Oxfam International Blogs - inequality http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/inequality en Inequality Is Bad For Your Health and What You Can Do About It http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/19-01-22-inequality-bad-your-health-and-what-you-can-do-about-it <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Never in my life will I forget meeting Onenghi in his home, in a slum in Yaoundé, Cameroon.</strong></p><p>Three weeks earlier he had watched his six-year-old daughter die in front of him in hospital because he had run out of money for her treatment. He told me that because of the hospital bill he could no longer afford the fees for his three other children to continue going to school.</p><p>Earlier that same week, I met Alliance with her one year old son, Ange. When in labour a year before, Alliance went to a local private clinic and was told she needed a Caesarean. For the little money she had, the doctors agreed to deliver the baby but nothing else. That’s literally what they did!</p><p>Once the baby was out, they quickly stitched up Alliance - leaving the placenta and several fibroids inside her -- and sent her home. The unbearable pain that followed meant Alliance had no choice but to sell her small plot of land to pay for surgery. But it was not enough. By the time she returned home from hospital, Alliance and her family had sold everything they owned to save her life.</p><p><iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nrBouRqhK2M" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p><p><strong>What Really Matters to You?</strong></p><p><strong></strong><span>I can think of no worse or more unjust impact of today’s extreme economic inequality than a woman not getting to see her baby grow up because she died giving birth, or a potential future extraordinary teacher, doctor or even head of state, being denied the education she needs to achieve her goals, because she is poor.</span></p><p><span>Ask anyone what really matters and the health of their families and their children’s education will be near the top of the list. Yet in many countries these things are only available to those with money. This is the focus of our report for Davos this year, ‘<strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/public-good-or-private-wealth" rel="nofollow">Public Good or Private Wealth</a></strong>’.</span></p><p>The report explains that underfunded privatised services drive up inequality. Conversely, universal quality public services are amongst the most powerful levellers in our societies and economies.</p><p>Public services like water and health care also give time back to women who work millions of hours unpaid to provide these essentials when public services fail. They can boost living standards, boost opportunity and earning potential; break the generational cycle of poverty; help close the pay gap between women and men; and boost social cohesion.</p><p><strong>Free Health and Education for All</strong></p><p>I think good quality free health and education for all, alongside other vital public services and social protection shout out fairness; that everyone matters equally; and that each one of us deserves the possibility of a good life.</p><p>Perhaps there are few who would disagree with this. But then I look at the chaotic, fragmented and highly political and ideological world of global health that I’ve been working in for the last 15 years and I do wonder what is driving some of the initiatives we see in the name scaling up health care for poor people. How on earth, for example, did we get to a place where <a href="http://www.realityofaid.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/RoAFullReport3January2019-min.pdf" rel="nofollow">some rich country governments</a> and institutions like the <strong><a href="https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/investing-for-the-few-the-ifcs-health-in-africa-initiative-325654" rel="nofollow">World Bank</a></strong>, are handing significant funds over to private equity firms based in tax havens to invest in <strong><a href="https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/investing-for-the-few-the-ifcs-health-in-africa-initiative-325654" rel="nofollow">expensive elite private hospitals</a></strong> in countries like Kenya, India and Nigeria?</p><p>The reality is that global health and education is increasingly captured by those vested interests that push to keep taxes low for the wealthy, whilst pushing profitable market-based models of service provision. <br>The most clear-cut example of this is the <strong><a href="https://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/Prescription_for_Poverty_Full_Report.pdf" rel="nofollow">pharmaceutical giants</a></strong> who use their economic and political clout to shape government policy on tax, trade and health in their interest.</p><p><strong>Winds of Change</strong></p><p>What hope then? I hold on to the stories of countries that buck the trend, making publicly funded and publicly delivered services for all a success. There is no contest between public and market-based approaches in terms of impact when this happens.</p><p>In the world of global health, Thailand is the shining star where everyone has access to quality health services free of charge and paid for by general taxation. What’s less well reported is that <strong><a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30198-3/fulltext" rel="nofollow">over 80% of Thailand’s highly regarded pro-poor health care </a></strong>is delivered by the government, whilst private health care providers are very tightly regulated.</p><p><img alt="Oxfam report: Public Good or Private Wealth" title="Oxfam report: Public Good or Private Wealth" height="346" width="700" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/child-birth.png" /></p><p><strong>The Power of the Public Sector</strong></p><p>And that brings me to my favourite bit of new data in Oxfam’s new report that is unlikely to grab any headlines, but should serve as a serious challenge to those promoting an ever-greater role for the private sector in health.</p><p>The data from 61 low and middle income countries spells out clearly to me that if you want to solve the seemingly intractable horror of poor women dying in child birth, you must prioritise fixing, expanding and improving your public health care system.</p><p>In countries that have been most successful at reaching the poorest women at scale (between 60 and 100% coverage) with a doctor or midwife, 90% of the medical care is provided by the public sector and only 8% by the private sector.</p><p>Alliance said to me before I left her that if health care was provided free of charge by the government in Cameroon it would change her life and truly make her proud to be from Cameroon. She said that she thought it was most important for pregnant women - ‘why should a mother have to pay when she is trying to give life?’</p><p>I couldn’t agree more.</p><p><em>This entry posted on 22 January 2019 by Anna Marriott (<a href="twitter.com/Anna_Marriott" rel="nofollow">@Anna_Marriott</a>), Oxfam's Public Services Policy Manager.</em></p><p><strong>What you can do now</strong></p><ul><li><strong>Share this blog to send a message to governments to tax the rich and big corporations fairly.&nbsp;</strong></li><li><strong>Read Oxfam's report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/public-good-or-private-wealth" rel="nofollow">Public Good, Private Wealth</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="https://www.evenitup.org" rel="nofollow">Join the movement to fight inequality and beat poverty</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Inequality Is Bad For Your Health and What You Can Do About It</h2></div> Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:05:06 +0000 Anna Marriott 81845 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/19-01-22-inequality-bad-your-health-and-what-you-can-do-about-it#comments Oxfam: Strengthening our roots http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-12-31-oxfam-strengthening-our-roots <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>This past year the Oxfam confederation reached more people than ever before – 22.3 million – the majority women and girls. </strong></p> <p>We did this largely via partnerships with more than 7,300 organizational allies around the world, helping them too to strengthen the ways they influence their own decision-makers. By next year we will spend 30% of our funding directly into these kinds of local groups.</p> <p>In many ways, this is the result of a “new look” Oxfam. In 2014-5 we set out to become a more globally balanced organization, one more responsive to the shifting dynamics of poverty and power. We’re now well advanced with our changes. We remain <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/our-purpose-and-beliefs">committed to our mission</a> to fight global poverty and inequality, while we have been anticipating and reacting to change – both inside and out.</p> <p><strong>First, we considered the new complexities of global poverty</strong>. Nearly 800m people are living now in extreme poverty, half that of 20 years ago - but many of them in fragile, difficult-to-work states. We see conflict, rocketing inequalities and climate break-down fuelling discriminations, disasters, hunger and mass migrations. Centers of political power waxing and waning, with southern countries driving more their own development pathways, responsible for realizing their own potential including through new technologies. We see the rise of feminist power even as we do, in many countries, also see divisive populist politics and the repression of civil activism.</p> <p><strong>Secondly, we considered ourselves.