the pharmaceutical companies?”

Now, Fuentes and the Anti-COVID Committee are demanding responses from the Peruvian government to address the systemic problems in their country that were made worse by the pandemic. They are asking the government to provide their communities with proper healthcare and to denounce “pandemic profiteers”—the transnational companies profiting from vaccines, medicines, and treatments—while Peruvians still lack decent public health coverage.

Through the work of ‘Foro Juvenilde Izquierda’, committees like the one in Santa Rosa are participating in grassroots democratic discussion, engagement, and advocacy with public authorities, and targeting structural problems in the national health system, beyond the immediate context of the pandemic.

Oxfam’s recent report, Inequality Kills, found that inequality results in the death of one person every four seconds. Communities like Fuentes' are hit the hardest when a crisis strikes, meanwhile billionaires continue to amass wealth at a disgusting rate. Enough is enough.

“It’s an insult when money is more important that people’s lives,” Fuentes says.

Together we can fight inequality.

Ten richest men double their fortunes in pandemic while incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall

January 17th 2022

The wealth of Ireland’s nine billionaires has increased by a massive €18.3 billion (58 per cent) to €49.7 billion since the start of the pandemic. That’s according to Oxfam which published its Inequality Kills report today, ahead of the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda taking place this week.

The new report details how inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds, based on deaths globally from lack of access to healthcare, gender-based violence, hunger and climate breakdown.

Globally, the world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes from €610 billion to €1.3 trillion—at a rate of €1.13 billion a day—during the first two years of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the aggregate incomes of 99 percent of humanity have stagnated and fallen and over 160 million more people were forced into poverty.

Calls for wealth tax in Ireland

Oxfam Ireland has today called for extreme wealth in Ireland and around the world to be taxed to help fund the recovery from the pandemic. Oxfam’s report shows the biggest surge in billionaire wealth since records began. Since the start of the pandemic, billionaires have seen their wealth increase by €4.35 trillion, with a new billionaire created every 26 hours.

Oxfam’s estimates show that an one and a half percent wealth tax on Irish millionaires owning above €4 million could raise €4 billion in tax revenue. A one and half percent wealth tax on Irish billionaires alone could raise a little over €0.7 billion.

Commenting on the report, Oxfam Ireland’s CEO Jim Clarken said:“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic. Central banks pumped trillions of euros into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom.

“Now is the time to redress that imbalance through progressive wealth taxes, along with other progressive measures such as debt relief and cancellation. Within the EU, the Irish Government could lead by example by introducing a wealth tax of one and a half percent on the very wealthiest which would have a positive effect on Ireland’s society as it recovers from the pandemic."

It is right that we should ask those that have gained most from the pandemic to contribute to the recovery. The funds generated by a wealth tax could have a transformative effect on funding Ireland’s recovery from the pandemic and could be targeted at those areas most in need –homeless people and people trapped in the increasing poverty trap of private rental accommodation, especially lone parents. It could be used to modernise our struggling health system, help advance gender equality by addressing funding gaps in the care economy and fund a just transition to a zero-carbon society. It would also enable Ireland to meet our long-standing commitment to spend 0.7per cent of our gross national income on overseas development assistance.

Progressive wealth taxes at a global level could have a similar galvanising effect. We can choose a global economy centred on equality in which nobody lives in poverty, in which everyone has the chance to thrive. Governments must act now to claw back the exponential rise in billionaire wealth during Covid-19 by implementing solidarity taxes to fight inequality,” Clarken added.

Inequality between countries rises for first time in generation

The Oxfam report also highlights that inequality between countries is expected to rise for the first time in a generation. Developing countries, denied access to sufficient vaccines because of rich governments’ protection of pharmaceutical corporations’ monopolies, have been forced to slash social spending as their debt levels spiral and now face the prospect of austerity measures. The proportion of people with COVID-19 who die from the virus in developing countries is roughly double that in wealthy countries.

Speaking on the issue of vaccine inequality, Clarken continued: “Vaccines were meant to end this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people. This is having life and death consequences around the world.

