Just Focus » Oxfam
adobe indesign database Buy Adobe Illustrator CS5 for Mac OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe creative suite 3 contents adobe photoshop cs upgrade windows Buy Adobe Illustrator CS5 OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe indesign cs2 warez adobe indesign free downloads Buy Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection OEM - Online Software Downloads Center open sourc corel draw adobe illustrator adobe photoshop free online tutorial Buy Adobe Flash Professional CS5 for Mac OEM - Online Software Downloads Center fonts for adobe photoshop cs adobe creative suite 2 Buy Adobe Flash Professional CS5 OEM - Online Software Downloads Center purchase adobe photoshop cs2 transparent colour gif in adobe photoshop Buy Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended for Mac OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe indesign cs palettes adobe photoshop and not elements cs Buy Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 for Mac OEM - Online Software Downloads Center oem adobe photoshop cs2 download adobe photoshop 7.01 Buy Adobe InDesign CS5 for Mac OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe indesign xml adobe photoshop 6 upgrade Buy Adobe InDesign CS5 OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe cs3 keygenerator dreamweaver adobe illustrator tutorials post cards Buy Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection for Mac OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe photoshop black and white images adobe creative free photo suite Buy Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe illustrator course outline adobe photoshop elements 5.0 photo editing Buy Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended OEM - Online Software Downloads Center adobe cs3 photoshop oem

Posts Tagged ‘Oxfam’

How much is too much?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

By William Zhang

Have you ever turned on the six o’clock news, only to tune out a few minutes later, thinking “oh, not again… another gloomy story about disaster and destruction”? If so, you’ve experienced compassion fatigue.

hurricane-tvCompassion fatigue occurs when we get tired of seeing images of suffering in the news and TV, images like the ‘millions left homeless after their homes were destroyed’ or the ‘child who now has to walk for two hours a day just to get clean drinking water’. Heartbreaking stuff isn’t it? Yet, as we see more and more of these images on TV and the news, they start to lose their impact on us.

Many people, and some aid agencies, are worried that the world may experience mass compassion fatigue following the cyclone in Myanmar and earthquake in China. Before we look into the effects of this, it’s important to ask, why exactly does it occur? Compassion overdose?

As humans, we can only tolerate so many stories about pain and suffering before we experience compassion fatigue and tune out. We aren’t capable of constantly feeling pity, sadness or empathy. Compassion fatigue is like our body’s defence mechanism to cope with a ‘compassion overload’.

We develop a resistance to these stories of suffering. We get so used to seeing them we actually DON’T see them anymore. We become less likely to react or respond to them so that we don’t become too emotionally drained.

Its too much!!un-helicopter
As these stories lose their impact on us, we become less likely to respond by giving or donating to charities and relief funds. The amount of humanitarian relief organisations like the Red Cross, Tear Fund or Oxfam, are able to provide declines as a result. Humanitarian relief is needed because many countries don’t have enough resources themselves to respond to emergencies and strife.

A striking example of world-wide compassion fatigue occurred in 2004 and 2005. Within the period of a year, the world was forced to deal with the Boxing Day tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Pakistan; three huge natural disasters which led to a compassion overload. As a result, “we saw a tremendous outpouring of support for the tsunami and less support for the emergencies which followed”. (Eileen Burke, Save the Children)

What (or who) is to blame?
Media coverage of poverty, suffering or natural disasters hugely influences society. They direct our attention to important events, conflicts and disasters, but they can also swamp us with information and images to the point where we switch off.

darfurmarthaObviously, a lack of media coverage isn’t too good. The media has been criticised for not devoting enough attention to the genocide in Darfur for example, so people knew very little about the situation or the amount of aid and relief needed. According to a Tyndall Report (which monitors the news in the US), in 2004 the Darfur genocide received only 18 minutes of coverage on ABC News, 5 minutes on NBC and 3 minutes on CBS. That’s the total for the entire year! In contrast, Martha Stewart (celebrity author, editor and homemaker) received 130 minutes of news coverage.

However, too much coverage can also be equally as devastating. Media saturation of images and stories about suffering and destruction is a major cause of compassion fatigue.

It’s a delicate balance
The gap between too little and too much media coverage is a very thin line, with ignorance on one side and compassion fatigue on the other. Either way, if the fine balance between the two isn’t kept, people could suffer as a result.

