Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 and related injustice
Injustice is the lack of or opposition to justice, either in reference to a particular event or act, or as a larger status quo. The term generally refers to misuse, abuse, neglect, or malfeasance that is uncorrected or else sanctioned by a legal system. Misuse and abuse with regard to a particular...

 around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives. Oxfam works directly with communities and seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them. Each organization (Affiliate) works together internationally to achieve a greater impact through collective efforts.

Oxfam was originally founded in Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, UK, in 1942 as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief
Famine relief
Famine relief is an organized effort to reduce starvation in a region in which there is famine. A famine is a phenomenon in which a large proportion of the population of a region or country are so undernourished that death by starvation becomes increasingly common...

by a group of Quakers, social activists, and Oxford academics; this is now Oxfam Great Britain, still based in Oxford, UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It was one of several local committees formed in support of the National Famine Relief Committee. Their mission was to persuade the British government to allow food relief through the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 blockade for the starving citizens of Axis-occupied Greece. The first overseas Oxfam was founded in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 in 1963. The organisation changed its name to its telegraph address, OXFAM, in 1965.

History and beginnings

The original Oxford Committee for Famine Relief was a group of concerned citizens such as Canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 Theodore Richard Milford (1896–1987), Professor Gilbert Murray
Gilbert Murray
George Gilbert Aimé Murray, OM was an Australian born British classical scholar and public intellectual, with connections in many spheres. He was an outstanding scholar of the language and culture of Ancient Greece, perhaps the leading authority in the first half of the twentieth century...

 and his wife Lady Mary, Cecil Jackson-Cole and Sir Alan Pim. The Committee met in the Old Library of University Church of St Mary the Virgin
University Church of St Mary the Virgin
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the largest of Oxford's parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew...

, Oxford, for the first time in 1942, and its aim was to relieve famine in Greece caused by Allied naval blockades. By 1960, it was a major international non-governmental aid organisation
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...


The name “Oxfam” comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942 and registered in accordance with UK law in 1943. Oxfam was formed in 1995 by a group of independent non-governmental organizations. Their aim was to work together for greater impact on the international stage to reduce poverty and injustice. Stichting Oxfam International registered as a not-for-profit foundation at the Hague, The Netherlands.

Oxfam Affiliates

Oxfam GB (Great Britain)

Oxfam GB, with 5,955 employees worldwide in 2008, and with a total income of £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

299.7 million. Oxfam GB's head office is located in Cowley, Oxford
Cowley, Oxford
Cowley in Oxford, England, is a residential and industrial area that forms a small conurbation within greater Oxford. Cowley's neighbours are central Oxford to the northwest, Rose Hill and Blackbird Leys to the south, New Headington to the north and the villages of Horspath and Garsington across...

 and has offices and programmes in over 70 countries in 8 regions.

From 2007 to 2009, Oxfam GB has been recognised as one of Britain's Top Employers by CRF.

Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam Ireland works with local partner organisations in developing countries to develop effective solutions to poverty and injustice. It is a registered charity in Ireland and Northern Ireland, with headquarters in Dublin and Belfast.

Our funds are raised via three different sources:
  • Shops: we have 48 shops throughout Ireland selling goods donated by the public as well as four shops dedicated to selling Fair Trade crafts and food products.
  • Government: the Irish Government allocated over €3.7m to our work in 2008-2009.
  • Private donors, Corporate and Institutional funding: we have a database of committed supporters who donate regurarly via direct debit or to our special appeals.

Oxfam Ireland is the public title of the two, separate, legal bodies registered in the respective jurisdictions as Oxfam Northern Ireland and Oxfam Republic of Ireland. Oxfam Ireland operates coherently on an all-island basis by means of a single management structure and shared membership of associations and councils.

Oxfam Canada

Oxfam Canada traces its history to 1963, when the British-based Oxford Committee for Famine Relief sought to establish a Canadian branch. Oxfam Canada was independently incorporated in 1966; the first Board of Directors included 21 distinguished Canadians. In 1967, Oxfam Canada became a key organiser of the successful Miles for Millions
Miles for Millions Walkathon
The Miles for Millions walkathon was introduced to Canada in 1967. It was modeled after the Oxfam, United Kingdom, walkathon which was created to alleviate third world hunger and poverty. Like the Oxfam walkathon, the Miles for Millions was intentionally designed to cover an extraordinary distance...

 fundraising walks across the country. In that year, Lester Pearson (then Canadian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

) led Oxfam's first Miles for Millions March. With its revenues, Oxfam began to provide educational materials to schools and undertake advocacy work in public policy development.

