Inflammation and stories on oxfam

Sandy_River_Foundation
The Sandy River Foundation, founded in 2008, works to bring physical and spiritual wholesomeness to all nations. It achieves this by providing nonprofit organizations with funding in order to focus on their initiatives rather than on fundraising to keep the organization going.

Nonprofits that wish to receive this funding must meet the guidelines of the Sandy River Foundation and complete an application process, but only after being invited by the foundation itself. Some of the organizations that have accepted funding include Heifer International, the Long Island Community Foundation, Oxfam America, and Acción International.

The mission of Heifer International is to end both hunger and poverty by providing families with a cow. This provides a source of food to families from the milk the animal provides. The families can also sell the excess products to gain a reliable source of income, and after saving this income, can start a small business or even join an agricultural cooperative with other families nearby.

By providing small businesses with microfinancing, Acción International hopes to strengthen businesses with both financial and managerial support. Once those microfinance institutions have grown and become financially independent of donors, the economy of the surrounding area will increase and the jobs of those working at the company will be secured. Acción International has provided its support to countries across the globe including India, China, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Colombia.

The Sandy River Foundation donates

to nonprofits in order to create a positive impact across the globe.

– Alessandra Wike

Sources: Accion, Heifer International, Sandy River Foundation

philanthropy
The Eurozone debt crisis, beginning with Greece in 2009, is viewed as a potential threat not only to Europe, but also to developed economies worldwide. According to international aid agency, Oxfam, as many as 25 million more Europeans are at risk of falling into poverty within the next 12 years if European states push on with austerity measures.

“The only people benefiting from austerity are the richest 10% of Europeans who alone have seen their wealth rise. Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK – countries that are most aggressively pursuing austerity measures – will soon rank amongst the most unequal in the world if their leaders don’t change course. For example, the gap between rich and poor in the UK and Spain could become the same as in South Sudan or Paraguay,” said Natalia Alonso, Head of Oxfam’s EU office.

Aggressive cuts have been made to social security, health and education, causing many workers to lose their jobs. These unemployment levels in Europe are reaching record highs, with women and children being hit the hardest. Wages are falling, and almost one in ten working households in Europe now live in poverty. Unfortunately, things are only expected to become worse. As of now, it could take Europeans up to 25 years to regain the living standards that they enjoyed just a short five years ago.

Leading proponents of austerity policies just three years ago, like the International Monetary Fund and respected economists, are starting to recognize that these measures are indeed failing. Goals to shrink government debt and budget deficits have not been accomplished and inequality has only increased.

In order to continue to fight the global war on poverty, attention must be paid to developed countries, as well. This is a worldwide war, and it is important to address every sector. To decrease the likelihood of millions of Europeans falling into poverty, the austerity policies must be recognized and altered. A new economic and social model that invests in all the people, not just the wealthy, is necessary. Greater levels of democracy and fair taxation laws are needed in order to stop this looming future.

Sonia Aviv

Sources: Press TV, Oxfam, Top News Today

unicef
The needs and rights of the world’s poor come in all shapes and sizes. For decades, aid organizations have used their funds, manpower, and resources to mobilize for corrective programs to aid these vulnerabilities. Health organizations in particular play a critical role serving the world’s poor by employing a wide range of expertise to aid various areas of international health. They believe that all people deserve the dignity of regular, healthy meals, and to have access to affordable, basic medical treatment, progressing in a sustainable direction.

Here are four top international health institutions that stand out:

  • World Health Organization (WHO): WHO is probably the most well-known health institution in the world. Established in 1948 as the United Nations’ global health authority, and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization leads the world in public health statistics, public health policy, emergency response and research. The WHO is probably most visible in disaster relief and immunization programs that reach tens of millions of people. Their experts also publish health and wellness guidelines and work with UN-member states to promote these guidelines for maximum impact. WHO workers also keep close tabs on achieving Millennium Development Goals and other international standards to ensure that progress promised is progress made. Overall, the World Health Organization continues its work as the world’s leading international health coordinating and authoritative body.
  • Oxfam International: While the World Health Organization’s focus is all-encompassing, Oxfam International has a more targeted approach on relief and development. Headquartered in Washington, D.C. with advocacy offices in Brussels, Geneva, New York, Brasilia and Addis Ababa, Oxfam has a much heavier focus on advocacy and emergency response initiatives. Oxfam focuses its development, emergency assistance, campaigning, advocacy and policy research on empowering those in global poverty to exercise their economic rights and right to development. And, like many international organizations, they have Hollywood ambassadors that bring star power to the cause. One of Oxfam’s most notable campaigns is Health & Education for All, which pushes for clinics and schools to be built in post-conflict communities by partnering with local actors and mobilizing the necessary resources. Overall, the relief and development agency’s programs aim to empower those living in poverty to exercise their rights so that they can live lives of dignity.
  • GAIN Alliance: Unlike Oxfam’s reputation for advocacy and emergency response, and the World Health Organization’s all-encompassing approach to international health issues, GAIN Alliance has a much more precise mission: provide nutritional foods to malnourished communities all over the world. GAIN operates in more than 30 countries, and just over half of them are in Africa. Its work centers on healthy aid provisions for more than 667 million people, half of which are women and children. Projects to improve nutrition in poor communities address maternal and infant nutrition, large scale food fortification and supporting local agricultural initiatives to be more market-friendly and nutritious.
  • UNICEF: While not specifically an international health institution, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) makes critical contributions to improved global health. Its work invariably encompasses investing in improved health outcomes for infants and young children in chaotic environments and emergency situations. The nexus of UNICEF and better health outcomes for children is clearly visible in its efforts to provide adequate, nutritious meals to 180 million that are children under the age of five who suffer physical and mental impairments as a result of malnutrition and stunted growth. Further, UNICEF aligns its health initiatives with many of its focus areas, which include programs focusing on HIV prevention, child protection, promoting gender equality and basic education. Overall, UNICEF has made great strides in its health programs underline UNICEF’s mission to foster children’s holistic development and protection.

Zach Crawford

Sources: World Health Organization, Oxfam International Health and Education, Gain Alliance, TIME Magazine
Photo: Unicef Pakistan

 

Senegal_Market_Saving_For_Change
In the village of Bandafassi, just outside the larger town of Kedougou in eastern Senegal, women have established a weekly market as a result of a new business-training program. The training program is part of Saving for Change, an Oxfam initiative that helps poor people in Mali, Senegal, El Salvador, Guatemala and Cambodia improve their livelihoods and build a better future by increasing their access to financial services.

For many families in developing countries, obtaining a small loan can be a huge stepping-stone in lifting themselves out of poverty. In regions where access to banks and credit unions is scarce, Oxfam provides a savings and lending service to those who need them most.

Working on the community finance or “microfinance” model, Saving for Change helps villages come together to form groups of about 20 people; the members save money, makes loans, and pay each other interest that grows the group fund. Members can use their loans to start or grow small businesses, purchase seeds, buy medicines for sick family members, or pay school fees for their children.

The weekly markets play a central role for small-scale traders in villages such as Bandafassi; even the simplest infrastructure to present market goods signifies opportunity for the women there. In order to start the market, the women had to meet with local authorities, including the village leader and the mayor, to seek permission, and to find an appropriate public space.

They then had to raise enough money from the Saving for Change group members; 69 group members contributed 250 francs each, or about 50 cents, to construct the first set of shops. The new market represents the skills and knowledge these women have acquired from the Saving for Change program and its respective business training; it is empowering them to trade and prosper in their own communities.

“We’ve always thought that with good business training, women will open up their eyes and see a new vision of the world, and their place in it,” said Paul Ahouissoussi, Oxfam’s Saving for Change coordinator in West Africa. “The training is really about how to diversify their small commercial enterprises, but it’s also about finding the courage to try new things.”

– Chloe Isacke

Sources: Oxfam America, Freedom from Hunger
Photo: CIPE

Somalia_remittances_Barclays_bank
For many developing countries, money sent from migrants in foreign countries back to their homelands, also known as remittances, is a major source of income. In fact, according to Foreign Policy magazine, remittances oftentimes can be equal to double the amount of foreign aid sent to the developing world, thus helping alleviate poverty in the country.

Such is the case in the African country of Somalia. As one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden countries in the world, remittances give many Somalis a promise of hope and a brighter future.

Somali migrants living around the world have sent back around $1.3 billion annually to their homelands using money transfer operators (MTOs) since the country’s commercial banking system collapsed in the 1990s. Of that total, the largest source of remittances is sent from the Somali diaspora in the US using American MTOs – about $215 million annually – a figure not too much lower than the $242 million the US sent Somalia in humanitarian aid in 2012.

Remittances provide many Somalis with a lifeline, giving them the means to obtain food, shelter, maintain small businesses, and give their children an education. 50 percent of remittance recipients are women, who then often use the money to invest in education, health, and nutrition.