</strong> Since 1995, Oxfam’s international confederation has grown now to 19 independent NGOs (“affiliates”) running campaigns and development and humanitarian programs in 67 countries. Our affiliates raise <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/about/how-we-spend-money">more than €1b</a> between them each year to fight global poverty. Each has its own Board, is regulated by its own government, raises its own funds, and manages its own operations in their home country. Oxfam’s affiliates share the “Oxfam” name, are supported by a coordinating Secretariat, and work together under a single Global Strategic Plan.</p> <p><strong>In 2014-5 Oxfam set out a series of changes to improve</strong> the confederation’s global balance and become more genuinely led by the people we exist to help. We were encouraged along this path by our staff and partners, by the communities with whom we work, and by our donors and supporters; this is where the development sector itself must move. We knew we could work smarter through new Oxfam structures. We wanted to better utilize our knowledge and our influencing networks and become more efficient and effective in helping people living in poverty.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" xml:lang="en">Thanks to your support, last year, we've helped 22.3 million people. More than ever before.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYou?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ThankYou</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HappyNewYear?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HappyNewYear</a> #2019 <a href="https://t.co/GJYqveziEa">pic.twitter.com/GJYqveziEa</a></p> <p>— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) <a href="https://twitter.com/Oxfam/status/1080330600244891648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 2, 2019</a></p></blockquote> <p><strong>Our <a href="https://oxf.am/strategic-plan-2013-2019">Strategic Plan 2013-19</a> had firmly committed us toward this change:</strong></p> <ul><li>We want to create a worldwide influencing network led by our teams in the global South, nearer to where we work with local communities that are driving their own solutions;</li> <li>We want to improve the quality of our programs and share better the knowledge and partnerships that we have built up over the years;</li> <li>We want to strengthen our governance and accountability, with common standards and best practices across our confederation;</li> <li>We wanted to invest more in training, retaining and developing the leadership of our own staff, and improve our efficiency and effectiveness;</li> <li>And we wanted to diversify and strengthen our fund-raising base – again, by Oxfam affiliates working more closely together including in new countries.</li> </ul><p><strong>The most visible signs of our restructure have perhaps been in three key areas.</strong></p> <p><strong>We have streamlined our country program operations</strong>. Over the years, as our confederation grew, it meant – in some cases – having two or more Oxfam affiliates running their own separate programs in the same country. We have streamlined this. Now, in each country, we have a single Oxfam strategy and program, with one “executing affiliate” legally registered there, providing back office and business support. Other Oxfam “partner” affiliates are investing funds into these single country programs. The Oxfam International (OI) Secretariat has taken over staff management, simplifying our management lines. The funding and compliance of a country program remains the responsibility of our affiliates who all retain their existing relationships and obligations to their regulators, governments, publics and donors.</p> <p><strong>The second is that we are specifically building up our own “Southern leadership”</strong> both by establishing more Southern affiliates and empowering our country program teams to make decisions on the ground. We have welcomed Oxfam India, Oxfam Brazil, Oxfam Mexico and Oxfam South Africa into our confederation and we have affiliation processes currently underway in Turkey and Colombia.</p> <p><strong>The third is that Oxfam International has moved its headquarters from Oxford to Nairobi.</strong> Our Executive Director Winnie Byanyima <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/16-07-22-oxfam-international-signs-historic-deal-move-nairobi-kenya">explained this move here</a> at the time. The OI Secretariat is funded through contributions from all Oxfam affiliates and acts as the confederation’s over-arching coordination body, as well as the line manager of all country and regional program staff.</p> <p>Next year we hope to inspire and work with more people than ever. Stay tuned!</p> <p><em>This entry posted on 31 December 2018, by Oxfam International Management Team.</em></p> <p><em>Photo: Valerie Mukangerero walks to her pineapple farm in Rwamurema village, eastern Rwanda. ”When I joined the cooperative, we were trained, we learned and I felt relieved that I would have a good life one day. I was going to change my life.” Credit: Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville/Oxfam</em></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Oxfam: Strengthening our roots</h2></div> Mon, 31 Dec 2018 14:17:07 +0000 Guest Blogger 81831 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-12-31-oxfam-strengthening-our-roots#comments Momentum builds in the fight for land rights in Guatemala: Making us all a bit braver http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-07-20-momentum-builds-fight-land-rights-guatemala-making-us-all-bit-braver <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>In 2011, 769 families in the Polochic Valley in Guatemala were evicted</strong> to make way for the Chabil Utzaj sugar mill. Without land to farm and any other support, they were plunged into poverty and hunger.</p><p>Yet the evicted communities have continued to fight for land, inch by inch, year by year.</p><p>In June 2018, the government provided land to 134 evicted families because of sustained efforts by people making it altogether 355 families evicted getting land now.</p><p>Almost half of those evicted, now have land to call their own.</p><p><em>“This struggle meant overcoming hunger and thirst, but now we can ensure we have land, not just for us, but for our children.”</em> - Juana Cuz Xol</p><p><strong>Seven years ago, it was hard to imagine</strong> that hundreds of evicted rural families – in one of the most violent countries for human rights defenders – would again have land. The fight is far from over, with hundreds of families still landless, but it is clearly gaining momentum.</p><p><em>“There are still families left out and we still hope that they can be given their land and have what we have. I’m happy but I’m also sad when I think about those other families.”</em> - Catalina Cho ‘Ico<br><br><em>“Land is the first step…what we need is to develop the community itself. The most urgent need will be water. There is no running potable water. Also electricity. We need a school and a health clinic.”</em> - Hermelindo Cux<br><br><img alt="Infographic on Polochic families" title="Infographic on Polochic families" height="1000" width="1000" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/infografias-polochic-2018-ingles-2-1000.jpg" /><br>&nbsp;<br><em>“I am aware of each family’s suffering because we have suffered it together… That is how I was brave enough to participate in all the actions that we held and we still have demands that must be met.”</em> - Dominga Botzoc Pop</p><p><strong>The case is a testimony to the power of the powerless</strong> and marginalised – their steely resolve in the idea of justice, which can achieve extraordinary things. In fact, those who are most disadvantaged due to structural and systemic inequalities are the ones who provide the hope and steer us, to imagine a just society and a more equal world.</p><p><em>“I believe that the communities have played a key role in the defense of human rights. We continue to fight, we will not be silenced.”</em> - Hermelindo Cux</p><h3>The struggle for land rights</h3><p><strong>For many of us, it can be easy to forget</strong> that land is at the heart of everything – food, shelter, culture, identity and dignity. Land is life. It is critical to how we tackle climate change. It is the oldest story of inequality. Land rights struggles can also seem the hardest, the most enduring and intractable.</p><p>Across the world, communities are fighting similar mass evictions and dispossession while they stand to lose everything – just about everything. Their land is being concentrated into the hands of the wealthy and powerful, often violently and aided by financiers and governments.</p><p>The generational ties of communities to their land &amp; its resources – to its seasons, its plants, its histories (culture and economy) are deemed less legitimate than the rights of those living hundreds of kilometres away to evict them with the stroke of the pen.</p><p>Time and again, we see this justified under a flawed notion of development, the underlying premise of which is that the poor must sacrifice for the greater good – what is never made explicit is who exactly stands to gain the most by this process. The phenomena is so common it even has a name – “development-induced displacement”.</p><p><strong>The evidence is mind boggling.</strong> In 2015, an <a href="https://www.icij.org/investigations/world-bank/" rel="nofollow">investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists</a> found that between 2004-2013 the World Bank financed projects that physically or economically displaced 3.4 million people. In 2017, agribusiness was the most violent industry – it represented <strong><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2017/jul/13/the-defenders-tracker" rel="nofollow">46 of the 207 documented killings</a> of land rights defenders</strong> that year. Those killed are often everyday people, many are First Nations Peoples in rural areas.