Oxfam in West Africa
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Press release- #17April- Supporting #PeasantsStruggle in #WestAfrica.

April 14th, 2016 Posted in Agriculture, English



On April 17th, GROW campaign* in West Africa is joining the Via Campesina mobilisation** and global movement to support peasant struggles worldwide. For GROW, the priority is and remains the defence of family farmers, agriculture and livestock in the region, and the promotion of the fruits of their labour by making the slogan “produce local, eat local” a fact as regards the agricultural transformation in the region. In West Africa, there are many challenges which the farming world has to face to make the region strong and resilient in terms of agriculture and food, and this means, transforming family farming. Faster population growth compared to the increase in production, the need to cope with the climate change, boosting the regional trade, access to public financing and credit, the share of national and regional budgets dedicated to agriculture, complementarity or partnership with the private sector, land grabbing… In 2016, for GROW, the promotion of family farming in the region goes through three major struggles; the time has come for ECOWAS, its Member States and all stakeholders to bring all their weight more and better to put their money where their mouth is.

The first struggle is about defining and implementing the second generation of national/regional agriculture and food security investment plans (NAIP / RAIP) in favour of the family farming, with a better consideration of the livestock sector. This year the countries in the region and the region itself will have to review their investment plans to get plans that respect the Malabo commitments, “the accelerated growth and transformation of African agriculture for a shared prosperity and the improvement of livelihoods “as well as those of the ” Zero Hunger” initiative, while applying the results of the 2015 review of ECOWAP10. ” We, rural women, ask for access to credit which can allow us to develop our agricultural or pastoralist activity and answer to our family and community food needs. We thus ask decision makers, financing institutions and other actors to provide us with tools and services which would be adequate to us, women! “, says Naa Oseabea, farming woman from Ghana. Yes, let’s work together to invest more and better in family farming!

The second struggle involves the implementation of food reserves in their three levels of defence. Finally, the Regional Food Security Reserve started its activities through the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF). This is the time to continue the efforts for the installation of this necessary tool for food security in the region, but also to increase its capacity and speed to respond and integrate the other two levels, national reserves and local food reserves. “Local food reserves do help us to fight our lean season difficulties and earn more money in our trading food activities. But governments should support us more as first line of defence and coordinate with us in any other food aid initiatives”, says Dorcas Azenda, 2015 Female food Hero winner, from Benue state in Nigeria. Yes, let’s work together to build food reserves to ensure Zero Hunger!

The third key struggle for West Africa is the promotion, within ongoing land reforms in the countries across the region, of proactive measures for access to land for rural women in order to implement fair access to land in the region. To make reforms move in this way, it would be good for regional institutions, instead of observing, to encourage the countries of the region in this regard, by taking an initiative! If an ambitious community guideline is not the best option, it can be used as advice to countries to harmonize the ongoing reforms while making sure to include “verbatim” for example the principles of AU and FAO guidelines, or SDG related to land indicators. “How do you want us to invest or develop market gardening on land we do not own? This is why in Sierra Leone as it is the case in Burkina Faso we ask for legal access to 30% hydro-agricultural plots for us, women, and we encourage women from all across the region to ask for the same”, declares Elizabeth Korio, vegetable farmer from Kabala, Koinadugu district in Sierra Leone. Yes, let’s work together to ensure fair access to land for rural women!

All this is obviously happening at all levels in the region, from country level to global level when it comes to institutional actors such as FAO, EU, USAID or the World Bank, through the regional level with ECOWAS, UEMOA and other regional plateforms. We call for better coordination and more consistency between all stakeholders to move towards a region where family farming is better defended. In 2016, this will obviously go through four key issues: 1) the effective implementation of ECOWAP10, 2) the first evaluation of performance of the region in the light of the Malabo Declaration, after two years 3) national development plans for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, and 4) social protection initiatives across the ECOWAS region. Finally, as the reality of rural women in the region in terms of access to land and productive resources is far behind, GROW in West Africa will support a mobilisation: #MyLandMyLife is coming on October 15-16 so that rural women can put their rights at the top of the regional agenda!

Here it is why on the occasion of the International Day of #PeasantsStruggle, GROW and all its partners are committed to increase their vigilance and act as watchdogs to ensure that the path taken by ECOWAS, its Member States and all stakeholders do not deviate from the goal of qualitative transformation of family farming, the eradication of hunger and the improvement of living conditions of rural communities in West Africa!

Dakar, April 14th,2016

For all info:
Alexandre Seron ; aseron@oxfam.org.uk; +22177 740 83 96 ;
FB: let’s tackle hunger; TW: @taclonslafaim

For all interview with rural women who testify about their reality in Ghana, Nigeria or Sierra Leone, contact:
Fatou Racine Sy Fall, FRSy@oxfam.org.uk; +221 77 583 18 99

* GROW is a global campaign coordinated by Oxfam. The campaign is present in West Africa since 2011 and has confirmed its priorities for 2016-2019 at its strategic planning meeting in Dakar (03/20th-21st-22nd/ 2016). The campaign includes more than 70 national and regional organisations, including: POSCAO, WiLDAF, APESS, RBM, IPAR and InterRéseaux, and is fully active in six countries in the region: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Mauritania.

**#April 17 has been declared International Day of Peasant Struggle to commemorate the tragic murder of 19 farmers, members of Landless Worker’s Movement in Brazil, on April 17th, 1996. It is then in 2016 the 20th anniversary!

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