The early 1970s was a critical period of growth as Oxfam began its own programming overseas in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and established a network of staff and volunteers across Canada to support its work.The original idea was born with Oxfam shops, Luk Moltten Professor at the University of Oxford,.
During this same period, Oxfam Canada began to analyse its role in the development process, moving from a traditional model of charity (one-time grants) towards long-term development programming (working with communities to effect lasting positive change.)
Deeply involved in the international movement against apartheid in South Africa and Central American solidarity through the 1970s and '80s, Oxfam Canada sought to address the fundamental, underlying causes of poverty.
This in turn led to Oxfam's role as a major advocacy organisation in the 1990s, to mobilise public support for changing the policies that perpetuate poverty.

Oxfam Canada is a founding member of Oxfam, the federation of Oxfams worldwide. Today, Oxfam Canada works with over 100 partner organisations in developing countries, tackling the root causes of poverty and inequity and helping people to create self-reliant and sustainable communities. In Canada, Oxfam is active in education, policy advocacy and building a constituency of support for its work.

Oxfam America

In 1970, Oxfam America became an independent non-profit organisation
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

 and an Oxfam affiliate in response to the humanitarian crisis created by the fight for independence in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Liberation War
The Bangladesh Liberation War was an armed conflict pitting East Pakistan and India against West Pakistan. The war resulted in the secession of East Pakistan, which became the independent nation of Bangladesh....

. Oxfam America's headquarters are located in Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 with a policy & campaigns office in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 and seven regional offices around the world. A registered 501(c)3 organisation, Oxfam America campaigns for climate change adaptation
Adaptation to global warming
Adaptation to global warming and climate change is a response to climate change that seeks to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems to climate change effects. Even if emissions are stabilized relatively soon, climate change and its effects will last many years, and adaptation will...

, food security
Food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...

, aid
In international relations, aid is a voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another, given at least partly with the objective of benefiting the recipient country....

 reform, access to medicines, and fair trade
Fair trade
Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards...



In 1973, Oxfam-Québec became an independent member of the international Oxfam movement. Carried by the popularity of Yvon Deschamps
Yvon Deschamps
Yvon Deschamps, CQ is a Quebec author, actor, comedian and producer best known for his monologues. His social-commentary-tinged humour propelled him to prominence in Quebec popular culture in the 1970s and 1980s...

, Oxfam-Québec has become a cherished organisation among the Québécois
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

. Its mission is to get the francophone population involved in the situation of developing countries.

Oxfam Australia

Oxfam Australia is an Australian, independent, not-for-profit, secular, community-based aid and development organisation, and an affiliate of Oxfam International. Oxfam Australia's work includes long-term development projects, responding to emergencies and campaigning to improve the lives of disadvantaged people around the world. They aim to give disadvantaged people improved access to social services, an effective voice in decisions, equal rights and status, and safety from conflict and disaster.

Oxfam Australia's activities are mainly funded by community donation. Oxfam’s development and advocacy programs use 73% of donated funds, 16% is used for fundraising and promotion, and the remaining 11% for administration.[1] In the case of emergency appeals, 85% of funds are used directly for emergency response purposes.[2][3]

In 2009, Oxfam Australia's work reached 4.64 million people in 28 countries. This was made possible by the support of more than 310,000 donors and campaigners.[4]

Oxfam Novib (Netherlands)

Oxfam Novib is the Dutch affiliate of the international Oxfam organization. It is an association dedicated to establishing a fair world with no poverty in it. The organization is based in The Hague.

Oxfam Novib was founded under the name Novib in 1956. Novib is an abbreviation that stands for "Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Internationale Bijstand" (Dutch organization for international aid) which was later changed to "Nederlandse Organisatie voor Internationale Ontwikkelingssamenwerking" (Dutch organization for international development cooperation) due to a change in approach of development work.

In 1994, then called, Novib became an affiliate of Oxfam and for this reason the organization changed its name as of March 18th 2006 to Oxfam Novib.

Mid 2008 the organisation changed its voluntary policy towards a network based approach. They set up a so called participation network or tribe named Doeners.net. Aim was to create a campaigning movement for a just world without poverty.

Oxfam Novib's current National Director is Farah Karimi.