</p><h3>Violence and inequality</h3><p>The physical violence of forcing people from their land is embedded in a deeper system of structural violence – one which undermines the fundamental notions of equality and everyone having access to land for their basic needs, through a distorted narrative of legitimacy and entitlement that seeks to justify concentrating resources in the hands of the few.</p><p>The rules are written to favour the rich, and not infrequently accompanied by corruption and cronyism.</p><p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Mb0Szxwfn4I" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe></p><p><strong>The fight to secure land</strong> for the rest of 414 evicted families continues in Polochic Valley in Guatemala and it has gained strong ground with the allocation of land to 134 families recently. These struggles and fight back by communities such as the Polochic case, and others like it, make us all hopeful and a little braver.</p><p><strong>They give us faith</strong> that, in a world of growing restrictions on our civic and human rights, we can continue to fight for justice. We learn from the tactics and strategies these grassroots communities use.</p><p><strong>They remind us that it is important to fight</strong> the intractable, not just the achievable – and they teach us how to sustain hope and energy in dark times.</p><p><strong>They show us the power of solidarity</strong>, that every community struggle is part of a larger struggle and our ability to address worldwide inequality is rooted in the creativity, tenacity and bravery of everyday people.</p><p><em>This entry posted on 20 July 2018, by Shona Hawkes, Oxfam Land Rights Policy Lead, and Mamata Dash, Oxfam's Southern Campaign Lead.</em></p><p><em>Photo: Indigenous communities march for land rights, in Polochic, Guatemala. Credit: Diego Silva</em></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Momentum builds in the fight for land rights in Guatemala: Making us all a bit braver</h2></div> Fri, 20 Jul 2018 13:58:46 +0000 Guest Blogger 81652 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-07-20-momentum-builds-fight-land-rights-guatemala-making-us-all-bit-braver#comments Your questions answered: Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-07-19-your-questions-answered-commitment-reducing-inequality-index <div class="field field-name-body"><p>The <strong><a href="http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/our-work/inequality/cri-index" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index</a></strong> ranks 152 governments on their policies in three areas critical to reducing the gap between rich and poor: social spending, progressive taxation and labor rights.</p><p>Since the index was launched many people have been in touch to find out more - our response to some of the most common comments and questions are outlined below.</p><h3>1. Why is Oxfam talking about inequality – shouldn’t you be focused on tackling poverty?</h3><p>Extreme inequality is trapping millions of people in poverty and must be stopped. The World Bank estimates that 700 million fewer people would have been living in poverty at the end of last decade if action had been taken to reduce the gap between rich and poor. The World Bank has also been clear that there will be no way we can meet the global goal to eliminate extreme poverty unless we redouble efforts to tackle inequality.</p><p><img alt="CRI" title="CRI" height="641" width="522" class="media-element file-media-original" data-delta="3" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/cri-screenshot_0.jpg" /><strong> <br></strong></p><h3>2. My country isn’t ranked correctly.</h3><p>As a global tool, <strong>the index only offers an indication of how well governments are tackling inequality</strong> – it doesn’t provide a comprehensive assessment.</p><p>The index focuses on taxation, social spending and labor rights because there is widespread evidence that progressive action in these areas can significantly reduce inequality. However, it does not include all policies that have an impact on inequality. For example, it doesn’t look at the distribution of land ownership or the extent to which a country operates as a tax haven. We hope to expand the indicators in future editions of the index and this could have a significant impact on the rankings of some countries. For example, Belgium would fall down the rankings if its role as a tax haven was assessed by the index.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/commitment-reducing-inequality-index" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The index is based on the most up to date data that is available</a></strong> from governments and international institutions however it will miss very recent developments. Several countries including Argentina and France have recently made cuts in social spending or corporate taxes which are not reflected in the index - they can expect to slip down the ranking in the next edition of the index.</p><h3>3. This is left-wing propaganda.</h3><p>Oxfam is a non-party political organization. However, we have a duty to draw attention to government action and inaction across the globe that is exacerbating poverty and inequality.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/commitment-reducing-inequality-index" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The index focuses on taxation, social </a></strong>spending<strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/commitment-reducing-inequality-index" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> and labor rights</a></strong> because there is widespread evidence that progressive action in these areas can significantly reduce inequality. For example, collective bargaining by trade unions typically raises members’ wages by 20 percent and drives up market wages for everyone.</p><h3>4. Why isn’t my country included in the index?</h3><p>Some countries have been excluded from the index because there was either insufficient data or major question marks about the quality of the data available. The extremely poor level of public data available for some countries on policies relevant to reducing inequality is a cause for serious concern -, especially in the Middle East. <strong>Oxfam is calling for governments to address this data gap.</strong></p><h3>5. My country is ranked towards the top of the index – does that mean all is well?</h3><p>The index ranks countries in relation to each other. This means countries at the top of the index are doing better at tackling inequality than countries further down but it doesn’t mean they are doing everything they could be tackle inequality.</p><p>Even Sweden, Belgium and Denmark which top the index can do more. Sweden's low corporate tax rates benefit wealthy business while its high rate of VAT disproportionately impacts the poorest, Belgium’s corporate tax incentives allow big business to avoid paying their fair share, and Denmark has cut taxes for its wealthiest citizens. Denmark and Belgium have also cut social welfare for their poorest and most vulnerable citizens.</p><p>Overall the index found that 112 out of the 152 countries assessed are doing less than half of what they should be doing to tackle inequality in the three policy areas assessed by the index.</p><h3>6. What is Oxfam calling for?</h3><p>The index shows that inequality is not inevitable. It is a policy choice. Government choices matter when it comes to tackling inequality.</p><p><strong><a href="https://actions.oxfam.org/international/even-it-up/petition/en/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Oxfam is calling for all governments to do more to tackle inequality</a></strong> by increasing and improving social spending, building fairer tax systems, and ensuring workers – especially women workers - are better paid and better protected.</p><p>Governments must also work with international institutions to improve the quality and quantity of publicly available data on inequality levels in a country and the policies that governments are taking to tackle it.</p><h3><strong><br>Read more</strong></h3><p><strong>Download the report:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/commitment-reducing-inequality-index" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index</a></strong></p><p><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/even-it/inequality-and-poverty-hidden-costs-tax-dodging" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Inequality and poverty: the hidden costs of tax dodging</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Your questions answered: Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/17-07-24-indice-compromiso-reduccion-desigualdad-preguntas-respuestas" title="Índice de compromiso con la reducción de la desigualdad : Todas las respuestas a tus preguntas" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 10:13:36 +0000 Guest Blogger 81147 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-07-19-your-questions-answered-commitment-reducing-inequality-index#comments Colombia's challenge: addressing land inequality and consolidating peace http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-07-06-colombias-challenge-addressing-land-inequality-consolidating-peace <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Colombia has the most unequal distribution of land in Latin America, yet equitable access to land is a decisive factor for consolidating peace in Colombia.</strong><br><br>Last week brought good news for the peace process, as <a href="https://colombia.unmissions.org/en/statement-jean-arnault-special-representative-secretary-general-srsg-and-head-un-mission-colombia" rel="nofollow">FARC guerilla soldiers handed over the last of their weapons</a> to the UN mission in Colombia, marking the symbolic end to over 50 years of armed conflict. But progress on other key aspects of the peace agreement is behind schedule, and there is a risk that the process of implementation fails to address the structural causes that gave rise to the conflict, particularly with regard to access to land.