Right to water and land, a common struggle in West Africa

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A local farmer collects hay from a rice field near Timbuktu, Mali (Photo: United Nations)
FIAN | 25 June 2015

Right to water and land, a common struggle in West Africa

Building on the so-called “Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles”, social movements and grassroots organizations from across West Africa will gather to discuss land and water issues in the region.

Water and land are vital natural resources and part of our common heritage. Although their safekeeping and governance must be monitored and preserved by communities for the common good of our societies, external factors are increasingly thwarting them from doing so. This tendency is characteristic in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite about 70 per cent of the population depending on peasant family farming.  With the aim of building strategies and strengthening the struggle of social movements and grassroots organizations, FIAN International will support the “Sub-regional –West Africa-Conference of the Convergence of Land and Water Struggles” in Nyeleni, Mali, from 25-27 June.

Although access and control of natural resources is largely determined by local and national power structures, they also have a significant international component. Trade agreements and investment, international development projects and activities of transnational corporations (TNCs) have become factors increasingly important and harmful to natural resources other around the world, including Africa. In doing so, they have often been reinforcing existing unequal power structures and contributing to the further marginalization of disadvantaged population groups such as women, children and communities. Land and water grabbing in all forms has become a global phenomenon as a result.


In response to the rising threats to millions of people’s livelihoods, local communities and organizations around the world     resist and struggle against the current system by claiming their rights and presenting alternative and adequate solutions. Past examples include the Dakar gathering in October 2014 as part of the African Social Forum, which resulted into a series of discussions between social movements and civil society organizations defending the rights to land and water; and the     Dakar to Tunis Declaration, whereby these actors reflected a continued dialogue aimed at building a global convergence of land and water struggles.

In alignment with these outcomes, the conference will offer a platform to share experiences of struggles for land and water in several West-African countries, in order to identify and analyze main dynamics, as well as study thoroughly relevant processes and instruments, both international and regional. The exchange of views and discussions will provide an opportunity for reflection, to strategize engagement in these sub-regional processes and establish a platform of the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles in West Africa that reaches out to and impacts national policies.

The conference is organized by the Coordination Malienne contre l’Accaparement des Terres (CMAT), Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africain (COPAGEN), Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des Ruraux Sénégal (CNCR), Synergie Paysanne Bénin (SNYPA) and Floraison.  It counts on the support of the Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA), La Via Campesina, World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), COCIDES, FIAN International, GRAIN, Transnational Institute (TNI), Cooperation for the Development of Emerging Countries (COSPE) and Terra Nuova.

For media enquiries, please contact     seufert[at]fian.org or     delrey[at]fian.org
Original source: FIAN
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