Oxfam in Belgium is a co-ordinating body of the Belgian components of the Oxfam movement, namely, Oxfam Solidarity, Magasins du Monde Oxfam and Oxfam Wereldwinkels.

Oxfam Solidarity incorporates the activities of Oxfam Belgium (founded in 1964) and those of Oxfam Projects (created in 1976).

Oxfam Solidarity supports approximately 200 projects and programmes in the South totalling around 10 million Euro, thanks to co-financing by the Belgian government and the European Union. The income of the organisation comes from recycling activities, from the support of donors and as a result of campaigns.

Oxfam Wereldwinkels (founded in 1971) and Magasins du Monde-Oxfam (founded in 1975) remain autonomous organisations, focusing on fair trade. With more than 220 outlets, as many groups and 7000 volunteers, they form a movement which, guided by the principles of fair trade, pursues objectives similar to those of Oxfam Solidarity.

Visit the Oxfam in Belgium website at www.oxfam.be

Oxfam Hong Kong

Oxfam Hong Kong began in 1976, when volunteers came together, opened a second-hand shop, and raised funds for anti-poverty projects around the world. Some of the first actions in the 1970s and 80s were to advocate for justice in the Vietnamese Boat People/Refugee crisis in Hong Kong, and to help save lives in Ethiopia during the 1984 famine. To date, Oxfam Hong Kong has assisted poor people in more than 70 countries/states around the world.

Oxfam Hong Kong is an independent international development and humanitarian organisation working against poverty and related injustice. We recognise that much poverty is caused by injustice and that poverty alleviation requires economic, social and structural change. We work with people facing poverty and with partner organisations on development, humanitarian, policy advocacy and public education programmes.

Oxfam Hong Kong’s work builds on our local understanding and identity and focuses on Southeast Asia and China, including Hong Kong. We also support poverty alleviation and humanitarian activities in other parts of Asia and Africa, and wherever we feel we can make the most valuable difference. Oxfam Hong Kong works with other members of the international confederation Oxfam on international campaigns and programmes supporting people’s right to development.

Oxfam Hong Kong envisions a world free of poverty where women and men enjoy well-being and rights.

Oxfam India

Oxfam's involvement in India began when money was granted in 1951 to fight famine in Bihar. Bihar at the time was one of the poorest and most populated states in India. Bihar and famine would bring Oxfam back to India in 1965 to address drought due to bad monsoons. Bihar held a population of 53 million, of which 40 million relied on subsistence farming to live. This would compound for India in the future; production of food had not been parallel to its exploding population. It is estimated that, over the course of the droughts and famines, 2,400 tons of milk was bought by Oxfam and at the height of this was feeding over 400,000 starving children and mothers.

In 1968 Oxfam's first Field Director in India, Jim Howard, created the Oxfam Gramdan Action Programme, or OGAP. This would be the first joint rural development program in Oxfam history and the first step to a new 'operational' Oxfam.

Oxfam India was established on September 1 , 2008 under section 25 of the Companies Act, 2005 as a non profitable organisation with its head office in Delhi and is now a member of Oxfam International Confederation. This was marked by Oxfam's 60th year in India.

Oxfam Japan

Oxfam Japan started activities in December 2003. We are working from Japan to bring the reality of poverty and injustice around the world to the Japanese by raising awareness of global issues and supporting Oxfam activities around the world.

Sharing Oxfam's experiences around the world

Working with other organizations involved in poverty issues, we strongly believe that Japan can play an important role in reducing poverty. An important part of our mission is to share Oxfam’s experience around the world with Japan. To accomplish this, we publish reports based on Oxfam’s experiences and interviews in the different regions where we work, and we share methods learned through the many years of Oxfam’s history.

Japan is one of the G8 countries. The Japanese have a strong impact on global issues, including poverty. We believe that the Japanese people and the Japanese government raising can become a force in reducing poverty around the world. Therefore, we use different methods to raise Japanese awareness of the issues so that they will raise their voice and make it heard around the world. We also work to influence the Japanese government to get involved in poverty reduction efforts around the world, and make it a priority in the international agenda.

Oxfam International

The Oxfam International Secretariat (OIS) leads, facilitates, and supports collaboration between the Oxfam affiliates to increase Oxfam's impact on poverty and injustice through advocacy campaigns, development programmes and emergency response.

