The Future is Equal


5 things you need to know about Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai has caused widespread flooding, landslides and destruction and left communities in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in urgent need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Here are five things you need to know about Cyclone Idai right now:

A man looks at a washed away bridge along Umvumvu river following Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe. March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

1. The full impact has taken a while to hit the news

Communications and infrastructure were very badly affected, making it hard to see the sheer scale of the disaster and level of devastation caused at first.

Cyclone Idai hit landfall on the night of 14-15 March causing extensive damage in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique with homes and agricultural land completely wiped out in some areas.

2. It could become one of the “worst weather-related disasters to ever hit the southern hemisphere”

The exact impact is not yet known and the numbers continue to rise but millions of people have been affected by what the UN’s weather agency is suggesting could be “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere.”

More than a thousand people are feared to have died, thousands more are missing and millions of people have been left destitute without food or basic services.

A family dig for their son who got buried in the mud when Cyclone Idai struck. Photo taken in Chimanimani about 600 kilometres south east of Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday, March, 19, 2019. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/REX

3. It’s a race against time

Oxfam teams and local partner organisations are already on the ground in all three countries and will be responding with clean water, toilet facilities, shelter, clothing, food and other essential items. In some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, Oxfam is  working around the clock to make sure this vital work happens as quickly and effectively as possible. It is a race against time, you can donate to help us save lives right now

4. We’re working with the Disasters Emergency Committee

Oxfam has joined together with other humanitarian aid agencies around the world as part of the UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).Oxfam is a founder member of the group, which also includes Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision. This will increase the impact of the work that all 13 charities are doing.

5. A longer-term response will take some time to evaluate

With an estimated 2.6 million people affected across the region, Oxfam aims to reach up to 500,000 initially – hopefully more – across the three countriesincluding in partnership with other international and local NGO partners. In Mozambique, where 2.1 million people are affected, Oxfam is planning to reach people through COSACA (a consortium of Oxfam, Care and Save the Children) as part of a programme to restore several basic social services including access to healthcare, education and water. In Malawi, Oxfam is looking to help 200, 000 people and in Zimbabwe 50,000 people.

More about Oxfam’s response…

Staff and local partners are working in some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, with many areas only accessible by helicopter. But help is getting through and we aim to reach over half a million people.

In Mozambique, we’ve already provided 2,500 people with kits including blankets and sleeping mats, mosquito nets to protect from malaria, buckets for storing water, and canvas and ropes to build shelters. We will also be using mobile water treatment plants to provide clean water and emergency toilets on a huge scale.

In Malawi, where thousands of people were already struggling with drought and poor crops, more than 700,000 have been affected by the cyclone. We’re planning to provide buckets and soap to protect from deadly disease, and preparing to deliver clean, safe water, emergency toilets and cash grants so people can buy food.

In Zimbabwe, 250,000 people have been affected by floods. We’re beginning to provide humanitarian assistance in Chimanimani, one of the worst affected areas. Together with the other DEC members we’re doing everything we can to make sure we get people what they need. If you’ve already donated, thank you so much. But we still urgently need more help.

You can help save lives by donating to Oxfam’s Cyclone Idai appeal now.

Top 10 fundraising ideas

There are lots of fun and easy ways to raise funds for Oxfam. Here are our top ten.

1. Bake sale

You can’t beat a good old fashioned bake sale. Ask people to bring their sweet treats into your work, school or community group to sell.

2. Mufti day

Keep it simple with a dress down day at work or school.

3. Sausage sizzle

A Kiwi favourite, you can’t beat a sausage sizzle.

4. Quiz night

At the office, in the pub, round someone’s house download some online questions, get a bunch of mates together and test each others knowledge. Donate the team entry fees to Oxfam.

5. Movie night

All you need is popcorn and DVDs! Invite your friends or family round for a blockbuster evening, asking them to donate the price of a cinema trip to Oxfam. Or go the extra mile, and hire your local cinema! Friends pay for their tickets to watch a new release and all the profits come to Oxfam.

6. Host a Fairtrade morning tea / coffee break

A popular way to do have fun and raise money at home, in the office or wherever!

7. Clothes swap / jumble sale

Clear your wardrobe of clothes you no longer wear and get your friends to do the same. Invite them to your place, charge them an entry fee, and enjoy a clothes swap. Looking good!

8. BBQ

Ask your friends for a small donation and cook them up a classic Kiwi barbie.

9. Sponsored walk / cycle / run / footie game

Do something you love (or hate) and ask your friends and family to sponsor you.

10. Sell stuff on Trademe

Have a spring clean and put the things you no longer need up on TradeMe. Watch the bids fly in and donate the proceeds to Oxfam.

Meet the Trailwalker team: Miles from Malley

Oxfam Trailwalker team Miles from Malley team leader Nan Stewardson

Nan Stewardson (centre) during Oxfam Trailwalker 2018. Photo supplied.

