La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa Press Statement
Harare, May 17, 2018 – As Climate Change continues to suffocate rural communities in the Global South, the African peasantry is probably the most affected social category by this phenomenon. After over two decades of the United Nations negotiations on Climate Change, very little was achieved in terms of agreeing on – and adopting – real solutions to the increasingly changing climate.
African governments are failing to propose African endogenous solutions to Climate Change, limiting themselves to adopting “strange” ideas, such as Climate Smart Agriculture, and imposing them to farmers across the continent. So far, peasant farmers and other grassroots communities have been excluded from the equation, silencing their voices.
As a response, peasant farmers of La Via Campesina in Southern and Eastern Africa and allies resolved to send an open letter to the Ministerial Committee responsible for Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment of their respective regional governmental bodies to demand climate justice and the adoption of peasant based solutions, such as Agroecology and Food Sovereignty. The resolution was made today at the end of the Regional Encounter on Climate Justice, held in Harare, from May 14-16, bringing together peasants from Republic Democratic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as allied organizations from Africa and elsewhere.
According to Elizabeth Mpofu, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Small-Holder Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF, the host of the encounter) and general coordinator of La Via Campesina International, “we are demanding an involvement of our civil society organisations and movements in decision making process regarding Climate Change because we have an accumulated experience and knowledge that must be recognized as a real solution. We wonder why should we continue to buy solutions coming from far”, she said.
The open letter, which will be handed over to the SADC and COMESA secretariats, denounces hostilities and policies that are against peasant farmers, such as the criminalization of the peasant way of life and resistance, land grabbing, among others. The letter goes on to expose the attempt of the governments in the region to commodify agriculture and biodiversity. Exchange of seeds among farmers, the letter says, is on verge to be legally prohibited, access to water and land increasingly negated and use of forest resources limited.
Climate Justice, which is seen beyond the environmental and physical aspects of Climate Change, has to be understood in its ethical and political dimension. This indicates that implementation of peasant based solutions and consideration of their voices are indispensable elements to building climate justice in the continent, the letter says.
While making legitimate and urgent demands on the governments to seriously address climate change, and allowing climate justice to flourish, African peasants pledge to continue to build agroecology and Food Sovereignty from below, including production of popular education and advocacy materials.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Brenda Muronda: +263 772 921 285 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Mpofu: +263 772 443 716 | Email: email@example.com