Latest updates en Will the Global Agriculture Investing Conference Benefit the World or Just the Wealthy? land rights LandFor smallholder farmers women's land rights Food & land rights International Wed, 30 Apr 2014 14:26:47 +0000 doug.hertzler 530356 at Too much rain, Not enough water! Cambodia Asia Food & land rights International Tue, 08 Apr 2014 14:29:03 +0000 savann.oeurm 522418 at How an entire community benefits from child sponsorship <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/02/how-entire-community-benefits-child-sponsorship" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Last week I had the pleasure of visiting our Cambodia Country Programme. I arrived at Phnom Penh airport having not visited the city for nearly 20 years. I was immediately struck by the huge changes. Cars and SUVs have to a large extent replaced the bicycles and cyclos on the road into the city from the airport - exclusive hotels and apartment buildings are being constructed everywhere.</p><p>I had a very informative and interesting lunch with the Country Director, Caroline, and her SMT. We discussed their very positive approach to programme led funding and the need for more strategic communications to profile their good work. I was able to brief them on some of the major developments taking place at international level.</p><p>I then set off with Caroline and Kimtheng, Partnership Manager, for our field visit. We travelled to the town of Kampong Thom where we met three key groups at a very enjoyable and informative dinner. HOM (hilariously translated as Help Old Age and Miserable People Organisation) is the key ActionAid partner in this Local Rights Programme (LRP). Headed up by two great old guys called Korng Saom and Ol Sameach, HOM is working with local fishing communities, implementing strong HRBA programming and enabling child sponsorship in the LRP. They work closely with two other organisations who I also got to meet at the dinner: FACT (Fishery Action Coalition Team) which brings together local fisherfolk to advocate with and for them. And CCF (The Coalition of Cambodia Fisheries), which is an umbrella organisation representing fisher communities at grassroots level and links up to the national advocacy level.</p><p>In a really interesting example of how a programme led funding planning approach can link the local and national approaches to our work, ActionAid Cambodia enables HOM to make a small proportion of its Child Sponsorship income available to FACT and CCA. What this means is that ActionAid is able to make a real difference in the lives of the communities in this region - both through our traditional community-based development work and through effective advocacy at regional and national level.</p><p>We spent the night in a local hotel and set off early the next morning to visit a community in Kampong Kor commune in the Kampong Svay district of Kampong Thom province. The settlement we visited is temporary. Located on the banks of the lake area, it enables the community to have access to the livelihood offered through fishing during the dry season. The community stays here for several months and life is very basic: simple tarpaulin shelters, no sanitation facilities and no electricity.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 22285" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="416" /></p><p>We had a really informative discussion with community representatives. They described the harsh deforestation that has taken place in the area since 2007 and the impact that this is having on local biodiversity. They also told us about how ActionAid partners had helped them prevent private companies from gaining access to their fish stocks, but also noted that informal illegal fishing was still threatening their livelihoods. ActionAid partners are supporting work to monitor and challenge this illegal fishing activity. And they told us about their hopes for a permanent dam that would hold water levels at the lake and enable fish stocks to replenish. In a pretty impressive feat of amateur engineering, the community has already built a dam that seemed to be working well when we walk passed it on the way to the community. But the 'home made' dam does not stand up to the ravages of the wet season and the community end up having to undertake the back breaking and time consuming work of rebuilding it each year. A permanent dam would cost only about $35,000 and&nbsp;ActionAid partners are working with the community on an advocacy project to have the local authority support this.</p><p>We learnt about the local fishing committee (whose community-elected head is a brilliantly articulate and enthusiastic guy called Yen Morng). The committee came across as a strong and vibrant group that has - by their own accounts - benefited massively from ActionAid partner training and capacity building. There was some good natured banter as to why only two of the eleven committee members are women and I had some hope that Yen Morng had taken our comments on board that more women need to be involved in this important work.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 22283" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="740" /></p><p>We also talked about Child Sponsorship. There are a number of sponsored children in the community and their parents had a good understanding of why we collect child messages and photos and how this translates into some of the positive changes they are seeing in their community.</p><p>And then we had a treat. A ride on one of the community fishing boats around the local waterscape. We visited a shelter on the lake built with ActionAid support that enables community members to monitor illegal fishing.</p><p>Finally we returned to shore for a lunch of rice and fresh fish with the community before heading back to Phnom Penh. Lunch was a significant battle with a persistent plague of flies, but the fish was delicious.