16 OCTOBER 2019
International Rural Women’s Day and World Food Day
This is the moment when this week the world and the United Nations (UN) commemorate and celebrate International Rural Women’s Day and World Food Day.
Both these days, October 15 and 16, are commemorated widely by governments and many other organisations in the world who are concerned with the production, preservation and distribution of food to ensure food security.
World Food Day is linked to Sustainable Development Goal no.2, zero hunger, aimed at the potential of the agricultural sector to provide nutritious food for all while supporting rural economies. The theme for this year is, “to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone”.
As the main producers of nutritious food world wide this goal cannot be achieved without supporting rural women.
What is clear to the Rural Women’s Assembly is that the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has good intentions. However, despite all their ongoing engagements with global governments, businesses and NGOs, millions of people, especially Africans and rural women continue to have no or little access to healthy, culturally appropriate food which is ecologically and sustainably produced, where especially women farmers can themselves control the means of production.
These rights are continuously being stripped away due to a lack of women’s access to land, the patenting of seeds, the promotion of genetically modified foods and seeds and, chemical fertilizers over indigenous seeds and organic fertilizers. The fact that the rights of rural women are yet to be realised, exacerbates the loss of biodiversity, soil degradation and balanced and nutritious diets, making it clear that there is a lack of commitment by those in power to achieve zero hunger.
Apart from the increasingly unequal distribution of resources; access to land, water and infrastructure which perpetuate deep inequality, hunger and poverty, we have to recognise that climate change and the climate crisis are key factors in relation to the current crisis in agriculture.
Predictive models indicate that as global temperatures increase, there will be a decrease in crop yields for regions that have been historically viable. This means that there may be a significant shift in crop production. These effects are not limited to crop yield alone. Livestock and its supporting workforce will also be negatively impacted by exposure to higher temperatures.
However, agriculture is also dependent on other important ecological patterns, such as rainfall and the availability of water beneath the earth’s surface. Because these anticipated changes are not understood with great accuracy, the exact impact of climate change on local communities remain unknown. And as such the ability of communities to mitigate the impacts and to survive the effects of the climate crisis are even more difficult.
Today, South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province is experiencing its worst drought in living memory. Farmers are being forced to sell their livestock, before they die off from the drought.
Among the stated development goals of the Eastern Cape Provincial Administration is developing an innovative rural development and high value agricultural sector. However, in the context of the severe drought in that province, RWA activists report that they have not seen a single step taken by the provincial government towards achieving this goal
This crisis is not only in South Africa. The entire Southern African region has over the past decades seen increasingly severe drought, cyclones and storms.
For us in the Rural Women’s Assembly, the demands are clear, our governments have to invest in agro-ecology, in community seed banks, and in local alternatives.
We have to build local, national and regional level food sovereignty! We say ACT NOW!
LESOTHO – World Food Day celebration in Mafeteng, involving dialogues with different government ministers on the impact of climate change and agricultural policies. RWA activists will display and trade of their hand made products, and engage in seed sharing.
MALAWI – National event on food and nutrition.
SOUTH AFRICA, WESTERN CAPE – Mawubuye Land Rights Movement and the RWA will be holding a teach-in public event in Genadendal on Saturday October 19 from 10am to 2pm.
SOUTH AFRICA, EASTERN CAPE – Launch of Rural Women’s Assembly branch in Centane.
SOUTH AFRICA, NORTHERN CAPE – Speak out and celebration with rural women in Kuruman.
ZAMBIA – Seed sharing event in Ndola as well as promotion of indigenous food crops.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT PLEASE CONTACT MERCIA ANDREWS ON 082 368 3429