The OIS Board comprises the Executive Director, Chair of each Affiliate, and the OI Chair. The Affiliates’ Chairs are voting members and are non-remunerated. The Executive Directors and the OI Chair are all non voting-members. The Board also elects the Deputy Chair and Treasurer from among its voting members.

The Board is responsible for ensuring that Oxfam International is accountable, transparent, and fit for purpose. The constitution and Strategic Plan are also approved at Board level. The Board takes recommendations from Executive Directors and ensures that the Confederation is working to its agreed aims. The Board also agrees membership of the Confederation, selects the Honorary President, the Honorary Advisor, the Board Officers and the OI Executive Director. A number of subcommittees with expert members are also mandated by the Board to assist with specific issues.

Languages: Official: English; working: English, French and Spanish.
Staff: approx. 77 in 2009-2010 (including secondment placements and temporary staff e.g. for maternity cover)
Finance: Contributions from affiliate organizations. Operating budget: US$8.7m

Oxfam's Mission & Values

Oxfam’s programs address the structural causes of poverty and related injustice and work primarily through local accountable organizations, seeking to enhance their effectiveness. We aim to help people directly where local capacity is insufficient or inappropriate for Oxfam’s purposes, and to assist in the development of structures which directly benefit people facing the realities of poverty and injustice.

In November 2000, Oxfam adopted the rights-based approach as the framework for all the work of the Confederation and its partners. Oxfam recognizes the universality and indivisibility of human rights and has adopted these overarching aims to express these rights in practical terms:
  • the right to a sustainable livelihood
  • the right to basic social services
  • the right to life and security
  • the right to be heard
  • the right to an identity

Oxfam believes that poverty and powerlessness are avoidable and can be eliminated by human action and political will. The right to a sustainable livelihood, and the right and capacity to participate in societies and make positive changes to people's lives are basic human needs and rights which can be met. Oxfam believes that peace and substantial arms reduction are essential conditions for development and that inequalities can be significantly reduced both between rich and poor nations and within nations.

Oxfam's work

Though Oxfam's initial concern was the provision of food to relieve famine, over the years the organisation has developed strategies to combat the causes of famine. In addition to food and medicine, Oxfam also provides tools to enable people to become self-supporting and opens markets of international trade where crafts and produce from poorer regions of the world can be sold at a fair price to benefit the producer.

Oxfam's programme has three main points of focus: development work, which tries to lift communities out of poverty with long-term, sustainable solutions based on their needs; humanitarian work, assisting those immediately affected by conflict and natural disasters (which often leads in to longer-term development work), especially in the field of water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 and sanitation
Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems are human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic...

; and lobbyist, advocacy
Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an...

 and popular campaigning, trying to affect policy decisions on the causes of conflict at local, national, and international levels.

Oxfam works on trade justice
Make Trade Fair
Make Trade Fair is a campaign organized by Oxfam International to promote trade justice and fair trade among governments, institutions, and multinational corporations.-Objectives:The campaign has focused on the elimination of several trade practices:...

, fair trade
Fair trade
Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards...

, education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

 and aid, livelihood
Sustenance can refer to any means of subsistence or livelihood within a region or a country;*food*any subsistence economy: see list of subsistence techniques**hunting-gathering**animal husbandry**subsistence agriculture...

s, health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

, gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

, conflict
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 (campaigning for an international arms trade
Arms industry
The arms industry is a global industry and business which manufactures and sells weapons and military technology and equipment. It comprises government and commercial industry involved in research, development, production, and service of military material, equipment and facilities...

 treaty) and natural disaster
Natural disaster
A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard . It leads to financial, environmental or human losses...

s, democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, and climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...


Oxfam is providing humanitarian aid to those affected by the 2011 Horn of Africa famine, in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Oxfam's new Campaign

GROW is Oxfam’s new campaign for better ways to grow, share, and live together. A campaign for the billions of us who eat food and over a billion men and women who grow it, to share solutions for a more hopeful future in which everyone always has enough to eat.

Oxfam’s GROW Camping is also fighting land grabs: Secretive land deals are forcing poor farmers from their homes and leaving families hungry. From Uganda to Honduras and Indonesia to South Sudan, unscrupulous investors are acquiring land that’s sold as ‘unused’ or ‘underdeveloped’, but which is actually being used by small-scale farmers to grow food. Those farmers and their families are then evicted from the land – often violently – and left with no way of growing food and no way to earn a living.

