Development agency’meets the media’ [Archives:2003/696/Community]

December 22 2003

Nadia al-Saqqaf
For the Yemen Times

Oxfam, is a charitable British non-governmental organization working to alleviate poverty and suffering amongst people around the world including Yemen. Last Thursday 17th of December 2003 Oxfam (GB) organized a media session. The session was chaired by the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (MEEECIS) Regional Director Mr. Adam Leach, who had been visiting the country, and was conducted by a number of Oxfam-Yemen staff and partners. A number of Oxfam beneficiaries and media people also attended the session.
In a press release that was disseminated to the audience Mr. Leach indicated the purpose of the session by saying:
''We've invited you to this briefing in order to explain our work here with our partner organisations and to tell you a little about Oxfam in its wider context.''
Oxfam was founded in Great Britain 61 years ago, to provide assistance to people suffering from famine during the Second World War.
Oxfam works to help poor people in more than 70 countries around the world n through its humanitarian, development and advocacy work. We have no religious affiliation and our work is driven by one consideration only n humanitarian and poverty needs

The Oxfam International has been formed which is a confederation of 12 Oxfam's working in different countries including Holland, Germany and Hong Kong, Bangladesh among others. Oxfam (GB) has been working in the Middle East since 1949 and we now have a strong programme across the region in the Palestinian Territories, in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen helping people get access to health and clean water, and improve their means of earning a living.
In his speech, Mr. Leach commended the Yemen program, led by Ms. Rajni Khana, Oxfam representative in Yemen. On Oxfam- Yemenis work debrief Ms. Magda El Sanousi, Program Coordinator, explained to the presence the programs that Oxfam is working on in
Yemen. Oxfam has been working in Yemen since 1983 when it responded to the Dhamar earthquake. From humanitarian response it has moved to supporting development work and is currently working through 23 partner organisations mainly from civil society organisations and also the government.
Oxfam in Yemen has 4 main programs, which are the Health program primarily focusing in Hadramout, the disaster preparedness program, the Gender Equality and ending violence against women program and the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) program through strengthening civil society involvement in the implementation and monitoring of the PRS. Oxfam's partners works in partnership with local governments such as the work of the Yemeni Women Union in Taiz in raising awareness of police, and judiciary on women's legal rights, as well as the work of SOUL with health facilities in Hadrmaut. Our relationship with partners is based on transparency, and trust around achieving one goal which is ending poverty and promoting social justice between women and men.
Four of Oxfam's partners attended the session and briefly explained their work and partnership with Oxfam focusing on technical and financial support that Oxfam made which contributed to achieving their objectives. Ms. Hooria Mashoor from the Women's National Committee, elaborated on Oxfam's support to the committee in particular in promoting women's needs in the PRS. Ms. Jamala al-Baidani of al-Tahadi Association for disabled females, elaborated on how the association, following Oxfam's program on PRS gained confidence and succeeded to integrate disabled women in the labour market in particular working for private sector. Ms. Nooria al-Khamiri from SOUL and Mr. Masood Hassan from Amer and Uqbi Association have also elaborated on the benefits gained from partnership with Oxfam.
Various questions were raised during the discussion round, and questions relating to Oxfam's work and programs were answered. When asked whether Oxfam is committed to Yemen, Mr. Leach confirmed that Oxfam considers Yemen as one of the important countries for development and is strongly committed to elevating poverty and suffering in Yemen. As he said, in the Yemeni context:
''Our focus is on improving access to health for the poorest women and men, empowering poor women and men, and marginalized groups to address and voice the different dimensions of poverty affecting them, as they feel it and the way they want to address it. Our partner organisations are also working with us to involve men in helping put women's rights back on the development agenda.''
But Oxfam aims not only to change things through our work on the ground. It also believes that it can influence decision-makers at national, regional and global levels through campaigning work. Oxfam is currently campaigning at global level on issues including access to education, the need for conflict resolution and trade.
On what is different about Oxfam from other international organisations working in humanitarian and development issues, Ms. Khanna Country Program Manager of Oxfam in Yemen pointed out that in addition to working at both the community and national level Oxfam also works through influencing global institutions for policies in favour of the poor.
''Whatever the country, Oxfam's aim always remains the same – to tackle poverty through bringing about change. We want to improve the quality of people's day-to-day lives n and we do this in many different ways.'' A. Leach Oxfam's MEEECIS Regional Director