“The world’s response to the pandemic has unleashed this economic violence particularly acutely across racial, marginalised and gendered lines. As COVID-19 spikes, this turns to surges of gender-based violence, even as more unpaid care is heaped upon women and girls.Most poignantly, following the horrific recent murder in Tullamore, the Inequality Kills report shows that violence against women has soared during the pandemic. Yet gender-based violence has accounted for only 0.0002% of global pandemic response funding.”

The full Inequality Kills report, key findings summary and research methodology is available to download here

For more details of Oxfam Ireland's wealth tax proposal please see our submission to the Commission on Taxation and Welfare here.

Starting over, once again

Nur and her husband Muhammed inside the tent where they and their children sleep. They recently returned home to their village in Mosul. Photo: Zaid Al-Bayati/Oxfam

Oxfam providing support to families in Iraq who have been twice displaced

For Nur and her family, the last few years have been a series of uprootings. In 2016, she, her husband Muhammed, and their children were forced from their home near Mosul during the war on ISIS.

“I remember like it was yesterday,” she says. “We left our house due to airstrikes, and we moved to the next village over, for six months, but we were forced to leave when ISIS threatened us.”

Nur was part of a migration of more than a million people who had to leave their homes in search of stability during the conflict with ISIS. Her family eventually settled in a camp for displaced people in Iraq. The transition was difficult, especially for the children. “There was no education for the kids,” she recounts. “[There was] no proper home to keep them in.”

While Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State in Iraq in 2017, families like Nur’s remained in the camps, unable to return home. Years of intense fighting has left buildings uninhabitable. And with few sources of income, and limited basic services, including clean water and electricity, families are struggling to survive.

Earlier in 2021, the camp Nur’s family had sought refuge in was shuttered. People living there were only given one week’s notice. After four years away, they scrambled to plan their returns home.

“We did not know that where our house had been, there was now nothing but bare ground,” Nur says. “There [are] no income opportunities in our village.”

The IDP camp Nur’s family left was not the only one to close—a recent string of camp closures in Iraq has created a surge of movement. Thousands of people have been sent back to their place of origin. Returning residents currently outnumber the job opportunities available.

“The moment I arrived it was like a new place,” she shares. “I did not recognize the village – everything was gone. So I spent the day in my relative’s house where there were already four families in one place, and then I slept in the tent with my kids as there is no space for us there.”

Nur and Muhammed have sought out work as day laborers to help cover their most basic needs. So far, they’ve had no luck. “When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is ask around to find if there are any job opportunities,” says Nur.

They have considered moving to Mosul city to find work but Nur says the cost of living there is too high.

“It’s very hard to keep up with the children’s expenses. One of my children is sick and I can’t take him to the doctor.”

They have been borrowing money to meet their costs, but Nur knows that it is not sustainable to keep going. The family is now over 500,000 Iraqi dinar (USD$340) in debt, with no hope of paying it back.

How Oxfam is helping displaced families in Iraq

Nur describes the process of migrating to the camp and back as “starting from nothing twice.” Oxfam is alleviating some of the stress for families like Nur’s who are having to rebuild their lives once again by providing basic items to help them survive this transition, such as portable stoves and heaters, solar lamps, jerry cans, and mattresses and bedding.

So far, Oxfam has reached over 40,000 people with essential items, cash, and information about where to access basic services. We are supporting displaced and returning families with kits like the one Nur’s family is receiving. For people who have experienced specific traumas, such as survivors of gender-based violence, we are also working to provide specialized support.

“We are thankful for this very essential support,” says Nur. “Without it we could have been sleeping on the floor with my kids. I do not wish anyone to go through any of this.”

You can support families around the world, who like Nur’s, are working to escape poverty.

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A year in pictures what we accomplished together in 2021

Pascaline, public health officer, shows the community at the Mwaka IDP site, DRC, how to use a new handwashing station that can be quickly installed in a variety of emergency settings. Photo: Arlette Bashizi/Oxfam

2021. So much continuing turbulation and uncertainty for everyone. A year – another one – when the need for us all to stand up and stand together, to help others, has been so very difficult to do. But a year – another one – when time after time, across the world in big ways and small, the power of people to organize, reach out and help one another prevailed – inevitable, vital, positive and affirming – again and again.