The recent rise in land acquisitions can be explained by the 2007–08 food prices crisis, which led investors and governments to turn their attention towards agriculture after decades of neglect. But this interest in land is not something that will pass; it is a trend with strong drivers. The land deals are very often intended to produce for foreign food and biofuel markets. They can often rightly be called ‘land grabs’.

This term refers to land acquisitions which do one or more of the following:

• Violate human rights, and particularly the equal rights of women;

• Flout the principle of free, prior, and informed consent of the affected land users, particularly indigenous peoples;

• Ignore the impacts on social, economic, and gender relations, and on the environment;

• Avoid transparent contracts with clear and binding commitments on employment and benefit sharing;

• Eschew democratic planning, independent oversight, and meaningful participation

Oxfam's Activities

During 2007 – 2012 Oxfam shall focus its resources on four Change Goals:

1. Economic Justice

• Make agriculture work for farmers and agricultural labourers living in poverty and vulnerable circumstances. Reaching the majority of people living in poverty will mean transforming agriculture so that they get a decent reward for their labour

• Achieve fairer trade rules for poor countries. People living in poverty must get a fair share of the wealth and opportunities generated by world trade

• Reduce the impact of climate change and energy shocks by supporting vulnerable people and communities, particularly in agriculture, to adapt to climate change. We will tackle the injustice of climate change by promoting energy equity for developing countries

2. Essential Services

• Demand that national governments fulfil their responsibilities for equitable delivery of good quality health, education, water and sanitation, especially for women and excluded groups

• Support civil society organizations and alliances to hold governments accountable for the delivery of these services

• Ensure better policies and more funding from rich countries and international institutions, as well as make sure they honour already existing commitments on aid and debt reduction

3. Rights in Crisis

• Improve our ability to deliver better protection and greater assistance, through improving our competencies and capacities, and becoming more accountable to the people we are assisting

• We will also increase work with and through local organizations, and particularly strengthen the role of women

• Change policies and practices of the international humanitarian system to deliver better protection and greater
assistance. This will mean lifting the standards of disaster response by international agencies, implementing commitments by governments on the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and pursuing an Arms Trade Treaty.

• Work within the framework of human security, with a greater focus on preventing conflict, peace-building, reconciliation and longer-term development

4. Gender Justice

• Support women’s leadership at all levels to achieve greater power in decision-making and greater control over their lives

• Work to end gender-based violence by changing ideas, attitudes and beliefs of men and women that permit violence against women.

• Strengthen Oxfam’s own learning and capacities on gender to ensure that gender justice is achieved in all our work

Oxfam's Shops

Oxfam has numerous shops all over the world, which sell many fair-trade and donated items. They opened their first charity shop in 1948. The proceeds from these usually get paid to different charities or are used to further Oxfam's relief efforts around the globe.

Much of their stock still comes from public donations but they currently also sell fair trade products from developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America, including handcrafts, books, music CDs and instruments, clothing, toys, food and ethnic creations. These objects are brought to the public through fair trade to help boost the quality of life of their producers and surrounding communities.

Oxfam has near to 15,000 shops worldwide.. Some of them are in the UK with around 750 Oxfam GB shops including specialist shops such as books, music, furniture and bridal wear. Oxfam Germany has 34 shops including specialist book shops; Oxfam France shops sell books and fair trade products and Oxfam Hong Kong has 2 shops selling donated goods and fair trade prdoucts. Oxfam Novib, Oxfam Australia (with over 20 fair trade shops), Oxfam Ireland and Oxfam in Belgium also raise funds from shops.

Of the 750 Oxfam charity shops around the UK, around 100 are specialist bookshops or book and music shops. Oxfam is the largest retailer of second-hand books
Used book
A used book or secondhand book is a book which has been owned before by an owner other than the publisher or retailer, usually by an individual or library....

 in Europe, selling around 12 million per year.

In 2008, Oxfam GB worked with over 20,000 volunteers
Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people also volunteer for their own skill development, to meet others, to make contacts for possible employment, to have fun, and a variety of other reasons that could be...

 in shops across the UK, raising £17.1 million for Oxfam's programme work.


