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Chad: Solutions to FarmerPastoralist Conflicts in ChariBaguirma Region (Page 2)

ACORD Board Visits Programmes in South West Uganda (Page 4)

Democratic Republic of Congo: Promoting Gender Equality in Western Region (Page 3)

July 2011 Newsletter

Mobilising a Pan-African Social Movement

The

Power Of

This quarterly newsletter published by Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) provides updates of Africa-wide development, programmatic activities and partnerships.

ACTION

African Women’s Land Rights Conference Women own very little of the land in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of women granted only user rights. Gender disparities in land rights often limit their ability to participate in or benefit from development and are intimately linked to violence against women. ACORD advocates, in partnership with women’s groups and other civil society organisations, for equality of women and men in rights to land and other economic means of production. As part of this work, a conference was held in Nairobi from 30th May to 2nd June 2011. It brought together more than 150 participants from different African countries who reaffirmed their commitment in attaining the rights to land for women. The participants shared experiences and knowledge and developed concrete action plans at grassroots, national, regional and global level. This was aimed to influence policies, mainstream women’s rights in all civil society, governmental and private sector actions and change attitudes and harmful practices among communities themselves. The economies of most countries in Africa are largely dependent on land resources. Unfortunately, land related problems have been a big impediment for effective utilisation of these vital resources. More dynamism is required in campaigning and mobilising all stakeholders in ensuring that women’s entitlement to land is respected. Page 4 │ ACORD website │ Land for African Women website

South Sudan: Independence amidst Uncertainty in Abyei On 9th July 2011, Southern Sudan becomes Africa’s newest and 54th nation. This is following a successful referendum held in January 2011 whose results saw an overwhelming majority, 98.83 % (3,697,467 voters) choosing separation. But even as the official date approaches for Southern Sudan's independence, a number of issues, including the distribution of oil revenues, and the demarcation of a remaining 20 per cent of the 2,100km border between the North and South, remain unresolved. Abyei has been a particularly contested region and control over its resources has been a bitter point of contention between the North and South. This is mainly due to its importance as a critical water source for crops and animals from the Kiir River, and its oil reserves. It is critical that an amicable solution is found to settle the territorial dispute to avoid further loss of human lives and ensure that the Southern independence translates into peaceful coexistence. <Read about ACORD in South Sudan>

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The Power of Action July 2011 Newsletter

Mauritania: New Avenues to Boost Food Security

Chad: Solutions to farmer pastoralist conflicts in ChariBaguirmi Region

The adverse effects of the natural crises that Mauritania has experienced in the last decade including drought, floods and locust invasions have significantly reduced the natural resources of the Wilayas (districts). In this context, ACORD, in partnership with the Research for Rural Development Group (GRDR) has just ended a 3 year food security program funded by the European Union to enhance food production in agro-pastoral areas. The Wilayas targeted included Hodh el Gharbi, Hodh Ech Chargui, Assaba, Gorgol and Guidimakha. Local Ownership Despite the complex nature of agro-pastoral conditions in the Sahel, many positive gains have been witnessed as a result. Communities have improved their agro-pastoral production by over 20% and thereby reduced the lean period from 6 months to 3 months. The pastoralists have finally successfully signed land agreements with all stakeholders in the area for a greater land ownership.

After months of reconciliation attempts and frustrations, it was a big sigh of relief when in April 2011 elders from communities in Chari Baguirmi Region of Chad put aside their initial resistance and agreed to give peaceful coexistence a chance. Through dialogue, the two communities of Elfass and Kadada have come back to the negotiating table to voice their concerns and seek viable solutions that can bring about non-violent management of natural resources. Conflicts over control of land and water resources between farmers and pastoralists are common along the areas where farming and pastoralism intersect such as Chari Baguirmi, Guera, Hadjer Lamis and Ouaddaï prefectures. The conflicts usually arise from destruction of crop fields by the livestock. In response, the resident farmers and agro-pastoralists erect barricades around farm areas and across passages leading to productive land. “Sometimes, the farmers and pastoralists were required to pay hefty fines to the authorities even when they were the aggrieved side, thereby heightening the tension”, explains a member of a grassroots network. A farmer and cattle breeder embrace during a peace-building event in Hadjer Lamis

With funding from Counterpart International, ACORD has been addressing this delicate situation by providing mediation between the warring communities as well as others who are affected within the localities of Kadada and Elfass in Chari-Baguirmi Region. A consultation framework has been put in place which has facilitated dialogue enabling each side to express themselves freely on the causes of the conflicts. This programme has also incorporated a training component for the local authorities on effective conflict resolution techniques. This approach is proving effective as more farmers and pastoralists are knocking at the peace mediators’ doors to be involved in the process. More than 150,000 people from the 4 regions have so far benefitted from the peace-building initiative.

“Thanks to the local peace-building framework we are ready to live as brothers and sisters. When a member of the network organises a celebration or a funeral, we provide moral, financial and material support. We are no longer enemies, we are now friends", - Moussa Hassaballa, a pastoralists’ representative from Chari-Baguirma.

There has also been a resulting commitment from the communities to maintain water infrastructures and cattle vaccination centres set up during the project and handed to a local management committee. Several partners have been inspired by the gains and tools of this project and are trying to draw on the methodology. This includes the Mauritanian Government which is willing to replicate the methodology to other areas of production.

“Increased human and livestock populations has resulted in increased competition for resources including productive land and water. This has contributed significantly to the inter-communal conflicts especially between pastoralists and farmers” Ndade Clementine, ACORD in Chad.

