Oxfam moves to Nairobi, brings Winnie close to home

Winnie Byanyima and Amina after signing an agreement

British non-profit Oxfam on Tuesday moved its international headquarters from Oxford, where it was founded, to Nairobi, Kenya.

“As of today, Oxfam Headquarters can be moved to Nairobi. We have finalised the host country agreement with the government of Kenya,” Oxfam director, Winnie Byanyima said.

Winnie was welcomed by Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed, who also welcomed the international organisation’s headquarters in the capital Nairobi.

Winnie and Amina pen the agreement

Amina said she wanted more development organisations to establish their headquarters in Nairobi.

Winnie later expressed her gratitude to Amina and her legal team for successfully leading the process to accredit Oxfam in Kenya.

Victoria University

The two ladies then signed Host Country Agreement on behalf of Oxfam and the Kenyan government, respectively.

According to Winnie, since Independence in 1963, Oxfam has supported communities in Kenya to fight poverty and overcome hunger.

In 2016, Oxfam announced plans to move its base for international programs either to Nairobi or Bangkok, Thailand to “build more of a presence on the ground.”

Speaking to local media this weekend, Oxfam’s head of media Matt Grainger said the organisation had settled on Nairobi and would begin moving staff this year.

“Basically, southern countries [developing countries] are growing ever more influential on international stages,” he told the Daily Nation. “Important decisions affecting millions of people are being made in cities that are entirely different from the centers of power of 50, 20, or even 10 years ago. Development is no longer predominately about transferring money from North to South.”

Kenya is one of the world’s largest hubs for development organizations. Between 2004 and 2013, the East African country was one of the world’s top recipients of humanitarian assistance.

Today, it is home to more than 12,000 NGOs, both local and international, that work in healthcare, education, human rights, and other issues, according to Kenya’s NGO Coordination Board, a government regulator of the sector.

But over the past few years, Kenya has grown increasingly hostile to these organizations.

More than 1,000 NGOs, many of them local ones that work in human rights, have been forced to close or threatened with de-registration over the last two years.

Oxfam’s programs in Great Britain and its international programs employed 5,317 people between 2014 and 2015.

It has said that its new unit in Nairobi will be smaller than its former headquarters in Oxford.

Grainger said Oxfam is currently in talks with the Kenyan government over the details of the move.



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