My experiences at Oxfam

At this point in time, I am an intern at Oxfam Novib for already 2 months. As part of the Food, Land, and Water unit, I am currently researching the nexus between resource governance and agribusiness in fragile and conflict-affected areas and states. The goal of my research is to understand how an NGO like Oxfam could collaborate with agribusiness in fragile areas to stimulate sustainable economic growth and stability. In addition to this, I support the Global Land Advisor to gather information and data on all the different land-related programs within the Oxfam confederation.

Because of my tasks, I get an excellent insight into diverse work Oxfam is doing related to land governance and agribusiness. This diversity, however, is not always helpful for my research project. As the focus area of my research is on fostering agribusiness investments in fragile areas, the strong campaigning and influencing character of Oxfam can be challenging for me. However, though, while Oxfam traditionally presents itself as a critical outsider pointing out what business is occasionally doing wrong, I witness that there is currently a shift towards becoming a critical ‘friend’ of business.

Situations of fragility,

As I strongly believe that in the fast-changing world of today, we need different approaches to development, I am happy to see that Oxfam is open and investing in new approaches to dealing with the private sector. Therefore, I would consider myself extremely lucky that Oxfam gave me the opportunity to do research on a topic that not only matches with all my personal interests and beliefs but also a topic that could potentially be extremely relevant in the near future.

So, despite my challenges in finding the right examples within Oxfam that are not necessarily about campaigning against certain business practices but rather take a more positive, practical and friendly approach, the fact that I got this chance shows to me that Oxfam Novib is much more than a critical outsider of business.

This blog post was written by Joris Baars,  Intern Conflict, Resource Governance and Private Sector. Read more about Joris here!


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