Oxfam has authored a new report that suggests that within the next 25 years Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft will become the first trillionaire in the world. Oxfam which works to put an end to global poverty and advocates against growing income inequality released a briefing paper which says that since 2015 the wealthiest 1 per cent of the world’s population is richer than the remaining 99 per cent. The paper also said that 8 men possess the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the world’s poorest half.
The economic model is not working
Oxfam uses these statistics to illustrate the fact that the present economic model disproportionately benefits the world’s wealthiest whilst doing very little for those who are poor. According to the study, Mr. Gates wealth was predicted using the average rate of growth of his investments which grew by an average of 11 per cent since 2009. If Mr Gates fortune continues to grow at this the rate, the world’s wealthiest person valued at US$75 billion could easily become a trillionaire if he lives to 86.
Taxation needs to be fairer
Mr Gates has pledged to do good with his money and has established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is also the founder of The Giving Pledge which is committed to getting the world’s wealthiest people to dedicate the majority of their fortunes to philanthropy. Despite Mr Gates decision to donate his wealth to charity, the study did highlight the fact that his fortune has expanded from US$ 50 billion to $75 billion in the ten years since he left Microsoft. Oxfam is also in agreement with Mr Gates when they say that whilst charitable donations are a good thing, they are no substitute for fair taxation.
Oxfam the charity whose goal is to reduce poverty has a new app for the iPhone that it hopes will rejuvenate donors who have grown tired of mailers a better insight into the organisation’s global operations. This comes at a time when most UK charitable operations are looking for new ways to solicit donations from the public. Overall charitable giving in Britain has fallen from £10.1 billion in 2015 to £9.6 billion last year. The results come from a report authored by the Charities Aid Foundation which also suggests that last year overall public trust in UK charities fell to an all-time low. The results are consistent with the downward trend in public giving.
hoping to change the way people see charities
Allegations of financial misconduct in the non-profit sector combined with high salaries of charity executives and fundraising tactics which have proven to be irritating were reasons those polled by the UK Charity Commission last year said giving had stagnated. Oxfam hopes this can be changed by bringing those who give closer to the charity value chain. The organisation wants to empower donors with a more efficient way to regulate giving. As a result, Oxfam has launched the My Oxfam smartphone app which enables users to monitor their donations and track, track sponsorship funds and respond quickly when there is a humanitarian crisis by making a donation.
“Charities are striving to meet the public’s demand for a closer, more modern and responsive relationship with the charities they support,” Paul Vanag, Oxfam’s head of fundraising said in a statement. “My Oxfam provides a window on to the lives changed by our supporters’ generosity and allows users to control their giving from the palm of their hand.”
Getting a better understanding of what Oxfam does
The designers of the app wanted to give users a better understanding of the work Oxfam actually does in the field. This means including video diaries produced by aid workers as well as testimonials from those that have benefited from the work Oxfam does. The app will also provide updates on what is going on with the latest humanitarian crisis as well as track funding pledges.
Leading charity Oxfam has warned that the situation in Yemen is dire with families finding it difficult to survive airstrikes and are facing starvation. Oxfam has called the situation “a perfect storm of suffering” and the entire country is suffering as the fighting has disabled a key port which is preventing the arrival of crucial shipments of food and fuel. According to the UN the number of vessels transporting vital loads to Yemen which has been ravaged by civil war for close to two years now has declined by 50 per cent in just a couple of months.
Fall in food deliveries dramatic
The fall in food and fuel deliveries has been dramatic and means that the fuel and food imports are at just a fraction of what is necessary for the country to survive and this is prompting fears of widespread famine. Oxfam is calling on the UK government to broker a peace deal in response to the crisis. The government has been accused of selling fighter jets and bombs to Saudi Arabia which have been used against civilians.
Millions could end up starving
It is estimated that eight million people in Yemen are already suffering from malnutrition with over 20 million facing starvation. Oxfam worries that the companies which import grain into Yemen will give up on the country because of the logistical and financial issues. Oxfam says that the possibility of widespread famine is a real and imminent threat. A spokesman for the aid agency says that the situation in Yemen is effectively a blockade and is making what is already a desperate situation even worse.
“Yemen is a country where 90 per cent of food is imported. If the importation of grain and other basics is halted, the consequences could not be clearer or more worrying. The country is enduring a perfect storm of suffering.”