Christchurch team “Miles from Malley” are buzzing to once more take on 100 kilometres of scenic Whakātane terrain in March as part of Oxfam Trailwalker 2019.

The team from Malley & Co Lawyers – Michael Mckay, Lani Gerber, Nan Stewardson, and friend Helen Venning – are back for round two after successfully completing the 100 kilometre event in 2018.

The distance may seem intimidating, but Team leader Nan is proof that anybody can succeed with the right attitude, training and support.

As a lifelong runner, Nan chose Oxfam Trailwalker as an alternative way to increase her exercise after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disorder of the central nervous system which affects the body’s movements, functions, and sensations.

Nan said: “I used to run all the time and then I started falling over because I had relapses. Then I just thought I couldn’t run anymore because I was injuring myself. I needed a challenge and now I have that challenge.

“Oxfam Trailwalker is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done physically, because of my MS, but also the best. Getting across that finish line was amazing.”

The team has been out training hard, determined to prepare themselves mentally and physically for March despite some setbacks.

“So far we’ve got to 37 kilometres and everybody is all geared up and waiting”, said Nan.

“I had a relapse a good eight weeks ago and I couldn’t walk at all for about four weeks. I could walk around normally, but I certainly couldn’t compete and train.

“I’m hoping to be cured by the time the race comes around and even if I’m not, I’m still competing. I’ll drag myself across the finish line if I’ve got to.”

Along with the physical obstacles, Trailwalker is also known to challenge the mind. Support crew and team members prove to be indispensable sources of encouragement when the going gets tough.

“When I was walking the 100 kilometres in 2018, it was a mental challenge as well. You felt like you couldn’t go on, but you just put one foot in front of the other.  You’ve got to have the right mindset to do it and it’s hard and you do want to stop but we’ve trained too much not to do it.”

Aside from the personal challenge, there is also the knowledge that the money raised is going towards helping people living in poverty. The team’s fundraising is going well and as of January 2019, Miles from Malley are nudging the top of the leader board, having almost hit their $5,000 target.

“I think the best fundraiser for us was the quiz night. It’s not that hard to organise actually … We just did up flyers and emails and I think we had 25 teams,” says Nan, who also suggested that garage sales might be the way to go – after one the team held raised an impressive $2,000.

“If people have got reservations, I don’t know how to put it into words other than it was the best thing I’ve ever done., physically and emotionally.

It’s amazing what you can achieve.”

You can visit Miles from Malley’s team page or make a donation here.

Now in its fifteenth year in New Zealand, Oxfam Trailwalker 2019 will be held over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of March. Teams of passionate walkers and runners will choose to conquer either 50km or 100km of breathtaking Whakātane terrain and in doing so, will be helping Oxfam to fight poverty. If you would like to participate in Oxfam Trailwalker you can find out more information about the event and register at

Join us as we team up with the Rotorua Marathon to battle poverty

Photo / Alisha Lovrich

This May, the prestigious Rotorua Marathon marks its 55th birthday — and celebrates joining forces with Oxfam NZ to battle poverty and injustice.

On the 4th of May, participants now have the chance to take on the unique 42.2km ‘lap of the lake’ course around Lake Rotorua while fundraising for Oxfam NZ.

If you’re not keen on the full distance, the event caters for runners and walkers of all levels with options for an off-road half marathon (21km) as well as a 10km and 5km fun run.

Oxfam NZ invites everyone to sign up for their chosen distance and fundraise — with proceeds raised helping families across the Pacific overcome the injustices of poverty.

It’s a fantastic chance to take part in an iconic event and change lives at the same time.

The Rotorua Marathon is run on a scenic course like no other. Starting beside the historic Rotorua Museum located in the Government Gardens, it travels through the centre of the city, past famous thermal features including steam vents and mud pools.

It then winds around picturesque Lake Rotorua, through lakeside settlements and returning to the Government Gardens.

The Half Marathon heads through the Redwoods of Whakarewarewa forest and sulphur flats, with these off-road sections adding to the rugged course.

The 10km and 5km fun runs also start and finish in the Government Gardens and run through the unique sulphur flats.

If you’re interested in taking part, head to to enter and select Oxfam NZ when asked the question “I want to make my run count. I’m interested in running / walking to fundraise for charity.”

Have a question? Please contact our helpful Events Team on 0800 600 700.

Seven brilliant questions you asked about Oxfam’s Inequality report

Since we launched, we have received lots questions. Here are our responses to seven of the most frequently asked questions.

Oxfam’s new inequality report, which reveals that billionaires’ fortunes grew by $2.5 billion a day last year, as poorest half of humanity – 3.8 billion people – saw their wealth fall, is making headlines around the globe.

