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By Mina Remy
February 18th, 2015
Contrary to Western assertions, Africa is not a blank slate.
Africans have a long history of vibrant culture, politics, economics and agriculture. However, since Europe’s first encounter with Africa through present day, international “decisionmakers” have approached the African continent as though it was devoid of people along with history. Africa is imagined out of context, and those projections become the basis for policy.
In our times, the battle for Africa is being waged one plot of agricultural land at a time. Control of Africa’s food system is being wrested away from peasant farmers and being turned over to agribusinesses such as Monsanto under the guise of agricultural development.
Grassroots International and our global partners are leading the way in developing sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world. From farming cooperatives and seed banks, to passing laws that protect ancestral lands and defending the human right to land, water, and food, together we take on big struggles and win important gains. Below are just some of the successes achieved in 2014 with support from Grassroots International, standing up to challenge poverty, climate disruption and human rights abuses.
Moving Towards an International Declaration on the Rights of Peasants
By Stephen Bartlett and Beverly Bell
December 15th, 2014
Honduras is the country with the highest level of homicide of any nation not at war, where government violence and human rights abuses have almost total impunity. It is also the country contributing most of the flood of children who have been recently forced to migrate to the US, because of that violence and by poverty – both, in part, a legacy of US policy in the region.
Yet something else is afoot. A fierce social movement, composed of many sectors, is pushing back to protect democracy, lives, and political rights. Indigenous peoples, including Garifuna, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Maya Chortí, and Tolupan, are asserting their human right to autonomy, territory, and cultural survival.
This spring, Grassroots International was invited to participate in a project of the Kindle Project called the "Indie Philanthropy Initiative." For more information about the project, visit indph.org. The interview below includes reflections from Nikhil Aziz and Sara Mersha.
How do you do your funding and please describe your organization’s approach and process, explaining how it is different from conventional philanthropy.
In the morning of September 30, 2014, members of the National Police and military conducted an eviction in the Afro-descendant and indigenous (Garifuna) community of Barra Vieja, Tela, in northern Honduras. Members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, or OFRANEH, are demanding respect for their right to their ancestral home and an immediate return of the usurped lands.
Widespread protests and strategic organizing succeeded in defending Mayan lands and food sovereignty in Guatemala. This marks a major – and unprecedented – victory as the congress repealed the “Monsanto Law,” preventing threatened exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies.
Although the damaging impacts of hydroelectric development are widely known, the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy reportedly plans to construct 168 new dams by 2021, including the massive Belo Monte Dam.
In honor of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples I’d like to tell you the story of Dina Julaju Quiche.
Dina is a young, petite woman. Her calm demeanor and smile does not give any impression of her struggles as a single mother trying to raise four children on a 150 square foot piece of land.
Thousands of families throughout Brazil face threats to their homes and livelihoods from large hydroelectric dam projects. Driven by corporate profit interests, the number of mega dam projects in Brazil has increase significantly in recent years, displacing farming and indigenous communities, diverting water from local communities, and increasing deforestation and methane emissions.
The Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), a Grassroots Partner, organizes among these communities. In this video Alexania Rossato and Josivaldo Alves de Oliveira of MAB talk about the challenges and successes of their work, about building sustainable grassroots movements, and the value of international solidarity.
Governments and international agencies frequently boast that small farmers control the largest share of the world's agricultural land. When the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation inaugurated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, he sang the praises of family farmers but didn't once mention the need for land reform. Instead, he announced that family farms already manage most of the world's farmland – a whopping 70%, according to his team.