Erynne Gilpin is a Development and Peace member and a Delegate on our upcoming Youth Solidarity Tour to Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Here, she shares with us how her group at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario made a local meal, and why that is so important.
Food and Justice
On December 10th, the students of the Development and Peace group, at King’s University College (UWO), gathered to break the bread and celebrate a socially just diet! The entire meal was made with ingredients from within a 100-mile radius of our city, in order to support the local economy. What does this have to do with Development and Peace’s focus on environmental and ecological justice?
The food industry is one of the leading causes of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions on the planet. In fact, large-scale cattle, poultry and pork factory farms are the leading cause for methane emissions. Folks around the world are recognizing the potential that dietary choices have to impact social and environmental justice, which are intrinsically inter-connected.
Through supporting a local diet we are supporting diverse forms of justice in a myriad of ways. One such way is that we reduce reliance upon the destructive use of fossil fuels, through minimizing the distance food needs to travel from crop to kitchen.
A Kind Diet
The 100-mile diet fosters community and relationships between buyer and farmer. Although today, we can step into the florescent beauty of the supermarket and pick up a lovely avocado from Guatemala, we do not have the opportunity to thank or enter into a relationship with that farmer. Food is an incredible way to bring people together, whether it be through fair exchange of goods or through breaking the bread with our families and communities. When we know where are food is coming from, and of whose hands it was nurtured, we are able to have a more respectful and attuned awareness to those involved in its production process. Furthermore, this encourages the producer to be offer healthy and fresh food for their suppliers, and to be fully accountable for their produce!
Finally, localizing our diet is a great way to foster a sustainable, resilient and diverse local economy. One of the best ways to address impeding issues of climate change, is to create resilient and self-sufficient communities. Through supporting local trade and exchange, we foster an interdependent economy based upon diverse sectors, goods, and services. If a community is fully dependent upon one large supermarket, the moment something falters within its production practices, the entire community is affected. Through localizing our economies, we are creating a more resilient and sustainable means for future survival and well-being.
We ate: homemade pasta (Ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and goat cheese), a garden-fresh salad, homemade bread with delicious marmalade, butternut squash soup, a local organic pork roast, and finally a delicious apple cinnamon dessert.
We had an incredible time talking about the implications of our diet on the environment as we shared this incredible meal. We lived a fun, creative and delicious alternative to large-scale food industrialization, through our collective meal. Food is an incredible way to foster community, trust and interdependent living. We encourage other D&P groups to celebrate a deliciously local meal with your own communities, families and friends!
The worst drought to impact the Horn of Africa in 60 years has put an estimated 10 million people at risk of severe food shortages and famine. The Caritas network is making preparations to support those in the most need and DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is accepting donations to go towards relief in the region.
Here are some facts on the current situation and info on what Development and Peace, with Caritas Internationalis and YOUR help, are able to do to respond to food crises that have afflicted vulnerable communities.
Drought in the Horn of Africa
What is the situation in the Horn of Africa?
The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought in the region in 60 years. According to the United Nations, there are currently 11.6 million people who are affected by this drought and in need of humanitarian assistance. The number of people affected per country is as follows:
• Ethiopia: 4.5 million people
• Kenya: 2.4 million people
• Somalia: 3.7 million people
• Djibouti: 146,600 people
Famine has been declared in two parts of Somalia and the United Nations is warning that other parts of the country may soon be in the same situation.
As a consequence, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, who are coping with food and water shortages in many communities, are experiencing a dramatic influx of refugees coming from Somalia. An estimated 1,500-2,000 Somalis are crossing the borders into Kenya and Ethiopia every day in need of aid.
The health of the populations in all affected countries is excessively precarious and children are most vulnerable. In some areas, 25% of children are suffering from malnutrition, which can have lifelong health impacts. The situation could deteriorate further if expected rains in October and November are insufficient.
Why does the region keep being affected by food crises?
The Horn of Africa is a dry arid region that is susceptible to drought conditions. Pastoralist and nomad populations have long developed ways to cope through poor rainy seasons, however, in recent times, several factors have made it increasingly difficult for communities to pass through lean periods. Changes in climate, conflict, rising food costs and competition over diminishing resources have all exacerbated the situation and contributed to the crisis we see today. To learn more, read our Backgrounder.
What is DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE doing?