Oxfam has a number of successful fundraising channels in addition to its shops. Over half a million people in the UK make a regular financial contribution towards its work, and vital funds are received from gifts left to the organisation in people's wills. Many London Marathon
London Marathon
The London Marathon is one of the biggest running events in the world, and one of the five top world marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors competition, which has a $1 million prize purse. It has been held each spring in London since 1981. The race is currently sponsored by Virgin Money,...

 competitors run to raise money for Oxfam, and Oxfam also receives funds in return for providing and organising volunteer stewards at festivals such as Glastonbury
Glastonbury Festival
The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, commonly abbreviated to Glastonbury or even Glasto, is a performing arts festival that takes place near Pilton, Somerset, England, best known for its contemporary music, but also for dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret and other arts.The...

. In conjunction with the Gurkha Welfare Trust
Gurkha Welfare Trust
The Gurkha Welfare Trust is a British charity, established in 1969. It is the principal UK charity dedicated to the provision of aid to Gurkha ex-servicemen and their dependents in their homeland of Nepal....

, Oxfam also runs several Trailwalker
Trailwalker or Oxfam Trailwalker and the related Trailtrekker are endurance walking events run across the world by Oxfam, in which teams of 4 competitors must complete a course of in a set time limit - typically between 24 and 48 hours...

 events in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, the United Kingdom and Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Oxfam GB asks people to 'Get Together
Get Together
"Get Together" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her tenth studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor. Produced by Madonna and Stuart Price, the song was released as the third single from the album by Warner Bros. Records on June 6, 2006. The decision was spurred by the fact that...

' and fundraise by hosting events with friends and colleagues on International Women's Day, March 8th.

Christopher McCandless
Christopher McCandless
Christopher Johnson McCandless was an American hitchhiker who adopted the name Alexander Supertramp and hiked into the Alaskan wilderness in April 1992 with little food and equipment, hoping to live for a time in solitude...

, the subject of the book and film Into the Wild, donated his life savings to Oxfam before leaving society for the Alaskan wilderness.

In August 2009, it was announced that Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys are an English indie rock band. Formed in 2002 in High Green, a suburb of Sheffield, the band currently consists of Alex Turner , Jamie Cook , Nick O'Malley and Matt Helders...

 would release a 7-inch vinyl version of their new single "Crying Lightning" exclusively through Oxfam shops, with proceeds going to the charity. Recently Oxfam India is emerging as a successful fundraising unit, it is mainly with the help of always motivated team and the Resource Mobilization Heads.


Annual Report; Strategic Plan; Research and Policy papers

Policy & Research page with publications that can be filtered by subject and/or by date

Conflict with Starbucks on Ethiopian coffee

On 26 October 2006, Oxfam accused Starbucks
Starbucks Corporation is an international coffee and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington. Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 17,009 stores in 55 countries, including over 11,000 in the United States, over 1,000 in Canada, over 700 in the United Kingdom, and...

 of asking the National Coffee Association
National Coffee Association
The National Coffee Association or , is the main market research, consumer information, and lobbying association for the coffee industry in the United States....

 (NCA) to block a U.S. trademark
United States trademark law
Trademarks were traditionally protected in the United States only under State common law, growing out of the tort of unfair competition. As early as 1791, Thomas Jefferson proposed that the marks of sailcloth makers could be protected under the Commerce Clause, but it was not until 1870 that...

 application from Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 for three of the country's coffee beans, Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe
Irgachefe is a town in central southern Ethiopia. Located in the Gedeo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region, this town has a longitude and latitude of and an elevation between 1880 and 1919 meters above sea level...

. They claimed this could result in denying Ethiopian coffee
Coffee production in Ethiopia
The coffee production in Ethiopia is critical to the Ethiopian economy with about 25% of the population depending directly or indirectly on coffee for its livelihood...

 farmers potential annual earnings of up to £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...


Robert Nelson, the head of the NCA, added that his organisation initiated the opposition for economic reasons, "For the U.S. industry to exist, we must have an economically stable coffee industry in the producing world... This particular scheme is going to hurt the Ethiopian coffee farmers economically". The NCA claims the Ethiopian government was being badly advised and this move could price them out of the market.

Facing more than 90,000 letters of concern, Starbucks placed pamphlets in its stores accusing Oxfam of "misleading behavior" and insisting that its "campaign need[s] to stop". On 7 November, The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

derided Oxfam's "simplistic" stance and Ethiopia's "economically illiterate" government, arguing that Starbucks' (and Illy
illycaffè is a brand of coffee produced in Trieste, Italy.illy produces only one blend in three roast variations: normal, dark roast, and decaffeinated. The blend is packaged as whole beans, pre-ground coffee, E.S.E. pods, or iperEspresso Capsules....