</p><p>I was very impressed by what I saw in Kampong Thom province. The community is benefiting from a programme approach that sees strategic allocation of child sponsorship income, a really tangible linking of the local and national through the advocacy partners and a genuine sense that the community is learning the skills that will make it self-reliant.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 22284" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="416" /></p> </div> Cambodia Asia child sponsorship Food & land rights International Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:11:56 +0000 matthew.beard 509680 at From individual responsibility to group strength <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/02/individual-responsibility-group-strength" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Having not visited Vietnam for over twenty years, the first thing that struck me was how much things have changed. Ho Chi Minh is a modern metropolis and our trip south started on a modern new highway - a far cry from my memories of 1993!</p><p>Last Thursday I had the pleasure of joining the <a href="">ActionAid Vietnam</a> team (including Thao - Country Director, Hien - the Head of Fundraising, and Programme colleagues) on a visit to a Local Rights Programme (LRP) in the Vinh Long province in the Mekong Delta, west of Ho Chi Minh City.</p><p>After three and a half hour going past lush rice fields, our first stop was to visit ActionAid's partner in the province. The Supporting Programme for Development (SPD) of Vung Liem District is a long term partner of ActionAid and in our meeting, SPD's programme coordinator, Mr. Ngo Van Tuong, outlined some of the recent achievements of their ActionAid supported programme. Through the programme, SPD and ActionAid have:</p><ul><li>Supported 480 local people (including 250 women) with access to alternative off-farm livelihoods.</li><li>Supported a successful programme of training around mushroom cultivation (see the great story on this just below).</li><li>Trained 9 groups of women and youth to be able to engage effectively in dialogue with local officials on good governance and public service.</li><li>Organised local communities to conduct Participatory Vulnerability Analysis as the basis for advocacy on community based resilience plans.</li><li>Supported more than 500 women with gender-based violence and gender discrimination training.</li></ul><p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="File 22232" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="415" /></p><p>We visited a local family who have benefited from ActionAid's work in the area. Nguyen Van Viet and his wife, Nua, live with their 10 year old daughter in a modest home in the area. Viet and Nua have a small plot of land and the rice they plant on it is usually not enough to last for four months of the year. Neither of them have an alternative full time job. Between the crops, Viet does manage to get some work as a hired labourer but earns only about £2 per day for this work.</p><p>Viet is a member of the Farmers' Union and there he learnt to cultivate mushrooms from rice husks. Possible for only three months per year, his mushroom work used to yield about $200 per month. But in 2013, Viet had the chance to join ActionAid’s alternative livelihoods group. There he learnt about new ways of working and new options for his family’s livelihood. He participated in training organised by SDP to improve the efficiency of mushroom cultivation. Impressively, he is now able to generate $800 in those three harvest months - an amazing difference that is having a fundamental impact on life quality and security for him, Nua and their daughter.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 22230" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="415" /></p><p>And it gets better. Viet is now using the knowledge he acquired to train his neighbours and friends - a fantastic example of a community based approach to sustainable livelihoods work. He has helped four other poor families like his own to generate additional income through the recycling of agricultural by-products.</p><p>In the past, Viet and some others in the village sold the mushrooms as individual producers. Now, with ActionAid's support, they have also been organized into a group, so that they can negotiate better with intermediaries on price. During our discussion, he was happily talking about the day when his group will be able to sell the mushrooms throughout the year to supermarkets in Hochiminh City!</p><p>Viet is so proud of his wife and daughter and he smiled warmly as he described his gratitude to ActionAid for empowering him to make these changes in his life. The family’s hospitality and grace were humbling and I was moved by a great story of change to the lives of these three people. The challenge now is to scale this great mushroom cultivation work to enable more families to benefit.</p><p>They offered us friendly goodbyes with bashful smiles and three mangos from their tree in the garden. In English, Viet’s daughter invited me to come back and visit. Her good English was proof that this successful livelihoods work actually brings more benefits than just additional income to a poor family.</p><p>Our final stop was to join the monthly meeting of a local women's group supported by SDP. Group members are women in the village, who are daily wage workers, house keepers and landless women. The group includes five members who are the poorest in the village with income of less than VND 450,000 (£13) per month. The group members confidently talked about their families, their children, their daily work, their interests and their concerns.