Control of this delicate balance is in the hands of the world’s media corporations. Pretty important job huh? Should we actually trust a few media companies for this crucial role though? Sure, they have a role to play, but in reality, we should be taking the initiative ourselves. So, the next time you see that story on TV about the relief efforts in Myanmar, don’t switch off. Just think, you might have the choice not to see images of such tragedies, but for the people involved, these images reflect their everyday reality.

Check out the Take Action section for other things you can do to fight compassion fatigue.


4 quick steps to combat compassion fatigue:

  • For a breath of fresh air and a new perspective on things, check out one of many alternative news sources like the ones mentioned in the Learn More section.
  • Chat with your friends about an important issue that’s been on the news and find out what they think.
  • Get involved! Schools often have Amnesty International groups, or you could volunteer to help collect donations for a relief fund. You’ll become informed about the issue, help out in supporting it, and have fun at the same time.
  • If you do want to donate money, do your research and choose an organisation whose work you really want to support.


Go to the Council for International Development for details on how you can help in disasters and emergencies www.cid.org.nz
Check out these alternative news sources. www.oneworld.net, www.globalissues.org, www.guerrillanews.com, www.indymedia.org.nz

    This article was originally published in the Global Focus pages of Tearaway Magazine.


    Monday, December 3rd, 2007

    By Pip Bennett

    Four months after I had first submitted my application to become an Oxfam International Youth Partner (OIYP) I was informed that I was one of the 300 youths from around the world that had been chosen from over 3000 applications to join the programme.

    kaleidoscopeOIYP is a three year programme, which aims to build the capacity of the Action Partners (the name given to Youth Partners) by providing us with support and resources, and creating opportunities for dialogue, networking and learning. Our first opportunity came in October this year at Kaleidoscope, a festival where all of the Action Partners come together in Sydney, for nine days of workshops, dances, performances, art, theatre and meeting a zillion new people.

    Arriving in Sydney airport, we made our way to meet the Oxfam volunteers in charge of taking us to the school. We chatted with youth from Iraq and Lebanon about the war and George Bush, which was quite humourous at times because of the jokes they told expressing their feelings about Bush and his administration. Throughout the week, the situation in Iraq was certainly a feature of many discussions with many of the youth asking those from the region for their local perspective, and it seemed that the consensus was that it was detrimental to pull out U.S forces, whether or not they should have gone in the first place.

    We stayed at the oldest school in Australia, the prestigious Kings School, in Parramatta and were divided into various dorm houses. I was one of only three non-Muslim girls to stay in the Muslim side of my house. They tried to keep them separate in order to stop disturbing other non-Muslim participants while they got up early for Ramadan. Staying in this dorm was an excellent experience. Over the week I had many opportunities to discuss various topics, including religion, Islam extremists, and terrorism. The sharing of beliefs and experiences was enlightening, particularly because I have found few opportunities like this back home. There were participants from about 90 countries, from all over the world, Canada, the U.S, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Spain, Chile, and Honduras, just to name a few!

    Darug PeopleThe welcoming ceremony took place on the first night, hosted by the Darug people, the indigenous people of the area. There was Aboriginal song and dance, which was responded to by various groups such as Aotearoa New Zealand, Bangladesh, India, and First Nations of the Americas. It was an incredible start to the event, and was at times very emotional.

    The official opening ceremony was held on the Tuesday night, at the Carriage Works performance venue. It was a show by youth from the Australian Theatre for Young People and some members from Cirque du Soliel which had been inspired by world affairs and our applications for OIYP. Amongst other things, there was singing, acrobatics, and a young woman carefully balancing an spinning umbrella on her feet whilst lying backwards and upside-down on a chair.

    WorkshopDuring the week there were six plenary sessions, along with around fifty workshops, some of which were led by Action Partners. Some of the workshops were only two hours long, while others were four hours over two days. Topics ranged from project management, indigenous rights, land rights, to access to health, access to education, gender and equality, gender and sexuality, and using photography and film. They were helpful, although complaints arose due to their brevity and lack of international or easily transferable context. A complaint from the Latin Americans was that there was too great a focus on Western culture and issues, rather than a diverse representation

    There were a significant number of Spanish speakers from Spain, and Latin America, with many of them unable to speak much, if any, English. A significant proportion of Oxfam volunteers could speak Spanish, and were used during workshops as translators or at the help desk. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about Latin America, however, there were difficulties in meeting and talking with the participants outside of workshops because of the lack of linguistic understanding.