Britain should broker peace
So far, the conflict has claimed more than 10,000 lives, 4000 of which are civilians. Three million people have been estimated to flee their homes. Both sides in the conflict have been accused of committing war crimes, however Oxfam says the British government has a moral duty to help broker a peace agreement after selling arms to Saudi Arabia that have been alleged to have been used in war crimes against civilians. The spokesman went on to add that the UK is sending aid to Yemen to mitigate the effects of war but simultaneously selling arms used to wage that war. Oxfam says the UK should not be an arms dealer in Yemen but instead act as a peace broker.
Britain’s biggest bookseller has made a pledge that it will donate £5 of each copy sold of its book of the month to Oxfam in order to help finance the charity’s work with refugees. Waterstones has chosen The Optician of Lampedusa written by Emma Jane Kirby as its book for November. The book is a work of non-fiction and is about a BBC journalist recounting the story of a migrant rescue effort following the destruction of their boat in the Mediterranean.
Reviews for the book have been positively glowing with critics describing it as “ambitious and important” and “a moving and unusual achievement”. The hard-back costs £9.99 of which the book seller will hand over £5 to Oxfam for each copy sold. Waterstones undertook a similar project in 2015 where it raised £1 million for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal.
Hopes to raise a lot of money
A year later and with the crisis in Syria continuing to escalate, Waterstone hopes it will be able to raise a significant amount of money for Oxfam with the sale of The Optician of Lampedusa. Typically, Waterstone’s says its books of the month sell anywhere between 20 to 30 thousand copies.
“Three years on from the terrible events recounted in The Optician of Lampedusa, the refugee crisis is ongoing as millions are forced to flee conflict, disaster and extreme poverty. In Italy, Oxfam is providing people with accommodation and essentials like clothes and food – as well as health and legal support. The money generously donated by Waterstones to Oxfam from sales of this book will enable us to help many more refugees.” Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said.
The author of the book Emma Jane Kirby said when the Optician of Lampedusa first recounted his story to her, she was haunted by it. She spent several nights dreaming it was her in his position instead, scrambling in the dark just to survive. She adds that she hopes readers will identify with this ordinary person who sets out on a journey to cross a see with friends and that they stay on board with optician as he seeks to steer his vessel towards the brutal reality that will shock everyone.
According to aid agency Oxfam, the wealthiest one per cent of the UK population own as much as 20 times the wealth of the poorest 20 per cent. This statistic makes the UK one of the most unequal countries in the western world and may be a major reason behind the Brexit vote Oxfam said. The data suggests that just 634,000 UK citizens were worth more than twenty times as the poorest 13 million and in response Oxfam is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to undertake policy which will narrow the gap between those who have and those who have not.
Inequality is astonishing
Oxfam’s report looked at data which came from the investment bank Credit Suisse and found the richest 10 per cent of UK citizens owned more than half of the country’s wealth. More astonishing was the fact that the top 1 per cent owned a staggering 23 per cent of the country’s wealth. In contrast the poorest 20 per cent own just 0.8 per cent of the UK’s wealth between them. The reports claims that vast swathes of the population felt they had no access to economic opportunity.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, the referendum brought divisions within our country to a head, with many people expressing distrust and disconnection with political processes and voting for change in the hope that it would improve their economic position,” Oxfam said.
Oxfam has welcomed the fact that Mrs. May has chosen to recognise the requirement to reform corporate culture and has suggested a number of measures that Oxfam believes the government should adopt. These include:
- Ensuring that workers are given more representation on company boards.
- Providing incentives to firms that encourage them to improve worker skill sets through training and education.
- Introduce a pay ratio of no more than 20 to 1. This would mean the highest paid person at a company earns no more than 20 times the income of the lowest paid person at the company.
- Dealing with corporate tax avoidance.
Oxfam’s Rachel Orr said that inequality is a massive obstacle in the fight against poverty and has produced an economy in which not all people can benefit. Whilst executive pay continues to rise, one in five are still living beneath the poverty line and are struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills. One way to tackle this is to end unscrupulous practices which means the government needs to reform the economy.
“That means closing wage gaps, incentivising investment in companies’ staff and making sure they pay their fair share of taxes,” Ms Orr said.
A spokesperson from Downing Street says the government is responding and made changes such as introducing the National Living Wage as well as undertaking reforms of the welfare system. The spokesperson did admit however, that that much more needs to be done both to help the poorest in the country as well as those families struggling to make ends meet.