</p><h3>Government land reforms</h3><p>To move forward implementation of the peace agreement, the Colombian government is undertaking two legislative initiatives related to agrarian issues. First, in May, the government issued draft legislation on territorial planning, which was revised after receiving <a href="http://www.coljuristas.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Reacciones-Borrador-PL-ordenamiento-social-de-la-propiedad-y-tierras-rurales.pdf" rel="nofollow">strong criticism</a> from civil society organizations, academics, human rights defenders and some government entities, who revealed key gaps in its compliance with the first chapter of the peace agreement on Comprehensive Rural Reform.</p><p>Secondly, the government announced that on July 20 it will present a new Land Law to Congress. Many groups have been insisting that this measure must contribute to solve the structural causes of conflict in the country rather than serve to deepen rural inequality.</p><h3>Shocking inequality in land ownership</h3><p>In order to highlight the challenges that Colombia faces with regard to access to land, Oxfam released a new report, “<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/snapshot-inequality" rel="nofollow">Snapshot of Inequality: what the latest agricultural census reveals about land distribution in Colombia</a>” (en español). This new analysis of microdata from the 2014 census, the first agricultural census carried out in Colombia in 45 years, confirms that Colombia has the highest concentration of landholdings in Latin America. The data analysis shows that the largest one percent of landholdings concentrate 81 percent of land, leaving only 19 percent of land distributed among the remaining 99 percent of farms.</p><p>This inequality has become more extreme over time. In 1970, the largest landholdings (over 500 hectares) occupied a total of 5 million hectares but grew to cover 47 million hectares in 2014, and their average size grew from 1,000 to 5,000 hectares. At the same time, the number of holdings of less than 10 hectares increased, while the area they occupy was reduced.</p><p>The latest census data show that 0.1 percent of farms are now over 2,000 hectares in size and control 60 percent of land, while 81 percent of farms have an average of only 2 hectares and occupy less than 5 percent of land. If the total land area covered by the census, 111.5 million hectares, is divided in half, the largest 704 landholdings cover one half while 2,046,536 occupy the other half. In fact, nearly one million small farms have less land that that available on average to each cow raised on the country’s large cattle ranches.</p><p><img alt="Colombian woman farming. Credit: Oxfam" title="Colombian woman farming. Credit: Oxfam" height="1194" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/mujer_trabajando-1240.jpg" /></p><h3>Women own the least</h3><p>Moreover, women’s essential contribution to agriculture is not matched by their more limited access to land. Only 26 percent of landholdings are run by women, and these tend to be smaller – most are less than 5 hectares -- and have less access to machinery, credit and technical assistance.</p><p>These data are shocking. But it can be difficult for many of us to understand what these numbers mean in reality for rural women and communities. Put simply by Edilia Mendoza, leader of the Colombian Rural Women’s Platform for Policy Advocacy, “<a href="https://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2017/05/the-peace-process-in-colombia-needs-strong-us-support/" rel="nofollow">If we do not have land, we do not have peace</a>.” Therefore, in the context of implementation of the peace agreement, this national platform of organized women in Colombia has put forward proposals to ensure women have greater access to land and to rural development.</p><h3>Redistribution of land is key</h3><p>Carrying through with the commitments on comprehensive rural reform under the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC is essential to address the structural causes of the conflict. It is also necessary to ensure that the existing concentration of land in large, unproductive holdings is not simply replaced by accumulation in large holdings for what are considered to be more productive uses, to generate more foreign exchange revenue. Restitution and redistribution of land must be at the core of agrarian and rural development policy in Colombia.</p><p>With this new analysis on land inequality, Oxfam hopes to contribute to the important debate on the urgent transformations needed in rural areas in Colombia, particularly with regard to land tenure and land use, which are essential for the effective implementation of the peace agreement and for construction of lasting and sustainable peace</p><p><em>This entry posted by <strong>Laura Gómez</strong>, Right to Equality Program Manager, Oxfam in Colombia, and <strong>Stephanie Burgos</strong>, Government Affairs Associate Director for Latin America, Land Rights and Trade, Oxfam America, on 6 July 2017.</em></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Colombia&#039;s challenge: addressing land inequality and consolidating peace</h2></div> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 15:47:13 +0000 Stephanie Burgos 81131 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-07-06-colombias-challenge-addressing-land-inequality-consolidating-peace#comments Can official development assistance be reformed to help the poorest countries? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-04-21-can-official-development-assistance-be-reformed-help-poorest-countries <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>The rules defining official development assistance, a key poverty reduction tool, are currently being revised by the OECD. But if governments and citizens from the South are not consulted more, this reform is likely to be in their detriment.</strong></p><p>The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is <a href="http://www.oecd.org/fr/cad/financementpourledeveloppementdurable/modernisation-dac-statistical-system.htm" rel="nofollow">currently revising</a> the rules defining what can be counted as official development assistance (ODA), which is a key poverty reduction tool. If this reform is not combined with the required criteria and safeguards – established in consultation with governments and citizens in the South – it is likely to be to the detriment of the poorest.</p><h3>A crucial reform devised behind closed doors</h3><p>For over two years now, representatives from donor countries have been busy with a very full agenda, under the leadership of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in Paris.</p><p>Their objective is to revise the rules on what can – or cannot – be counted as official development assistance. The two priorities for 2017 are to define to what extent ODA can 1) promote private sector development in developing countries, and 2) finance the reception of refugees in rich countries. While this may appear to be technical work, it does have fundamental policy implications for the future of ODA. Yet until now, discussions have been proceeding behind closed doors in Paris, without any proper consultation with the first to feel the impact, i.e. developing countries and civil society. The importance of a transparent and inclusive reform process had, however, been set out in the <a href="http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/CONF.227/L.1" rel="nofollow">Financing for Development Agreement</a> (point 55) endorsed in Addis Ababa in 2015.</p><p><strong><img alt="A meeting at the OECD Conference Center in Paris. Credit: OECD/Andrew Wheeler" title="A meeting at the OECD Conference Center in Paris. Credit: OECD/Andrew Wheeler" height="667" width="1000" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/oecd-img_2447.jpg" /></strong></p><h3>Promoting aid to support the private sector: what impact on the fight against poverty?</h3><p><strong>The first area of the reform aims</strong> to bring about a more extensive eligibility and use of ODA in the form of loans, investments or guarantees for private actors[1]. This type of financing is often channeled through development finance institutions – PROPARCO in the case of France. The stated objective of this reform is to promote private sector development in poor countries, resulting in more growth and job creation.</p><p><strong>There is no doubt that the private sector plays a crucial role</strong> in the development process. The growth generated by private actors has contributed to an unprecedented reduction in poverty around the world in recent decades. Consequently, it makes real sense for public authorities to promote inclusive and sustainable growth that is broadly beneficial and preserves the planet. However, given the often mixed results of partnerships between public and private actors, which are one of the forms of private sector mobilization for development, Oxfam has doubts as to the relevance and legitimacy of the use of limited ODA funds to support projects conducted by the private sector. The use of a public-private partnership for the construction and management of the largest hospital in Lesotho, supported by the IFC – the World Bank’s private investment arm – is a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/07/lesotho-health-budget-private-consortium-hospital" rel="nofollow">telling example of the dangers of this model</a>, and of the negative impacts it can have on inequalities.