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 22231" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="425" /></p><p>They explained how they gain insight, support and encouragement from each other. Each month, the group meets to discuss issues of concern: domestic violence, HIV, gender equality and livelihoods. A lot of these women used to face domestic violence from their husbands or in-laws. But with the awareness they gained from the ActionAid and SPD training, and with the support from other group members, the violence has decreased. And all of them are now fully confident to assert their rights with their husbands and in-laws; on issues of reproductive health, control over their own bodies, their time and resources.</p><blockquote><p>Before, I had to hide the fact that I participated in the group meetings but now my husband encourages me to go and he shares the workload with me. He has started asking for my opinion when deciding on things. My family also has an additional income from borrowing the revolving fund of the group to raise pigs. I would like ActionAid to give us more training, especially on household economy management, with a lot of stories and pictures to make it easy to understand, as you did before on other topics.</p></blockquote><p>- Ms. Be Nam, a group member, shared with us.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It was really great to see how these women have moved from individual vulnerability to group strength – a true testament to the power in people to make change in their own lives.</p> </div> Vietnam Asia Food & land rights Womens Rights International Mon, 24 Feb 2014 12:15:08 +0000 matthew.beard 509001 at Action on land grabs: Supporting women <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/01/action-land-grabs-supporting-women" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p><em>This article was originally published in <a href="">Food Ethics Magazine</a> and was co-written by <a href="">Kysseline Chérestal</a> and <a href="">Catherine Gatundu</a>.</em></p><p>That land is important to grow food, as a place to build a home and a source of identity, is not up for debate. For poor women and men in rural communities around the world, land is an essential asset as a source of security and livelihoods. Yet, recent data shows that more than 33 million hectares (about 2.5 times the size of England) have been taken away from millions of rural people living in poverty, to make way for biofuels, mining, tourism, and dubious ‘public interest’ projects, threatening their food security, their livelihoods and sometimes their lives.</p><p>Women are particularly vulnerable. Although they produce more than half of the food consumed in their countries, they are much less likely to own the land they till, which hinders their ability to participate in decision-making and exercise their rights. Women rarely have control over land, and even in areas where land is owned individually, it is estimated that less than 2% is femaleowned. This puts women and their dependents at a higher risk of losing their land rights through land grabs, resulting in hunger, poverty, and lack of access to basic human rights such as food, education and health.</p><p>Land grabs pre-empt land reforms that secure the legitimate land and resource rights of women and other marginalized communities. At ActionAid, we have long supported women in their fight to access and control land. By defending their rights, they (and the communities they belong to) gain the value of the land not only as a productive resource, but as a source of status, political mobilisation, and security for themselves and their descendents.</p><p>ActionAid defines land grabs according to the Tirana declaration, characterised by human rights violations, a lack of transparency and a lack of consent by the host community. The impacts are almost always negative and irreversible and include displacement, loss of livelihoods and culture, increased food insecurity for communities, and increased workload for women. Promises of food, jobs, schools, and other benefits are often left unfulfilled. Instead, communities find themselves going to bed hungry at night, facing competition for an insufficient number of jobs that do not even provide living wages, and living in a degraded environment, where there is increased concentration of land in the hands of a wealthy and powerful minority.</p><p>There are many drivers of land grabs around the world, including initiatives touted as green solutions to the energy needs of northern countries. Demand for biofuels in the EU and the US has stimulated a rush for land that is pushing communities aside to make way for biofuel plantations. Serious human rights violations, lack of transparency, and absence of consultation and consent of the communities, have been the hallmark of these transactions. With no land to grow their own food, women and their communities are forced to depend on the market, as increased demand and reduced supply drives up local food prices, pushing even more people into hunger.</p><p>Multinational corporations are key players in land grabbing, often acting in conjunction with governments that create the policies and broker the deals that undermine land rights. Donor governments and international financial institutions play a critical role in land grabs by crafting the policies, financial incentives, and development programmes that place business interests ahead of the interests of local communities. Among the top governments engaged in large scale land deals are the UK, the USA, and many northern investors. From Tanzania to Guatemala, ActionAid is supporting communities of women and smallholder farmers to assert their land rights, helping them stand a better chance to resist land grabs. Similar experiences abound in places like Kenya and Haiti, where the tangible benefits of empowered women and communities claiming their rights to land are clear. And we are making progress.