Despite the African nation’s relative dependence on remittances, an Oxfam America report published on July 31 conveyed many U.S. banks’ reluctance to continue offering remittance services to Somalis sending money back home due to stricter anti-terrorism regulations since 9/11. In fact, numerous major US banking institutions have dubbed Somalia as an unsafe country in which to provide money transfers for fear that the money may fall in terrorist hands.

According to Oxfam, these banks have cancelled accounts held by some in the Somali diaspora without giving explicit reasons. Reportedly, Somali MTO accounts have been closed twice as much as Latin American MTO accounts. Due to the importance of remittances to the Somali economy, these account closings can be devastating to Somalia’s potential for economic growth.

Even UK banks have chosen to forego their role as an annual $162 million Somali remittance source, such as when British multinational bank Barclays decided to end its relationship with Somali money transfer operations and cancelled 250 money transfer companies in early August.

“A remittance channel closure is among the most worrisome of the possible and foreseeable catastrophes that could befall in the future,” reported Oxfam. “Even a partial shutdown could cause tremendous economic and social trauma, pushing money transfers toward informality and threatening the country’s progress toward peace, security, and sustainable development.”

As it becomes more and more difficult for Somalis abroad to send money home, Oxfam attests that the diaspora will resort to informal measures to continue sending remittances such as sending money via travelers. This decreases transaction transparency and robs US and Somali authorities of their ability to supervise and control transfer of funds.

Additionally, MTO closures and banks’ “preconceived notion of the risk associated with Somali MTOs…based on the destination of the remittances” can bring about divisions between the Somali community and banking institutions, as well as creating an impression of discrimination.

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles

Sources: Oxfam, Midnimo, The Guardian

World_Best_Charities_Deserve_Donation
With new charities being created every day, it can be difficult to know which ones are credible, transparent and, most importantly, capable of making a difference. What makes a charity worth donating to?

Listed below are some of the world’s best global poverty focused charities:

  • Oxfam: Works with communities to empower impoverished people as well as fighting extreme poverty.
  • International Rescue Committee: Responds to humanitarian violations and provides assistance to refugees.
  • Save the Children: Improves the lives of children in the United States and around the world.
  • American Refugee Committee: Helps refugees with relocation, health, dignity, security, and self-sufficiency.
  • Partners in Health: Programs include cancer and chronic diseases, cholera, HIV/AIDS, surgery, women’s health, child health, community health workers, mental health, and tuberculosis
  • CARE International: Relief aid and international development projects.
  • Africare: Improves the lives by Africans by promoting sustainability and health.
  • UNICEF: Gives long-term care and health services to children and mothers in developing countries.
  • Episcopal Relief & Development: Alleviates hunger, improves economic opportunities, fights disease, and brings disaster relief.
  • Rotary Foundation of Rotary International: Fights poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and disease while promoting peace.
  • Healthright International (formerly Doctors of the World): Works to bring maternal and newborn healthcare, HIV/AIDS, TB ,and malaria relief, as well as caring for people suffering from human rights violations and supporting orphans and at-risk children.

Each of these charities is highly reputable and makes a huge impact on global poverty. Without their aid, thousands of people would go without food, shelter and other basic human needs.

Mary Penn

Sources: CharityWatch, Want 2 Donate
Photo: Photopin

extreme_wealth_produces_extreme_poverty
Under capitalism, influential economists such as Milton Friedman have lead policy makers to believe that the pursuit of profits will inevitably result in a mutually beneficial relationship between individuals, markets, and society. On the same token, employing the metaphor of the ‘invisible hand of the market’, Adam Smith argued that as individuals seek to maximize their own profits, society similarly benefits.

Over the past few decades, the invisible hand argument has been invoked in the form of trickledown economics. Rather than a flourishing great society like the one Lyndon B. Johnson had championed, we are beginning to see the pitfalls of this system with glaring clarity. With growing inequality, economists around the world are imploring us as a whole to understand that extreme wealth produces extreme poverty as a necessary consequence.

As wealth becomes increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few, Oxfam International argues that wealth inequality represents a dramatic departure from the effect that Friedman and Smith have propagated. Only through reversing wealth consolidation to 1990 levels, Oxfam argues, will we be able to meaningfully address the issue of extreme poverty.

To be sure, in the preceding decades, there has been a prima facie inverse relationship between poverty rates and wealth inequality. By 2010, the developing world reached the first Millennium Development Goal, to cut global poverty in half, five years ahead of its target. While meeting this target is nothing short of laudable, it is estimated that 21 percent of the developing world, a staggering 1.22 billion people, continue to live on $1.25 or less a day.