's) standards-based approach would ultimately benefit farmers more.

Nonetheless, on 20 June 2007, representatives of the Government of Ethiopia and senior leaders from Starbucks Coffee Company announced that they had concluded an agreement regarding distribution, marketing and licensing that recognises the importance and integrity of Ethiopia's speciality coffee designations.

Political neutrality

Oxfam Great Britain was strongly criticised by other NGOs
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

 for becoming too close to Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

's New Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 government in the UK.

In October, 2011, Oxfam's campaign for a financial transaction tax
Financial transaction tax
A financial transaction tax is a tax placed on a specific type of financial transaction for a specific purpose.This term has been most commonly associated with the financial sector, as opposed to consumption taxes paid by consumers. However, it is not a taxing of the financial institutions themselves...

 resulted in it seeking court action to ban a pensioner from one of its shops, asking him to pay a £10,000 legal bill after he complained about a poster which highlighted Oxfam’s call for a 'Robin Hood' tax of banks and financial institutions.

Pensioner Barry Nowlan, 63, of Taunton, said he has a legitimate complaint about Oxfam’s political campaigning.

Oxfam banned the retired bank clerk and Lloyds shareholder from its shop at The Bridge in Taunton. The charity accuses Mr Nowlan of causing: "great distress" and "harassing volunteers". He denies the claims but admits entering the building since Oxfam banned him by letter.

Mr Nowlan said, "Oxfam claims its Robin Hood Tax will come from bank profits and bankers’ bonuses, not from the ordinary people. But banks are owned by shareholders. They are pension funds and ordinary people like me. I retired at 49 through ill-health. My pensions are small but I had the benefit of dividends (mainly from my Lloyds Bank shares) until the last few years. As you know, Lloyds' share value fell from a peak of £11 to barely 30p. now. The dividends represented about one-third of my income. So I was not best pleased to see Oxfam's window display deceiving people. I have continued to go into the shop to show I am not cowed. I am not causing a problem, and have bought one or two books. All this has racked up a legal bill of nearly £10,000 which I am expected to pay."

A spokeswoman for the charity said, "Oxfam has made the decision to apply for an injunction against a member of the public who we feel has been harassing the manager and volunteers at our Oxfam shop in Taunton. The nature of the visits to the shop from this member of the public are far beyond what any staff have a right to expect while working for Oxfam. The decision to apply for the injunction is very much a last resort."

On 25 October 2011, the dispute was settled amicably in Taunton County Court. Afterwards Mr Nowlan said: “The matter has been settled between Oxfam and myself on a mutually satisfactory basis.” Oxfam declined to comment on the court case, saying simply: “It is a private matter.”

Internal structures and political role

Omaar and de Waal in Food and Power in Sudan comment that "the 1990s have seen growing pressure for humanitarian institutions to become more accountable. There has been a succession of reviews of major operations, growing in independence and criticism." They quote an OECD report, The Joint Evaluation of Emergency Operations in Rwanda, which stated that its team "came across examples of Agencies telling, if not falsehoods, then certainly half-truths" and noted "a remarkable lack of attempts by agencies to seek the views of beneficiaries on the assistance being provided". In this climate, Oxfam has faced a number of criticisms, some specific to the organisation itself, others relating to problems said to be endemic to NGO aid agencies.

In 2005, the magazine New Internationalist
New Internationalist
New Internationalist is a magazine from New Internationalist Publications, a co-operative-run publisher based in Oxford, England. It has editorial and sales offices in Toronto, Canada; Adelaide, Australia; Christchurch, New Zealand; and New York, USA....

described Oxfam as a "Big International Non-Government Organisation (BINGO)", having a corporate-style, undemocratic internal structure, and addressing the symptoms rather than the causes of international poverty – especially by acquiescing to neoliberal economics
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 and even taking over roles conventionally filled by national governments.

Similar criticisms have been voiced by Red Pepper magazine and Katherine Quarmby in the New Statesman.


Oxfam has been criticized for aggressively expanding its specialist bookshops, using tactics more often associated with multi-national corporations. The charity has been criticized as some claim this expansion has come at the expense of independent secondhand book sellers and other charity shops in many areas of the UK.

