Fighting Hunger and Poverty
“A lot of people are just as scared of dying of hunger as they are of COVID-19.” – Laté Lawson-Lartego, Director, Inclusive and Resilient Food Systems, Oxfam America
People around the world are feeling deep economic impacts of the pandemic. As the global economy suffers, access to markets is limited, and millions are left without steady income, experts are sounding the alarm that the world could soon face a hunger crisis of unprecedented scale.
Oxfam’s roots are in fighting hunger and poverty. Our response includes strengthening social protections through cash transfers and food assistance in 47 countries to ensure people are able to provide for themselves and their families.
Cash transfers help people meet their most pressing needs – whether that is paying for food, medicine, or rent – and keep cash flowing into local economies and small businesses. Where local markets are inaccessible or goods unavailable, we are also providing in-kind food assistance to people most at risk of going hungry.
In Kenya, Oxfam joined with the Kenya Red Cross and other partners in a pilot effort to combat food insecurity and extreme poverty in urban settlements with cash distributions to 1,504 families. The success of this small pilot helped secure additional funding from the European Union and the consortium is now scaling up the program to provide cash assistance to 20,000 urban families. In South Sudan, partners are making cash and food vouchers to nearly 1,072 households, and are also supporting 200 households with gardening supplies, seeds, and fishing kits to help people generate income and produce food for their families.
In South Sudan, even before the pandemic,over 60 percent of people faced crisis levels of hunger. Now partners are working with Oxfam to combat food insecurity in the face of COVID-19, which has disrupted food access and driven up prices, putting even more people at risk.We have provided cash grants to over 153,500 people, and have supported 200 households with gardening supplies, seeds, and fishing kits to help families produce food and generate income.
In Gaza, Oxfam is supporting small business owners with grants to keep their businesses open during lockdowns and is supplying workers with personal protective equipment so they can stay safe while generating income. Protecting livelihoods is vital to ensure people can provide food and other essentials for their families during a crisis.
Promoting Health and Hygiene
Basic protections are essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19 but are out of reach for much of the world. Social distancing is impossible in crowded refugee camps and slums. Essential workers in the US labor force stand shoulder to shoulder in food processing plants for minimum wages and cannot take paid leave if they are sick. Millions don’t have access to soap and water – much less hospitals and ventilators.
Partner organizations around the world are working with Oxfam to help communities access clean water, distribute supplies like soap, hand-sanitizer, and menstrual products, repair and install hand-washing and sanitation facilities, and share life-saving health and safety information in local languages. Our supporters have made it possible to rapidly launch these efforts quickly and effectively.
A few highlights include:
In Bangladesh, people are coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan on top of the growing COVID-19 outbreak. Our local partners have reached over 70,000 people with hygiene kits, and used radio, social media, and public announcements to share critical health information with 334,000 people. We are working with public health authorities to improve hand-washing facilities in refugee camps, creating a prototype with foot pedals to pump water and soap. Women and girl refugees contributed to the design to make the stations easier and safer to use, and partners and local health authorities are now working to install up to 600 of these stations across several refugee camps.
In Zimbabwe, a truck outfitted with public health information goes from town to town on an awareness roadshow, raising awareness about COVID-19 and staffed and encouraging social behavior changes. The roadshow has reached over 110,000 people.
In Puerto Rico, residents are still rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and were further impacted by a series of earthquakes in December and January. Partners such as VAMOS are applying Oxfam grants to purchase emergency supplies like food and personal protective equipment for families affected by the earthquakes, including the elderly and people still homeless after the earthquakes, to help protect them from the virus.