The African launch of the GROW campaign went on late into the night in Nairobi. Renowned Kenyan singer Sara Mitaru kicked off the evening with a tribute to African women, and the crowd of 200 people from more than 20 countries all over Africa were still dancing a few hours later.
In between Evelyne Khaemba, who grows sugarcane in the west of Kenya, talked about the difficulties for women farmers:
“Land in this country belongs to men – it’s very difficult for women to access and own. We have no rights. To farm you need capital – but to get capital you need a title deed to the land, and only about one percent of women have one.” She urged the audience: “Let us join hands to save the woman farmer.”
“Chakula Haki Yetu,” the crowd shouted: “Food, our right.”
The launch took place amid protests in Nairobi over rising food prices. Mary Wandia, Oxfam’s gender justice campaigner, called on governments to respond quickly: “Costs are skyrocketing. We’ve seen the Walk to Work campaign in Uganda and now protests in Kenya. We are not going to have food secure societies when we are food insecure.”
Others in attendance included farmers, activists, pastoralists and civil society from across the continent. The launch was part of a conference on African Women’s Land Rights, and the issue of land grabs by foreign companies was raised as one of the biggest threats – whether for tourism, exports or biofuels. “We need to stop using grain for producing fuel,” said Wandia. “It’s unfair when people are sleeping hungry.”
The launch took place on “Madaraka Day” – Kenya’s independence day. Oxfam’s Marc Wegerif called for a new food independence for Africa:
“This is the continent suffering the worst food injustices. More than 50 years after the first African countries celebrated independence – and today Kenya – we still see too many of our children stunted by malnutrition. This is a tragedy we should be angry about. There cannot be independence when we rely on food aid to feed our people.”
Copies of Oxfam’s “Growing a Better Future” report were handed over to high level guests, including representatives from the African Union and the head of the African Court of Human Rights.
Strong show of support for the GROW campaign in Tanzania
Rose Kibe reports from Dar es Salaam
The GROW campaign launched in Tanzania with a strong show of support from local civil society organisations who joined Oxfam GROW Ambassador, actor Stephen Kanumba, at a special event. About 200 people attended, many of them small-scale farmers from the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.
Mr Kanumba – who has travelled with Oxfam to see for himself how rural communities and in particular women are affected by rising food price rises, land grabs and climate change – unveiled images of women farmers, which he signed to show his support for the aims of the GROW campaign. He told the crowd:
“People in the rural areas get by with porridge for breakfast and Ugali (stiff porridge) in the evening. This is because their fields are dry from drought caused by climate change. We in the urban areas talk about having breakfast and meals! Food security issues are very real especially in the rural areas”.
The audience took part in a debate about the impact of food security on rural communities, and found out more from Oxfam’s Monica Gorman and Mwanahamisi Salimu about why Oxfam started the campaign. Mr Kanumba was then joined by representatives from a number of Oxfam’s partners, who will be a key part of GROW, including:
TGNP – Tanzania Gender Network Program, the hosts who have an ongoing Economic Justice campaign; MVIWATA – a farmers organisation; TAMWA – Tanzania Media Women Association; the University of Dar es Salaam – Gender Club and Food Lecturer’s organisation (UDASA); Haki Ardhi – a land rights organisation; DUCE – a human rights organisation; FEMACT; and NFRA – the National Food Reserve Authority.
The Nairobi and Tanzania launches were just two of 43 GROW launches worldwide. See what happened in events all over the planet on the GROW 24 hours live blog