Irish Aid - A Key Partner

How we work in partnership with Irish Aid

Did you know that taxes help to make amazing Oxfam projects possible? We work in partnership with Irish Aid  – the official aid programme of the Irish Government – which supports long-term development and humanitarian assistance on behalf of the people of Ireland.

The aim of Irish Aid’s programme is to reduce poverty and hunger and help to build better futures for some of the world’s poorest communities.

As with all our projects – whether funded through tax revenue or through donations from the public – work funded by Irish Aid is regularly monitored and evaluated to ensure maximum value and effectiveness for tax-payers.

We partner with Irish Aid in our long-term development work in Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa and in our humanitarian work (e.g. the ongoing crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines).

The development projects include training for small-scale farmers, care for people living with HIV and support for women in standing up for their rights.

Here is a sample of these success stories:


Mercianne, Rwanda. Photo: Tori Ray/Oxfam
Photo: Tori Ray/Oxfam


Like the pineapples she grows, Mercianne Uwamwezi is thriving. From Matimba near Nyagatare in Rwanda, she once struggled to make ends meet. Today she is an experienced pineapple sucker farmer who produces dried pineapple for export.

Thanks to loans and training provided by our partner Duterimbere in a programme funded by Irish Aid, Mercianne Uwamwezi has been able to buy land, expand her business and become a community facilitator (or ‘Imboni’), supporting other poor women who are just starting out.

“My main task as Imboni is to transfer the knowledge I acquired through training to other farmers,” she says.

“Without Oxfam and Duterimbere’s training, access to loans and follow-up advice I would now be a small pineapple farmer. I wouldn’t be involved in multiplication of suckers or drying, and I wouldn’t have been able to make a business plan; it’s them who taught me how to get this far.”

The fruits of her success mean that Mercianne has been able to improve her family’s quality of life, such as bringing clean water into her home, along with paying school fees for local children.

“In Rwanda we have a large number of women and a large number of poor women. If you support a woman you also support the development of the country. Duterimbere and Oxfam decided to help the poorest women to help her develop herself.”


Ester Jerome, Tanzania. Photo: Barry McCall/Oxfam
Photo: Barry McCall/Oxfam

Ester's Story

Ester Jerome Mtegule is known far beyond her village of Iyenge in Tanzania. In 2011, she won the first ever Oxfam Ireland Mama Shujaa Wa Chakula, or Female Food Hero initiative.

Female Food Hero is a core part of our work on women’s rights which is supported by Irish Aid. It raises the profile of female farmers in a country where women produce most of the food but are rarely recognised for their achievements.

Ester, who has five children and cares for her mother who is living with HIV, managed to increase her sorghum yields from five to 75 bags a year and shares her innovation with others.

She and fellow finalists – whittled down from 7,000 entrants – participated in a reality TV-style farming ‘boot camp’. A public vote of 10,000 people saw Ester awarded first place and the remarkable stories of these rural women farmers touched a nation and triggered debate and discussion at national level on the role of women in food production.

Reaching an estimated 25 million Tanzanians, the contest raises awareness around issues of women’s rights, climate change, sustainable farming, HIV and the use of telecommunications in entrepreneurship.

Ester is now the farmers’ representative on her local council and shares her prize of a tractor locally. She has travelled internationally to talk about the role of small-scale women farmers, while the Female Food Heroes initiative continues to go from strength to strength each year.

“I will do everything to support women food producers,” Ester says. “They bring peace and harmony in their families and a nation at large. And they bring freedom. I assure you that a food insecure family is not a free family.”