Fair trade coffee

On 28 April 2007, two academics in Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, representing a think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

 lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is an independent authority of the Australia government. It was established in 1995 with the amalgamation of the Australian Trade Practices Commission and the Prices Surveillance Authority to administer the Trade Practices Act 1974...

 accusing Oxfam of misleading or deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act in its promotion of Fairtrade coffee. The academics claimed that high certification costs and low wages for workers undermine claims that Fairtrade helps to lift producers out of poverty. These claims were subsequently dismissed by the Commission.

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

In 2003, Oxfam Belgium produced a poster with a picture of an orange drenched in blood. The poster read, "Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's fruits have a bitter taste...reject the occupation of Palestine, don't buy Israeli fruits and vegetables". Oxfam was widely criticised because of the poster's allegedly anti-Israel political message. Following publicity and pressure from the pro-Israel organisation NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor is a non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem, Israel whose stated aim is to generate and distribute critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the...

, Oxfam removed the poster from their web site and Ian Anderson, the chairman of Oxfam International, issued a letter of apology; however, Oxfam has maintained its support of a boycott of Israeli settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

 products. Oxfam was criticised for its policy of what has been termed "selective morality" by NGO Monitor.

In October 2009, Oxfam was accused by Israeli NGO Regavim of aiding Palestinians in illegal activities in Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba or Qiryat Arba , lit. "Town of the Four," is an Israeli settlement in the Judean Mountains region of the West Bank on the edge of Hebron. Its settlers consist of a mix of Russian immigrants, American immigrants, and native-born Israelis numbering close to 10,000...

, including water theft. Oxfam has denied its participation.

Confrontation with the Population Matters

In December 2009 Duncan Green, head of research at Oxfam, attempted to discredit the PopOffsets initiative of Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust), under which individuals can offset their carbon emissions
Carbon offset
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere....

 by funding family planning
Family planning
Family planning is the planning of when to have children, and the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and...

 services in the developing world. Green wrote in an op-ed in the New Statesman
New Statesman
New Statesman is a British centre-left political and cultural magazine published weekly in London. Founded in 1913, and connected with leading members of the Fabian Society, the magazine reached a circulation peak in the late 1960s....

that assumptions such as those in the OPT report equating population growth and environmental degradation are a "gross oversimplification".

In response, OPT described the response of parts of the development lobby to the initiative as "frankly disgraceful", adding: "The world badly needs a grown-up, rational discussion of the population issue…without blame, abuse and hysteria."

See also

  • Disasters Emergency Committee
    Disasters Emergency Committee
    The Disasters Emergency Committee is an umbrella group comprising fourteen UK charities. These charities are all associated with disaster related issues such as providing clean water, humanitarian aid and medical care....

  • Make Trade Fair
    Make Trade Fair
    Make Trade Fair is a campaign organized by Oxfam International to promote trade justice and fair trade among governments, institutions, and multinational corporations.-Objectives:The campaign has focused on the elimination of several trade practices:...

  • Oxfam International Youth Partnership
  • Oxfam Australia
    Oxfam Australia
    Oxfam Australia is an Australian, independent, not-for-profit, secular, community-based aid and development organisation, and an affiliate of Oxfam International. Oxfam Australia's work includes long-term development projects, responding to emergencies and campaigning to improve the lives of...

  • Oxfam-in-Belgium (French)
  • Oxfam France (French)
  • Oxfam Hong Kong
  • Oxfam Italia (Italian)
  • Oxfam Novib
    Oxfam Novib
    Oxfam Novib is the Dutch affiliate of the international Oxfam organization. It is an association dedicated to establishing a fair world with no poverty in it. The organization is based in The Hague.Oxfam Novib was founded under the name Novib in 1956...

  • Seoul Peace Prize
    Seoul Peace Prize
    The Seoul Peace Prize was established in 1990 as a biennial recognition with monetary award to commemorate the success of the 24th Summer Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea, an event in which 160 nations from across the world took part, creating harmony and friendship...

  • Ox-Tales
    Ox-Tales refers to four anthologies of short stories written by 38 of the UK's best known authors. All the authors donated their stories to Oxfam...

Further reading

  • Maggie Black, A Cause for Our Times: Oxfam the First 50 Years (Oxford: Oxfam, 1992). ISBN 0-85598-173-3
  • Susan Blackburn, Practical Visionaries: A Study of Community Aid Abroad (Melbourne University Press, 1993). ISBN 0-522-84562-2
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