From the severe drought and hunger crisis in East Africa to the fifth wave of COVID in Hong Kong, disasters have shown us time and again that the poorest bear the brunt of calamities.
During the fifth wave, sanitation workers in Hong Kong were once again put at the forefront of the battle against COVID. Being poorly protected not only left them susceptible to the contagious Omicron variant, but also put their livelihoods on the line. Although these challenges were clear to see, there are many types of poverty that are more difficult to discern at first glance.
Here in Hong Kong and around the world, we at Oxfam work to find practical innovative ways with people from poor communities, so they can lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.
To help people see ‘invisible’ poverty, we launched our Rethink Poverty campaign in October 2021. Through it, members of the public learnt that children from poor families in Hong Kong might not go to bed hungry, but they could very well be malnourished. They also saw how poverty could mean being disproportionately affected by climate change, and how the inequality in access to information could drive someone further into
And as we saw in ‘Inequality Kills’, Oxfam International’s report released at the beginning of 2022, widening economic, gender and racial inequalities are tearing our world apart. They are also threatening to undo decades of progress in the fight against poverty. This hasn’t slowed us down though. With our Trailwalking Spirit of perseverance and teamwork, we’ve made some great strides in the fight against poverty this year. In Hong Kong, we successfully advocated for unemployment assistance with partner organisations. Through our concerted efforts, a government department also agreed to include guidelines for preventing heatstroke in tender documents for outsourced cleaning workers. We were awarded the Outstanding Social Service Award by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service for our Chinese-learning project for ethnic minority children. And despite the ups and downs of the Oxfam Trailwalker, we persevered and hosted a phenomenal virtual event, and introduced our very first Mini Trailwalker for parents and children.
In the Mainland, we supported our local partner organisations to share their first-hand experience with participants at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow about working on two of our projects – the Climate-Resilience Seed Project (which effectively helps Chinese smallholder farmers adapt to climate change) and the Tea Planting Project (which promotes carbon neutrality). Together, we also
advocated for concrete, resourced and sustainable climate solutions there.
Internationally, we continued to reach vulnerable groups with timely support. In East Africa for instance, we have reached over 129,000 people with lifesaving support (as of June 2022) as they grapple with an unprecedented hunger crisis that’s pushing people to the brink. And in Nepal, we worked with local communities and government officials to address climate impacts by reviewing existing local and national policies. Local government authorities have since agreed to include climate adaptation measures in their planning process next year.
We’re grateful for the unbelievable support we’ve received that has enabled us to achieve so much collectively. As poverty continues to evolve, it is crucial for us all to recognise it in all its forms. We invite people to look at poverty in all its complexity, and rethink what poverty truly means and how we can create change. We have what it takes to make poverty history. It’s time for us to band together in partnership to achieve a world without poverty.
#2022Recap: Together we fought hard against poverty!
About Ms. Kalina Tsang
Ms. Kalina Tsang has been fighting poverty for nearly 30 years. She commenced her career as a community organiser fighting for the rights of those living in cage homes and cubicle dwellers. She then began working at Oxfam Hong Kong in 2002. She is a member of the Executive Board of Oxfam International. Prior to assuming her role as Director General, she served as Director of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Programme.
She has made significant contributions through leading campaigns, research, programmes, educational and humanitarian initiatives which address both local and global poverty issues. In Hong Kong, she pioneered ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) research and advocacy work, and led teams to contribute to pro-poor advocacy and policy changes. Examples include the establishment of the first poverty line, new subsidy scheme for low-income families, minimum wage legislation and Chinese language education policies and innovative programmes for ethnic minority children.
Kalina holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University in the US. She also holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree in Social Work from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.