Oxfam: Innovating to deliver humanitarian relief

Oxfam: Innovating to deliver humanitarian relief

Summary: In our most recent CIO Sessions video, I interviewed Simon Jennings, CIO of Oxfam GB. As a non-profit dealing with issues of poverty and suffering around the world, Oxfam has come up with innovative ways to deliver application services and mobile solutions to remote, and often insecure, locations.

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TOPICS: CXO
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In our most recent CIO Sessions video, I interviewed Simon Jennings, CIO of Oxfam GB. As a non-profit dealing with issues of poverty and suffering around the world, Oxfam has come up with innovative ways to deliver application services and mobile solutions to remote, and often insecure, locations. Jennings also talks about Oxfam GB's retail store business, the fifth largest in the UK, and its online catalog, which sells everything from mosquito nets and a specially designed water bucket to toilets and trees for donation to people around the world in need.


Topic: CXO

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  • Are Large Foreign NGOs Always Best?

    Although some large aid projects can be delivered only via governments or foreign NGOs like Oxfam; small local organisations which work through groups of local people, respecting local cultures, are often more effective at delivering sustainable development.

    Several decades of large-scale aid to Africa seem to have achieved very little except to persuade many gifted Africans to leave their communities & countries - now, too much relief & development aid is delivered by foreigners rather than by skilled locals.

    Similarly after the 2004 Asian Tsunami, although the large NGOs received large donations; much of the really effective relief has come from local people or from independent aid channelled through local people.

    Large foreign NGOs spend far too much money sending foreign "experts" who have high expectations of smart 4x4s; fancy IT & communications; comfortable hotel rooms; and teams of willing "interpreters" - who are also brought in from elsewhere.

    Rather than providing what local people want, too often these NGOs provide inappropriate "solutions" which leave people dependent on continuing aid, and a local staff accustomed to inflated salaries.

    I'm glad that the Nobel Peace prize awarded to Prof. Yunus & the Grameen Bank recognised the effectiveness of "micro-credit" organisations in helping people to escape poverty.

    We'd all benefit if the micro-credit & self-help development movements could spread more widely - even to our "Western" countries.
    richard.s
  • Innovation is not alway technology based!

    I bloody well like this bloke as he is right. Innovation is not always the next new tech toy. This is true in all segments of industry. Somewhere along the line, innovation has become synonymous with high-tech, which is not true by a long shot. What about methane generators connected to power generators for use in areas where there may be a large amount of compostable materials without the availability of other fuel sources or the use of mushrooms to filter polluted water. This is innovative, but not high-tech.

    While I understand that your interviews are with CIO's, and the general message is the application of technology for innovation, this particular piece is a breath of fresh air.
    jc williams