Azerbaijan under the lens
Luned Jones Media and Communications Officer, Wales
14th Nov 2012
The Oxfam Café is never a dull event, be it some strange yet true campaign anecdotes or a fiery debate getting everybody excited!
This month the excitement took a different form - we were privileged to welcome Orkhan Ali, Oxfam's Governance Programme Manager from Azerbaijan, to our Oxfam Café in Cardiff. It was brilliant to hear from somebody who actually does what we shout and campaign for on the ground with Oxfam. Somebody who can tell us about real changes, to beliving, and that Oxfam's work is transforming lives.
Orkhan uncovered Azerbaijan to us as country that makes lots of money from oil but where poor people are plagued by high unemployment, rising poverty and a lack of essential services. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left people without jobs and the country without infrastructure. And conflict with neighbouring Armenia resulted in hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes, never able to return. Today, those people are gradually building a more promising and prosperous society. Orkhan and his colleagues at Oxfam are supporting
Azerbaijan's development by providing their fellow people with clean drinking water in their villages. As is true with a lot of Oxfam' work, we were struck by the ingenuity of the design of the programme - Oxfam gave the local council ownership of the new water supply and encouraged them to charge water rates. This income source allowed a modest investment by Oxfam to be turned into a financially self-sustaining project that is now providing water to other parts of the area. These are small droplets of change, but the start of a brighter future for the people of Azerbaijhan.
We at Oxfam Cardiff Group put on Oxfam Café every month, at Bacchus on Park Place in Cardiff. It's a gathering of people who meet each month to talk about Oxfam's work in Wales and around the world. You can find out more about Oxfam Cardiff Group at oxfamcardiff.org.uk.