Posts tagged ‘oxfam’
by Dominique Jenkins, Oxfam Popular Mobilization & Media Coordinator
The term horse trading is an Americanism that dates back to early 19th century and refers to intricacies of assessing, bargaining and trading of horses. Apparently one had to be a shrewd dealer in order to obtain the best horse for the best price or vice versa.
Of course Accra, the site of the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, is a far cry from 19th century America but the big dealers or rather donors were no doubt conducting the business of last minute bargaining to come up with aid terms in the interest of their countries. In the end, donors and recipients agreed on five development markers aimed at poverty eradication and aid effectiveness.
Driving around parts of Accra it is easy to see why Ghana is cited by the World Bank one of three countries in Africa that has made considerable progress in effectively using foreign aid to reduce poverty.
Judging by the location of the Forum, Ghana’s International Conference Center, which boasts of large, air conditioned meeting rooms, where wi-fi internet service and copious servings of hot tea, and of course cocoa (Ghana is the world’s second largest producer) were available, and observing the construction site of the impressive new presidential residence, a shopping mall and many upscale eateries frequented by a growing middle class in Accra, it is easy to see why the country has gained this distinction and to assume that things are going quite well for all Ghanaians.
Yet, this burgeoning urban affluence is a stark contrast to the young women and men hawking food and household goods on the streets. Many of them are about two tro-tros (customized vans carrying about 25 passengers around the city and connecting to rural areas) voyages away from villages where things are not quite the same. Of Ghana’s population of 23 million, well over half are small scale farmers and fisher folks living in rural areas and barely making ends meet. And considering that social spending coming from foreign aid is not sufficiently targeted to the rural poor in Ghana, like most countries, many are lacking essential public education and health services.
As my airplane descended into Dakar, Senegal a few days after the forum, the reality of the need for more and better aid hit home even more. Here urban and rural reside side by side as horses with carts carrying goods and supplies wait right next to BMW SUVs for traffic lights to change. The sanitation workers have been on strike for a few days and street children and others who have migrated from the rural areas dodge overflowing trashcans to beg for money. Senegal, unlike Ghana, is a LDC. The awareness of the need for effective distribution of aid is unavoidable.
So after the horse-trading has ended and everyone has packed up and gone their respective ways the real outcome remains to be seen by those who are at the heart of the issue – the poor and vulnerable in developing countries. The hopes of many, and the benefit to those in need, will be that donors and recipient countries keep their word to ensure that aid is properly filtered to them, and that when the dealing is done all will be better off because of better aid.
by Dominique Jenkins, Oxfam Popular Mobilization & Media Coordinator
“We are one people; we are one nation; we have one destiny,” sang a group of musicians at the opening of the Civil Society Forum on Aid Effectiveness taking in place in Accra, Ghana from August 31 through September 1st. This meeting precedes the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness that starts the following day.
Yet as delegates prepare for the forum, the bottom line issues are anything but high level as the decisions made here have a huge impact on very basic services essential to development – such as funding for education and health services, particularly for women.
Just before the start of the official Forum, the Accra Women’s forum was held to strategize. A series of discussions with hundreds of representatives from around the world provided recommendations to make aid work better for women, and help make gender equality a reality.
One participant, Bouare Samake head of the Mali chapter of the Women in Law and Development in Africa program, who works with grassroots women’s development organizations, is particularly concerned that the needs of rural women and families will certainly not be met following this meeting. “The process to obtain funding is too complex and far reaching. Yes, donors pledge money, but the process is often long and not earmarked for women’s issues. Women want to be more involved in the process to assure that our issues are considered at all levels.”
Now, many of our colleagues here are waiting to see how these talks will impact on the 1.4 billion people – most of them women – living below the poverty line are. And through the myriad ways in which their concerns are shared, what they would like to see is donors recognizing that we are one nation with one destiny, one that demonstrates global gender justice and economic justice.
by Avinash Kumar, Oxfam’s For All campaign team, India
In 2004 India elected a new government who promise to improve the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people in India. It promised a “Common Minimum Program” including more health centers and schools.
In the same year 40 organizations in India (including Oxfam!) began a movement to raise the voices of hundreds of thousands of people calling for the government to keep their promises, and deliver justice to all people in India. ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ (or ‘Keep the Promises’) is still going strong and now includes an amazing 3000 organizations from 23 states in India. On 17th October 2007, a staggering 1,236,979 people in 15 states took part in campaign actions to mark World Poverty Day. That’s more than a million people in just one day!
Children leading the campaigning!
As part of this movement, India has also launched the ‘Nine is Mine’ campaign led by children across the country. They are calling for 9% of India’s income to be spent on health & education for all. More than 4,000 children launched a petition in October 2006 in Delhi, and following wide media coverage, 20 of the children met the Prime Minister who listened to their demands and assured them of his support. In just one month more than 300,000 signatures were sent to the Finance Minister, and the children also met the Chairperson of the Child Rights Commission.
Since then, 5,000 signatures a day were sent off to the Finance Minister every month until January 2008. The campaign is keeping the pressure up!
Short video on the ‘Nine is Mine’ campaign.
Massive public campaigning in India has led to some amazing successes.
1. Health & education spending has increased
Following the children’s meeting with the Prime Minister, the next budget saw health spending up by a quarter and education spending up a third. This was still not enough to meet the government’s own promises – but it was a bigger increase than expected because of India’s campaigning!
2. New education bill passed
In an historic victory, after years of delay the Government is finally bringing the Right to Education bill to parliament. If this is passed, it will mean that primary and secondary education for everyone is a requirement by law.
We will be keeping you updated with the latest from the ‘Keep the Promises’ campaign in future blog posts here. To get involved you can visit the ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ website or take action in our Health & Education For All campaign.
by Patrick Klerks, Online Campaigner, Oxfam Novib
Oxfam’s Health & Education For All campaign is active in over 15 countries around the world.
This week, we take a look at the campaign in the Netherlands, where signing a petition means hugging a nurse.
Curious what this looks like? Watch this video…
The question remains, why exactly are the Dutch are hugging nurses?
In many poor countries public health services are kept afloat by a skeleton of staff of overworked and underpaid nurses, doctors and other workers. Many put in long hours with for very little pay. Oxfam calls that heroic! We want these nurses and doctors to be seen for the heroes that they are.
Hugging a nurse shows that we appreciate the work these amazing people are doing despite these challenges – we are saying thank you! But people are also hugging to show that they want governments and international institution to invest in and support quality health care for all people.
Poor countries need 4 million more doctors and nurses. This serious shortage of health workers across the world is one of the biggest challenges to achieving health and development goals, and ultimately ending poverty. The crisis is stopping people getting the medicines and vaccinations they need. It is the reason why every minute one woman still dies in pregnancy or childbirth. This is a crisis that’s preventable with the right money provided to poor countries. That’s the money that will pay for more nurses and doctors as well as the medicines and medical equipment they need.
The campaign in the Netherlands has just started and already more than 7000 people have hugged a nurse – and there are far more who have pledged their support for our campaigning on health and education.
Check out these photos to see some hugging action!
And if you’re Dutch yourself, why not get involved in Oxfam Novib’s campaign and hug a nurse yourself!