Oxfam’s international secretariat has made the decision in principle to move its headquarters from Oxford to either Bangkok or Nairobi as part of a wider objective to devolve power from the northern to the southern hemisphere.
The move will not affect the headquarters of Oxfam GB, which will remain in Oxford.
Oxfam International coordinates and provides strategic leadership for joint campaigns and advocacy work between the independent Oxfam affiliates, including Oxfam GB. It has been based in Oxford since it was established in 1995 and currently has around 40 members of staff. It already has a number of advocacy offices around the world including in Brussels and New York.
Matt Grainger, head of media at Oxfam International, told Civil Society News that: “A decision in principle has been made to move the secretariat to either Nairobi or Bangkok.”
Those two countries have been shortlisted because they are already at the centre of development work in their respective regions and have good transport links and connectivity.
He stressed that “this is not a cost-cutting exercise” and that there was no “pressure to move quickly”.
There is no timeframe for when a decision will be made or the move will happen, Grainger added. “At this stage we have only just made the decision and now we need to start looking at the nuts and bolts of moving.”
Grainger added: “It is part of really strategic decision by the Oxfam federation to build more of a presence on the ground in the South.
“We are making a concerted effort to devolve power and capacity away from the North and to the South.”
With an increasing number of ‘middle income’ countries instead of just rich and poor, he said: “The fact is aid is changing.”
Grainger said: “Over the next five to six years we’re looking to increase the number of affiliates we have in southern countries.”
He predicted that the result of the move is that the organisation “will be strengthened as we see Oxfam growing in the South”.
Oxfam is not the first aid charity to move its international headquarters out of the UK. In 2005 ActionAid moved its head office to South Africa to be closer to where it operates.
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