Posts Tagged ‘food sovereignty’
Hope for the Environment: Elections 2015
Yesterday, February 19th, the Environmental Alliance, a coalition of anti-mining, food sovereignty, and water protection organizing bodies, invited legislative candidates across all parties to take part in a forum in front of civil citizens. However, only Blandino Nerio (FMLN-National Liberation Front Farabundo Martí), Nery Diaz (FMLN), and Blaudilio Ventura (PSD-Social Democratic Party), all from the left side of the political spectrum, presented themselves.
Before the candidates promulgated their platforms, members of the Alliance gave an overview of the current environmental situation in El Salvador. Due to the country’s location, El Salvador is victim to numerous natural disasters such as volcanos, hurricanes, and earthquakes. However, global climate change augments all of these natural forces, which has been cause for much concern in recent years. This past year’s drought when the prices of beans increased 100%, calls attention directly to the severe environmental threats that El Salvador faces.
The Anti-Mining Coalition highlighted the current and proposed mining sites around the country. The business jeopardizes the remaining 10% of El Salvador’s treatable water source. The Water Coalition expressed their concern that the Salvadoran people do not have the right to access, however small, that portion of potable water.
All members of the Environmental Alliance demanded that the law to protect and prevent natural threats along with the constitutional reform of Article 69 which would guarantee the sovereignty of food and water be approved by the legislature. Both initiatives have spent years in congress and are running out of time before they expire.
When it came time for the candidates to respond with their platforms, it became obvious that all present were playing for the same team: the environment. Nerio, of the FMLN, cited all of the past actions that the FMLN took to protect the environment and to curb climatic changes. He said, “As you can all see, this isn’t a new issue for us to support. However, if there is no mobilization in the streets, we aren’t going to achieve anything.”
Diaz, also from the FMLN, has worked tirelessly as a member of the Legislative Assembly’s Environmental and Climate Change Commission. She promised to continue to dedicate her time in the legislature to fight for the protection of all of El Salvador’s natural resources.
Ventura (PSD) echoed this same message of being with the people in their struggle. He enthusiastically declared, “We are not in favor of the privatization of water or food. Water should be a public good. We are in favor of the people and the environment.” Ventura promised that not even one vote would be cast for the furthered degradation of the environment.
Although, a lack of diverse ideologies were present, the overwhelming enthusiasm that all panel members exhibited gave all those in the audience hope for real action surrounding the environment and climate change to come soon.
March for Food Sovereignty: The right to choose food free of chemicals
On October 16, thousands gathered in the streets of San Salvador to recognize World Food Day and Rural Women’s Day. From Ahuachapan to Morazan, social organizations from all over the country came to show their support for the passing of the Food Sovereignty Act that is currently in the legislature. This law would grant Salvadoran’s the right to choose from where their seeds and food products come. It also would prevent the privatization of El Salvador’s water sources. The vast majority of Salvadorans recognize that privatization and allowing international companies to buy up all of the country’s resources means higher prices on food and water that are filled with chemicals. This would be devastating for a population that, due to a drought at the beginning of the rainy season, is already struggling to pay the rising price for a pound of beans. (Normally, beans are around 70 cents a pound. Today, in the market they go for $1.40 a pound–the same price as a pound of chicken.)
Recognizing the degree of the threat that privatization imposes, shouts rising over the masses appealed to the legislature, “What are you waiting for Representatives? The people are tired!” “We want our lives without poison in our food!” “Water and Food are not merchandise!”
At the end, marchers presented their representatives with a list including thousands of signatures domestic and international demanding that the Food Sovereignty Act be passed. We are still waiting for governmental action to be taken on this issue. It is clear what the people want. Food Sovereignty NOW!
Check out this video from the march!
Cuentos de Chalatenango: Food Sovereignty and Rural Women’s Empowerment
The following is the semester report for the Food Sovereignty and Rural Women’s Empowerment Project in Chalatenango.
To contribute to the development of rural women through strengthening the organization of women’s committees, developing leadership skills through workshops in leadership, self-esteem, awareness of laws that protect the rights of women, and economic and technical support for small agricultural initiatives.
