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OI FCJ Campaign Launch – Rural Women
Make Themselves Heard
Fig 1: Rural Women and Oxfam in solidarity
The Southern Africa Region hosted a regional event at the historical Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg
South Africa as a means to hook up to the OI launch, to build solidarity with Southern Africa’s rural
women and as a build up to the FCJ campaigns that will be taking place in different countries in the
region. The key question that the event sought to answer was:
What are the key pressing issues around food, climate change and productive natural resources in the
SADC Region? To make this a truly regional and inclusive initiative, the regional centre collaborated with
all countries and affiliates in the region as well as regional partners such as the Rural Women’s
The event brought together more than 70 rural women and a number of partners from eight countries
across the region.
The morning was spent on hard facts about the climate change and its impacts on food. Lamine Ndiaye
from Oxfam’s Pan Africa Program gave a background of the Food and Climate Justice Campaign whilst
Rashmi Mistry from Oxfam in South Africa shared the highlights of Oxfam’s briefing. This was followed
by an analysis of climate change in Southern Africa, its effects and the link to access to productive
natural resources in the context of women and small-holder farmers. Dr Charles Nhemachena from the
Human Sciences Research Council made the presentation, which provoked questions that affirmed rural
women’s strong interest on issues around climate change and their livelihoods.
Stories on impact of climate change in Southern Africa
We also heard stories on the effects of climate change on peoples’ livelihoods. These were from
Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Zambia - In her story, Mama Dorcas spoke about her loss of crops as a result of drought. She had
planted about 50kg of indigenous seeds and another 50 of a variety of seeds. Her decision to plant was
based on her expectation that Mid-October is a rainy season in her part of Zambia. However, after
planting they had two months without rain. In her own words, Mama Dorcas says:
“I lost the seeds, the labour that helped me work the farm and the time. After two weeks I would go to
the farm to see what is happening and would observe some of the plants that looked like they are
surviving. I looked into the sky thinking that God will give us rain, but rain never came. That made me
angry and full of questions. We then tried everything including means of irrigation which we did not
have. We would see clouds being blown by heavy winds. Sometimes in the morning we would see
showers which would soon stop”.
The two months dry spell was followed by heavy rains. According to Mama Dorcas these rains were
meaningless for her and others like her. She had already used up 100 kilograms of her seeds and had
nothing left nor money to buy more seeds. She says she ended up running around looking for any type
of seed she could come across. Unfortunately for her, she was late and had little resources to work on
the farm again.
Mozambique - We also heard a story of hope from Mozambique which highlighted ways in which small
scale farmers are adapting to climate change. Matimbura read the testimony on behalf of Rosa
Alaneque who is a small scale farmer. Her journey started 15 years ago when her community was
struggling to produce. Almost all the members of her community practice traditional agriculture. She
is now doing conservation agriculture as an adaptation practice to climate change. This method of
production has seen her move her yields from 6 bags of 50 kilograms per bag of peanuts which
amounted to 300 kilograms, to 12 bags of 50 kilograms per bag of peanuts which amounts to 600
Zimbabwe - Lastly, we heard about the Gutu community that was supported through the Ruti Irrigation
project by Oxfam in Zimbabwe. This scheme changed the story of this community for a while. Mama
Ipaishe Masvingise, a 50 year old small scale farmer whose life was turned around as a result of this
scheme says in her own words
“For two years I had money for hospital treatment for my mother and for school fees, and I had a
granary built and a chicken-run. I have a five-year plan and my goal is to build a house ‘in town’ and
let it out so we have income.”
However, things changed in 2013 due to late rains that led to a mid season dry spell lasting seven weeks.
This reduced the water levels in the lake feeding the irrigation scheme. This situation was exacerbated
by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority’s decision to divert water from the irrigation scheme to a
nearby sugar estate which apparently paid more for the water.
