Oxfam Initiates "cash For Work" Program In Haiti

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27th January 2010, 02:35pm - Views: 805
Oxfam Initiates "Cash for Work" Program in Haiti

International aid agency Oxfam has started to employ people affected by Haiti's earthquake to clean up their makeshift camps and improve their living conditions.

Providing paid employment such as collecting trash not only makes for a cleaner camp, it puts money into the pockets of those who need it most. Oxfam is also contemplating cash distribution in target areas to boost the micro-economy in and around the camps.

The "cash-for-work" effort began on Sunday and will expand this week across the nine sites serving 80,000 people where Oxfam has recently installed clean water and latrines.

"People are anxious to have some money," said Oxfam food security expert Alexandros Yiannopoulos.

"Just look at the long lines at the few banks that opened on the weekend and the even larger crowds at money transfer outlets where remittances come in.

"We've learned from experience that people prefer money to goods or food," Yiannopoulos said. "That way they can buy what they need. And who better to decide what they need than the people themselves."

Oxfam has tested "cash for work" in crises around the world and found it more effective than food distribution as long as sufficient food is available on the market. Oxfam's assessment of market conditions in Port-au-Prince shows there is sufficient food, but people do not have the money to purchase it.

Oxfam has also renewed its call for the international community to cancel Haiti's US $890 million debt, after a conference in Montreal made no clear progress on the issue.

Oxfam Australia's Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the international conference was a good first step towards rebuilding Haiti, and importantly recognised that the Haitian government and people must have a leadership role in the reconstruction.

"The international community now needs to address the debt issue," Mr Hewett said.

"Refusing to relieve Haiti's debt burden would be ridiculous. It's not something the people of Haiti can afford or deserve. We must build back better after this disaster."

Oxfam has spokespeople available for interview in Haiti.

Further information: Kate Thwaites on +61 407 515 559

Oxfam is a leading international aid agency working with communities around the world for solutions to poverty and social injustice.

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