</p><p>In Haiti, ActionAid works with the Je Nan Je movement (‘Eye to Eye’ in Creole) to resist land grabs affecting nearly one third of the country, where more than 67% of the population rely on local agriculture for food and livelihoods, but the overwhelming majority of the population faces land tenure insecurity. The Je Nan Je platform engages with decision-makers in the US and in Haiti to inform their post-earthquake reconstruction policies and programmes, and has helped introduce legislation in the US and sensitize policy-makers in Haiti to address the land and food security rights of Haitian communities. In Kenya, ActionAid supported the 20,000-member Dakatcha Woodland community when they were threatened with eviction from their land. The community won the fight when the investor was refused permission to acquire the land.</p><p>A number of opportunities also exist at the international level to support women and communities in their fight against land grabs, and for secured access and control over their land and its resources. For instance, we have made progress on biofuels. In October 2012, the European Union announced a proposal to limit the percentage of food crops used towards renewable energy targets. And legislation has been introduced in the US that would reduce the mandates for some crop-based biofuels. Also crucial is the implementation of the African Union Framework and Guidelines for Land Policy adopted by Africa Heads of States in 2009. The framework offers guidance to guarantee and protect women’s rights to land. The ongoing process of developing principles to guide large scale land based investment must strengthen women’s ability to defend their land rights.</p><p>It is vitally important to push donor and host governments, as well as multilateral institutions and corporations, to fully implement the United Nations Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (Tenure Guidelines), which were adopted in 2012 and endorsed by representatives of donor and host governments, civil society organizations, private sector representatives, international organizations and academics.</p><p>The Tenure Guidelines establish internationally accepted standards for responsible governance of tenure to improve food security, and are an important tool to support communities so they can assert and defend their land rights against land grabs. The Guidelines recognise that securing land rights is a precondition for sustainable development and food security and that investment in smallholder farmers and by smallholder farmers is preferable to large scale land acquisitions. They recommend that safeguards be put in place to protect the tenure rights of local people from large-scale land transactions.</p><p>The CFS has also embarked on the development of principles for responsible agricultural investment. The process was launched in 2012 and is due to conclude in 2014 with endorsement of the principles. The CFS represents the most appropriate place to conduct this process, as the most important multi-stakeholder platform for food security where civil society has a seat at the negotiating table, and those most affected by irresponsible investment can have a voice. The outcome of this process should include protections for smallholder farmers – most of whom are women – and their land rights that address the specific drivers of land grabs and promote policies that protect communities, particularly women, against them. Responsible investment must follow clear parameters, so that private sector activities are in line with international human rights principles, including the right to food.</p><p>All of us must do what we can to influence decision-makers at home and inside multilateral institutions such as the World Bank that play a crucial role in land grabs. We can take action, and advocate alongside communities facing land grabs, campaigning for policies that prioritise land rights and food security and discourage discrimination against women. We can push governments and businesses to ensure that investment in land does not threaten women’s rights. We can insist that governments prioritise land reforms and investment in rural communities aimed at creating a vibrant and prosperous small scale farming sector, whilst ensuring that women are fully supported with rural support services, tenure security and land rights. In doing so, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the women who represent 70% of the world’s poor, and the 870 million on our fertile planet who are food insecure, to ensure their fair and effective participation in a land governance framework that puts them first.</p> </div> land grabs Food & land rights Womens Rights International Mon, 13 Jan 2014 13:17:02 +0000 Kysseline.Cherestal 503672 at Time to decide: food for people or food for cars? biofuels Food & land rights International Fri, 08 Nov 2013 16:10:32 +0000 491155 at No food for fuel Europe biofuels EU RED World Food Day Food & land rights International Tue, 22 Oct 2013 20:17:29 +0000 Laura.Sullivan 487265 at Indigestion at the World Food Prize! USA Americas Food & land rights International Fri, 18 Oct 2013 11:09:09 +0000 doug.hertzler 486931 at A victory on World Food Day in Brazil! <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2013/10/victory-world-food-day-brazil" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Every year, the 16th of October is celebrated around the world as World Food Day.</p><p>All over the world, people and civil society organisations take this opportunity to speak out about the type of agriculture that they want, and push for more investment in farming and better policies to tackle hunger.</p><p>This year in Brazil, an extremely serious situation was developing which could have had a huge impact on the country’s agriculture and food systems.