Iffat, Senior Innovation Office talks to the Oxfam team about community consultation tools for WASH infrastructure.
Iffat, Senior Innovation Office talks to the Oxfam team about community consultation tools for WASH infrastructure.

5 ways Oxfam is changing

We run regular listening groups where the community can give us constructive feedback.”

Iffat Tahmid Fatema, Senior Innovation Officer in Bangladesh

Oxfam is transforming, as we continue the evolution we began earlier this year.

Oxfam GB's new strategy, launched today, sets out our vision for a kinder and radically better world where everyone has the power to thrive, not just survive.

It explains the role we will play to help achieve this, working alongside all those who share our belief that a better future is possible.

Oxfam’s journey began in 1942, when a group of people driven by compassion and indignation challenged the Churchill government to lift the wartime blockade of occupied Greece, which they argued was starving innocent people. At the same time, they raised money to provide food relief.

We have always stayed true to the radical spirit of our founders, rooting our approach in both speaking out and taking action.

Now, as we respond to Covid-19 and a rapidly changing world, we are adapting to meet today’s challenges.

Here are five ways that Oxfam is changing.

1. We’ll focus our work in the toughest places on earth

Awssan Kamal

Yemen’s been in the midst of war for years now. We need to stand with those calling for an end to this war, and secure inclusive and lasting peace that addresses the needs of all Yemeni people.”

Awssan Kamal, British Yemeni activist and campaign leader for Oxfam in Amran northern Yemen in 2017

2. We’ll challenge the inequalities that fuel poverty

There are many inequalities that cause poverty the world-over. To have the biggest impact with our resources, we’ll focus on challenging a few at a time.

Right now, that’s the impact of Covid-19, the climate emergency that’s already devastating lives, and discrimination that stops women’s work from being safe, secure and fairly valued.

The economic fallout of Covid-19 is leaving informal workers struggling to feed their families and seeing women and girls take on even more caring responsibilities.

For a radically better world, we need to build back from this crisis not just better, but differently, without the inequalities that exacerbate poverty.

Standing with others we will push for solutions that prioritise people facing poverty, such as debt relief for the poorest countries, urgent climate action, and investment in health and social care.

3. We’ll give as much weight to how we work as to what we do

Radical, lasting change will only happen if we think as carefully about how we work as what we do.

We want to ensure we are consciously confronting – not inadvertently reinforcing – power imbalances between the global North and South, black and white, and men and women.

Collaboration will be at the heart of everything we do.

We believe in strengthening the power of local communities who are best placed to push for solutions.

That means working together in meaningful partnerships, and shifting our spending and influencing power to the global South as we stand together with civil society movements driving their own change.

And it means continuing our journey to become safe, feminist and anti-racist, prioritising the safety and wellbeing of all those we work with.

4. We’ll nurture people’s power to challenge inequality and injustice

Elizabeth Stevens/ Oxfam America

Members of the women’s group Abante Kababayen demonstrate the equipment provided by one of Oxfam’s local partners in the Philippines
– the equipment helps families evacuate when cyclones threaten their communities.

We want to bring together people and groups in Britain who believe in international solidarity.

People who share our indignation at injustice and our conviction that a kinder, fairer world is possible. And who want to work together with others around the world to find solutions to global challenges.

We’ll offer ways for people to keep donating their time and money to support our work worldwide, and together explore new ways to take action.

We will work in coalition to campaign against unjust systems and share learning from our work with others.

5. We’ll shift to a more diverse and equal global network

Oxfam is a global confederation working in around 90 countries around the world.

Our new confederation-wide strategy centres our mission on fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice.

It commits us to shifting to become a more diverse network working together as equals, deeply rooted in local contexts, and to increase resources and power in the global South.

And it describes how we seek to work with donors and the wider sector to reimagine how aid is funded and delivered.

Oxfam GB’s new strategy envisions the part we will play as part of this global movement for social justice.

Today, despite all of the challenges we face, there is also hope.

Throughout history, people have come together to create positive solutions, in their local communities and at a global scale.

The coronavirus pandemic has created huge levels of disruption and uncertainty. But it is also an opportunity to make a fundamental break with the past and set course for a kinder and radically better world, where everyone has the power to thrive, not just survive.