According to the latest numbers, since the tragic drowning of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, refugee and migrant deaths have increased by more than 20 per cent. More than 5700 people have died on migrant routes globally in the last year. This despite the fact there was an international outcry when Alan’s body was found washed up on a beach following an attempt by his Syrian family to cross to Europe from Turkey. In the previous year before he died, there were 4664 recorded deaths said Oxfam which is running a crisis appeal for refugees.
General awareness is growing
Research conducted by Virtual Social Media Lab found that following the death of Alan, there was intense interest worldwide on the issue. In fact, there were four times as many tweets on the subject in the year following Alan’s death. Recent images of Omran Daqneesh who was pictured being pulled from the rubble covered in blood and dust in Aleppo also had a similar effect. Oxfam says this shows that the general public have some intense feelings about the violence which is forcing the refugees to flee.
Oxfam added: “Two major summits on the global refugee and migration crisis take place in New York later this month. The preliminary negotiations have been very disappointing, with many countries unwilling to do more to help, but the summits still offer the opportunity for governments to make firm commitments to improve the situation.”
Take in more refugees
Oxfam is urging the UK government to take in more refugees. Mark Goldring Oxfam chief executive said that the images which depict Alan Kurdi’s body washing up on shore were truly heart-breaking, and it was completely right for the images to induce shock and sadness amongst the general public. However, in the year since the incident took place, the situation for refugees and migrants has not improved, despite the fact they are risking everything for a better life, the routes have actually become even more deadly.
“To stop these needless deaths, we need a coordinated, global response to this crisis. The UK government has an opportunity to show it is part of the solution at the summits in New York later this month.” Mr. Goldring said.
A new report from Oxfam suggests that the six richest countries on the planet take less than one in eleven of the world’s refugees. The report shows that the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain and China whom put together account for over half the global economy accept less than nine per cent of refugees. Whilst it is true that Germany has accepted far more refugees than the other rich countries, there is still a huge gap with poorer countries shouldering most of the responsibility.
Poor countries shouldering most of the responsibility
The study claims that the six richest countries have accommodated 2.1 million asylum seekers and refugees. That is less than 9 per cent of the global total. The UK has taken in 169,000 refugees and asylum seekers which is less than 1 per cent of the world’s total. To put that into context, Turkey, Jordan, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lebanon and Pakistan between them have accommodated over half the world’s refugees despite the fact that their economies combined make up less than 2 per cent of the global economy.
Millions fleeing violence and conflict
As many as 65 million people have had to flee as a result of violence and conflict. 40.8 million have relocated within their own countries and 21.3 million are refugees. There are 3.2 million people awaiting asylum decisions. Those numbers are the highest on record. Whilst the civil war in Syria is a major source of refugees, people are also being forced to flee conflicts taking place in South Sudan, Burundi, Yemen and Iraq. Oxfam has been preparing for two major summits on the migration crisis and is urging governments to accommodate more refuges and do more to help poor countries that are shouldering most of the responsibility
“Many governments are turning their backs on the suffering of millions of vulnerable people who have fled their homes and shirking their duty to protect them. Thousands are risking their lives to reach a safe haven. Those lucky enough to survive often end up living in squalid conditions without enough clean water or food and face hostility, discrimination and abuse with too many governments doing little to help or protect them.” Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said.
Rich countries need to do their bit
Mr. Goldring adds that the migration crisis is complex and requires a coordinated global response. This means that the wealthier nations need to do their fair share and should host more refugees and make sure they are protected no matter who they are. He went on to say that the UK must show that it is both tolerant and open and will play its part in solving the crisis.
“It is shameful that as one of the richest economies the UK has provided shelter for less than one per cent of refugees.”
At present Oxfam is participating in more than 1000 projects globally. This is made possible only through the donations made by the general public. The key question that is often asked is whether Oxfam is actually making a difference and the organisation takes that question very seriously. Oxfam is constantly examining whether its work is really transforming lives. Oxfam is continuously looking to learn and improve so that it can have the biggest possible impact.
Evaluation is critical
Evaluating and monitoring of the work it does is critical to Oxfam. It enables the agency to understand what is working and where it can make improvements. It allows Oxfam the ability to share its knowledge and make more effective plans. It also ensures that Oxfam is accountable to everyone that is a stake holder including the general public who makes its work possible. Above all else, the evaluation of the work it does allows Oxfam to maximise the number of people it is helping as it seeks to achieve genuine and long lasting change.
