For the RWA the story of Mandela is a story of struggle that started in the rural village where land and rural livelihoods was at the foundation of his life experience. Mandela’s life was a struggle for many freedoms! But his story and struggle is not the only journey for freedom.
South Africa also inspired Ghandi to lead a long march against colonialism. Then in 1954 women undertook the historic march against apartheid! Women from across South Africa marched on the 9th August against the pass laws. All these struggles and many others inspired our campaign and proposal to launch the campaign for the Long March to Freedom.
It is also a campaign that wants to say we also need: “freedom from landlessness, freedom from poverty, hunger, freedom from violence and oppression”.
The decision to launch the campaign on 21st March is to coincide with Human Rights Day so that we as the RWA can make the link between the right to food, land, women’s rights and human rights and dignity.But the launch is only the beginning of the campaign.
This procession through Cape Town is also about solidarity between rural women, struggles of farm dwellers, forest workers, landless and small producers.
In addition, it will also be a moment to connect with the poor in the townships and build bridges with those fighting for decent work and food. We will be building solidarity with those who say no to rising food prices, to GMOs and the corporate capture of our food system.
This is a significant moment because on the 21st March the RWA (South Africa) will not only launch the campaign for land but it will bring together hundreds of rural women from across South Africa presenting popular organisations and NGOs in a common platform.
Daud Kayisi: Media & Communications Coordinator, Malawi
She has no structures she can call home. She has no maize that would assure her of the next day’s meal. She has no kitchen utensils anyway! She has no luxury for choosing what to wear because she is only left with her red dress and a chitenje (wrapper). She has no toilet. Her ten chickens and three goats were all washed away. This describes the life of a 27 year old Marita Wyson, a flood victim from Shayibu village Traditional Authority Mkanda in Mulanje district.
“I take each day as it comes because I am not even sure what it has in store for me”, Marita told me when I asked her how the floods have affected her. “What if heavy rains come again and this school [now a flood victims’ camp] is washed away again. Life is really difficult now because floods have literally ‘killed’ me and my family.”
Since Marita and her husband hardly had a chance to rescue any of their cooking utensils, life has become “hell” at the camp because sometimes they do not even have drinking water.
“I can’t draw water because I have no buckets to do so and for the past one week or so I have been depending on other families I met at the camp. However, the water we are using is not clean because it is being fetched from muddy shallow wells and we do not even have a luxury to purify it,” narrates Marita.
However, the single mother of three can now afford to smile somewhat, thanks to water sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) items that Oxfam has given her.
“I don’t know how to say it, but I am very thankful to what Oxfam has done. I can now draw water and purify it with water guard. As you can see, the only clothes I have are the ones I am wearing now and this hygiene kit will help me restore the dignity I would have lost as a woman.”
Early this month, floods hit 15 of the country’s 28 districts, killing 53 people and displacing 121 000 people across the country. Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management says 153 people are still missing and 638,000 have been affected with the violent waters. Oxfam in Malawi’s Situation Report indicates that although data of the victims hasn’t been desegregated yet, women and children are the most disproportionally affected.
This prompted President Peter Wamutharika, to declare Malawi a state of disaster and called on well wishers, the international community and NGOs to assist in the rescue process and aiding those that have been affected.
In a rapid response to the presidential call, Oxfam through its Malawi office is aiding more than 4000 households in Mulanje, one of the hardest hit districts. So far, Oxfam has allocated £100 000 which is among other things being used to buy water purification tablets, hygiene kits for women, temporary toilets, buckets and plastic sheets that people can use to elect temporary shelters.
Meanwhile, Oxfam in Malawi is designing an emergency food security and livelihood project that will not only support the affected communities to access safe and dignified WaSH services, but also enhance recovery of their livelihoods.
This project will make Marita’s wish come true.“Since all my crops were washed away, I desire to replant early maturing crops because without doing so, my family’s life will be miserable because we do not have food now and we will not be surviving on aid forever,” says Marita.
We’ve come here together as a group of farmers. We meet each fortnight to support each other and listen to problems and solutions.
I’m a small scale farmer growing crops. I have leased my farm from the government but it’s not very secure and I’ve had people steal my crops many times already.
The weather is not the same as when I was younger – it’s hot then cold then frosty and windy – even the soil becomes confused. And now, even though we’ve planted, the crops don’t grow. I have to manually water all my crops.
When they fail I get so frustrated – it’s how I pay my school fees, my electricity bills. If I can’t pay them I’m crying as my lights are cut off.
