Poverty endures in the US, trapping millions of people without hope of mobility for themselves or their children. In such a wealthy nation, the injustice of the divide is that much more keen – and unnecessary. Oxfam's US programs focus on that injustice, and offer pragmatic solutions to chronic problems.
In the US we have two programs: strengthening vulnerable communities in the Gulf Coast through recovery and restoration, and supporting farmworkers in efforts to win better working conditions, wages, and rights.
Oxfam in the United States
Oxfam has been working in the US since 1992. The program recognizes that poverty is not confined to other countries; it is systemic in the US as it is throughout the world.
Oxfam believes that working to expose the causes of poverty in the US—racism, gender discrimination, denial of rights, and unjust policies—will provide insights into the systems that perpetuate poverty around the globe. As well, as our world becomes smaller and the economy extends throughout the globe, our solutions must encompass factors all along the way – both in the US and abroad.
Gulf Coast Recovery and Restoration
In recent years, the people and the environment of the Gulf Coast have endured a series of terrible blows. When the BP oil spill hit in 2010, coastal communities were still reeling and recovering from several devastating hurricanes – Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav. These events destroyed homes and businesses, battered wetlands, and decimated fishing beds and oyster reefs.
They also provided a glimpse of what the future could look like if we don’t invest in restoring the
environment and building more resilient, sustainable communities. Oxfam America has deep roots in
and long ties to communities in Mississippi and Louisiana, and we’ve been proud to work with people to recover, restore, and rebuild.
Roughly 80 percent of US counties that experience persistent poverty are located in the five Gulf states, and it is the poor who suffer disproportionately when disaster strikes.
Oxfam‘s Gulf Coast program combines financial support to key partner organizations with on-the-ground technical support as it focuses on addressing long-standing regional issues, including coastal restoration and economic development based on green jobs.
Oxfam also plays a critical role in making sure that the billions of dollars in fines that will result from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be directed to the region, and will play the best possible role in restoring the environment and the economy. Oxfam is collaborating with groups at federal and state levels to make sure the people most affected will benefit from the new restoration economy.
Oxfam brings a special perspective to efforts to restore the Gulf: we care about the people who live and work on the lands and water, while we appreciate the incredible resources and beauty of the environment.
Farm labor remains among the most unhealthy and underpaid occupations in the US, with a largely immigrant workforce that has been marginalized and exploited for decades. For years, Oxfam has worked with organizations advocating for the rights and welfare of farmworkers in the US. We support efforts to improve working and living conditions, raise wages, win the right to organize, and raise the voices of the men and women who work in the fields.
Oxfam is partnering with farmworker advocates on a new initiative that has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmworkers. The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) brings together stakeholders across the produce supply chain to build a set of fair and verifiable standards for a certification system that will guarantee decent wages, safe and dignified work environments, and freedom from discrimination. It will also enhance food safety and environmental sustainability.
As well, Oxfam supports campaigns by groups such as the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) to rally support for their human rights. A 2011 study found that farmworkers in the tobacco agricultural system in North Carolina suffer inhumane conditions.