</p><p><strong>An <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-private-finance-blending-for-development-130217-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">Oxfam and Eurodad study</a> shows that there is limited evidence</strong> on the impact that partnerships with the private sector have on development and poverty reduction. Furthermore, the study shows that these partnerships often fail to align with the fundamental principles of aid effectiveness : the ownership by partner countries is limited, and transparency and accountability are lacking. It is certainly more complicated to apply these standards in the case of financial arrangements involving private partners. It is precisely for this reason that donors need to make greater efforts to ensure that all public funds labelled “ODA” respect the spirit of these principles, otherwise we fear that there will be a decline in the quality of aid.</p><p><strong>Another area of concern is that it is sometimes more difficult to prevent environmental and social risks</strong> in the context of projects involving private intermediaries, as shown by a recent study on projects supported by the World Bank, which transit through commercial banks and private capital funds in Southeast Asia. In addition, <a href="http://www.eurodad.org/files/pdf/1546237-a-private-affair-shining-a-light-on-the-shadowy-institutions-giving-public-support-to-private-companies-and-taking-over-the-development-agenda.pdf" rel="nofollow">almost half </a>of the beneficiaries of the funds disbursed by development finance institutions are subsidiaries of companies based in OECD countries. Consequently, an increase in the aid transiting through these entities leads to the risk of large groups in developed countries benefiting more than private operators – especially SMEs – in developing countries.</p><p><strong>Finally, this type of project tends to focus on middle-income countries</strong> rather than on least developed countries, where it is more difficult to achieve a return on investment. They also tend to focus on the energy, industry and banking sectors. In the long term, encouraging the use of aid for this type of project could redefine the scope of ODA, and result in less financing for public programs in social sectors, such as health and education. In a context where official development assistance volumes are generally stagnant (or even in decline in certain countries), there is a need to question the way in which this reform can influence donor practices, in the more or less distant future, and thereby shape a certain way of defining aid over the long term.</p><p><strong>Civil society organizations, including Oxfam</strong>, have developed a set of detailed recommendations in order to ensure that the ongoing reform is combined with demanding criteria and safeguards that will minimize these risks. The aim is to ensure that the poorest populations gain the most from these new rules. It is also about protecting the credibility of official development assistance as a poverty reduction tool.</p><p><img alt="People from Somalia, Sudan and Morocco and elsewhere arriving at the military port of Lampedusa, Sicily. Credit: Italian Coast Guard, Nov 2015" title="People from Somalia, Sudan and Morocco and elsewhere arriving at the military port of Lampedusa, Sicily. Credit: Italian Coast Guard, Nov 2015" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/_mg_2207-italian-coast-guard-migrants-1240x680.jpg" /></p><h3>Using ODA to host refugees: robbing Peter to pay Paul?</h3><p><strong>The revision of rules on the use of ODA for expenditures related to hosting refugees in rich countries poses another major challenge.</strong> The eligibility of this type of expenditure has been authorized by the OECD since 1988, but had remained somewhat marginal until recently. However, between 2010 and 2016, this expenditure sharply grew from USD 3.4 billion to USD 15.4 billion, reaching almost 11 % of the total ODA budget. In 2016, a significant proportion of the budget was devoted to it in a number of European countries : 38 % in Austria, 34 % in Italy, and 25 % in Germany.</p><p>The situation in France is for the time being a bit different, as these costs (which accounted for 4.5 % of the aid budget in 2016) are borne by the budget of the Ministry of the Interior, then added to ODA expenditure. The figures give us some food for thought : in 2015, while European DAC members devoted USD 9.7bn of official development assistance to receive 1.2 million asylum seekers in their own territories, they only spent USD 3.2bn for aid in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan – the 5 main countries where asylum seekers come from.</p><p><strong>This practice is <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/rich-countries-misleading-public-about-overseas-aid-spending" rel="nofollow">denounced by Oxfam</a>,</strong> as well as by a number of other civil society organizations, and has recently been questioned by the <a href="https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/poor-countries-pay-twice-for-refugees-by-jorge-moreira-da-silva-2017-02?referrer=/mFHsTHOvw9" rel="nofollow">OECD Secretariat</a>. It is obviously the responsibility of developed countries to receive refugees and mobilize the financing required to meet their needs and respect their rights. But in the view of civil society, this financing – whether additional or allocated from existing development assistance budgets and therefore to the detriment of projects in poor countries – should not be credited as ODA, as it does not support developing countries.</p><p>This expenditure is made in the territories of Western countries, and must consequently be considered as coming under their national policies and budgets.</p><p><strong>The reform could have provided the opportunity</strong> to end, once and for all, this rule, which allows rich countries to affix the “ODA” label on money which does not contribute to the development of poor countries. Unfortunately, this is not on the agenda of the DAC, which has only decided to “clarify” the rules in order to limit the room for interpretation and harmonize reporting practices.</p><p>While we deplore this missed opportunity, we do see it as a <a href="http://www.oecd.org/dac/CSO%20inputs%20on%20clarification%20of%20rules%20on%20ODA%20to%20in-donor%20refugee%20costs.pdf" rel="nofollow">chance to tighten the rules</a>. This includes clarifying the non-eligibility of certain expenditure : administrative, police, security, control, repatriation costs… Stricter reporting could mark the first step towards a total exclusion in the long term of this expenditure which, in our opinion, artificially inflates ODA figures.</p><p>With this reform, the integrity of <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/multimedia/video/2010-does-aid-work" rel="nofollow">official development assistance as the main tool to reduce poverty and inequalities in the South</a> is at stake. Aid plays a vital role in least developed countries, where it accounts for two-thirds of external financing. If it is well managed, it facilitates access for the poorest populations to essential services, such as health and education, it contributes to reducing inequalities, and strengthens the capacities of States to meet the needs of their citizens.</p><p>[1] Indeed, <a href="https://www.oecd.org/dac/DAC-HLM-Communique-2016.pdf" rel="nofollow">in its communiqué of February 2016</a>, the OECD DAC stated: “We recognize the importance of strengthening private sector engagement in development and wish to encourage the use of ODA to mobilize additional private sector resources for development.”</p><p><em>This entry posted by Julie Seghers (<a href="twitter.com/JulieSeghers" rel="nofollow">@JulieSeghers</a>), Responsible for Oxfam’s advocacy towards the OECD, on 19 April 2017. Originally published by <a href="https://goo.gl/fJpBQ3" rel="nofollow">Ideas for Development</a>, a blog coordinated by the French Development Agency.”</em></p><p><em>Photos:<br></em></p><ul><li><em>Martha Nyandit waits for an Oxfam/WFP food delivery, Mingkaman camp, South Sudan. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, April 2014</em></li><li><em>A meeting at the OECD Conference Center in Paris. Credit: OECD/Andrew Wheeler</em></li><li><em>People from Somalia, Sudan and Morocco and elsewhere arriving at the military port of Lampedusa, Sicily. Credit: Italian Coast Guard, Nov 2015</em></li></ul><p></p><p></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Can official development assistance be reformed to help the poorest countries?</h2></div> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:27:40 +0000 Guest Blogger 81022 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-04-21-can-official-development-assistance-be-reformed-help-poorest-countries#comments Land and inequality in Latin America: a harsh reality unearthed http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-11-30-land-and-inequality-latin-america-harsh-reality-unearthed <div class="field field-name-body"><h3>Land rights are at the heart of the inequality crisis</h3> <p>The ownership and control of land by rich elites at the expense of ordinary people is fundamental to understanding the inequality crisis that has engulfed the world. Latin America is a prime example, where extreme concentration of land has been central to its very high levels of inequality. Oxfam’s <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/unearthed-land-power-and-inequality-latin-america" rel="nofollow">new report</a><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2016-11-30/land-inequality-latin-america-worse-today-decades" rel="nofollow"> reveals</a> that in recent years this has actually gotten worse. Amazingly, across the Latin American continent, one percent of farms now cover more productive land than all other farms put together.  </p> <p><strong>Conflicts over land</strong> have been erupting around the world with more frequency. Increasingly, some are attracting media attention, though many more are likely known only to those communities of small farmers and indigenous peoples whose lives and livelihoods are under threat or directly uprooted.