Constantly looking in the mirror
Every year, Oxfam undertakes and publishes several impact evaluations. What the agency learns from them shapes its future projects. There is no single method that has the ability to asses all of Oxfam’s work. For example, the way a humanitarian response is evaluated is quite different from the way Oxfam’s work with farmers is assessed. This means Oxfam uses a number of evaluation tools that are specific to certain situations.
Learning from experience
For example, in Uganda Oxfam recently measured how effective it was in setting up a project that is designed to empower women to run their own small business and increase their income. The agency undertook a survey and collected data. That information was used to measure how women who benefitted from the project were more empowered compared to women who did not participate in the project. The results clearly showed the women that Oxfam worked with were better able to contribute to household income because they had better access to business loans.
Work made possible by the general public
Much more work needs to be done in order to improve women’s power to participate in big decisions at home and their control over household goods. Oxfam has learned from that example so that in future projects it will seek to help women ensure they are also heard at home as well. This is just a single example of how Oxfam is constantly seeking to improve on the work it does. It also ensures the donations made by the general public.
Oxfam says that Britain and other rich countries should sharply increase the number of refugees from Syria they take in. The aid agency would like as many as 10 per cent of Syrians that have been displaced by war resettled before the year ends. Oxfam announced its talks in advance of UN talks scheduled to be held in Geneva which are meant to focus on the crisis. So far just 1.4 per cent of refugees have been helped so far.
UK target not good enough
The UK has a target of resettling 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020 which Oxfam has said is simply not good enough. However, the British response has been to say that it is focusing on also providing aid to people living in the troubled region. The UK has pledged £2.3 billion in aid which is supposed to help the worst affected by the humanitarian crisis which has been caused by a five-year-old civil war in Syria. That would make the United Kingdom the world’s second largest bilateral donor after the United States.
Oxfam says that whilst no one can doubt the generosity of the British in providing financial aid to those that have been displaced by the civil war, the agency argues that the UK can and should do more. Oxfam says that rich countries should shoulder greater responsibility towards refuges than less wealthy nations such as Jordan and Lebanon where thousands of Syrians now live. The aid agency says that the conference in Geneva should produce “urgent solutions” for people trying to escape the violence.
Most vulnerable should be resettled
Oxfam took a close look at the pledges of 28 countries that are members of the OECD and signatories to the 1951 Convention on Refugees. According to Oxfam these countries have committed to take in nearly 130,000 refugees however so far only 67,000 have actually arrived. The 10 per cent target of Syrian refugees Oxfam would like rich countries to accommodate by the end of the year represents the proportion of refugees the UN says are the most vulnerable and in need of resettlement.
According to the analysis of data, Oxfam says that only Norway, Germany and Canada have made pledges to resettle refugees that exceed their fair share which is a measure based on the size of their economies. New Zealand Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Australia have pledged more than half their fair share whilst the UK is at 22 per cent and the US at just 7 per cent. Mark Golding Oxfam GB chief executive says that it was shocking that vulnerable people fleeing violence were not being provided a safe home.
In October the book world came together to try to raise £1 million for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal. From the start of October you will be able to purchase books written by some of the world’s best selling authors such as Salman Rushdie and Hillary Mantel from Waterstones. The books themselves have been donated by publishers and the full retail price will go to Oxfam as a donation.
Authors come out in strong support
Ian Rankin, author of the best selling Rebus books said it was wonderful to see the bookseller Waterstones combine with publishers and authors to raise cash to fund Oxfam’s work with refugees. The phrase buy a book and save a life never rang so true. Mark Haddon another author participating in the effort said he whole heartedly supports the Waterstones Buy Books for Syria campaign and made his comments whilst visiting the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan with Oxfam.
“With £1m our program could deliver clean water to another 150,000 people in Syria, or support to tens of thousands of people in Jordan over the next year. This help is urgently needed as the conflict in Syria shows no sign of ending.” Mark Goldring, CEO, Oxfam said.
You can help by buying a book to save a life
Waterstones put out the request for book donations and UK publishers and authors responded generously. You will be able to recognise the books that are participating in the drive because they will be stickered with ‘Buy Books for Syria’ and will be set up in special displays at all Waterstones shops.