Dilai Haile, aged thirteen, walks back to her home carrying a water drum on her shoulder. Tigray, Ethiopia. Credit: Tomás Abella/Oxfam
Oxfam helps local communities defend their right to natural resources.

Natural resources

More than one billion people lack access to a safe water supply, and that number is growing. While this issue concerns us all, it is of real immediacy for those who live and work in rural areas. As water supplies are threatened, rural communities are most affected—and have the most to lose.

With powerful interests vying for some of the world’s most valuable commodities, many natural resources are being polluted or dangerously depleted by man made causes or due to climate change. Oxfam empowers farmers, fishers, and others to defend their right to life-sustaining resources.

Securing land rights

Land is a productive resource, a financial asset, and often a source of identity, culture, and pride. We help farmers and native communities gain legal title to their land, manage it in environmentally friendly ways, and defend it against pollution and other threats.

Women and family farmers don't always have legal title to their land. Oxfam also helps indigenous people map their ancestral territories to ensure governments recognize their lands.

Oil, gas & mining

Countries that have natural reserves of oil, gas, and minerals rarely generate wealth for the people who live nearby. Instead, these persons suffer the costs: pollution, loss of their traditional ways of living and working, and corruption. Bad governance is hindering effective and efficient use of revenues generated from oil and other natural resources.

Responsible resource management

For land to be a productive resource, it must be carefully managed. Working with local partner organizations, Oxfam assists communities with environmentally-friendly agriculture, forestry management, and irrigation projects and training, in some cases, on how to defend their lands from unwanted industry.

Protecting rights and the environment

Oxfam calls on companies and international financial institutions to respect communities' rights – including the right to be consulted on local projects – and contribute to the long-term reduction of poverty. We also believe that to protect and help their poorest citizens, countries should pursue environmentally and socially responsible forms of development.

Oxfam provides funding and strategic counsel to local partner organizations, to help them protect their rights and natural resources. Our goal is to help communities:

  • Understand the root causes of the environmental problems they are facing and, if possible, protect themselves from dangers
  • Network with other affected people so they can share coping strategies, join forces, and strengthen their abilities to bring about change
  • Voice their concerns to governments, corporations, and individuals responsible for development projects
  • Educate key players about the negative impact the development projects are having on the local communities, and work together to find a solution that is safe and equitable for all.

Learn more

Oxfam's Agriculture campaign