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has a long history in the region, consistently responding to food crises affecting the most vulnerable communities for over 35 years. The symptoms of this crisis had already begun to reveal themselves as far back as two years ago and DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE put in place projects to respond to growing needs in Ethiopia and Somaliland, a sovereign region in Northeast Somalia, as early as 2009. These projects helped communities to gain better access to food and water. To learn more, visit this page.
Currently, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACEis working in collaboration with Caritas Kenya, Caritas Ethiopia and Caritas Somalia, which have all mobilized to provide aid and relief. Emergency interventions needed to save the lives and livelihoods of people, include the following:
•Supplementary food distribution to vulnerable groups, including infants, pregnant and nursing mothers, the sick and the elderly;
•Supplementary feeding for severely malnourished children;
•Food distribution to other affected people under a food for work/food for assets/vouchers system;
•Water and sanitation assistance such as providing storage facilities, drilling of boreholes for water extraction, scooping of water dams/pans, supply of fuel and generator spare parts for existing boreholes, and maintenance of broken water systems;
•Emergency medical supplies to health units;
•Managing livestock destocking (commercial sale and slaughter) and restocking, water, feed, and veterinary services;
•Seed distribution for short crops.
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and its Caritas partners always try to reach groups that are most vulnerable. In this case, relief interventions will aim to reach the elderly, children under 5 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers, people living with a long term illness and refugees who have not reached camps.
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE also expects that some long-term projects will be required to help communities re-launch their agricultural practices and to put in place preventative measures and long-term sustainable development projects so that communities can be in a better position to cope with drought conditions in the future.
Is Development and Peace providing aid in Somalia?
It is very difficult for humanitarian agencies to intervene in Somalia as the government there has forbidden most from operating in the country. Caritas Somalia is unable to operate directly in the country, however, it is intervening through traditional local partners with food distribution and it also plans to distribute tents. Although Caritas Somalia’s humanitarian interventions cannot be easily coordinated, they will continue to intervene where they can. In addition, other Caritas partners are responding in Somalia and assessing the needs of Somalis who have crossed the borders into Ethiopia and Kenya. Are donations made to Development and Peace being matched by the government?
Yes, donations that are made by individuals to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE between July 6th and September 16th, 2011 for the drought in the Horn of Africa will be matched by the Canadian Government. Please note that the matched funds go into a common fund that is managed by the Canadian International Development Agency. The government then distributes the funds based on proposals submitted by eligible organizations responding to the crisis, including DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, and which meet established criteria.
What are DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s administrative fees?
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE applies an administrative fee of 15% against donations made by the Canadian public for emergencies. This is needed to cover associated financial and administrative costs along with the cost of developing and managing emergency relief programs. This 15% fee is divided as follows:
5% is needed to cover extra work generated by the emergency, such as accounting procedures, registration of donations, answering phones, fundraising, sending receipts, etc.
10% is allocated directly to the costs of managing emergency relief programs, employing staff, to offset operational costs, for travel, communications, etc.
How can I donate?
Donations can be made by telephone (1-888-234-8533), on our website: www.devp.org, or by a cheque made out to
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and indicating Horn of Africa Drought, and sent to: DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. West. 3rd Floor, Montreal, QC, H3G 1T7
Delegates at the World Social Forum in Dakar have now been considering how social movements can work together to build another world for more than 48 hours.
Each day, Julie, Hélène and I are confronted with a smorgasbord of workshops to attend, from how African farmers are saying no to GM crops and demanding food sovereignty to how Senegalese hip-hop musicians are forging cultural frontiers of resistance to the dominant economic model.
A theme that emerges is that if the social movements of the Global South are struggling against economic domination by the powerful, the wealthy are resisting the resistance of the poor – and have been for the last few centuries.
In a workshop organized by our German counterpart organization, Misereor, a joke originally told by Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town was quoted : «When the whites arrived in Africa, we had the land, and they had the Bible.
So they said, `Brothers and sisters, let us close our eyes and pray.’
So we did. Only when we opened our eyes, they had the land, and we had the Bible.»
Ruth Hall, a South African researcher, gave a harrowing account of a worsening state of affairs, with multinational corporations forming partnerships with governments of Africa to buy up huge tracts of land in Africa that they say are unused – financed by some so called ‘ethical’ investment funds. The result is more dispossessed peasants, who sell their land for next to nothing and end up swelling the slums of the continent’s cities.
