Our history

First permanent Oxfam gift shop in Broad Street, Oxford, which opened in 1947. Photograph probably late 1940s. Credit: Oxfam Archive

First permanent Oxfam gift shop in Broad Street, Oxford, which opened in 1947. Photograph probably late 1940s. Credit: Oxfam Archive

The name 'Oxfam' comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942.

Oxfam International was formed in 1995 by a group of independent non-governmental organizations. They joined together as a confederation to maximize efficiency and achieve greater impact to reduce global poverty and injustice.

The name “Oxfam” comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during the Second World War.

After the war, Oxfam continued its work, sending materials and financial aid to groups aiding poor people throughout Europe. As the situation in Europe improved, Oxfam’s attention shifted to the needs of people in developing countries.

Today, we are working in more than 90 countries, with thousands of partners, allies, and communities to save and protect lives in emergencies, help people rebuild their livelihoods and campaign for genuine, lasting change, keeping women's rights at the heart of everything we do.

There are 19 member organizations of the Oxfam International confederation. They are based in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, India, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, South Africa, Spain and the United States. We also have two public engagement offices - Oxfam in South Korea and Oxfam in Sweden – that focus on raising funds and awareness about our work.

Find your nearest affiliate and get involved.

The Oxfam International Secretariat is based in Nairobi, Kenya.  The Secretariat runs offices in Addis Ababa, Oxford, Brussels, Geneva, New York, Moscow and Washington DC.

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