Wakulima Via Campesina Africa I. December 2009
The global economic crisis, the food crisis and the energy crisis,especially climate change, are all the creation of the rich and powerful in the world, yet the poor, especially rural women who are the producers of food and the guardians of life, sit with empty plates and go to bed hungry. All of our governments have committed themselves to reducing and eradicating hunger and poverty by 2015 as the MDG state, but instead the number o hungry and poor people is increasing day after day. It is ironic that in an instant, the governments of rich countries were able to find billions of US dollars to bail out the banks (the agents of financial capital) yet after years and years they do not show the same willingness to find resources to solve hunger, climate change,etc
.”, they continue.“
The food sovereignty of the region, our indigenous seeds, our forms of local and traditional production are also being eroded as our governments do little to protect local agriculture for large- scale agroindustry that puts profits before human beings.
”The declaration also mentions the spread of HIVAIDS, which isclosely associated with cultural practices suchas polygamy. Throughout the region there is a growing concernthat polygamous relationships are the basis for many ruralwomen’s oppression and exploitation. After three days of deepanalysis of the problems they are facing in their everyday life,they made the following demands: that the governments of theregion honour their commitment to the Maputo Declaration, wherethey all agreed to dedicate 10% of national budgets to agriculture;from this 10%, at least 60% should be allocated to small scalefarmers; scrap market-led land reform and land tenure policiesand instead enact popular people-led reform of land ownership;that our governments and SADC implement measures thatprotect our biodiversity, the atmosphere, the environment, nativeseeds, and our water resources; that our governments and SADCprotect our local markets from dumping of cheap foods at theexpense of achieving regional food sovereignty; that ourgovernments and SADC enact measures that prevent dumpingof toxic waste that destroys life on our soils, rivers and oceans;that our governments and SADC allocate greater resources tofighting preventable diseases linked to poverty (TB, Malaria)and implement an urgent plan of action to contain anderadicate the HIVAIDS pandemic; that our governments andSADC acknowledge that polygamy, as a cultural practice,oppresses women and therefore discourage this practice; thatour governments and SADC recognize that domestic violence,rape and abuse are destroying our societies and communities,therefore it requires common programs to retrain and resourceour Police, the Justice Systems, our social and culturalinstitutions and Education System.For the participants, the assembly was very inspiring, as it wasthe first time such an event happened in our region of theworld.Women went on into their minibuses back to their countries,full of a new energy and hope, and made an appointment for2010, maybe this time in Mozambique, for their secondassembly.Note: The assembly was coordinated by Women on FarmsProject (convening organization), African Institute for AgrarianStudies (AIAS), Eastern and Southern Small Scale FarmersForum (ESAFF), Land Access Movement South Africa(LAMOSA), Mozambique National Union of Farmers (UNAC),Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), National SmallHolders Farmer’s Association of Malawi (NASFAM), Trust forCommunity Outreach & Education (TCOE), Via CampesinaAfrica 1.
Southern Africa Rural Women:
Guardians of Land, Life and Love
Last year we heard a lot about the case of the SouthKorean company Daewoo, and the contract supposedlydealt with the Malagasy Government, about the rent for 99years of 1.3 million hectares of arable land in the country,i.e. half of the total of cultivable lands. After a lot of protests,at national and international levels, and as one of the pointsof discord in the complicated political situation in thiscountry, it seems that the Daewoo issue has been put intothe trash bin, even if civil society and more particularlyfarmers are still waiting for an official announcement by thecurrent government.But there is now another very important concern for thesmall farmers and local communities of the island: theactions of the Indian steel giant VARUN, mainly in theregions of Sofia and Atsinanana. This company, whicharrived in Madagascar in March 2008, first announced theywould carry on activities around mining exploration(uranium, oil, among other natural resources), but after theycreated several Malagasy companies, they also haveprojects in the agribusiness sector, for which they needhuge quantities of fertile lands already occupied by
Land Grab in Madagascar still relevant today
hundreds of farmers’ families. Due to this situation, deMalagasy Farmers Coalition (CPM, member of La ViaCampesina), feels there is a real danger for the farmers of thecountry, and more particularly in 13 districts of the provincesof Sofia, and is appealing to the local and national authoritiesnot to sign any agreement with VARUN, and are asking forinternational solidarity to support their struggle. For moreinformation, or to send a solidarity message to our friendsfrom Madagascar, please write email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org*
* Sources: Press Release by Defense des Terres Malgaches, and La coalition Paysanne Malgache, nº20, Sept-Oct 2009