Oxfam yet to decide on specific 'role' of new Nairobi headquarters

A view of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, where Oxfam International will relocate its headquarters. Photo by: Michael Bumann / CC BY-SA

Oxfam International's relocation of its headquarters to Nairobi, Kenya, may be a done deal, but where exactly it will relocate, what role the main headquarters will serve, and what will happen to staff at its current Oxford, U.K. base all remain a work in progress.

Mark Golding, Oxfam Great Britain’s chief executive, told Devex Associate Editor Richard Jones on the sidelines of a recent Ebola conference in Brussels, Belgium, that discussions to decide on these specifics are still ongoing.

“People focus on the location of Oxfam International [but] the interesting thing is what role is it going to play,” he said. “The question of what functions that headquarters will perform is what the executive directors of all the Oxfams have still got to decide, including what responsibilities will go to the center and what stays with the [confederation].”

The Oxfam GB chief added that the move to the global south “feels right for the future.”

The transition out of its U.K. headquarters in Oxford will start next year, but the full move to Nairobi won’t happen until 2017. The disbursement of people, however, can start earlier. But Goldring clarified that not every Oxfam International staff member will be relocated to Kenya, just as “not every single employee is [in] Oxford at the moment.”

Goldring said that about 50 to 70 employees of Oxfam GB are or have recently been on secondment — temporarily transferred to another position or location — to Oxfam International. But whether they will remain on secondment or considered as “legal transfers” has yet to be decided.

The actual site of the new headquarters too is another issue that remains up in the air. Golding shared that senior management is still considering whether it may be better to set up a new one or transfer to an existing office. How work will be distributed among all the offices is also under review.

“We will look [at what is] more sensible, to put them in Oxfam Great Britain’s office or Oxfam Germany's office or here in Brussels, and that will all happen,” he concluded. “Some functions will be in Bangkok, others will be in Johannesburg, some will be in Addis for the African Union, [and others] will be elsewhere around the world, depending on the functions we are trying to deliver.”

What do you think should be the role of Oxfam International’s new headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.