1. Why is Oxfam attacking billionaires – they are talented entrepreneurs who create jobs and wealth. Billionaires such as Bill Gates have even given millions to charity.

Oxfam is not anti-wealth but anti-poverty. We shine a spotlight on the billionaires growing wealth to highlight the problem with our broken economic system. Our economies enable a small number of people to accumulate unimaginable wealth while paying relatively little tax, even as vital public services such as healthcare and education are crumbling for want of funds. This doesn’t make sense.

It’s true that some billionaires have created vast business empires from nothing – and created jobs and prosperity for themselves and others. However this is not true of all of them. Oxfam estimates that two thirds of billionaire wealth is inherited or tainted with monopoly or cronyism. Equally not all billionaires ensure their workers get a fair share of the profits from their businesses by for example paying a living wage.

It’s also true some billionaires such as Bill Gates are using their wealth to help others – and they should be congratulated. But charitable giving does not replace a company or individual’s responsibility to pay their fair share of tax. And many wealthy people agree with us – Bill Gates says the first responsibility of the super-rich is to pay their taxes and Warren Buffet has been calling for higher taxes for the super-rich.

2. Isn’t capitalism working – the global economy is growing, and poverty is declining?

The number of people living in extreme poverty – on less than $1.90 a day – has been falling globally. This is something to be celebrated. However, the rate at which extreme poverty is falling is slowing and in some parts of the world the number of people living in extreme poverty is actually rising. But this is only part of the story.

Almost half of humanity is still living on less than $5.50 a day. They are not living in extreme poverty but they are still very poor – struggling to keep their heads above water and just one medical bill away from extreme poverty. It’s this much bigger group of poor people who are seeing their wealth decline.

The problem is that the benefits of economic growth, of wealth generation, are not shared equally. Wealth created in today’s economies is captured by those who are already wealthy, and the poorest in society see little benefit.

That is why billionaire fortunes increased by 12 percent last year – or $2.5 billion a day – while the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity saw their wealth decline by 11 percent. In short our economies are broken. That is why Oxfam is calling for governments to build new economies that work for everyone and not just a privileged few.

3. Aren’t low taxes a good thing? Won’t raising taxes will put a break on economic growth and job creation?

The idea that low taxes for the wealthy is good for economic growth and job creation has been widely questioned. Even the International Monetary Fund are saying that there is ample scope for redistribution without hurting economic development

It simply does not make sense that the tax bills for the very richest people and corporations are systematically lowered while vital public services such as healthcare and education – that benefit society as a whole – are struggling for want of funds. We need more schools – not more super yachts.

4. What’s wrong with private schools and private healthcare. Public healthcare and education is very poor quality in many countries – private services give people an alternative?

Lack of investment in public services does mean the quality of education and healthcare they provide is very poor in many countries. However, the solution to this problem is to invest more in public services – not outsource to the private sector.

The private sector doesn’t deliver for the poorest in society because there is little incentive for private companies to provide services for people who can’t afford to pay for them. Moreover, private healthcare and education providers are often subsidized by governments, which means public money is often diverted to serve the needs of the wealthiest in society – at the expense of the poorest.

For example, a public–private initiative to build a hospital in Lesotho ended up consuming, as much as 51 percent of the countries total health budget in 2014 – depriving clinics in rural areas of much needed funds. Only by investing in free universal public health and education services can governments deliver good-quality healthcare and education for all.

5. Oxfam’s calculations are wrong – the data has holes in it and the way wealth is calculated means people on high incomes but lots of debts are counted amongst the worlds poorest?

Oxfam bases its calculations on the best data available at the time – Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report and the annual Forbes Billionaires list. Of course the data is not perfect – the quality of data available varies from country to country but it is being improved and expanded every year.

One of the big problems is that the very rich often hide their wealth offshore to avoid tax – which means that their fortunes are likely to be significantly underestimating. Despite these problems, most experts agree the data is good enough and provides a relatively accurate overview of how wealth is distributed globally.

It is equally true to say that the way wealth is calculated means people who are high earners with large debts – such as graduates with big loans – are placed in the same category as people who are very poor. However this is a tiny fraction of people globally and has little impact on the figures.

The vast majority of people at the bottom fifty percent are very poor people who are really struggling to get by. Those who are in debt are, overwhelmingly, poor people who are forced to borrow to stay afloat – think of single mothers having to go to loan sharks to pay medical bills in the US or small holder farmers borrowing at huge interest from money lenders in India.

No data set or methodology is ever 100 percent perfect and figures may change slightly from year to year as new and better data becomes available.

However, the overwhelming and consistent pattern we are seeing is that the gap between rich and poor is growing ever bigger and that small number of people are accumulating vast fortunes while paying relatively little tax, even as vital public services such as healthcare and education are crumbling for want of funds.