    One of the special things about OIYP was the support of indigenous participants, in particular the availability of an indigenous Australian who acted like a mentor, as well as a space available for Indigenous people to meet and discuss issues, the Indigenous Forum. Being non-indigenous myself, I was invited to attend the Indigenous Forum, which was an unforgettable experience. I heard unnerving stories, particularly from the Americas, where indigenous people are constantly ignored and their identity denied.

    Kaleidescope ArtWe had several opportunities to explore Sydney, predominantly in the evenings, although we did have one free afternoon. Many of us went to a salsa club on Friday night and some gay clubs on the Saturday. Art and dance was a significant part of Kaleidoscope, with Oxfam wanting to explore the power of various forms of art as a tool for development. There were large canvases for painting, dance, song, beat-boxing performances, all with opportunities to try it yourself. A particular highlight for me was watching dancers from Brazil, along with Capoeira performers.

    At the end of the nine days in Sydney, although ready to return home, we were all sad to leave. The opportunity to spend time with other young people with similar dreams and goals proved to us that we are not alone in our desire to see change in the world. The one thing that we keep telling each other is that this is only the beginning of our next three years as Action Partners, and that if we want to see change, we have to do it ourselves.


    For more information on OIYP, check out www.iyp.oxfam.org
    For more information about Oxfam and their work, check out www.oxfam.org

    All photos from Oxfam International, more here.

    What’s wrong with the G20’s neo-liberal agenda?

    Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

    Omar Hamed

    anti-capitalism signThe premier item on the G20’s agenda at it’s next meeting in Melbourne, in November 2006, is the reform of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Fifty Years is Enough Network describe them as two US-controlled institutions that for the last fifty years have been,

    “imposing economic austerity policies in the countries of the so-called “Third World” or “global South.” Once Southern countries build up large external debts, as most have, they cannot get credit or cash anywhere else and are forced to go to these international institutions and accept whatever conditions are demanded of them. None of the countries has emerged from their debt problems; indeed most countries now have much higher levels of debt than when they first accepted IMF/World Bank “assistance.”(1)

    The IMF and World Bank have been under pressure from a number of different corners in recent years, including the Argentinean uprising (between 2001 and 2002), mass mobilisations across the planet against neo-liberalism, and campaigns for the rich nations and these international finance institutions to drop the debt’ that many developing nations owe them.

    The IMF is losing its grip over much of the developing world with Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Uruguay and Turkey seeking to pay back their loans as fast as possible, and high global commodity prices which have cut the IMF’s outstanding debt from over $70bn in 2003 to currently just over $20bn.(2) With the legitimacy of the Bretton Woods consensus under fire, and more and more nations refusing to take up its loans, the rich nations will be seeking a way to prolong the new world disorder they seek to build via the Washington consensus However, the iron grip of the IMF remains on many poor nations, such as Papua New Guinea, who are forced into “liberalising their economies and reducing social spending” by the IMF and World Bank. (3)
    hand holding dollars
    Barry Coates, the executive director of Oxfam New Zealand wrote that, “Because of its debts, Papua New Guinea has few resources to fund HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care… HIV infections are increasing by up to 50 percent per year and, if the epidemic follows the path of Zimbabwe, by 2020 the working age population in PNG will be 40 per cent smaller than it is today.”(4)

    Oxfam and the Make Poverty History coalition think that if debt relief was offered to all 62 developing countries that need full debt cancellation to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) then progress will have been made. However, many of us who will hit the streets in Melbourne in December 2006 to protest against the G20 believe that the IMF and World Bank cannot be reformed, and that because of the stranglehold that the United States has over these institutions, the only way forward is to abolish both the World Bank and IMF, for developing nations to stop repaying their loans and for a new and fair institution to be set up to manage loans to nations.

    As Global Exchange points out, “voting power at the World Bank and IMF is determined by the level of a nation’s financial contribution. Therefore, the United States has roughly 17% of the vote, with the seven largest industrialized countries (G-7) holding a total of 45%.” (5)

    The WTO straightjacket’

    The G20’s agenda of neo-liberalism and privatisation has been accurately described as “capitalism with the gloves off”. The G20 is pursuing neo-liberal economic reforms across the world, particularly in vulnerable developing nations such as those in the Pacific. Australia, aided by New Zealand, is working towards a free trade area in the south Pacific, while the European Union is seeking to impose free trade agreements with its former colonies and could, with its economic power, very easily crush Pacific economies through its Economic Partnership Agreements’. Add into this the predatory behaviour of many of the G20 nations in the WTO and World Bank towards developing nations and you have a very disturbing picture painted of many of the G20 nations acting in an imperialist nature as each seeks to carve out its own slice of the world.

