Rosalyn Martinez, 26yrs, collects water from a water pump in the GMA Resettlement Area, North Tacloban, Philippines with her 7 year old daughter Angel. Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville / Oxfam

The Philippines is a country that consists of more than 7,000 islands and where most of the population is concentrated in just 11 of these islands. In recent decades, the Philippines’ economy has deteriorated progressively, which has had a particular impact on the country's poorest classes. The most extreme case is that of the island of Mindanao, which is the richest in mineral and agricultural resources, but in which paradoxically 7 out of 10 families are living below the poverty line.

The Philippines is a country traditionally governed by an oligarchy with semi-feudal structures that reinforce the interests of the landowning elite. Poor governance has contributed to the persistence of poverty. Due to unfavorable conditions in the country and by taking advantage of their professionalism and proficiency in English, many Filipinos have migrated abroad. For this reason the local economy is quite dependent on currency transfers.

Oxfam in the Philippines

Oxfam in the Philippines works towards a future where Filipinos, especially women and other vulnerable sectors, are free from the injustices of poverty. During emergencies, we respond with life-saving aid while supporting people to recover their livelihoods. Every day, we drive change by working hand-in-hand with our partners in finding practical yet innovative ways to help families lift themselves out of poverty by influencing decisions that affect them. 

Our areas of work

Our work largely involves the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), one the five regions of Mindanao and home to more than 3.5 million Filipinos, many of whom are living under extreme poverty conditions. In the past four decades, the region has been beset by continuing episodes of armed conflict which resulted in huge humanitarian and economic losses, destruction of properties, bloodshed, and displacement of families which only aggravated their already dire situation.

Our work in the Philippines includes: 

  • The promotion of active citizenship so that more women, young people, and the poor exercise their political right to influence decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods.
  • To work with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty. We do this by pushing for the effective implementation of policies, and promoting practices that will empower the poorest and most vulnerable communities. 
  • Supporting regional and global campaigns, and aiding national-level advocacy in partnership with national and local organizations, with Oxfam in a supporting role.
  • Improving the country's resiliency to disasters, to save lives now and into the future by investing in mechanisms that reduce the risks, the impact of disasters and being able to respond quickly to disasters, prioritizing assistance for the most vulnerable. 
  • Gender justice: Women are at the heart of what we do. We promote women’s voices and leadership in decision-making on matters that affect their lives. Our Women’s Economic Leadership (WEL) program, aims to build women’s negotiating power in two inter-related aspects of their lives: in their own households and in economic markets which they engage to sell their produce and/or services.