Duration: January – December 2014
Location: Seven municipalities throughout the department of Chalatenango
This semester’s activities included:
Three training sessions for 89 women participants on soil preparation and garden management to establish the family gardens
Three exchanges for 85 women participants to share their experiences and knowledge regarding the nutritional value of the vegetables and greens they
Elaboration of the Advocacy Plan for the Chalatenango Women’s Association with 29 women participating from 4 rural communities and the urban center of
Follow up visits and workshops for project beneficiaries from the 2013 SHARE-CCR Women’s Empowerment project.
New Legislation Bans Chemicals, Aims to Prevent Kidney Failure
What do you do if one out of every four men in your town suffered from mysterious kidney failure?
This is a question that rural communities from San Vicente, El Salvador, to Sandamalgama, Sri Lanka, to Uddanamm, India have been asking since an epidemic started in the early 1990s.
What do the victims of Chronic Kidney Failure in these far reaching countries have in common? They have little formal education, work back-breaking agricultural jobs in sweltering temperatures, handle pesticides and fertilizers, and drink ground water from areas near where these pesticides and fertilizers were applied.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has increased threefold in El Salvador since 1990, rising 25% in just the past 5 years, and is now the leading cause of hospitalized deaths in El Salvador. CKD has disproportionately affected young men who live in rural communities and work long hours harvesting sugar cane. Between 2005 and 2012, 1,500 men under the age of 19 were hospitalized for CKD (out of a total 40,000 hospitalized patients of all ages during the same period). In a national sample 95% of CKD patients worked as agricultural laborers where they were required to spray pesticides and fertilizers.
On September 5, 2013, forty-five Salvadoran legislators voted for and successfully passed the Law to Control the use of Pesticides and Fertilizers that was championed by SHARE’s partnering organization, CONFRAS. This legislation originally banned the use of 53 of the most toxic chemicals commonly found in fertilizers and pesticides in El Salvador and many believe are the main contributing factor of CKD. After the legislation was approved by the Salvadoran legislators, President Funes revised the law to only include 42 of these chemicals.
“Juntas Somos Más”
On October 15th, The Alliance of Rural Women convened for the Third National Assembly, at the National University of El Salvador. Various organizations of women working for gender equality through education compose the Rural Women Alliance, including: the CCR, CRIPDES, CORDES, National Network of Women Leading Change (RMPC) , Research Institute for the Training and Development of Women (IMU) , Salvadoran Women’s Movement (MSM), Mélida Anaya Montes Association Movement (Las Mélidas), and AMSATI, a women’s agricultural organization within CONFRAS, the Confederation of Federations of Agricultural Cooperatives from the Salvadoran Agricultural Reform.
The assembly conveyed the power that rural women are gaining as they organize their communities and advocate for policies that will improve the lives of rural families. Rural women confront various threats in their communities, such as machismo, domestic violence, lack of opportunities to obtain jobs in the public sector, the lack of education regarding women’s rights and laws, as well as the complete lack of educational opportunities generally.
At the first Assembly in 2011, the women discussed the politics of gender equality and the importance of creating a space for female organization. In the second Assembly in 2012, the women presented specific policy demands to various government officials who signed commitments assuring positive change. However, the objective of this year’s assembly was to encourage women to embody an articulate front, and to demand answers from government officials who promised to facilitate dialogue between women and the Legislative Assembly. The absence of these government officials at the Third Assembly was a symbol of their failure to follow through on their commitments. Juanita, the women’s coordinator from the CCR, insists that the next step is to “transform these demands into real changes and to implement new public policy which is in favor of rural women”.
Developing Women’s Rights: Roundtable Event in Chalatenango
In the 1970s, the valiant women of Chalatenango began organizing their communities, combating historical human rights abuses, fighting for women’s rights, and against mining. Today, almost four decades later, the women of the CCR (la Asociación de Comunidades para el Desarrollo de Chalatenango) continue to stand up for the rights of their communities. Made up of over 100 organized rural communities in Chalatenango, the CCR comprises one of the four CRIPDES regions with which SHARE partners.
Empowering women to be leaders within their communities lies at the center of transforming gender relationships in El Salvador. On September 25th the Women’s Secretariat of the CCR held a roundtable event to strengthen this movement through an exchange of information and discussion of current events among the women who work tirelessly to continue this movement.
The roundtable included the women from different communities in the CCR, a representative from ISDEMU (the Salvadoran Institute for Women’s Development), two representatives from the Ministry of Education, and a representative from CORDES (a close partner of CRIPDES that provides technical training and support for agricultural initiatives). This roundtable touched upon various themes, including: domestic violence, liberating women from their silence and encouraging them to denounce crimes committed against them, promoting literacy at the regional and national level, and promoting women’s rights through advertisements on community radio stations.
