OXFAM is known to hundreds of millions throughout the world. The multinational charity and NGO works in 99 countries and, with an overall global income of more than 300 million pounds sterling, it’s a truly international player on the world stage.
It began in its very first form in Oxford, England – it’s still there – almost 70 years ago, with Canada becoming the first of its overseas affiliates in 1963.
The affiliates now number 15 and growing. They carry out a global programme to alleviate poverty, suffering and injustice, to champion human rights and fair trade.
As an NGO in Cambodia, Oxfam works as an international relief and development organisation in communities, especially in poor and remote areas. It was one of the first to enter the Kingdom in 1979, when it brought humanitarian aid to those who had survived the Khmer Rouge.
Oxfam works primarily in partnership with governments and civil society, not only on humanitarian response, but also development agendas including agriculture, climate change, land, forestry, fisheries, water and sanitation, access to finance, governance, workers’ rights and with an emphasis on empowering women and the protection of human rights.
“At Oxfam, we put the Cambodian people, their organisations, their communities, their unions, their local associations, and NGOs, at the centre of our work. We rely on the knowledge and insight of local communities so they can address the causes of poverty themselves,” says Pauline Mulder, Oxfam country leader for Cambodia.
“We support organisations to build on their own ideas, aspirations and capabilities. They are looking at alternatives to improve their living conditions but are also able to claim their basic rights like food, essential services, decent work and participation in decisions affecting their lives.”
In Cambodia, there are eight Oxfam affiliates who work with about 50 partner organisations and the government, reaching all 24 provinces. Oxfam provides financial and technical support to these local partners, strengthening the effectiveness of these organisations to deliver projects with positive results for poor communities.
Dame Barbara Stocking is Oxfam’s Great Britain executive director. During a visit to Cambodia last month to meet government ministers, development partners, NGO leaders and Oxfam partners, as well as visit Oxfam GB field projects, she said that since her last visit in 2002, she had seen outward signs of economic progress.
“In countries with such a rapid pace of development and urbanisation, there are usually the attendant issues around land, leading to displacement of communities and growing levels of inequality between urban and rural populations,” Stocking said.
“Oxfam GB in Cambodia has helped the Royal Government of Cambodia in developing the Land Law as well as other related initiatives and legislations.
“We have been working with, and supporting, the Ministry of Land Management and local NGOs to help ensure that communities, especially those living in poverty, are aware of their land rights.
“Oxfam has also been supporting the development and implementation of the Community Forestry Programme of the government, as part of the National Forestry Programme of the Royal Government of Cambodia.”
Oxfam GB was one of the early NGOs in Cambodia. It operates a community development programme that comprises several projects, including micro-credit, community organisation, community-based natural resources management, health and sanitation, and education. It works with several local NGOs.
During the 1990s, Oxfam began work on creating strong and supportive civil-society institutions. This approach still characterises its programme in Cambodia today, and the livelihoods programme is central to this work, because the livelihoods of poor rural people are heavily dependent on access to natural resources, especially land, fisheries and forests.