First Person Blog

Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty

Work and dignity amid drought and famine

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Abdullah Ahmed Ali, 59, helps construct latrines. Photo by Oxfam.
Abdullah Ahmed Ali, 59, helps construct latrines. Photo by Oxfam.

Guest blog: Janna Hamilton, Media Coordinator for Oxfam, is reporting from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Oxfam is hiring camp residents to help build latrines and other work, which is helping provide services to more refugees and enabling workers earn a little money.

Abdullah Ahmed Ali, 59, has worked with Oxfam for four days, helping to construct latrines in the Ifo extension camp, part of the rapidly expanding Dadaab camp in eastern Kenya. More than 200 families are relocating to Ifo extension each day. Oxfam is scaling up its operations in order to meet the increasing demands for access to safe water and sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

Cash-for-work initiatives offer the refugee community an opportunity to earn an income. It also helps reinforce some dignity for the workers, knowing they are helping to provide for their family. Men and women are paid between 250 and 500 Kenyan shillings (about $2.70 to $5.40) per day depending on their skill levels. Jobs for men include constructing latrines, reporting on dead livestock so they can be removed before spreading disease, and clearing new land for relocated families. Oxfam has employed women to help collect and dispose of the piles of packaging discarded from newly erected tents and materials.

Abdullah says the money he earns from Oxfam helps him to buy more food for his family of nine.

“In the camp we don’t get any sugar or vegetables, so the income I gain will be spent on buying more variety of food for my family.

“Without this job I would just be wandering around looking for any work.”

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