6. Inequality doesn’t fuel poverty.

The evidence and experience of millions of people around the globe suggests it does. In countries like Kenya a child from a rich family will spend twice as long in education as a child from a poor family – and so will be much better placed to secure a well-paid job when they leave school.

By closing the gap between rich and poor – more fairly taxing wealth and investing the proceeds in education and healthcare for all – governments can ensure no child misses out on a better future simply because they are poor.

The World Bank agrees – it says unless we close the gap between rich and poor, extreme poverty will not be eliminated and 200 million will still living on $1.90 a day in 2030.

7. Isn’t Oxfam getting too political?

The decisions that governments make have a critical impact on people’s lives. So, in that respect, poverty is political. People across the globe are losing faith in our political system because governments put the demands of big business and the super-rich over the needs of their own citizens.

It does not make sense that the tax bills for the very richest have been systematically lowered for years, while vital public services such as healthcare and education – that benefit all of society in so many ways – are struggling for want of funds. This is not a question of politics or ideology – it’s a matter of justice and human dignity.

Taxing wealth is key to fighting inequality

Savelugu Girls Model School in Ghana, one of several model schools that are funded and administered by the local authorities. Photo Lotte Ærsøe/Oxfam Ibis.

Conventional wisdom about taxing wealth is shifting, writes Didier Jacobs, Oxfam America’s Senior Policy Advisor. Long dismissed as unfeasible, and frowned upon as politically incorrect, radical ideas are now gaining ground.

The new star on the left of the US Democratic Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, suggests increasing the top income tax rate to 70%. That sounds more radical than Bernie Sanders’ plan, which already moved the goal posts in 2016. Refreshingly, Ocasio-Cortez’ idea was welcomed by center-left economists like Krugman and Summers in mainstream media such as the New York Times and CNN.
Let’s move to the center-right. Last year, the IMF and the World Bank organized a conference on formulary apportionment – a revolution in corporate taxation. The previous year, they discussed taxing wealth. The former published research concluding that most countries have ample room for redistribution without hurting economic growth. The Economist magazinebillionaires and Patriotic Millionaires have all called for significant tax reforms that would raise tax on the wealthy.
Radical ideas abound. Combining formulary apportionment with a minimum effective rate could raise proceeds from corporate income tax, borne mainly by rich people. Taxing gifts as ordinary income, the lifetime gift tax, the Financial Transaction Tax, or a global wealth tax could all raise more revenue from the richest in our society.
The needs are great. In our report published this week, Public Good or Private Wealth?, we show how governments fail to provide adequate public services; leaving millions of children out of school and leading to millions of premature deaths. Piecemeal private services punish poor people and favor elites.
Women are hit hardest, and are left to fill the gaps with millions of hours of unpaid care work when public services fail. Oxfam estimates that taxing an additional 0.5% of the wealth of the richest 1% could raise more money than it would cost to educate the 262 million children out of school, and provide healthcare to save the lives of 3.3 million people.
The shift in conventional wisdom about tax recognizes that extreme inequality is largely driven by what economists call “rents” – windfall income that does not compensate productive activities. Inheritance is a rent, as well as real estate wealth to a large extent. So, too, are executive pay and the super profits derived from natural resources, IT and other corporate monopolies.
The concept of rents blunts several major arguments against taxing the rich more. Because rents do not reflect productive activities, taxing them does not harm economic growth. And because rents are not the product of effort, they are morally indefensible for believers in meritocracy.
A final claim is that taxing wealthy individuals and corporations just does not work because of tax evasion or avoidance. The super-rich are hiding at least $7.6 trillion from tax authorities and dodging an estimated $200 billion in tax revenues a year. Multinational companies exploit loopholes in tax codes to shift profits to tax havens, costing developing countries an estimated $100 billion in lost revenue a year.
But change is afoot here as well. Following public anger in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and repeated scandals, governments have started to crack down on offshore finance. The Obama Administration took on Swiss banks’ secrecy, and won. There is now a global system in place allowing tax administrations to exchange information about non-residents’ financial holdings, which has reportedly helped recover $93 billion in tax revenue between 2009 and 2018. The OECD has implemented a process to close some of the most notorious corporate tax loopholes, and the European Union is blacklisting corporate tax havens.
A lot of big cracks remain in the system: there is still little transparency around corporate tax avoidance, tax planners are inventing new ways to hide personal and corporate wealth, and tax dodgers have little to fear from those governments that are either unwilling or lack the capacity to prosecute them. We need a new comprehensive multilateral agreement to put an end to tax dodging.
Nevertheless, our report shows that a number of countries are already managing to raise significant resources from taxing wealth, so there is no excuse for governments not to take action now. Where there is a will, there is a way. Sustained popular mobilization and global cooperation can put an end to tax evasion and avoidance. This will give the financial resources needed to provide education, health care and social protection for all.
Didier Jacobs, Oxfam America’s Senior Policy Advisor.