In the afternoon session, the mood of the meeting shifted and members of Rural Women’s Assembly
claimed the space. They danced, sang, made music and ululated. The vibrant and infectious belied the
seriousness of their message: Climate change is affecting us but we have the energy and enthusiasm to
be part of the solution.
Fig 2: Rural women sing and dance at the launch
They brought and exhibited samples of their cultural beadwork, agricultural produce and indigenous
seeds which they claim are very important tools at their disposal to adapt to climate change. Some of
the seeds were exchanged at the event, symbolising the need and importance of sharing indigenous
knowledge and promoting conditions for food sovereignty.
Fig 3: Examples of indigenous seeds and produce displayed by the participants
The apex of the event was the symbolic way in which the participants pledged their commitment to the
campaign. Participants from each country came in song and action, led by rural women to sign on the
banner that had a call to “Demand the rights of small scale farmers in a changing climate”. We also
received statements of solidarity from Mandla Hadebe from the Economic Justice Network of FOCCISA
(EJN) Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa and Leonie Joubert who is a Journalist, Author
and Science Writer. At the end there was no question in our minds of the readiness of this region to add
their voice to the campaign.
Fig 4: Participants sign the pledge
Digital Campaigning from the event
The team made extensive use of Digital Media to encourage new and existing supporters to
support and spread the word about the Global FCJ the campaign and the upcoming Southern
Africa FCJ launch. The images below show examples of our Digital Media work and how it was
used to spread the message.
Fig 5: Screenshot of Oxfam’s Southern Africa blog http://www.oxfamblogs.org/southernafrica/?cat=93
Tweets from the Southern Africa FCJ launch
#ruralwomen of Southern Africa signing commitment to the @Oxfam Food and Climate Justice Campaign #Grow pic.twitter.com/MUI1uNZOYl @OxfaminSAF @Oxfam Sorry to miss launch of Food & Climate Justice campaign! Well done getting so many
pledges & profiling rural women.
#ruralwomen testimonies. #climatechange #landrights #food pic.twitter.com/Lj4p7JrACs Support the @OxfaminSAF Regional Food and Climate Justice Campaign. Sign-up here! http://www.oxfamblogs.org/southernafrica/?p=3592 … #ClimateChange Dr Charles Nhemachena, from @HSRCza now speaking about the emerging issues in Southern Africa on Food and Climate Justice #GROW Thx for interview this am @eNCAnews #Climatechange could put back fight to end #hunger by decades report @oxfaminSA http://oxf.am/iw6 However, the 77 events of the decade 2000-2009 affected up to 11 405 434 people, the worst affected countries being Moz, Zambia and Malawi.
Support the @OxfaminSAF Regional Food and Climate Justice Campaign. Join our campaign !
Dr Charles Nhemachena, from @HSRCza speaks about the emerging issues in Southern Africa on Food
and Climate Justice
#RuralWomen speaking out on the effects of #ClimateChange @Constitutional Hill today.
#Hunger is not inevitable. Help stop #ClimateChange making people hungry: take a stand today and join
our campaign ! http://www.oxfamblogs.org/southernafrica/?p=3592
Farmers adapting to a hotter, hungrier world in #Zimbabwe. Here's Ipaishe's story: ift.tt/1jAlfRj
#IPCC #AR5 to warn #climatechange will hit food and #hunger hard, @Oxfam outlines 10 signs we are
not ready oxf.am/iw6
https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ruralwomen&src=hash https://twitter.com/Oxfam https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Grow&src=hash http://t.co/MUI1uNZOYl https://twitter.com/OxfaminSAF https://twitter.com/Oxfam https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ruralwomen&src=hash https://twitter.com/search?q=%23climatechange&src=hash https://twitter.com/search?q=%23landrights&src=hash https://twitter.com/search?q=%23food&src=hash http://t.co/Lj4p7JrACs https://twitter.com/OxfaminSAF http://t.co/GKRVfYnMRR https://twi