Just like any analysis, it is important to understand that a relationship or correlation does not indicate causation. For this reason, it would be silly to equate wealth inequality with a decline in poverty. For Oxfam analysts, the issue of inequality must begin to reset its focus not only on extreme poverty, but also on extreme wealth.

“Over the last thirty years inequality has grown dramatically in many countries. In the US the share of national income going to the top 1% has doubled since 1980 from 10 to 20%. For the top 0.01% it has quadrupled to levels never seen before. At a global level, the top 1% (60 million people), and particularly the even more select few in the top 0.01% (600,000 individuals – there are around 1200 billionaires in the world), the last thirty years has been an incredible feeding frenzy.”

Since the global financial crisis, the wealthiest few have increased their wealth even more so than ever before. In 2012 alone, Oxfam argues, the top 100 billionaires accumulated an addition $240 billion. This amount, alone according to the report, would be enough to end poverty four times over.

Addressing the economic side of the argument, Oxfam holds that with such unprecedented consolidation of wealth, demand is hampered. As billions are stocked away in overseas bank accounts and not subject to taxes, the capital just sits. If it were spread over the population, on the other hand, the spending power of individuals would increase and thus drastically benefit society. Extreme wealth and disproportion undercuts societies. It leads to far less social flexibility. “If you are born poor”, the report states, “in a very unequal society you are much more likely to end your life in poverty.”

While the philanthropic activities of organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation surely give credence to the beneficial uses of wealth, they only account for 1 of 1200 billionaires across the globe. With only a finite amount of resources available, such concentrated wealth in the hands of a few is an unethical and economically unviable means of global development.

– Thomas Van Der List

Sources: Oxfam, Aljazeera, World Bank
Photo: The Telegraph

international_health_institutions

The needs and rights of the world’s poor come in all shapes and sizes. For decades, aid organizations have used their funds, manpower and resources to mobilize corrective programs for these vulnerabilities. Health organizations in particular play a critical role serving the world’s poor by employing a wide range of expertise to aid in mitigating international health concerns. These organizations believe that all people deserve the dignity of regular, healthy meals, and to have access to basic and affordable medical treatment. Here are four top international health institutions that stand out:

World Health Organization

The WHO is probably the best-known health institution in the world. Established in 1948 as the United Nations’ global health authority and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization leads the world in public health statistics, public health policy, emergency response, and research. The WHO is probably most visible in disaster relief and immunization programs, which reach tens of millions of people. Their experts also publish health and wellness guidelines and work with UN-member states to promote these guidelines for maximum impact. WHO workers also keep close tabs on achieving Millennium Development Goals and other international standards to ensure that progress promised is progress made. Overall, the World Health Organization continues its work as the world’s leading international health coordinating and authoritative body.

Oxfam International

While the World Health Organization’s focus is all-encompassing with regard to international health standards and policy, Oxfam International has a more targeted approach on relief and development. Headquartered in Washington, D.C. with advocacy offices in Brussels, Geneva, New York, Brasilia and Addis Ababa, Oxfam has a much heavier focus on advocacy and emergency response initiatives. Oxfam focuses its development, emergency assistance, campaigning, advocacy and policy research to empower the global poor to exercise their economic rights and right to development. And like many international organizations, they have Hollywood Ambassadors that bring star power to the cause. One of Oxfam’s most notable campaigns is Health & Education for All, which pushes for clinics and schools to be built in post-conflict communities by partnering with local actors and mobilizing the necessary resources. The relief and development agency’s programs aim to empower those living in poverty to exercise their rights so that they can live lives of dignity.

GAIN Alliance

In contrast to Oxfam’s mission of advocacy and emergency response and the World Health Organization’s all-encompassing approach to international health issues, GAIN Alliance has a much more precise mission: provide nutritional foods to malnourished communities all over the world. GAIN operates in more than 30 countries, just over half of them in Africa. Its work centers on healthy aid provisions for more than 667 million people, half of which are women and children. Projects to improve nutrition in poor communities address maternal and infant nutrition, large scale food fortification and supporting local agricultural initiatives to be more market-friendly and nutritious.

UNICEF

While not specifically an international health institution, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) makes critical contributions to improved global health. Its work invariably encompasses investing in improved health outcomes for infants and young children in chaotic environments and emergency situations. The nexus of UNICEF and better health outcomes for children is clearly visible in its efforts to provide adequate, nutritious meals to 180 million children under the age of 5 who suffer physical and mental impairments as a result of malnutrition and stunted growth. Further, UNICEF aligns its health initiatives with many of its focus areas, which include programs focusing on HIV prevention, child protection, promoting gender equality and basic education. UNICEF has made great strides in its health programs, underlining UNICEF’s mission to foster children’s holistic development and protection.