Celebrating 25 years with the CCR
On Saturday, June 22, the Association for the Development of Chalatenango (CCR) celebrated 25 years of community organizing with a regional assembly of founding members and representatives from the 110 communities in which the CCR works.
CCR members invited guests from government and non-government institutions and solidarity organizations to honor their most important achievements from the past 25 years. These include the defense of human rights during the civil war, the successful re-population of several communities, as well as many community development efforts, such as access to basic services, healthcare, education, and food sovereignty.
Among the many ways the CCR continues to improve their community is the current food sovereignty project in Chalatenango. Led by SHARE scholarship student Rubia Guardado. This spring, women in eight different communities learned how to install and care for home vegetable gardens Nueva Trinidad, Ellacuria, Las Minas, Guarjila, San Isidro, San Francisco Morazán, Las Flores, and Carasque, in the installation and care of home vegetable gardens.
Through these trainings women learned to make organic fertilizer and pesticides with easy to find, affordable ingredients. With this initial training and follow-up from the CCR these women will have the skills they need for their gardens to flourish and to bring their communities one step closer to food sovereignty.
We feel honored to have accompanied the CCR’s work over the past 25 years and are ready to stand with them for the next 25 years!
Rediscovering Roots: Benefits of Breadnuts
Have you ever had pancakes made with breadnut flour?They’re fluffy, sweet, and taste a little like chocolate.SHARE staff Katy Strader and Sarah Hall had the chance to try pancakes and other products made from breadnut, or ojushte, during a training session for farmers who are members of small agricultural cooperatives at CONFRAS, a SHARE partnering organization that represents 6,000 rural farmers, Center for Research and Transfer of Agro-Ecological Technology (CIETTA).
CIETTA hosted the first of two workshops for cooperative representatives today at their small institute near the Costa del Sol. While it was certainly a hot day, the information and samples made up for the heat! Katy and Sarah tried pancakes, horchata, atol, coffee and fruit salad, all made with breadnut flour. Native Pipiles recognized the benefits of ojushte, gathering the nuts to add nutrients to their diet. During El Salvador’s armed conflict, ojushte was consumed when corn was scarce, as its nutrient-rich profile encourages cultivation and consumption. For example, horchata made with breadnut flour is richer in calcium than a glass of milk. See the recipes for Ojuste Horchata and Ojuste Pancakes below!
Maria Santos, a representative of the San Luis el Mañadero Cooperative, explained how her family used to eat the breadnut as a staple of their diet:
Why did you attend the workshop on ojushte today?
I came because the workshop was to learn about how interesting the ojushte product is. And since I have already received some training on elaborating and using this seed, I thought it would be very interesting to come because I know that everyone that would come today would learn about this product. Because the reality is that this is found in our communities, but most people do not consider it important. But this product is nutritious. And it is also sustainable when there is lack of other basic grains. For example, in my community, when I was a young girl, my whole family used to eat it. We would collect it. We would eat it with lime and avocado and that was it. It was enough. It was sustainable. We did not think of other things. We did not have beans or rice. We had ojushte, lime, and avocado. That could be breakfast, lunch and dinner.
CONFRAS Defines Food Sovereignty
An interview with original CONFRAS founder, Miguel Aleman, and current CONFRAS president, Abel Nahin Lara Ruiz.
What is food sovereignty?
It is about food and land. We are capable of producing our own healthy food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. And we want and need proper land to do so. We want to produce our own food. We want to take charge of our lives.
What does food sovereignty mean in El Salvador?
In El Salvador we import more than 85% of our food. What we produce we are sending away. Why are we doing this? Because the right wing government wanted us to be a commercial economy. Instead of people who can feed themselves fresh food, we feed ourselves fast food, soda and more junk.
Food sovereignty would mean producing our own food, eating our own food, and sharing our knowledge of land, crops, and liberation. Food sovereignty means fighting for the right to land. That is why the land reform was and is so important.
What are some examples?
CONFRAS is an example of course. But mostly what we are doing with our campesino to campesino program is a tangible way to see food sovereignty. We also just pushed for the government to recognize as an official day, the day the land reform was signed.
The international community has helped us a lot with this. Because of their support we have been able to diversify our crops. We now have entire families growing tomatoes, fruit trees, and other crops.