I feel frustrated because I’ve tried to make a living but when they don’t grow my budget doesn’t cover what I need it to.
We’re also very insecure as women working on open land. We’ve got to lock ourselves into our houses with our children as people who are hungry and unemployed steal from us. When we come together as a group, we share solutions and help each other.
When we come together as a big group of women, we have the strength to push on. United we stand, divided we fall. To other women I say you must fight – for you, your children, your neighbours. Pursue your dream – there’s always light.
I’ve been campaigning since I was born. When I was 9 years old I travelled with my granny and mother to Pretoria to join a protest during the fight against Apartheid.
In our community I can see people are struggling. I’m a strong, hardworking women and I work with the community. But it’s hard when we feel no one is listening to us. I’m a very active woman who looks out for others in the community. If people have land that they aren’t using to grow food, I help teach them to do it. I have a vegetable garden in the backyard of a church where I grow spinach and cabbage. When it’s time to harvest I take it to children in the community who are hungry, as well as older people who don’t have a family to help them. Whatever I plant goes back to the community.
There’s a lot of hunger in my community. You can see it when you go to people’s homes and the kitchen’s empty. They need support.
Some of my neighbours who are in their 30s are orphans, as they lost their parents when they fought Apartheid. As a parent my heart gets sore for young teenagers who start using drugs. And the drugs make them hungrier, meaning they get aggressive.
The biggest challenge in changing things is getting access to the people in power. The government must hear our voice.
One day I hope to be the woman who was able to stand up and get the message to the other side. The main thing I want is my voice to be heard.
Women – let’s stand up and make change. Let’s unite and be one, with one voice, and approach the government together. Work hard. You must stand up and make change for yourself and your community. We must join together, and not stand apart and be divided.
One in four people in sub-Saharan Africa are hungry, the worst prevalence of any region in the world and more than double the global average. Climate change is a major contributor to this, threatening the ability of more and more people to grow and buy enough to eat. Southern Africa is particularly vulnerable with up to 80% of national populations relying for their food, income and employment on agriculture, which is mostly rain fed and highly climate- dependent.
80% of the food in the region is produced by small scale farmers, 75% of which is due to the contributions of women. However, they disproportionately suffer the impacts of climate change, which exacerbate already existing vulnerabilities, including insecure access to land and water for production. With a wealth of indigenous knowledge and practices, smallholder farmers, especially women, are the backbone of food security in southern Africa and are pursuing alternative forms of agriculture that are sustainable, efficient and resilient.
However, unless small scale farmers, particularly women, get the support they need, climate change will reverse any development gains made and the number of southern Africans suffering from hunger will continue to rise.
The Southern Africa Food and Climate Justice Campaign is a coalition of civil society organisations and associations of rural women from across the region, working together against hunger and vulnerabilty in the face of climate change. We are calling for support for small scale food producers and women who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Support our right to produce food in a changing climate
-invest in small scale food producers especially women
-secure our access to land and water
-promote indigenous knowledge, practices and seeds
A year after super-typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, a new report issued today by the Pan-Asian Oxfam team, Can’t Afford to Wait: Briefing Note calls for governments across Asia, backed by regional and global institutions and fair contributions from wealthy countries, to ramp up efforts to address vulnerability.
In its review of recovery after the typhoon , the team has shown that one year since Haiyan struck, families in the Philippines continue to struggle for resources to resume their livelihoods. As a result, they often have to prioritize other household expenses at the expense of food. This is despite the significant levels of humanitarian assistance delivered to the Philippines by government. Over one million poor coconut farming households and 200,000 poor fishing households have been affected. Oxfam has worked across 32 municipalities since last November, investing 23 million USD (of a 60 million USD three-year plan) to help over 868,960 people with clean water supplies, community latrines, water pumps, cash vouchers for food and home repairs, fishing boat replacement and repairs, clearing coconut tree debris, and setting up sawmills to convert the debris into lumber for shelters.
Oxfam looked into the quality of the most important disaster risk and climate policies across Asia, including Philippines. Climate change contributes to increasingly devastating extreme weather events like droughts, torrential rains, storms, and typhoons like killer typhoon Haiyan. Government response is crucial. The Oxfam Asia report shows how governments create laws and plans. This is essential, but not enough to protect their citizens against climate disasters. Governments need to start acting and deliver on their plans. The main challenges across a group of five Asian countries which the Oxfam research zoomed into are: emphasis on recovery and relief after disasters strike but not on more effective investment in resilience; a lack of information on the needs of the most vulnerable communities which rely most on government action; a lack of local and multi-sectoral government capacity; and a lack of policy impact monitoring and evaluation.
