Posts tagged ‘for all’

After the horse-trading….

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.

Helen Palmer/Oxfam

Nyariga village, Ghana: boys playing in the cab of a truck. Nov 2004. Credit: Helen Palmer/Oxfam

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.


September 22, 2008 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

Accra Aid Forum: People’s voices missing

by Viriato Chevane, Advocacy Coordinator in Mozambique, Oxfam GB

Donors and aid recipient’s countries are not the only group interested in development aid. Again and again, civil society organizations from all over the world have been demanding a right to a say in the aid industry.

“Governments from developing countries are shamefully more accountable to donors than to citizens that have queued in poll stations to cast their votes to elect their leaders” – described some of the groups I met with during the civil society for better aid event in Accra.

In Mozambique the coordination of management of aid is done within the spirit of the Paris Declaration, and follows a model of transparency and mutual accountability.

This model is consolidated with the establishment of a memorandum of understanding between donors (the program aid partners) and government and every year the memorandum commitments are translated into concrete triggers associated to specific proposed indicators.

The role of civil society is not clearly defined in this government and donor’s partnership. The lack of internal laws that create space for civil society involvement in different stages of planning, including the budgeting cycle is a concern – describes the Mozambican civil society document for the Accra forum.

This lack of involvement of beneficiaries leads to problems in the definitions of priorities, countries are not growing, exit strategies are not envisaged and this perpetuates dependency. Is this the case to say donors are perpetuating sustainable developing countries?

Flint Duxfield

The group 'Better Aid' puts on a stunt to show how Aid hierarchy ties developing countries in knots - threatening progress towards effective aid and development. Oxfam is working with them to urge governments to make aid work better for people living in poverty. Credit: Flint Duxfield

September 3, 2008 at 1:51 pm 1 comment

One nation with one destiny

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.

Performers at opening of Civil Society Forum

Performers at opening of Civil Society Forum. Credit: Oxfam

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.

September 3, 2008 at 1:37 pm 3 comments

Hug a nurse

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!

Oxfam Novib

Hugging a nurse. Credit: Oxfam Novib

August 19, 2008 at 3:14 pm 2 comments

Oxfam on tour with Coldplay

by Pete Lusby, Oxfam Coordinator on Coldplay’s Tour

I’ve just come back from Quebec, Canada and America, where I’ve been organising Oxfam’s presence at Coldplay’s concerts. We’ve been campaigning on the For All campaign, asking the crowd to sign up to the For All Pledge.

We had some great nights. Montreal was an amazing show; the crowd were in full voice all night. The Oxfam Quebec volunteers worked tirelessly, signing up an amazing 1,887 people. In Toronto there were two amazing shows, and thanks to the efforts of the awesome Oxfam Canada volunteering team, almost 3,000 people signed the For All pledge.

I’m so pleased we’re part of this tour. Sitting amongst the road cases, blogging backstage. Or talking to people on the concourse, before they take their seats. Coldplay may well be stopping by in a town near you on this tour. It’s a show worth waiting for. There’s no reason to wait to get involved with Oxfam’s work, you can take action by signing the Pledge. To find out the latest from Coldplay’s tour, follow my blog.

Pete Lusby

Oxfam is on the road with Coldplay on their 2008 tour of North America & Europe. Credit: Pete Lusby

August 13, 2008 at 9:30 am 3 comments

Aid works!

The media often publishes one story after another arguing that giving aid to poor countries is a waste of money. It’s disappointing – not only is it untrue, more aid is urgently needed if the world is to have any chance to halve worldwide poverty by 2015.

In 2000 countries all over the world agreed to go for this goal and for seven other ‘millennium development goals’, such as getting all children to school, promoting gender equality and reducing child and maternal mortality.

Aid does work. Thanks to aid, in many countries more children go to school and more people have access to basic health services. In Tanzania for example between 2000-05 child mortality decreased by a third and the number of children going to school increased from 4.4 to 7.4 million. In 2004 alone, the government built 10 thousand classrooms and trained 10 thousand teachers. In Mali, the government stepped up investments in primary education and the number of children going to school increased from 38% to 51% between 2001-05.

Unfortunately, there are some occasion aid does get wasted. Sometimes this is because corrupt governments steal the money or use it to their own personal gain. But rich countries are also to blame. They often demand that poor countries implement economic policy conditions that can increase poverty. Or they require that poor countries spend the money given to them on expensive experts from rich countries.

That’s why Oxfam and other don’t just ask for more aid – we also ask for better aid. And at the same time, we support partners in poor countries that work hard to fight corruption.

In 2005 the richest countries in the world promised to double their aid by 2010. But for 2 years in a row, global aid is on the decline. European Ministers of Development are currently meeting to talk about aid to poor countries at the General Affairs and External Relations Council.

Oxfam was there to demand that rich countries will keep their promises, and give more and better aid to fight global poverty. We were there with Aidwatchers & GCAP Europe, and through our calculations we’ve estimated the the EU is currently a staggering €75 million short on the aid they promised.

If they fail to keep their promises, the aim of halving poverty by 2010 will be missed for sure. And that is no option.

Aidwatchers & GCAP Europe stunt outside the EU meeting

Aidwatchers & GCAP Europe stunt outside the EU meeting

May 29, 2008 at 2:17 pm 2 comments

Proven Public Solutions

by Louis Bélanger, Media Officer Oxfam International

Last Thursday we organised a successful panel at the World Bank meetings, to launch the For All campaign, and have a debate on the key messages with the heads of health and education at the world bank. It was clear that there are a lot of issues on which Oxfam and the World Bank agree:

  • the fact that rich countries should deliver the aid they promised,
  • that rapid progress is possible,
  • that education should be free and that education and health are the bedrock of economic growth and poverty reduction.

But it was also clear that there a lot of issues on which we disagree. In particular there is disagreement of the roles of the private and public sector in the provision of servcies. Oxfam’s research shows that an expansion of public provision of education and health by governments has been central to virtually all countries that have achieved rapid increases in education and health – countries like Sri Lanka, who despite being very poor have every child in school and a skilled nurse attending the birth of every child.

Despite this evidence the World Bank continues to think that the private sector has to be central to expanded services. Oxfam will continue to press for the World Bank to pursue proven public solutions instead, and this is a central message of our Health and Education For All campaign.

October 21, 2007 at 2:59 am Leave a comment

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