This session zoomed in on the local situation and challenges faced by grassroots communities and women in some low-Income countries. It provided an overview of support provided by Civil Society organizations (and governments) facilitating communities, women in particular, to step up the efforts to strengthen their land rights and to generate resilience in face of the climate and COVID-19 challenges they are facing.
More secure land tenure provides much better opportunities to face climate and COVID-19 challenges by investing in high biodiversity local food & income systems.
However, many so-called “development” projects (salt mining, shrimp farming, agribusiness) rather resulted in land & water grabbing, pollution, food security and livelihoods challenges instead.
Within the context of so-called “development” projects, local communities, in particular women, being even harder hit and got more deprived by the climate and covid19 crises.
Support provided by CSOs resulted in some stepwise local successes standing up against land grabbing and provide support to community and women land rights however compromised by Covid19 challenges resulting in threats to women; community consultations skipped, more violence against women, land grabbing and repression (patriarchy) under the COVID-19 radar.
The Netherlands does support land governance programmes but is relevant to monitor whether are bottom-up, inclusive and pro-women enough. In addition, The Netherlands should act on the large international trade footprint on community and women’s land rights. Human rights, including Women’s Land Rights and Due Diligence, should be mandatory with zero-tolerance to land grabs.
Current efforts aimed at supporting community and women’s land rights appear to be insufficient with land concentration only increasing.
Women’s land rights are prime human rights and to be raised on the agenda, in particular in climate action and efforts aimed at the right to food too, essential for communities and women’s climate and COVID-19 resilience.
Some selected quotes and statements by panellists and participants
Bangladesh presentation: “Women’s land rights are human rights” (see below)
Kenya presentation: “Baha-Dzana” meaning “The Past is Better than Today” Title and quote from a Video on challenges of salt mining along the coast in Eastern Kenya. Land grabs, environmental destructions, no more portable water; women being challenged in particular.
Uganda presentation 1: “Women’s land rights should be put at the centre of all planning and considerations by the Government of Uganda during crisis.”
Uganda presentation2: “Due to the pandemic, women in the rural areas have food with no market yet the women in the urban are suffering due to the measures put in place by the Government”
Uganda panellist: “The current covid-19 wave has led to increased rates of violence against women,child marriage, restricted access to sexual health services.”
Uganda panellist: Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, women can not cultivate the land which they have user rights due to travel restrictions from one district to the other.
Participant (chat): “Women’s land rights only is not enough if women don't also have power in markets and elsewhere in the agri-food system.”
The Netherlands: “The Netherlands should act on the large international trade footprint on community and women’s land rights.”
Community and Women’s Land Rights: Land Grabbing, Climate Change and COVID-19 Vulnerability in the South-West Coastal region in Bangladesh.
Abul Kalam Azad, Project Coordinator, FGGIII, ActionAid Bangladesh
“Women’s land rights must be recognized as human rights.”
Land use has been changing in the South-West coastal region over the decades due to commercial shrimp farming and mega infrastructure development projects. So-called “development” interventions resulted in grabbing agricultural and forest lands, displacing local communities, changing typical patterns of livelihood and creating unemployment. The destruction of ecology and biodiversity has accelerated climate change, displacement and migration in the region. As a result, women's are impacted the most negatively. COVID-19 has multiplied their sufferings and vulnerability. ActionAid interventions have been mobilizing and building capacity of affected community, HRDs and CSOs for safeguarding community and women rights as well as protecting the environment.
The impact of Covid-19 on women’s land rights in Uganda
Esther Kisembo, Project Coordinator, FGGIII, ActionAid Uganda
“Women’s land rights should be put at the centre of all planning and considerations by the Government of Uganda during crisis.”
The presentation summarized the COVID-19 situation in Uganda, the contribution of women to Uganda’s economy and the challenges they are facing even though they are the biggest contributors to the country’s food basket. It was noted that the pandemic has caused negative impacts to women land rights ranging from access to justice, low-income levels, reduced food production and dispossession of women from their land. It was recommended that Government should prioritize women and People living with disabilities with the cash relief package and availing vaccine immunization services.
What’s the impact of covid-19 on food security.
Jimmy Ochom, Land Rights Coordinator Oxfam Uganda
“Due to the pandemic, women in the rural areas have food with no market, yet the women in the urban are suffering due to the measures put in place by the Government.”
He highlighted the issue that due to COVID-10 there was an absence of transport and urban markets remained empty for food products from rural areas, which has affected their income at the household levels in rural areas an contributed to food insecurity in urban areas.
Perishable foods get destroyed in rural areas yet in the urban areas the prices of food has been raised. Included also situations of women selling themselves for sex to get money to buy food for their children.
Baha-Dzana”: The Past is Better than Today
Video of ActionAid Kenya
Dutch perspectives: Development Cooperation and Trade
Lazora Bernardus, intern at ActionAid the Netherlands
“The Netherlands should act on the large international trade footprint on community and women’s land rights.”
The Netherlands does support land governance programmes, but it is relevant to monitor whether they are bottom-up, inclusive and pro-women enough. In addition, the Netherlands should act on the large international trade footprint on community and women’s land rights. Human rights, including Women’s Land Rights, and Due Diligence, should be mandatory with zero-tolerance for land grabs.