    The WTO aims to fit nations into a straightjacket of privatisation and deregulation which, in reality, will be dominated by corporate power and characterised by a loss of indigenous sovereignty and the “marginalisation and impoverishment of vulnerable sectors of populations”, as the nation-states involved move towards full compliance with the World Trade Organisation’s neo-liberal trade regime. (6)

    The recently averted accession to the WTO by Tonga demonstrates the disastrous consequences that joining the WTO has for developing nations. Oxfam New Zealand, in its report, Blood from a Stone, exposed the reality of Tonga’s accession. Tonga will be allowed tariffs at no more than 20%, resulting in tariff cuts that are expected to “affect Tonga’s ability to provide basic health care, education, water supply and other essential services for its people.” (7)

    “What can we do? We can re-invent civil disobedience in a million different ways. In other words, we can come up with a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass.” (Arundhati Roy)

    Neo-liberalism must be stopped. Subcomandante Marcos of the Mexican Zapatista movement said: “what the Right offers is to turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here, women there…”
    police and protestors
    The only way to a humane and fair world where global poverty really is history is to mobilise people, especially young people and students, to struggle for a better world and against the corporate agenda that will be promoted at the G20. Our, and everyone else’s, future is not for sale. We will join forces to resist the rule of the market, the cutting of social spending, deregulation, privatisation and the global push to make us forget about that thing called “community”. (8)

    In December 2006, we will dance through the streets of Melbourne to oppose the G20 and the World Bank and IMF and the stooges of imperialism, like Paul Wolfowitz, that run them.

    “Against the single economic blueprint where the market rules, we represent diverse, people-centred alternatives. Against the monoculture of global capital, we demand a world where many worlds fit…
    Resisting together, our hope is reignited: hope because we have the power to reclaim memory from those who would impose oblivion, hope because we are more powerful than they can possibly imagine, hope because history is ours when we make it with our own hands.” (9)

    (3) Oxfam’s Questions and Answers on Debt
    (4) Drop the Debt by Barry Coates
    (5) Global Exchange : World Bank / IMF Questions and Answers
    (6) Professor Jane Kelsey, A People’s Guide to PACER, Commissioned by the Pacific Network on Globalisation, Suva, August, 2004.
    (7) Oxfam International Briefing Note, Tonga: Blood from a Stone, December 15, 2005.
    (8) Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcà­a, What is “Neo-Liberalism”? A Brief Definition, February 26th, 2000.
    (9) Notes from Nowhere, We are Everywhere, 2003, London.


    Read Omar’s other article on the G20, and about why he plans to protest against the G20 in Melbourne, Get Up! Stand Up! Say No to the G20

    Global exchange
    Focus on the Global South
    Fifty Years is Enough
    Oxfam New Zealand
    Make Poverty History

    The Fourth World War!
    The Take
    (both available to borrow from the Just Focus library)

    No Logo” by Naomi Klien
    “Empty promises : the IMF, the Word Bank, and planned failures of global capitalism”


    Ethical business - an impossible dream?

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

    Corinna Howland

    Money and morals. It appears that, in a capitalist society, you have to sacrifice one for the other. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Or coffee for that matter.

    So how can we bring the two together? matt lamason testing coffeeMatt Lamason, 27, founder of Peoples Coffee in Wellington, seems to have hit on the magic formula. His business sells only fair-trade coffee, which means that the coffee beans are sourced directly from growers who pay their employees a fair wage, “The fair trade mark sets a base wage for coffee growers, which means that the growers have extra money in the hand… ethiopian childrenThis means that they will have a better standard of living, better buildings, a chance at an education for themselves and their children. Basically fair-trade means a better deal for the people who produce the coffee”, Matt says.