</p> <p>More and more communities are organizing and defending their rights, even when they face <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/16-11-29-31-women-activists-murdered-2015-you-can-help-stop-violence">violence and repression</a> as a result. Local and international support has helped them win some victories and secure their rights to land and natural resources. But as important as such wins are to those directly affected, it still seems like we are addressing a global pandemic with a limited treatment regime that is only effective in some cases.</p> <h3>Unequal land distribution is a systemic problem.</h3> <p>It’s time to get to the core of the matter and address access to and control over land as a systemic problem that is intimately tied to the way the economy is organized. Equitable access, rights to land and its redistribution to ordinary people and communities are essential in order to foster inclusive and sustainable development rather than simply to promote economic growth that benefits a few.</p> <p><strong>This is a global challenge</strong>, which is clearly illustrated by the situation in Latin America – the region of the world where both income and land are most unequally distributed. Last year Oxfam released the report <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/privileges-deny-rights" rel="nofollow">Privileges that Deny Rights</a> highlighting the extreme concentration of wealth in Latin America, where the 32 richest people have accumulated as much wealth as 300 million of the region’s poorest citizens.</p> <p>Our new report, <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-land-power-inequality-latin-america-301116-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">Unearthed: land, power and inequality in Latin America</a>, argues that combating inequality in Latin America requires addressing the extreme concentration in access to and control over land, as well as in the distribution of benefits from its use.</p> <p>New data from national agricultural censuses across the region reveal the extent of the problem and the staggering fact that one percent of farms, the largest, in the region occupy more productive land than the remaining 99 percent. These mega-farms are rapidly expanding across Latin America. Soy, oil palm and sugar cane production have set new records each year for increased land use in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Timber plantations alone are expanding by more than half-a-million hectares each year across the continent, especially in Chile, Mexico and Brazil. Huge cattle ranches in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia are now causing the highest rates of deforestation in the world, threatening the very survival of indigenous peoples and contributing to climate change.</p> <h3>Women are particularly marginalized in terms of access to land.</h3> <p>While women have equal rights to men under the law in all Latin American countries, the reality in practice is very different as women have less land than men, of worse quality, and under less secure tenure. This historical exclusion, the result of deep-rooted cultural and institutional barriers, limits women’s economic independence and hinders their ability to exercise their rights.</p> <p>In addition to growth of large-scale monoculture, mining and oil concessions are proliferating across vast areas of the region, particularly in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. To cite one example, 31 percent of land in the Peruvian Amazon has been offered by the government for oil and gas concessions.</p> <p><strong>The concentration of land distribution is even worse</strong> now in Latin America than it was half a century ago when several countries undertook agrarian reform programs, which for the most part failed to achieve the objective of land redistribution. A combination of factors, in particular the lack of comprehensive measures to foster family farming, subsequent policy reforms that favored deregulation, and corruption and cronyism, paved the way for re-concentration of land fueled by expansion of large-scale production based on natural resource exploitation.</p> <p>Latin America’s economies have become highly dependent on the use of land to extract natural resource wealth. This rise of “<a href="http://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/extractivism/52203" rel="nofollow">extractivism</a>” has helped drive economic growth in the region and improve public services in countries that took advantage of the commodities price boom to increase social investment. But this dependence also has downsides arising from international market volatility and high environmental and social costs. Across Latin America, extractivism is driving greater concentration of land, wealth and economic and political power, thus leading to increased inequality.</p> <h3>Those who own, reap the profits.</h3> <p>Those who control vast swaths of land also control its natural resource wealth and reap the profits it generates. And they may not even own the land, but simply control its use via long-term concessions, rentals or contract farming, arrangements that enable them to avoid assuming the risks related to production or the responsibilities of land stewardship. Beyond control over the land, they also increasingly concentrate control over the infrastructure that enables easy access to global markets for the commodities produced.</p> <p>These investors and corporations exercise their power to influence policy and regulatory decisions for their own benefit. It is no coincidence that governments have provided extensive incentives and tax breaks to attract investment, which diverts public resources to maximize private gain and thus further fuels inequality. This “political capture” is illustrated well in Peru where corporations involved in the extractives industry <a href="https://peru.oxfam.org/lanzamiento-del-libro-cuando-el-poder-extractivo-captura-el-estado" rel="nofollow">orchestrated the adoption of several laws</a> for their direct benefit.  </p> <p>While policies have favored the economic elites who control much of the land and its natural resource wealth, governments have all but abandoned public investment in family farming, leaving small farmer communities without adequate services, technical assistance, access to credit or access to markets. Furthermore, governments have not only failed to protect the rights of those who defend their land, water and forests, but in some cases are complicit in the persecution and criminalization of women, indigenous peoples and small farmer communities. Increasing conflicts over land are generating more violence, leading to a virtual <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/risks-defending-human-rights" rel="nofollow">human rights crisis in Latin America</a>.</p> <h3>Time to turn the tide toward greater equality.</h3> <p>It’s time to turn the tide and reverse the trend toward greater concentration of land in Latin America and beyond. To this end, all institutions engaged in development in the region should place land back at the center of the political debate.</p> <p>Oxfam is calling on all actors in the region to join forces so that the 2030 <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/" rel="nofollow">Sustainable Development Goals</a>, particularly those concerning secure and equitable access to ownership and control over land, do not remain merely words on paper.</p> <p><strong>Governments must take bold actions</strong> to end the practices that foster inequality with regard to land, eliminating the privileges of economic elites and strengthening the rights of all people and communities.</p> <p><strong>A new redistribution of land is needed</strong>, which requires overcoming the “political capture” that has obstructed past land redistribution efforts and prioritizing access to and control over land for all the people and communities that depend on it, along with ensuring access to the resources necessary to develop decent and sustainable livelihoods.</p> <p><em>The entry posted by Stephanie Burgos, Oxfam's Economic Justice Policy Manager, on 30 November 2016.</em></p> <p><em>Photo: Farming in Bolivia. Credit: Oxfam</em></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/why-indigenous-and-community-land-rights-matter-everyone" rel="nofollow"><strong>Why indigenous and community land rights matter for everyone</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Read more about Oxfam’s analysis on land and inequality in Latin America in <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/es/informes/desterrados-tierra-poder-y-desigualdad-en-america-latina" rel="nofollow">Spanish</a>.</strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Land and inequality in Latin America: a harsh reality unearthed</h2></div> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:40:57 +0000 Stephanie Burgos 71941 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-11-30-land-and-inequality-latin-america-harsh-reality-unearthed#comments Oxfam International signs historic deal to move to Nairobi. Kenya http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-07-22-oxfam-international-signs-historic-deal-move-nairobi-kenya <div class="field field-name-body"><p>22 July 2016 -- When I became Executive Director of Oxfam International in May 2013 I was very proud and very excited. Oxfam is one of the world’s most recognizable and renowned social justice INGOs, a group of organizations united in the fight against poverty. The chance to help shape its future was a terrific opportunity. Every day since, my pride and excitement in our work has only grown.