– Zach Crawford

Sources: World Health Organization, Oxfam International Health and Education for All, GAIN Alliance 2011-2012 annual report, TIME Magazine
Photo: United Nations

The international NGO, Save the Children, and U.K.-based global health nonprofit Merlin, have joined together to create one organization.

As of July 16, Merlin’s board of trustees stepped down, and Merlin officially became a part of Save the Children, under a new board. Merlin’s CEO Carolyn Miller claimed that the new organization would be a “global humanitarian health force” that would benefit from Merlin’s expertise and Save the Children’s heritage and reach.

The hope, according to Save the Children’s CEO Justin Forsyth, is that the two will become a stronger entity with each other’s help. While the transition is occurring, Merlin will remain a separate legal entity and a transition team has already been put in place to help phase Merlin’s oversees overseas program and head office into Save the Children. The process is expected to be complete in 18 months.

Some are concerned that with the combination, programs will have to be cut in order to focus on the overall goal of the new organization. However, one nonprofit partnered with Save the Children, the Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO), which gives aid to children in the Philippines, says it sees promise in the joining of the two organizations. In addition to giving aid to children, ZOTO also focuses on disaster relief, an area that new resources from Merlin will be able to provide help.

While the news of Save the Children and Merlin teaming up has attracted much attention due to the size of the organizations (Save the Children works in 125 countries, and Merlin has over 5,000 employees) this is certainly not the first time NGOs have partnered up in order to make more of an impact. Save the Children’s press release called the new team an effort for a sustainable future in light of the “tough external environment for NGOs.” The economy is picking up after the latest recession, but it is still tough for nonprofits to survive.

NGO’s are also in competition with each other as they start up and grow in popularity. As a result, many of the smaller ones are being engulfed by the larger ones. The larger ones will also subcontract to the smaller ones, leaving them only doing part of their work, rather than directly helping those they’re trying to help.

However, while this has happened in several cases, Oxfam International’s Chief Executive Winnie Byanyima, is hesitant to call NGO mergers a “trend.” According to Byanyima, nonprofits have been coming together for decades in the form of partnerships and NGO coalitions to work together in order to maximize their voice. Most NGOs are looking to do the same basic thing – to help people – and sometimes the best way to do that is to join forces.

– Emma McKay

Sources: Devex, The Guardian, World Crunch

initiatives help rural senegalese farmers
For rural Senegalese farmers, waiting for the rains to nourish their crops in the oppressive heat of May and June is a nervous time. With climate change comes unpredictable harvests, and without reserves, one failed harvest means that families go without food, children drop out of school, and communities fall further into poverty.

Since many rural Senegalese farmers are recovering from the food crisis in 2011 and 2012, it is a particularly difficult time. By the time they have planted their seeds, they have had to spend the majority of their money and savings, and face months of hunger until they can harvest their crops. Even then, it is a gamble; it only takes a few weeks of dry weather, or an insect infestation, and everything can be lost.

Oxfam, along with the World Food Programme, La Lumière, has just started a program to aid the farmers by reducing and spreading out their farming risk. The program, Rural Resilience Initiative, has already been launched in several other African countries, but has only just reached communities in Senegal. It is based on the fact that it costs less to manage risks then it does to provide relief in a crisis; by planning ahead, these farmers can be prepared for whatever the weather brings. With the initiative, rural families have the opportunity to manage their own risks from harvest to harvest. There are four components: risk taking (credit), risk transfer (insurance), risk reserves (savings), and risk reduction.

The program encourages farmers to save, providing them with access to loans and insurance so that if they are faced with a poor crop yield, they are eligible for a settlement (either cash or food vouchers). Farmers pay for their insurance by working on local projects that improve agriculture conditions in their communities. They build irrigation systems, make compost to fertilize fields, and plant trees to better their surrounding environment. In the small villages of Senegal, farmers are helping to build erosion control barriers out of volcanic stones, which help cut down on flash floods in heavy rain, and improve the quality of the sandy soil. As June passes, the rains should now be starting in Senegal, and fortunately, the hope of a good yield is now accompanied with the knowledge that, should the rains fail, these farmers now have something to fall back on.

– Chloe Isacke

Sources: Oxfam Blog, Oxfam America
Photo: Guardian