The extremely lucrative crop Jatropha, a plant used to make bio-fuels, is a jealous plant, Rene Segbenou of Benin explained. «It tolerates no other plants in its midst, and kills the soil.»
Since early December, hundreds of private contractors of multinational banana corporation Banacol have illegally invaded and occupied Afro-Colombian peace communities in the Curvaradó river basin in order to clear the land for banana cultivation.
Their actions have been supported and assisted by local paramilitaries, army soldiers and municipal governments.
The peace communities’ collective territory is protected under Colombia’s Constitution and protective measures under the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. According to documents released by the Colombian human rights organization, Intereclesial Comisión de Justicia y Paz (Justicia y Paz) , Banacol workers are displacing vulnerable Afro-Colombian peace communities, thus enabling the corporation to occupy sections of communal, resource rich land.
This violates the sovereignty of the long-standing communities, and puts them at risk for complete displacement from their collective territory in a country with almost 5 million internally displaced people. They are also bulldozing the subsistence farmers’ crops, destroying natural habitats and contaminating waterways.
Flyers posted in poor neighborhoods and communities across the northwestern part of the country lured the squatters into Curvaradó in the Urabá region of Chocó, Colombia. The flyers assured three months of paid living expenses, titles to 2.5-hectare plots, materials and pay to build settlements, and a contract with Banacol Inc. to grow bananas.
What the flyers didn’t include is that the Curvaradó territory is already inhabited by Afro-descendent communities, committed to maintain their collective territories, granted to them under law 70 of Colombia (1993), which recognizes and protects Afro-Colombians’ right to collectively own and occupy their ancestral territory.
The “bad-faith occupiers,” as the Curvaradó residents call them, are mainly made up of vulnerable individuals; some displaced by violence in other regions of the country, some farmers without land, and others recently unemployed by palm oil or banana plantations. Unfortunately, their vulnerable situations put them at risk to be taken advantage of by the corporate agenda, promising them “the good life”, and thus at risk to further impoverish other vulnerable communities for their gain.
According to the ancestral inhabitants, the invaders admit that they collectively own the land, but contend to remain on the stolen plots because it is their only opportunity for work. Banacol, as so many other multinational corporations, has pitted these vulnerable populations against one another, putting them at higher risk of oppression.
The squatters say they expect to receive up to 180,000 pesos ($90 U.S.) for each hectare cleared. So far, according to Justicia y Paz, they have cleared-out over 200 hectares and built over 122 temporary huts and camps. The “bad-faith occupiers” are still arriving by the hundreds. Although the squatters would not identify who the money is coming from, the promised contracts with Banacol implicates them as the instigators and funders of an intended illegal displacement for profit.
The peace communities filed a legal complaint with the municipality of Carmen del Darién, but no response has been taken by local authorities thus far. The Carmen del Darién police ordered an eviction of the illegal occupiers, but then said that they do not have the resources to carry out such an action.
The most recent demonstration of state support and collusion with the illegal occupation was the funneling of flood victims relief funds to the illegal land invaders by the Mayors Office in Carmen del Darién, according to Justicia y Paz.
For more on History + Consequences of Occupation + Banacol’s Bloody Bananas
It is unacceptable that more than 1 billion people still go to bed hungry each night, when access to food is the most basic of human rights and is a question of fundamental justice.
Development and Peace believes that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will go down in history as empty promises if world leaders do not act now to make goal number one a priority, followed by seven other goals which generally seek to reduce the symptoms of poverty.
All eight MDGs may not be reached if we cannot meet goal number one – to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The success or failure of one goal affects the success of the other seven– like a domino effect. For example, lack of access to food is not only a symptom of severe poverty, but a symptom of the realities that the other seven MDGs seek to tackle.
Read Development and Peace’s statement on MDG’s HERE
Everyone is involved in making the MDGs a reality!
For Development and Peace partner organizations in the Global South, hunger is a pressing issue that their governments cannot resolve on their own.
There are many players involved like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to help with goal number eight, by putting in place new trading and financial policies to enable the poorest countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals, however almost nothing has been done to ensure that world trade rules enable poorer countries to feed their own populations. Empowering poorer countries to feed their own populations is enabling food sovereignty which is defined as “the right of people to determine their own food and agricultural policies”.
FACT: Hunger is on the rise since 2008, where 64 million more people became extremely impoverished as a result of the recession2, bringing to 1.5 billion the number living in extreme poverty, defined by the United Nations as those living under US$1.25 per day.
