The Current Context
As the industrial growth economy reaches further into rural areas, land grabbing has become a globally recognised challenge. Extractive industries such as coal mining, tourism, mono-crop industrial agriculture, timber plantations – are all after land and massive amounts of water, which they contaminate and drain out of the surrounding ecosystem. Rural communities are on the frontline of these injustices, trying to defend their ancestral lands and traditional farming systems and regenerate their culture, rituals, ceremonies and sacred sites for generations to come.
However the dominant capitalist economy is driven by the mantra of constant growth; and to do so it needs to create an endless demand for products and production, regardless of the devastation and pollution it leaves in its wake. During our history, humans have cultivated about 7,000 domesticated species of plants from their wild relatives. However, the growth of industry in rural areas has led to severe depletion in traditional seed varieties and biodiversity in general together with the loss of cultural diversity.
Biodiversity, ecosystem loss and climate change are now recognised as major interconnected crises for our planet, with irreversible impacts. Temperatures in Africa are expected to rise one and a half times the global average, making the continent one of the most vulnerable to environmental change and placing the ability of the continent to produce its own food at serious risk. The continent is also expected to become much drier, with extreme droughts being interspersed with floods. Given that 75 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture is rain-fed, crop yields are projected to decline by as much as 50 percent in some African countries by 2015 (Burkle et al, 2014).1
Gender relations bring another dimension to food insecurity. Women play a decisive role in food production, dietary diversity and children’s health but this has been constantly undermined. Industrial agriculture promotes gender inequalities by favouring men in the agricultural sector and giving them primary control of livelihoods. This results in limiting women’s food production with dire consequences for their families (FAO, 2014).
EarthLore actively supports communities confronting these and other injustices. We enable them to meet other communities facing similar threats so that they can make informed decisions about their lives. We help them to connect with others at national, regional and international level, so they are able to sustain their resilience and defend their ancestral lands.
Film: No toCoAL
We produced a short video No to CoAL with support from our partner the Gaia Foundation, that shows precisely why Mupo Foundation, now EarthLore, and the local communities we work with, are so opposed to approval of a Water Licence for the Makhado coal mine.