    Fair Trade items are easily recognizable by the fair-trade logo on the back of the packet, which ensures that the product is produced in accordance with Fair Trade ideals, namely a fair wage (enough money to live on and to accrue savings), good working conditions and sustainability.
    matt lamason with growers in ethiopia
    What is Fair Trade?
    The concept of Fair Trade was formulated in the early nineties, and is becoming recognizable world-wide, through campaigns such as Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair, and more recently the Chocolate Kisses campaign. (For more information, see www.oxfam.org). Despite these efforts, in Matt’s opinion, Fair Trade in New Zealand is still viewed as an alternative or left-wing’ phenomenon, “I think Fair Trade is still associated with bleeding heart liberals or extreme lefties”.

    However, through Fair Trade companies such as Peoples Coffee, consumers are being given options that they have not been given before. It is the consumer’s ability to choose Fair Trade coffee that has set this company apart from the rest.

    Although the idea of so-called ethical business’ is not new, with established companies such as Trade Aid on the scene for more than a decade, Peoples Coffee is the first home-grown fair-trade business of its kind in New Zealand. Since its opening, Peoples Coffee has enjoyed a steadily-growing customer base, which Matt attributes to increased consumer-consciousness, “Customers do want to know where their products are coming from, which is extremely powerful. sorting green coffee beansAt this stage however, New Zealand is ten to twelve years behind the UK in terms of consumer-consciousness”. Although currently only in a fledgling state in New Zealand, consumer-consciousness has meant that there is a growing market for Fair Trade products, which is great for Matt’s company.

    So, how has Peoples Coffee managed to remain ethical and yet still turn a profit? Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding, “At the end of the day, people want a great espresso. For some customers Fair Trade is a bonus, but if the coffee was shite, people would not be coming here.”


    Peoples Coffee
    Trade Aid
    Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand FTAANZ


    • buy Fair Trade coffee — available at the Peoples Coffee Roastery in Constable Street, Newtown, Wellington and at various cafés around the country — find out where from FTAANZ
    • buy your coffee (and chocolate, and other items) from Trade Aid
    • ask your favourite café to sell Fair Trade certified coffee
    • join Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign by signing up on their website
    • get involved in the upcoming Just Focus Fair Trade Chocolate campaign
    • start your own ethical business!

    ethiopian woman doing coffee ceremony

    Photos kindly provided by Matt Lamason.

    Neo-colonialism ratified at Pacific Islands’ Forum

    Friday, November 4th, 2005

    Omar Hamed

    Today Pacific Island nations at the Pacific Island Forums have welcomed and endorsed the Pacific Plan, a blueprint for neo-colonialism in the south Pacific.


    The Governments of Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, and representatives of Palau and Tonga. New Caledonia, French Polynesia Timor-Leste and Tokelau endorsed the Pacific Plan which is mainly based around implementing a number of trade liberalisation agreements notably Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER).

    Professor Wadan Narsey, the Director of Employment and Labour Market Studies at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji has a good and brief summary of these different agreements in the Pacific Magazine.

    Particularly concerning was the news that Pacific leaders have adopted a roadmap that paves the way for, “Expansion of market for trade in goods under the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA), the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), and through trade arrangements with non-Forum members.

    • Integration of trade in services, including temporary movement of labour, into the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) and the Economic Partnerships Agreement (EPA).” A clear reference to WTO GATT and GATS agreements.

    The recent round of talks this week has angered some NGOs concerned at the speed with which these trade agreements are taking place. Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, Lagi Toribau said in a press release at the end of the conference that “Despite the rhetoric about security in the Plan, it currently fails to deliver true security for Pacific Island communities, such as health, food and real energy security”.

    Oxfam New Zealand Executive Director, Barry Coates was at a meeting of civil society groups in Papua New Guinea to launch a report on Vanuatu’s accession to the World Trade Organisation called “Make Extortion History” and to seek a freeze on trade negotiations. He said on the Oxfam website that “Small Pacific countries have much less to gain than most other nations from joining the WTO, due to factors like the wide dispersal of their populations and the great distances to markets. They of all countries should be allowed to try and find ways to use international trade as a means to enhance their development. Instead, they are subjected to intense pressure to open up their economies for the benefit of foreign exporters and multinationals.”

    Oxfam New Zealand have been watching the Pacific Plan for some time now and their report “Make Extortion History” and a number of Pacific focused reports about the effects of economic deregulation and New Zealand’s extortion in the pacific are available online.

