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Our work

We believe that people are their own liberators as such they have the ability to create their own destinies. Given an enabling social, economic and political environment they can transform their societies. We believe that government must build a conducive environment through policies, laws, responsive institutions, responsible and transparent fiscal management, consultative governance processes and other measures, supporting people to self-actualise and live in a society that affirms their rights and dignity. We also believe that corporations are institutions based within communities and they operate and succeed through economic and social interaction with these communities. They therefore have an obligation to operate with transparency, uphold human rights, and contribute in building a fairer society for all. It is this multiplicity of actors, and intertwined relationships of power and interests, that Oxfam South Africa seeks to mobilise and unlock in pursuit of its Vision and Mission.

What is poverty

“Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation”, United Nations, 1998.

Whilst specific and targeted, our interventions are based on an expanded definition of poverty with a social justice approach.
The following set of beliefs underpin our work:

  • Poverty is multilayered and is about power. Inclusion, participation, and voice or lack thereof, determines people’s poverty status.
  • Poverty and Inequality are two sides of the same coin. Systemic responses to poverty must address Inequality
  • People are their own liberators. Given an enabling social, economic and political environment, they can create own destinies and transform their societies.
  • Organised people, empowered with tools, political space, resources, critical knowledge about the interlocking systems of power that produce and reproduce poverty and inequalities, and working together for ground-up alternatives, can build emancipatory power to end poverty and build just and equitable societies.
  • Governments are duty-bearers accountable to people. They must build a conducive environment through policies, laws, responsive institutions, responsible and transparent fiscal management, consultative governance processes and other measures, supporting people to self-actualise and live in a society that affirms rights and dignity. Governmental stewardship includes regulating and holding corporate power accountable.
  • Corporate accountability is a matter of obligation, not charity. Corporations are institutions based within communities. They operate and succeed through economic and social interaction with these communities. They have an obligation to abide by stipulated laws, with transparency, must uphold human rights and contribute to building a fairer society for all.

Our  role is to contribute to fundamental change, the search for lasting, systemic solutions to poverty, rather than dispensing charity.

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