What Oxfam Asked of Obama
As President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama prepared for their trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, Oxfam created a list of issues President Obama and African leaders should focus on. The main theme of this to-do list was to transform African institutions into models of transparency and accountability specifically when it comes to resources.Fe

Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America said, “Now it’s time for the President to help Africa realize its full potential by investing directly in local governments and citizens, helping to increase transparency of budgets, extractive industry revenues, and tax systems for governments.”

Extracting resources – and billions

Over the next decade over $1 trillion in natural resources will be extracted from the African continent. Africa currently exports more that four times the amount of aid the continent receives each year. But the money from exports is not being used to build roads, schools and hospitals for the African people. Booming extractives industries often cause suffering to the African people. Many have lost access to agricultural land and several have not even received adequate compensation when they were forced off their lands.

The Resource Curse

 Millions of Africans live on less than $2 a day. How can this be when there is an immense amount of resources in Africa? This resource curse has led to immense amounts of environmental damage and human rights abuses.

Offenheiser urges the President, “Tell your African counterparts to work to increase transparency in their budgets. Open payments from oil and mining companies to the light of transparency. Give African citizens knowledge about revenues from oil and mining companies. Let those citizens decide how to put their money to work for their own futures-let them claim their rights and fight for their own development.”

Lead by Example

 If America expects African institutions to be transparent and accountable than it must be transparent and accountable as well. Offenheiser explains, “President Obama should publicly announce when his own administration will release US government aid data, setting a ton on institutional transparency. As one of the largest aid donors in the world, The United States shouldn’t be one of the least transparent.”

Feed the Future

Offenheiser stresses the importance of agriculture in Africa. “The President’s Feed the Future initiative recognizes the central role that agriculture can play in driving economic growth and poverty reduction, but initiatives like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which promote private sector investment in select African countries, must not distract from badly needed development aid to this critical sector. The President must address legitimate concerns raised by civil society organizations about this initiative.”

– Catherine Ulrich

Source: Oxfam, All Africa
Photo: Huffington Post


The State of the Union Speech is made interactive on President Obama’s site. An extensive use of charts and data run simultaneously alongside the video of his speech.

At about 45 minutes into the speech he speaks of impoverished areas of the world, and addresses why it is important to eradicate extreme poverty, “Not only because it creates new markets, more stable order in certain regions of the world, but also because it’s the right thing to do.” He pledges to reduce and eliminate some of the fundamental health concerns that affect developing nations.

As he presses that the need to save children all over the world from preventable death, a statistic displays that, “since the 1960s child mortality rates around the world have declined by 70 percent. Compared to 20 years ago, we’re saving 4.4 million more children every year.”

Then he reiterates a “promise of an AIDS-free generation,” and insists that it is possible. Another message then shows, “The U.S. directly supported life-saving HIV antiretroviral treatment for nearly 5.1 million men, women and children worldwide.”

The State of the Union speech is made interactive even more by asking viewers to “get involved” and tell Obama what passage of the speech is most meaningful to them. A full transcript of the speech is laid out, any area can be highlighted with a click and then a comments window pops up to send him feedback.

Give your citizen’s response.

– Mary Purcell




obama global poverty

President Obama’s State of the Union speech for 2013 is a grand vision of America, mapping out the ambitious future he sees for it. He spoke of fellow citizens who put their neighbors and civil “obligations” before their own needs, as examples of the American identity. He said, “America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom.” And he affirmed the necessity to eradicate extreme poverty around the world, as a matter of principle and self-interest.

“We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all. Not only because it creates new markets, more stable order in certain regions of the world, but also because it’s the right thing to do.”

Obama went on to say that the United States would join with their international allies in a mission to end “extreme poverty in the next two decades.” A proclamation of concerted effort to connect more people to the global economy, to elevate women’s social status, encourage Americans to serve communities in need – to help them help themselves, save children from preventable death, and work towards eliminating AIDS.

Obama talked of Americans living in poverty, asking Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 so that no one working full time would still have to suffer from lack of adequate pay. Additionally, he stressed how fare and free international trade would “support millions of American jobs,” thus helping to increase income for everyone.

In the President’s eloquent fashion, he connected the strength and honor of American citizens to citizens all over the world fighting for human rights and integrity. In the end, he asked citizens to be “the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.”

– Mary Purcell

Source: You Tube