    Although NGOs wanted more time and more consultation John Howard and Helen Clark pushed through the Pacific Plan. “I believe the work that is being done to build a region-wide consensus about what the priorities are will in turn then influence national plans and give people guidance on how to take that development further,” stated Clark pushing ahead priorities that Professor Jane Kelsey has linked with a strategy of colonialism and exploitation in the South Pacific. Kelsey in her reader friendly A PEOPLE’S GUIDE TO PACER, The Implications for the Pacific Islands of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations points out that “Pacific people were excluded from debating these developments because of the secretive way that trade negotiations are conducted and the willingness of governments to buy into that anti-democratic process. Regional NGOs, especially PANG, challenged the lack of transparency and‚ civil society input when they discovered what was happening in 2001. Their voices were ignored.”

    Kelsey has also been involved in a number of other studies of recolonisation in the Pacific and her major reports concern the Economic Partnership Agreements and PACER.

    Dev-Zone, an Aotearoa NGO resource Centre on international trade and development, and the Global Education Centre’s sister organisation, has a number of different resources available on their website concerning trade in the Pacific.

    In the lead up to the Hong Kong WTO conference in December Kelsey has said in a press release for the Action, Research & Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA) that, “Those of us whose governments are making these outrageous demands (through PACER, PICTA and the WTO) need to find ways to challenge their role in that process.” Kelsey further highlights the need for sustained campaigning around the WTO conference in regards to the behaviour of the WTO and the role New Zealand and Australia play in the South Pacific.

    For further articles about the Pacific Plan check out Arena and Scoop.

    This Article and Photos were published on Indymedia on October 28, 2005.

    Oxfam’s campaign for fair trade

    Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

    Nicole Mathewson

    What do Chris Martin (Coldplay), Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Antonio Banderas and Alanis Morrisette have in common with a sack of corn? Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign. Corn is one of the exports being dumped on celebrities’ heads to draw attention to the unfair trade practices of rich countries.

    What’s It All About? corn feild
    The campaign by Oxfam International and it’s twelve associate agencies calls on governments, institutions and multinational companies to change their rules so trade can become part of the solution to poverty, not part of the problem.

    Farmers in developing countries could work themselves out of poverty by selling their products to wealthy countries at a reasonable price.

    So what’s stopping them?
    The appalling unfairness of the current world trade system.

    Legislation regarding trade follows the idea that one size fits all. Unfortunately many farmers in developing countries are smallholders - struggling to earn a living with unstable ecological conditions, high transport costs and little government support. They also have to compete with subsidised farmers from places like the U.S. and the European Union dumping surplus crops in their countries.

    So Why Are Celebrities Involved?
    The point of using celebrities in the campaign is to attract people’s attention, says Oxfam New Zealand’s advocacy and campaigns manager Shuna Lennon. “[It's] like a giant billboard. If Chris Martin says look at this’ you’re more likely to than if I said it.”

    In the photo shoot Chris Martin is covered in rice, representing the surplus dumping on poor countries by the United States. The U.S. government pays it’s farmers $1billion a year to over-produce rice and dump the surplus at extremely low prices in poor countries. One fifth of the population of Haiti has been driven out of business and into poverty as a result.

    Ms Lennon says the United States hasn’t stopped unfair trade, but is under enormous pressure to make a change for the better. So we’re just keeping the pressure on and hoping there will be a breakthrough, she said.

    Oxfam’s next big protest will be targeting the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Hong Kong in December. Oxfam would like to see the WTO deliver a pro-development plan as an outcome of the meeting. This would ensure wealthy countries stop export dumping and remove barriers to trade to allow developing countries to decide their own trade policies that will work for them.

    According to Oxfam, New Zealand has a potentially important role, as Kiwi, Tim Grosser, is the Chair of the WTO agriculture negotiations. However, our influence may not be good for poorer countries, as the New Zealand government’s view has typically been in favour of the one-size fits all trade liberalisation


    Those interested in making a difference can help in a variety of ways, firstly by signing the Big Noise petition . There are seven million signatures already and they’re hoping to reach ten million by December, Ms Lennon said.

    Fair trade items, such as coffee, chocolate and tea, are available in New Zealand at Trade Aid outlets and participating supermarkets. You can help the fight by buying fair trade products and asking retailers to stock them, this will show them the demand is there.

    You can also check out Oxfam New Zealand and sign up for their e-newsletter to receive updates on Oxfam’s campaigns.


    Oxfam New Zealand
    Make Trade Fair
    Trade Aid