</p><p>Members of Parliament aligned with the agribusiness sector were trying to pass Bill n° 268/2007 that would allow the production and use of GMO suicide seeds, better known as Terminators.</p><p>These seeds do not germinate after harvest, meaning that farmers have to buy new seeds for each crop.</p><blockquote><p>Now can you imagine World Food Day being celebrated alongside the approval of this outrageous project?</p></blockquote><p>It was not something that I wanted. And neither did other NGOs and social movements in Brazil. So, we built a civil society alliance to block this negotiation in Congress.</p><p>We created a <a href="">global petition</a> to raise awareness and call on Congress support to reject this bill.</p><p>It was a huge success. In three days we collected thousands of signatures.</p><p>On Wednesday 16th October – World Food Day – the group of civil society representatives went to the Commission of the Congress where the Members of Congress were set to vote on this bill to speak with them and the President of the Commission.</p><p>The group presented the petition and delivered more than 15,000 online signatures asking the Commission to withdraw the bill.</p><blockquote><p>The President of the Commission stated then that in the time that he remains in office, he will not put this bill to Congress for approval</p></blockquote><p>It is a decision that will protect food security and biodiversity in our country.&nbsp; And meant that we could properly celebrate the 16th of October!</p><p>Although it is not the final victory – the bill is still there, just stalled – it’s a huge achievement. We’re ready to continue fighting for peoples’ rights to food in this and other processes.</p><p>It was only because of the support received by the people, together with the alliance of civil society organisations in Brazil and abroad that we were able to accomplish this result.</p><p>The right to food is a human right and must not be undermined by the interest of companies to obtain more profit. We will continue to monitor track this proposal and will stay firm in the fight for the promotion of a real food security and the protection of biodiversity.</p> </div> Brazil Americas GMO hunger World Food Day Food & land rights International Thu, 17 Oct 2013 17:54:21 +0000 marcelo.montenegro 486279 at Keep off our land! <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2013/09/keep-our-land" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>You may remember the Tana River Delta. It hit international news channels about 9 months ago when <a href="">many people were killed in clashes between rival communities over grazing rights</a>.</p><p>These incidents highlighted a major problem in Kenya’s Coast Region – that of access to land. Now, these age old conflicts between communities are being made worse, as large areas of land are being snapped up by big companies and wealthy individuals.</p><h2>Good news</h2><p>But in the last few weeks we’ve received some good news from the Tana River Delta. Two major investors – Canadian owned Bedford Biofuels and the British G4 Industries – have opted out and closed up shop, signalling an end to their efforts to secure large amounts of land in the delta.</p><p>This is great news for the communities living there.</p><blockquote><p>Not only has an important nature area been safeguarded, but the local farming communities will still have access to their land</p></blockquote><p>It signals a turning tide for a region under threat, where large plots of land within the delta have been set aside for industrial scale farming and mining by the Kenyan Government, private agencies and international companies.</p><p>The area has been squeezed further, with settlement schemes taking up some of the most important dry season pastures within the delta, and communities from outside the pastoral areas settling there to undertake crop farming. This has no doubt exacerbated resourced conflicts such as the one witnessed last year, due to competition for ever shrinking common resources.</p><p>But whilst communities within the delta can breathe a little easier now that the threat of their land being taken has decreased, the area is still part of an international scramble as companies and agencies race to exploit its riches to produce crops for export, biofuels and minerals.</p><p>Other companies are still trying to take advantage of the fertile land that the delta has to offer.</p><p>The Mumias Sugar Company, Kenya’s biggest sugar company, has plans to turn 40,000 hectares of the delta into a sugar cane plantation and other companies are trying to follow suit.</p><h2><strong>It’s our land!</strong></h2><p>But the communities are fighting back and protecting their land.</p><p>Following a campaign by ActionAid Kenya and other partners in 2011, the growing of <a href="">jatropha for biofuels was banned in the Coast Region.</a></p><p>We were also able to stop an Italian company called Nuove Iniziative Industriali from taking land which is home to a community of 20,000 people in the nearby Dakatcha Woodlands.</p><blockquote><p>This was a massive victory for the people of Dakatcha who campaigned heavily not to lose their homes and farmland</p></blockquote><p>But there’s more that can be done.</p><p>Over 75% of the land in the coastal region is classed as Trust Land, which under a new law should now belong to the communities that live and farm the land.</p><p>That’s why we’re working with the communities of the Tana River Delta region to make them aware of the change in laws.</p><p>By knowing their rights, the people living in the delta can put an end to big companies grabbing their land without permission.</p> </div> Africa Kenya biofuel Dakatcha land grabs Tana River Delta Food & land rights International Mon, 30 Sep 2013 10:28:15 +0000 david.barissa 482545 at