</p> <p>But I also remember at the time being uneasy. In my head and my heart, I felt the “center” of Oxfam was not where it needed to be and that voices within Oxfam were not balanced globally. I talked with many more experienced Oxfam colleagues and I was relieved. No-one disagreed. I was arguing with nobody. Oxfam needed to shift its center of leadership and to strengthen Southern voices within its decision-making.</p> <p>When imagining a future, it’s important to understand the past. Oxfam was founded by Quakers, activists and academics in Oxford, UK in 1942. They campaigned against the Allied blockade of German-occupied Greece to stop the starvation of civilians. Successful, our founders expanded Oxfam’s work into Asia and Africa, concentrating in the main on tackling hunger and poverty. Truly, Oxfam has stood on the shoulders of these giants. <a href="https://www.oxfam.org.uk" rel="nofollow">Oxfam GB</a> remains Oxfam’s biggest affiliate – genuinely loved by the British public – and a powerhouse of Oxfam’s international confederation.</p> <p>Gradually, social justice organizations from other countries gravitated toward Oxfam – sometimes joining up loosely, via a strand of work, sometimes more closely bonded by a shared mission. They brought their own rich histories, development programs and alliances to the table, and their own supporters and funding relationships. By 1995 this loose confederation of Oxfams - who had begun to take the Oxfam name, too – established an international Secretariat to coordinate their work, and eventually brought it under a shared single global strategic plan. For convenience, the Secretariat was located in Oxford, where the first Oxfam had been founded.</p> <p>As of today we have 18 <a href="http://www.oxfam.org" rel="nofollow">Oxfam</a> affiliate members and two observers, with plans to welcome more, with a combined spend of <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/annual-and-financial-reports" rel="nofollow">about $1b</a>. We run development programs and have more than 3,000 partner organizations in more than 90 countries, along with a single humanitarian emergency response team that is expert on water, sanitation and protection issues. We campaign together against <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/even-it-up" rel="nofollow">inequality</a>, for the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/rights-crisis" rel="nofollow">protection of people’s rights</a> in times of crisis, and for sustainable development and a <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/grow" rel="nofollow">fairer global food system</a>. Each affiliate member retains its independence and its sovereign rights, responsible for its relationships with its own government, supporters, partners and donors.</p> <p>From 2017, the Oxfam International Secretariat will begin its move to Nairobi in Kenya. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a Host Country Agreement with the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya. I must give my personal thanks to President Uhuru Kenyatta for being such an enthusiastic champion to help realize our plans.</p> <p>It will take two years to complete the move. We will begin first to relocate senior directors and other key Secretariat staff. Thereafter, the new location will help us to recruit locally more easily. As is the case now, our Secretariat will remain a multi-locational organization, with advocacy offices in DC, NY, Brussels and Addis Ababa, a Global Humanitarian Team, and other staff accommodated in our affiliate HQs and country teams, too.</p> <p>This move does not affect Oxfam’s affiliate members. Affiliates’ domestic and overseas operations and their own relationships with their publics, donors and governments will not change. The British public is not losing its famous Oxfam! Oxfam GB will remain as strong and as vibrant as ever. Instead, the British public (and publics in other countries) will continue supporting an Oxfam that is part of a movement led from an African location – not a European one.</p> <p>This move is far deeper than a symbolic one (although I believe that the symbolism is important too). The fact is the world is changing and I believe it is necessary for NGOs like Oxfam to change. Southern countries are growing ever more influential on international stages. Important decisions affecting millions of people are being made in cities that are entirely different from the centres of power of 50, 20, or even 10 years ago. Many poor countries are growing economically and becoming middle income but poverty and misery persists, worsened by climate change and resource scarcity. Rising inequality in almost every country is undermining all our efforts to eradicate poverty.</p> <p>Our work today is more about supporting ordinary people – everywhere – to hold political decision-makers and corporates to account, so they can exercise their rights to a fair share of the benefits of economic, political and social development. It’s about linking ordinary people’s struggles and experiences, everywhere. We need to work more closely with citizens to overcome economic and political exclusion, which is the root cause of poverty.</p> <p>For Oxfam therefore, to be more “globally balanced”, with stronger roots and deeper representation in the South is critical. And that is why Oxfam has decided that its global Secretariat should sit nearer to the people that we're working with to fight the injustice of poverty.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Winnie Byanyima (<a href="twitter.com/Winnie_Byanyima" rel="nofollow">@Winnie_Byanyima</a>), Executive Director Oxfam International, on 22 July 2016.</em></p> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/donate" rel="nofollow"><strong>Donate to Oxfam</strong></a></p> <p><strong><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/user/profile/winnie-byanyima">Read more by Winnie Byanyima</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Oxfam International signs historic deal to move to Nairobi. Kenya</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/16-07-22-oxfam-internacional-firma-un-acuerdo-hist%C3%B3rico-para-mudar-su-sede-nairobi-kenia" title="Oxfam Internacional firma un acuerdo histórico para mudar su sede a Nairobi, Kenia" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:43:11 +0000 Winnie Byanyima 54900 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-07-22-oxfam-international-signs-historic-deal-move-nairobi-kenya#comments Why the health SDG is at risk of leaving the poorest behind http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-07-15-why-health-sdg-risk-leaving-poorest-behind <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Last Autumn saw a significant moment of hope and positivity in the international development world.  The newly introduced <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs" rel="nofollow"><strong>Sustainable Development Goals</strong></a> were celebrated for being more inclusive, collaborative and fair than their predecessor <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/" rel="nofollow"><strong>Millennium Development Goals</strong></a>.  A real step forward.  A chance to make sure that no one is left behind in a world bursting with opportunities yet full of inequalities.</p> <p>This week is the first time since the goals’ adoption that the ‘now what?’ conversations have begun at a formal level.  The Economic and Social Forum (<a href="https://www.un.org/ecosoc/en/home" rel="nofollow"><strong>ECOSOC</strong></a>) – at the heart of the UN development system – is hosting a ‘<a href="https://www.un.org/ecosoc/en/events/2016-1" rel="nofollow"><strong>High level political forum on sustainable development</strong></a>’ to discuss their implementation and the ‘<a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld" rel="nofollow"><strong>2030 Agenda</strong></a>’.  Right now, UN member country representatives are gathered in New York City to discuss the SDGs’ future.  And the ECOSOC President is <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54432#.V4j6LqJQi_E" rel="nofollow"><strong>looking</strong></a> for fast progress towards “inclusive, equitable, and prosperous societies for all.”  </p> <p>Some view the 17 agreed goals as too ambitious.  Indeed they are accompanied by 169 targets and 230 indicators.  There is a lot of detail in there.  And the problem is – certainly when it comes to <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/" rel="nofollow"><strong>Goal 3</strong></a>: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages – the devil really is in the detail.  The UN-led group responsible for setting the SDG indicators caused a <a href="http://www.globalhealthcheck.org/?p=1854" rel="nofollow"><strong>wave of dismay</strong></a> throughout the health policy and medical world this March when they made an eleventh hour change to the detail of the indicator measuring universal health coverage (UHC).</p> <p>The dismay arose as the UHC indicator (3.8.2) was changed from a previous globally agreed measure of ‘out of pocket payments’ for healthcare, to ‘coverage by health insurance or a public health system’.  Yes it does feel rather technical.  But <strong>100 million people are pushed into poverty each year because of health care costs</strong>.  And the change to the indicator means we will no longer have any way of knowing if we are making progress to reduce this figure.  In fact, because the indicator measures the wrong detail, it could mean that more – not less – women, marginalized groups and people living in poverty are excluded from lifesaving healthcare.</p> <p>For example, 15 year old Nhut (pictured above) from Vietnam has health insurance, but it didn’t cover the costs for his emergency brain tumor surgery in 2014 and ongoing chemotherapy treatment.  Nhut’s family had no choice but to take out high interest loans and sell all their possessions to pay for his care, including livestock, farmland, and even the family home.  “We have nothing left.  All we have now is huge debt and a seriously sick son,” his father told us recently.</p> <p>An indicator only measuring health insurance or coverage by a public health system will be blind to the impoverishment of millions of families – like Nhut’s – who face out of pocket healthcare costs.</p> <p>The SDG 3 target to ‘Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all’ could be a game-changer for millions of people around the world.  Being in good health is central to not being left behind – it is so core to our existence and ability to do anything else, that the UN decision makers need to get it right.</p> <p>The forums and conversations taking place in shiny UN buildings can feel far away from the ‘real’ world and lives of those most affected by health care costs like Nhut and his family.  Yet the reality is that the goals and their indicators are there to make a difference to peoples’ lives around the world – to ‘leave no one behind’.  They are important in the sense that they will not only measure the ‘success’ of each SDG, but also hold those responsible to account.</p> <p>This is why the discussions happening this week must recognize the urgent need to review, change and finalise the outstanding SDG indicators, including 3.8.2 for financial protection for health.  Without such a change there is a real danger that the SDGs will run counter to their overall ambition.</p> <p><em>The entry posted by Sian Jones (<a href="http://twitter.com/sian3j" rel="nofollow">@sian3j</a>), Oxfam Global Inequality Campaigner, on 15 July 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Photo: Nhut from Vietnam stands in front of his old house. His family had to sell everything they had to pay for the lifesaving medical treatment that his insurance didn’t cover. Credit: Xuan Truong</em></p> <p> </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Why the health SDG is at risk of leaving the poorest behind</h2></div> Fri, 15 Jul 2016 12:16:21 +0000 Sian Jones 53879 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-07-15-why-health-sdg-risk-leaving-poorest-behind#comments Inequality in Malawi – a Dangerous Divide http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-11-26-inequality-malawi-dangerous-divide <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>This entry posted by John Makina, Country Director, Oxfam in Malawi, on 26 November 2015.</em></p> <p>In 2015, eight million people in Malawi – or 50% of the population - are living in poverty. Yet while poverty may be a familiar issue for discussion in Malawi’s development sphere, Oxfam is today putting the spotlight on a less talked about issue, but one that threatens to severely hinder poverty reduction in the country: Malawi’s increasing inequality.</p> <p>Building on the launch of Oxfam’s global inequality campaign <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/even-it-up" rel="nofollow">Even It Up </a>over a year ago, Oxfam in Malawi today launches its own national report, ‘<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/dangerous-divide-state-inequality-malawi" rel="nofollow">A Dangerous Divide</a>’, analysing the state of inequality in the country. The study, authored by Dr. Richard Mussa and Dr. Winford Henderson Masanjala of the University of Malawi, highlights some shocking findings. In just seven years, the gap between the richest 10% of Malawians and the poorest 40% has increased by almost a third.  Malawi’s Gini coefficient, the key measure of inequality, also shows the extent to which robust economic growth is benefiting the rich whilst leaving the poor behind. In a period of impressive growth between 2004 and 2011, the Gini has leapt up from 0.39, on a par with Cameroon, to 0.45, on a par with the Democratic Republic of Congo. And if inequality continues to rise in Malawi as it has in recent years, by 2020 1.5 million more Malawians will be poor, in addition to the eight million living in poverty today.</p> <p><img alt="Inequality in Malawi – a Dangerous Divide" title="Inequality in Malawi – a Dangerous Divide" height="396" width="280" style="float: right;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/malawi-inequality-report-cover-280.png" /><strong>The new report also examines the extent of inequality</strong> in access to healthcare and education. Health inequalities are stark in Malawi, where the richest are able to access high-quality private clinics that are out of reach for the poor. Primary health facilities in Malawi are free at the point of use, meaning they are not as regressive as in many African countries where fees are charged . However, persistent shortages of medicines and staff mean these facilities often provide a very poor quality service, despite the best efforts of their few heroic health workers.  Moreover, the government intends to scale up paying services in four major public tertiary hospitals, namely Queen Elizabeth, Kamuzu, Zomba and Mzuzu Central Hospitals. Given the huge barrier to use that even the smallest user fees represent to the poorest, and particularly women, any move by the government to scale up fees within the public healthcare system is likely to have a damaging effect on people in poverty, and increase inequality.</p> <p><strong>In education, the government has made significant strides</strong> in recent decades. Primary education has been free in Malawi since 1994, and there has also been a big increase in the provision of community day secondary education. Despite this, the study shows how education qualifications remain unfairly distributed in favour of the better-off. While action by the government has borne fruit in reducing this bias towards the rich, at secondary education level recently increased fees could undo all past hard-won progress.</p> <p><strong>Oxfam’s study also assesses the impact of gender inequality</strong>, in particular highlighting how poor women can be trapped in their situation by a perfect storm of discrimination and economic disadvantage. As Margaret from Chikuse village in Dowa district says:</p> <p><em>"My cousins told me to leave the village I have called home since I was born because my father paid dowry to marry my mother, who came from another village. As per tradition, I and my siblings have no “right” to own any piece of land. When I insisted that I had a right to inherit a piece of land that belonged to my father before he died, my cousins resorted to destroying the crops in my garden as a way of trying to frustrate me...One day they torched my house and I was forced to leave. I strongly feel they did this to me because I am a woman, because my brother still lives in the village.</em></p> <p><em>Since 2011, I have been moving from one place to another trying to find somewhere I can settle and be with my children. Sadly I haven’t found anywhere...I decided to check in at this government rehabilitation centre. I am helpless and hopeless.’’</em></p> <p><strong>The study also shows how gender inequality</strong> can compound the impact of other inequalities. For example, in rural Malawi, the richest boys are 28 times more likely than the poorest girls to complete their secondary education.</p> <p>Finally, the new report shows how political power is unequally distributed in Malawi, and how corruption too is fuelling the growing gap between rich and poor. Grand corruption, where the Malawian state is defrauded of hundreds of millions of kwacha, drives inequality not only because it makes a handful of individuals very rich, but also because the money stolen is money that could have been spent on public services such as health and education serving the majority of Malawians.  This dynamic is further compounded when donors suspend their aid to government because of corruption scandals, necessitating further draconian cutbacks in essential services, which hurt the poorest and increase inequality even further.</p> <p><strong>The message from Oxfam in Malawi’s study is clear:</strong> the state of inequalities across a range of dimensions in Malawi - including consumption, education, health, and wealth - clearly represent a dangerous divide.</p> <p>Moreover, reducing inequality will only happen as a result of deliberate joint policy efforts, which for Oxfam in Malawi must focus on strengthening free at the point of use public services for all, supported by increasing public revenues raised from progressive taxation, and tackling gender inequality.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by John Makina, Country Director, Oxfam in Malawi, on 26 November 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Photo: Bwalia ‘Bottom’ Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. Patients wailt for treatment in the pre-labor ward in crowded conditions. Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam</em></p> <p><strong>Download the report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/rr-inequality-in-malawi-261115-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">A Dangerous Divide: The State of Inequality in Malawi</a></strong></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://act.oxfam.org/international/even" rel="nofollow">Act now to close the widening economic inequality gap</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Share this graphic</strong></p> <p><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/richest-10-percent-malawi.jpg"><img alt="Graphic: economic inequality in Malawi" title="Graphic: economic inequality in Malawi" height="800" width="1600" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/richest-10-percent-malawi.jpg" /></a></p> <p> </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Inequality in Malawi – a Dangerous Divide</h2></div> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 16:00:57 +0000 Guest Blogger 30307 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-11-26-inequality-malawi-dangerous-divide#comments