End of Year 2021

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Our supporters and partners reached over 25 million people last year through Oxfam’s humanitarian and programmatic work, more than 14 million of them directly from our Covid-related responses. With your support, we worked with 4128 partner agencies and implemented 1843 projects worldwide. Thank you. We hope all of our supporters, partners, staff, the people living in the communities across the world, can take a moment of reflection and pride in this snapshot of stories that hint of the work we accomplished together to make a real difference in many millions of people’s lives in 2021.
Photo: Roanna Rahman/Oxfam

In India, we raced against time to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19.

When the second wave of COVID-19 hit India in late April, it created a public health crisis that left hospitals overwhelmed and people literally dying in the streets. In less than a month, the country saw more than 100,000 deaths, bringing the total death toll to more than 300,000 – the third highest in the world behind the United States and Brazil. To help government hospitals cope with this deadly second wave, Oxfam procured and delivered medical equipment such as oxygen generators, thermometers and oxygen tanks, beds, and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for frontline health workers. We also assisted people who have lost their means of livelihood and helped migrant workers stranded far from home with no work, money or food during lockdowns.
Photo: Kaff Media/Oxfam

In Yemen, we worked tirelessly to provide relief to the most affected.

Salem* and his son Omar* (name changed) had been displaced four times before moving to Alswidan Camp in Marib, Yemen, where they now live with five other members of the family in a tiny tent. Each time they would leave behind everything and walk for days to reach their next safe location. Omar was born in 2015, the year the war in Yemen started – war is all he has ever known. Conflict continued for a sixth year in Yemen, devastating livelihoods and leaving 13.5 million people suffering from acute hunger. Almost 70 percent of the population urgently need humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing clean water and hygiene items to help people avoid cholera and COVID-19, cash to help them buy food, and support for earning a living through agriculture and small businesses.
Photo: Hosam Salem/Oxfam

In Gaza, we helped Palestinians rebuild and recover from violence.

Abdelsamad Alqanou, Oxfam Water and Sanitation officer, is following the implementation of water and sewage maintenance work in a neighbourhood in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza. After 11 days of intense bombardment over the Gaza Strip, a ceasefire was called on the 21st of May. According to the Ministry of Health, 242 Palestinians were killed, and 1,900 were injured. Israeli attacks caused severe damages to residential and commercial buildings, schools, and infrastructure, including roads, electricity networks, water installations and agricultural lands. Over 2,500 people have been made homeless due to the destruction of their homes. To meet the urgent needs, Oxfam provided water and sanitation services with spare parts for operation and maintenance during emergencies, including water and sewage pipes, valves, pumps, filters, and oil.
Photo: Shaikh Ashraf Ali/Oxfam

In Bangladesh, we strove to promote health and safety across the refugee camps.

In July, several days of heavy monsoon rain in Southeast Bangladesh led to severe flooding and landslides in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps. Rainwater displaced families and inundated roads and bridges, shelters, and critical infrastructure – heightening the risk of water-borne illness.

Impacted communities were surrounded by water—but none of it was safe to drink. The flooding occurred as Bangladesh was logging a record spike in Covid-19 cases – placing refugees, host communities, and responders at heightened risk from the virus.

With our partners, we provided critical repairs to water and sanitation facilities, distributed jerry cans of emergency drinking water and water purification tablets, and shared essential health awareness information to keep refugees safe in the crisis. (Photo: Shaikh Ashraf Ali/Oxfam)

Photo: Mustafa Osman/Oxfam

In South Sudan, we protected girls’ education from the pandemic impacts.

Winnie (name changed), 17, is a graduate student in Oxfam’s Education for Life-program in Juba, South Sudan. A lot of young girls in her area have left school during the lockdown, but with Oxfam’s support, many have been able to return. “I knew that I would eventually go back to school after the lockdown. My biggest dream is to become a lawyer, to solve the issues in my society,” says Winnie.

Women and girls have been the most severely affected by conflict, COVID-19, and climate change in South Sudan. The pandemic and resulting closure of schools in March 2020 exacerbated many of the challenges they face in pursuing an education, like early and forced marriage, teen pregnancy and gender-based violence.

Photo: Zaid Al-Bayati/Oxfam

In Iraq, we supported families with cash assistance and grants to start businesses.