Climate change disasters are not the preserve of Asia. Southern Africa has also had its share of such disasters albeit not at the same scale and policy responses appear similar to those of the Asian countries. Recent trends indicate that both sudden and slow onset disasters may increase in frequency and intensity. Some of the most common climate change disasters that have been experienced in this region include droughts, floods, extreme temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. African surface temperatures have increased by 0.5-2 °C over the past 100 years. Between 1950 and 2000, Namibia experienced warming at a rate of 0.023°C per year . Similarly, during the same period Botswana received warming at a rate of 0.017°C per year
Moreover, the frequency of hydrological events has shown marked increases in Southern African countries. During the decade from 1980 to 1999, the United Nations Statistics Office documented only a total of eight hydrological events among the countries within the Zambezi basin. The number mildly increased to twelve in the following decade (1990 to 1999). However, in the past decade (2000 to 2009), the number rose significantly to 77 events. The worst affected countries in this regard are Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, and recently, Zimbabwe.
More worrying is the 2014 5th assessment report by the IPCC, which has highlighted that climate change will interact with non-climate drivers and stressors to exacerbate vulnerability of agricultural systems in Africa, particularly in semi-arid areas. The report shows that increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation are very likely to reduce cereal crop productivity. This will have strong adverse effects on food security. New evidence is also emerging that high-value perennial crops could also be adversely affected by temperature rise. Pest, weed and disease pressure on crops and livestock is expected to increase as a result of climate change and other cofactors.
Maize-based systems, particularly in Southern Africa, are among the most vulnerable to climate change. Estimated yield losses at mid-century range from 18% for Southern Africa to 22% aggregated across sub-Saharan Africa, with yield losses for South Africa and Zimbabwe in excess of 30%.
Both the impacts of climate change on food yields, together with increased food demand militate with other factors to put pressure on food prices in this region. Already food price inflation in Southern Africa has seen a very significant upward rise (1.5 in 2010, 7.0 in 2011 and 7.2 in 2012 ). In the region, a high proportion of smallholder farmers are net food buyers of staple grains, exceeding 50% in countries such as Mozambique. Increasing food price is thus also a threat to food security of many rural producers and households who rely on purchasing such grains for their staple food. Of particular vulnerability are female-headed households, which generally have fewer assets than male-headed households.
Considering only future socioeconomic change, child malnutrition (as measured by prevalence of severe stunting) is projected to decline in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050. However, including climate change in the same projections brings about an increase of 31-55% in the relative percent of children severely stunted. In the south of the sub-continent, the projections with climate change are close to current rates, indicating that climate change would reverse the socioeconomic development gains achieved in the region.
Compounding direct climate change effects to food insecurity means that the cost of inaction or slow pace of policy action are likely to be too high. Therefore we join the Pan Asia Oxfam team in their call to governments and international donor governments to protect citizens and increase the pace of policy implementation towards resilience to climate-related risks.
1. Despite progress in policy development in countries in southern Africa around climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, the member countries have to show a strong will to move beyond policy development to concrete implementations and accountability to their citizens
2. Vulnerable communities, especially small-scale food producers and women food producers, have to be at the centre of policy priorities. They should be the cornerstone of prioritisation in policy benefits
3. Respective countries need to align their institutions for better intergovernmental cooperation in the SADC region to deliver cross-border policy assistance to climate victims.
By: Pooven Moodley
Inequality is intertwined within existence in South Africa. From the days of royalty to colonization and apartheid, inequality has been systematically entrenched within the minds of people living in South Africa. My experience of inequality started during birth. My father worked for a paper factory which was based in a small town 80 kms north of Durban in KwaZulu Natal. Jobs for ‘non-Whites’ we limited to low paying positions irrespective of the fact that you could have much greater qualifications and experience. This ensured that children of these workers were limited in terms of quality of life, health, education, etc. The town was constructed in a way that the company houses for ‘Non Whites’ were positioned close to the factory, where on some days you could not see your neighbour’s house because of the smoke, even though these houses were attached to each other.
Many children developed respiratory problems. It also meant that we had to use separate buses to get to separate schools and socialize within our own communities. We also walked past the ‘white suburb’ with lush gardens and swimming pools and wondered what life would be like away from of smoked filled houses.
