Nearly 1 in 2 people (46 per cent) of the world’s population lives on less than US$5.50 a day. While statistics like this might simply seem like numbers, poverty is a tangible reality for women like Lan, who works in a factory in Vietnam on poverty wages and has to work two extra jobs to make ends meet. It is also the daily struggle Rasheda and her family face in Bangladesh as their health is threatened by unsanitary conditions, yet they do not know how they will foot their medical bills if they fall sick.
While poverty may look different in developed cities like Hong Kong, it is still a struggle. Cecilia’s family, for instance, lives in a subdivided flat and is struggling with a major reduction in income because of COVID. To save money, she only uses HK$10 to buy a few vegetables, which can last her family three days.
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.
Over the past few decades, economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty. However, COVID-19 is threatening to reverse it. What is worse is that the virus has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable. But we are doing what we can to ameliorate COVID’s pernicious effects.
Through one of our first COVID humanitarian responses in Hong Kong, for instance, we ensured that street cleaners, low-income families, underprivileged elderly people, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups had the protective equipment and information they needed to guard themselves against the disease. We have also been urging the government to better protect street cleaners, who are on the frontlines of keeping the virus at bay, and low-income families that are disproportionately affected by sky-rocketing unemployment and price hikes.
Internationally, through our global response to COVID-19, we have also been able to reach over 11 million people with 581 partner organisations. We have been responding with clean water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as to food insecurity and livelihood needs in over 60 countries.
Fighting poverty requires a concerted effort. Everyone is indispensable. We need each other and we need you. I truly hope you will continue to stand with the poorest and with Oxfam as we work to end poverty for good.
Strong in the face of Adversity
The pandemic is pushing countless people into poverty. We have hope though because we understand the power of partnership.
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.