Oxfam America’s 5 things for 2017

Oxfam America is one of our partner organizations and they have a super busy 2017. Here’s the key 5 things they’re working on:


1. As part of our work to reform the global food system, ensure that the US poultry industry commits to treating its workers with dignity and protecting their safety and health. The majority of the world’s hungry people are the same small-scale farmers and workers who supply nutritious food to 2–3 billion people worldwide. Right here in the US, hundreds of thousands of people work in the booming poultry industry. They process the chicken that lands on our plates in homes, schools, and restaurants. But these people—poultry workers—do not share in the bounty. Instead, they earn poverty-level wages, suffer debilitating injuries, and experience a climate of fear. Farmers and food workers should be able to earn a living and feed their own families while they feed us. In 2016, we want to help these workers to secure concrete commitments from companies to improve working conditions.


2. Get the message out: people are dying needlessly. While millions of people receive vital humanitarian aid every year, millions more lack adequate help and protection, and their number is rising. Far too often this is because their own governments cannot—or will not—ensure their citizens’ health and safety. The international humanitarian system—the vast UN-led network in which Oxfam and other international organizations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent, and others play key roles—is not saving as many lives as it could. This system perpetuates reliance by aid recipients on international donors. The result is what Former UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland described this way: “Imagine if your local fire department had to petition the mayor for money to turn on the water every time a fire broke out.” Locally led humanitarian responses have many benefits. What’s more they are also frequently cheaper than a response with a big international footprint, yet in 2012, only 1.9% of humanitarian funding went directly to locals, while nearly 89% was managed and distributed by international organizations. In 2016, Oxfam wants to get the word out and begin the process of turning the global humanitarian system on its head.


3. Break the cycle of inequality. As luck would have it, many poor nations are rich in natural resources. This presents an obvious opportunity to combat poverty in these countries. All too often, however, the profits from resources are sucked up by very people who are already best off. In many poor countries there are just too few mechanisms in place to allow citizens to hold their governments accountable to show how money is spent. So—in the absence of transparency and accountability—increases in income fuel a familiar pattern: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In 2016, Oxfam will help citizens get the information they need to follow the money and break this cycle of inequality.


4. Fight poverty with one of the world’s best home-grown solutions: women and girls. As part of our work to champion women’s rights and leadership, we seek opportunities to level the playing field. We know that judicious investments in women can be transformative in the battle to reduce poverty. For a girl, the chance to attend an extra year of primary school can increase her eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent.  Typically increases in women’s wages are reinvested in the well-being of their families and communities; an educated girl will invest 90 percent of her future income in her family, compared to 35 percent for a boy. So in 2016, we’ll increase investments in women, so they’ll lead the effort to eradicate poverty.


5. Make sure the US government uses its might for right. Nearly five years of brutal conflict have driven millions of Syrians from their country, triggering one of the biggest displacement crises since World War II. Yet, the US has not shown the political will to do much about it. In 2014-15, the US welcomed just 1,682 Syrians for resettlement—out of the more than four million who have fled.  In 2016, Oxfam will continue to call on the US to step up efforts to resettle Syrian refugees who need our support now more than ever.


Learn more at Oxfam America’s website.