What we do

Two women carry water in Oxfam jerry cans at Muna Garage, an IDP camp in Nigeria. Credit: Pablo Tosco / Oxfam

West Africa, a region full of potential that faces enormous challenges

West Africa remains one of the poorest regions in the world where inequalities are growing and crises are increasingly complex and recurrent.

We work directly with more than 1.6 million people, especially women, through hundreds of local and regional partners.

Together, we tackle many challenges, such as:

  • 7 of the 10 poorest countries in the world: Central African Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali[1];
  • governments are the least engaged in addressing inequalities across the continent[2];
  • agriculture that remains underperforming, under-protected, vulnerable to climatic hazards and of which 60% of the workforce depends on it;
  • an inefficient and unfair system of taxation in which the richest have the lowest income tax as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world; 
  • 3 major humanitarian crises that devastate 7 countries: in the Sahel (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger), in the Lake Chad Basin (Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon), and the Central African Republic;
  • per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the Sahel are approximately 6 times below the world average, yet: in 2017, Niger and Chad were the 2nd and 4th most vulnerable countries to climate change-related impacts[3] and Sierra Leone was the 8th hardest-hit country by extreme weather events[4]

To carry out our mission in the region, we capitalize on its potential:

  • 6 of the 10 most dynamic economies in Africa: Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger [5]
  • the youngest population in the world: 76% of the population is under 25[6];
  • abundant natural resources for the world we live in and that can drastically reduce poverty if they are better managed;
  • a digital revolution at an exponential rate: 100 million active mobile accounts in 2017[7];
  • strong regional integration and increased cooperation between states, compared to other regional blocs.

Our priorities

From small-scale farming and sanitation to getting more employment for women, we’re experts in transforming the goodwill and commitment of people who care to donate into immediate, effective and lasting change for people feeling the daily pain of poverty.

We take on the issues that keep people poor, such as inequality, climate change, food justice, land rights and discrimination against women. And we make sure that local voices are heard, no matter how remote, supporting their calls for justice and fairness with the full force of our worldwide network.

We respond to a humanitarian crisis by saving lives in emergencies and staying long to help people come back stronger.

The combination of grassroots action and global influence enables people living with poverty to take control and change their lives, livelihoods and communities for good.


[1] United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Index, 2018.
[2] Oxfam, The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, 2019.
[3] Notre-Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, ND-GAIN country index, 2017.
[4] Germanwatch, Global Climate Risk Index, 2019.
[5] IMF, 2018
[6] United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population, 2017.
[7] McKinsey Global Institute, 2017.
Victoria Banks lutte pour la survie de sa famille au Libéria. Crédit : Zwannah Kimber

Après des années de rétablissement suite à la guerre civile au Libéria, Victoria Banks pouvait enfin vivre de l'agriculture. Jusqu'à ce que la pandémie de COVID-19 frappe.

Bone Kortie is a trader who lost her source of income following the pandemic. Credit: Bettie Kemah Johnson-Mbayo / Oxfam

Bone Kortie is a mother of eight from Liberia and a small trader who lost her source of income as a result of the pandemic. She narrates her ordeal.

Joshua entretient les panneaux solaires du nouveau système d'irrigation à Kpatua au Ghana., une initiative d'Oxfam.

In West Africa, climate change is a reality and is already having harmful effects on millions of vulnerable people living in poverty. By increasing droughts and floods, accelerating the degradation of natural resources and ecosystems throughout the region, with desertification and coastal...

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Our teams are mobilized on the ground and are working around the clock to adapt our programs to ensure safe humanitarian access and protect the poorest and more vulnerable from COVID-19.

Yagana, a woman displaced by fear of Boko Haram in Niger, received a cash for grant from Oxfam and with this cash she started a small business for herself. Credit : Tom Saater / Oxfam

West Africa remains one of the poorest regions in the world where inequalities are growing and where governments are the least committed to reducing them on the African continent.

The region has abundant but mismanaged resources. Corrupt state decision-makers and private actors voracious...

Discover how we work with people to adapt to climate change and fight for food justice.

Mariam, 25, mother of a child, fled attacks by armed groups in Burkina Faso and is receiving humanitarian aid in a camp for internally displaced people. Credit: Sylvain Cherkaoui / Oxfam

Oxfam provides humanitarian assistance and advocacy for the populations affected by major humanitarian crises.

Survivors of gender-based and other types of violence learn how to read and write in a literacy class in Central African Republic. Credit: Aurélie Godet / Oxfam

Women's economic rights are continuously violated, and their economic worth remains misunderstood, despite the fact that they produce most of the region’s foodstuffs. Rural women keep facing numerous barriers preventing them from fulfilling their potential as farmers and entrepreneurs.