Oxfam in West Africa
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About Us

Welcome to Oxfam in West Africa!

Ibrahim Billi and his cousin with their faces painted.

We are a development, humanitarian and campaigning organisation that works with a variety of partners to overcome poverty and suffering in the world.  Our work is based on the rights to which every human being is entitled. These rights include: social and economic rights, civil and political rights, and the right to life itself, free from fear and persecution. These rights are every person’s legal entitlement and are enshrined in international laws and conventions. But in practice many people are denied their rights because of the neglect or oppression of national governments, international institutions, or powerful groups. Depriving people of their rights forces them into poverty and can keep them there.

Oxfam GB’s programme seeks to address this vulnerability and to build the capacity of resilience of the poorest.  In West Africa, we save lives by responding swiftly to provide aid, support and protection during emergencies. We develop programmes and solutions aimed at empowering people to work their way out of poverty. We campaign to achieve lasting change.

Livelihoods and Resilience

Burkina Faso 2012

Most poor people in West Africa live in rural areas and rely on agriculture. Many people are affected by the impacts of climate change, erratic rainfall, droughts and floods, and yet investment in food production across the region is low. Governments often lack the resources or capacity to implement policies that will help poor communities adapt to their changing environment. In addition to directly supporting communities, Oxfam is working to create long-term and thinking at national, regional and global levels.

Oxfam GB is working for a world in which every person has enough to eat, a dependable income and the opportunity to be sustainably employed in dignified conditions. In West Africa, Oxfam GB’s strategy is to help communities improve their capacity to face external shocks, build their resilience to cope in difficult times, and give small farmers and pastoralists a greater voice within decision-making institutions. Oxfam also provides practical support to enable people to become stronger economic actors in local markets; promoting diversification of agricultural crops, teaching methods to adapt to changing environments, and creating wealth through income generating activities. In order to achieve lasting changes in people’s lives, Oxfam combines long-term work on livelihoods with advocacy and campaigning.

 Essential services


West Africa has the world’s lowest literacy and education levels and limited political participation, particularly for women. Oxfam recognises that access to good quality basic social services (education, healthcare, water and hygiene) is a crucial component in tackling poverty and inequality. The Essential Services work encompasses programmatic, advocacy and campaign perspectives.

Oxfam’s view is that governments in developing countries should be the main provider of high quality public services for all, and that these should be free at the point of delivery. Although NGOs can play a role, the primary responsibility for service provision lies with governments.

Saving lives by responding quickly to emergencies, providing aid ,support and protection


West Africa is a region affected by both chronic and acute food insecurity, and it is also facing political uncertainty and rising security challenges. The frequency of food crises in the Sahel region is increasing, with three major crises in just the last 8 years. This is mostly driven by intermittent rainfall, insufficient local harvests, and high food prices. As a result, people’s resilience has been eroded, undermining their capacity to respond. At its peak, the 2012 food crisis affected over 18 million people in Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Senegal and the Gambia. Oxfam GB worked with other Oxfam International affiliates in West Africa to provide support to some of those most affected by the crisis.

The humanitarian response


In 2012, the main focus of our humanitarian work was on the Sahel food crisis and the conflict in northern Mali that displaced around 450,000 people – both within Mali and to neighbouring countries: Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger. Oxfam also invested considerable efforts in managing the cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone and the floods in Niger.

Gender justice


Oxfam focuses on achieving equal rights for women and men, acting on the understanding that poverty affects women and men differently, and that the majority of people living in and suffering from poverty are women.Gender inequality is a major barrier to ending poverty. This is why we continue to work hard to end all forms of gender violence and promote the role of women in all our programmes. We do this by changing attitudes, and providing business opportunities and training to women.