It is four years since the city of Mosul and its environs were returned from ISIS control to that of the Government of Iraq.  Thousands of families, who had fled the violence and lived in camps, are now returning. They join others living among destroyed houses, lacking access to healthcare, education, and water. The challenges are immense. We have been supporting people of Mosul with cash assistance, grants to start businesses, repairs to schools and access to water.

Farah (name changed) started her own hair salon after the liberation of the city. It is the main income now for her and her family. “After ISIS everything changed. I gained more independence as now our society has finally realized that women can provide not only for themselves but for their kids and whole family”, she said.

Photo: Arlene Bax/Oxfam

In Vanuatu, we used blockchain technology to revolutionize humanitarian aid.

In times of crisis, traditional aid distributions of food, shelter and other emergency supplies are not always the best or most efficient way to provide relief. Oxfam is one of the first humanitarian organisations to use blockchain technology for cash transfer programming, to deliver emergency cash in a faster, cheaper and more transparent fashion than ever before.

The UnBlocked Cash solution consists of the e-voucher “tap-and-pay” cards used by beneficiaries, a smartphone app through which vendors receive the payments, and an online platform where NGOs like Oxfam can monitor transactions remotely and in real-time.

After a ground-breaking pilot in Vanuatu, we scaled the project to distribute cash and voucher assistance to over 35,000 beneficiaries affected by the Category 5 Cyclone Harold and COVID-19. 

Photo: Juanito Bantong/Oxfam

In the Philippines, we sowed the seeds of climate resiliency.

When devastating Typhoon Goni barreled across the Philippines November 2020, it came at the worst possible time - rice harvest season – and while the region was still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Quinta a week before. These typhoons are a common occurrence in the country. They have grown in severity and frequency and are in large part due to climate change. Every time, it takes months for farmers to recover. 

After Typhoon Goni, Rice Watch Action Network (RWAN) offered community leaders in Carangcang village to help them start growing vegetables hydroponically (without soil) through a project funded by Oxfam. Instead of distributing seeds, RWAN and Oxfam distributed seedlings. This way, not only would the community have seeds, but they also had the ability to grow plants that could supply seeds to other farmers. 

Photo: Samuel Turpin/Oxfam

In Burkina Faso, we helped farmers grow food in a hot and dry climate.

Imagine growing vegetables in temperatures approaching 50 degrees with recurrent droughts. In Burkina Faso, where farmers struggle to survive the effects of climate change, it is a matter of survival for much of the population that depends on agriculture for their food. “All my life I have been farming," says Alizeta Sawadogo, 55, “I used to grow cereals. But it rains less and less, and the dry season is getting longer and hotter. Yields are getting lower and lower.”

With the support of Oxfam and local partner ATAD, Alizeta joined a group of 50 vulnerable and landless women in a collective farm of two hectares, where she learned about climate change adaptation. For Alizeta, it is an opportunity to reinvent herself: “I have learned to produce organic food using environmentally friendly techniques,” she says. “I can feed my family all year round.” 

Photo: Tatiana Cardeal/Oxfam

In Brazil, we revealed labour exploitation in coffee farms.

Inequality in the food system has never been higher. Despite the food industry generating revenue of trillions of dollars annually the vast numbers of people who go to bed hungry are themselves food producers or agricultural workers. Covid-19 has sharpened these inequalities and pushed many food workers and farmers in the Global South into greater poverty.

FELIPE NAME CHANGED, 33, lives in the north of the state of Minas Gerais, where he earns his living from temporary jobs. With the pandemic, opportunities became scarce. He worked in slavery-like conditions on a coffee farm in the south of the state. He and a colleague harvested about 2.5 tons of coffee a day and received no salary. They drank contaminated water, slept on the floor and received no equipment to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Photo: Andy Aitchison/Oxfam

In cities across the world, we marched for climate justice.

Climate change has no borders and affects us all. It especially hurts those in poorer countries, which are also the countries that contribute the least to it. The next decade is critical to putting us onto a safer track. We only have eight years left to turn the tides and prevent a catastrophic global temperature rise.

As world leaders gathered at COP26 in Glasgow, we joined the World Climate March to pressure them to act now on the climate crisis. On 6th of November, the Global Day of Action saw thousands of people marching for climate justice in cities and towns across the world. In Glasgow and London our march brought the voices of thousands of activists, particularly the most affected people and areas, to the streets via video screens, ad-bikes and pedicabs.