20 years on since the dawn of democracy and life has changed for many. Political freedom brought much hope and some dignity to some people. However, economic freedom has lagged behind on a range of fronts. The service delivery protests is testament to the fact that while many people have better services, communities across the country continue to suffer the indignity of not have access to water and sanitation and have access to poor quality health and education services.
Despite South Africa being an upper middle-income country, millions of people live in dire poverty and destitution, while a small group of elites continue to profit and prosper. South Africa’s problems are not just about inequality, but a triple challenge that also includes poverty and unemployment. According to a recent Oxfam Report http://oxf.am/9GK (Hidden hunger in South Africa: The faces of Hunger and Malnutrition in a Food Secure Nation) in informal settlements 38% of people go hungry daily. People like Elzetta in the Eastern Cape together with her sister and two children live on six rand a day.
In stark contrast to Elzetta’s story, SA has 47,000 dollar millionaires, almost 5,000 more than last year, largely the result of robust equity markets and strong life insurance and pension industries. At the same time, SA falls into the “very high inequality” category, with the wealthiest 10% of the population owning more than two-thirds of the country’s assets, according to the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s fifth annual global wealth report, released on Tuesday. An estimated 63,000 of South Africans are among the top 1% of global wealth holders — 1,000 more than last year. This global elite group includes 35-million dollar millionaires who hold 44% of global household wealth.
Since 1993 income inequality has risen significantly and is currently at its highest – the Gini coefficient increased from 66% in 1993 to almost 70% in 2011. The average income increase was 24.9% for all four categories (i.e. India/ Asian; Blacks; Coloureds; Whites); however, despite the significant growth in income in non-white households, there is still a tremendous gap between the population groups. White-headed households on average earn more than 5.5 times the income of the average black African-headed household. Inequality within racial groups also increased markedly for all racial groups. By 2008 the most populous racial group, the African (Blacks) group, made up 80% of the population and had the highest inequality of the four major racial groups. To date, rising wage inequality is a major factor. Low-skilled workers’ wages have a historic legacy of dampened wages for black workers under Apartheid. On the other hand, the 22.7% increase in the average formal sector wage has been entirely due to increases for top earners.
Between April 1994 and April 2010, the land reform program had redistributed less than 7% of agricultural land albeit with a target of 30% by 2015. The vast majority of agricultural land remains in the hands of fewer than 40 000 white farmers
In order for people in South Africa to live a better and a more meaningful life some fundamentals need to shift. The current economic policy is benefitting a few elite and leaves majority of the people behind. It is essential that women access and own a major share of the productive assets like land. We need to ensure that workers a paid a living wage with quality jobs and a national minimum agreed across all sector. We need to ensure that the investments made in health and education translates into better outcomes based on free universal access to quality health and education. Social security grants should not be an end in themselves, but opportunities need to be created for people to enter into the economy.
The government needs to ensure that companies are paying their fair share, in order for the cash that is leaving the country and the continent illicitly through transfer pricing and other practices and to tax havens is used to reverse the inequality trends in South Africa. Greater accountability is required in the use of public funds to benefit the poor and marginalized communities.
South Africa has the resources, the skills and the very vibrant and active communities to deal with the major structural causes of inequality and poverty. What it needs is the coming together once again of the people to ultimately ensure that there is the end to poverty and reduced inequality within this lifetime.
Domestic resources are, and will continue to be, the largest source of sustainable financing for development in African countries. While Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains a critical source of development finance in Africa, rising from USD 35.8 Billion in 2005 to an expected peak of 55.2 billion in 2014, and accounting for the bulk of resources for public spending in some low income countries, tax revenues continue to increase and reached USD 527.3 billion in 2012, according to the African Development Bank. Nonetheless, the average tax-to-GDP ratio in African countries remains too low and sustained, adequate and predictable ODA flows will continue to be vital for development in most African countries in the short- to medium-term. This is especially so when aid is targeted and administered well, helping more people to access healthcare, education and other essential services where governments lack the capacity to extend public services to all.
From 12 to 16 October 2014, Oxfam joins various other stakeholders at the Ninth African Development Forum (ADF IX) in Marrakech, Morocco. The Forum, being held under the theme “Innovative Financing for Africa’s Transformation” will bring together African Heads of State and Government, representatives of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities, the UN agencies, business leaders, civil society and others, in a multi-stakeholder dialogue on concrete strategies for financing Africa’s development in the post-2015 era. Among other agenda items, and central to the forum, will be discussions on domestic resource mobilisation and illicit financial flows in Africa.