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Mobilising a Pan African Social Movement


The Power of Action July 2011 Newsletter

Child-headed Households in Rwanda Rwanda has the highest proportion of orphans and child-headed households in the world. Over one million children lost a parent as a result of the 1994 genocide and increasing numbers of HIV/AIDS related deaths are compounding the impact of the crisis. Though all sections of Rwandese society have been affected by the genocide, child-headed households are truly at the limit of extreme poverty. Many of these children are not able to meet their most basic needs and are deprived of their right to childhood. They are socially excluded, often rejected by already over-burdened and divided communities. ACORD with funding from Comic Relief is building solidarity, care and protection for child-headed households within their communities and improving their access to housing, education and healthcare, space for expression and debate, and safe opportunities to earn money.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Promoting Gender Equality in Western Region ACORD works with communities mostly in areas where social justice and rights have been denied to the local populations. This mission takes ACORD staff to very remote places where communication, access to services and awareness on global human rights are next to nil. One such location is Mushie a territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo located in the District of Plateau in the Province of Bandundu. Anyone traveling around Mushie cannot fail to notice its isolation, the lack of drinking water and electricity. This is a paradox when you know that Mushie is surrounded by 3 major rivers: Nfimi, Kasai and Kwa. Shockingly, some of these social misfortunes have silently created an environment whereby a cycle of rights abuse are perpetrated especially against women. In Mushie, the woman is culturally clustered together with children and is mainly a source of labour for the man's economic gain in addition to other sexual abuses. This is the reason why polygamy is the most consumed "commodity" in Mushie. Seven out of ten men are polygamous despite the fact that polygamy is illegal and women’s rights are supported by the DRC laws and policies on gender, including the Constitution. ACORD, through its project funded by UN Women, is supporting the fight against gender inequality and the exclusion of women of Mushie. By creating opportunities for training and sensitisation for women leaders and civil society organisations, ACORD has set out on an ambitious mission to reverse the woeful trends and trigger a substantial change in mentalities at the local level.

Sign Petition to End Violence against Women and Girls - Here!

“It is not easy to influence the mind-sets of whole communities, but seeing the damage that gender inequality is causing to women and girls, we feel that it is an intervention whose time has come” Louis Tshiyombo, ACORD in DRC

ACORD works with children who have been orphaned by the genocide, HIV, exile, imprisonment and abandonment promoting reconciliation and reintegration. Particular attention is given to the most vulnerable such as HIV positive children, child mothers and those with disabilities who are in even greater need of protection and access to appropriate services. Listen to these children’s stories on BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’.

Read more on ACORD’s work in Rwanda.

Over one million children lost a parent as a result of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and increasing numbers of HIV/AIDS related deaths are compounding the impact of the crisis. Photo: Siblings from child-headed household, Kamonyi District, Rwanda

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Mobilising a Pan African Social Movement


The Power of Action

July 2011 Newsletter

ACORD Board Visits Programmes in South Western Uganda ACORD board and senior management team made a programme visit on the 12th April 2011 on the occasion of the last board meeting that was hosted by ACORD’s field office in Mbarara, Uganda. This included a visit to the micro-finance institution, OMIPA started by ACORD, a group of people living with HIV/AIDS, a women’s association and the home of one of the earliest beneficiaries of ACORD’s work dating more than 20 years back. Janet Sabiiti in Ngarama sub-county was one of the pioneers in ACORD’s livelihoods work in Isingiro in the early 1990s and she also played a key role in mobilizing other women. Thanks to the collaboration with ACORD and their hard work, the livelihoods for the entire family has been enhanced. Despite having quite a small plot of land and no education, she and her husband have been able to see their children complete university. They are also proud that they have been able to construct a concrete house in addition to the mud house they used to live in, and their means of transportation have evolved from a bike to a motorcycle.

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Resolutions from the Women’s Land Rights

Conference National governments: Fast track development of agricultural and food security policies, legislations and programmes National governments: Include community organisations and grassroots women’s groups in land governance

Photo: Janet Sabiiti

Their farm serves as a demonstration farm for innovative practices and many other community members have benefitted from training in enhanced farming practices, rain water harvesting and more. Janet Sabiiti is a highly respected member of the community, a canton in the church and even a member of the Local Court Council.

African Union: Lead the development of an African response to stop the ‘land grabbing’ Civil Society Organisations: Monitor implementation of governments’ commitments to women’s rights in laws, policies and strategies Grassroots women and movements: Demand to be involved in agricultural and natural resource management with governments

News Clip ACORD in Guinea Provides Sustainable Options for Displaced Persons Published in: Horoya Press (Guinea national daily newspaper), May 2011 Features ACORD’s work in responding to the Ivorian crisis of 2010 and 2011. ACORD partnered with the UN Commission for Refugees to provide assistance to refugees fleeing the escalating violence in Cote d’Ivoire. This initiative was conducted in the context of ongoing work along the border areas of forested Guinea where ACORD is implementing a peace-building programme.

Development partners: Meet their commitments on increasing financing for agriculture and food security and reparation

<Read more about ACORD in Guinea> ACORD is a Pan African organisation working for social justice and development. Our mission is to work in common cause with people who are poor and those who have been denied their rights to obtain social justice and development and be part of locally rooted citizen movements. ACORD is present in 17 countries in Africa, working with communities on livelihoods and food sovereignty, women’s rights, conflict and HIV/AIDS. We also campaign and advocate at national, regional, Pan African as well as international levels. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Subscribe to ‘The Power of Action’ Newsletters: Here you have the chance to receive ACORD’s quarterly e-newsletters by e-mail free of charge. To subscribe, go to ACORD's website and sign up or send your request and contact details to the address below: E-mail: communications@acordinternational.org ---------------------------------------<Read the previous issue of ‘The Power of Action’>

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©2011 ACORD (Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development) Editorial Team Editor Nashon Tado Photo Credits ©ACORD

Editorial Review Nicola Bevan Vanessa Dupont Kristin Seljeflot Caroline Testud

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The Power of Action July 2011