To make the MDGs a reality, the right to food must be woven together with the right to food sovereignty. In order to get on track meet MDG #1 and ensure an end to hunger, Development and Peace calls for:
Industrialized countries should support small scale national agricultural production in the countries of the Global South, in line with food sovereignty principles
Wealthier nations must also take steps to meet targets of giving 0.7% of GDP in international aid. Such aid should go to the world’s poorest countries and be determined by development needs rather than geo-political concerns
Canada and other wealthy nations should promote international trade rules that allow poor countries to prioritize national agricultural production, rather than industrial agricultural production for soy and corn based agrofuels.
G8 nations should implement a financial transaction tax as a way to control speculation and capital flows in an effort to raise funds for development and avert further financial crises fuelled by uncontrolled speculation and ensuing hikes in food prices.
The Millennium Development Goals will not be met if urgent measures are not taken to tackle world hunger and to ensure that the right to food becomes a reality for all human beings.
Building Family in the Philippines – Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)
Our days with NASSA (Caritas Philippines) took us from north of Manila (where we visited the demonstration farm at Nueva Ecija and Misereor Village) to southeast of Manila, to all over the Bicol Region.
When I look back at our first full day in the Bicol region (August 16th), I am still overwhelmed by how much we participated in that day. By the end of that day we had visited four communities, traveled by jeepney (colourful, community bus) and railroad trolley, and connected with several leaders and community members we now call friends.
Our second community visit that day was to Camagong Cabusao in Camarines Sur. Here we were welcomed as the “Canadian Team” to a Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC). The BEC is one of NASSA’s programs that organizes parishes into smaller groups, with the purpose of giving the community a sense of family. Each BEC has programs for health, farming, faith, and more. The BEC of Camagong has 15-20 smaller groups/families that they call “clusters”. Each cluster has a “cluster leader” with many helpers.
When we arrived at this “barangay” (community) everyone was at the entrance shaking our hands as we entered their main building. One cluster leader expressed that they were happy to be chosen to have us visit: “We open our hearts and arms to you.”
A different cluster leader educated us on what kind of programs the BEC has established:
a communal garden that allows members to practice the Filipino “bayanihan” (everyone working together).
monthly faith activities: for example - in April, they have the procession of a patron saint that is brought to each house for prayer and adoration. In keeping with building a sense of family in the community, they ensure that the saints are always brought to the house AND fields of the farmers, as they are always busy with their work.
“self-help groups” that include a livestock project.
We were invited to walk around the barangay and “enjoy strolling with them under the heat of the sun.” I had not taken this literally and have never felt so welcomed by a group of people. Everyone walked with us along the road to where we would plant rice. We were no longer their visitors – this was what being a part of their “family” was about.
Under the shade of her umbrella, one cluster leader said to me as I looked around: “This is how abundant we are at this barangay. Anyone who needs something…all they have to do is knock on someone’s door.” She asked me why we were there, and I explained the work of Development and Peace and our roles as participants on the solidarity experience. From my reply, she said: “You’ve met the cluster leaders here and now you will be the cluster leaders when you are home. Share our story.”
At the BEC, not only did I learn about how NASSA helps parishes apply activities that foster total human development, I also learned about how families can be. The sense of family that BECs have achieved seems to have connections that run deeper than blood relations. I am more grateful now that I have been able to experience a form of this with the Filipino community I grew up in in Ontario.
The community sang “for he’s a jolly good fellow” to us before our departure and ended it with Connie Francis:
“Good luck, good health, God bless you, and guide you on their way…” I wish the same for our friends and mentors at Camagong.
Wow – It’s so hard to keep track of the days now. The trip has been an amazing experience so far. Today we are with NASSA and in the diocese of Libaman.
Last night we stayed in a GAWAD KALINGA Village – What a moving experience! When we entered the community hall after having shared a beautiful meal with the leaders, the children of the community came running to us and took our hands and touched them to their foreheads. This is a sign of respect in the culture here in the Philippines to do this to people who are older then you. The evening commenced like many others with speeches and warm welcomes, but then the solidarity truly began. There was much music and dance, with people of every age. The cultural numbers they had prepared were out of this world and the talent was like nothing I’ve seen before.
The night ended with all participants going to host families to experience life with the locals. I stayed with a family whose father works with the vegetable garden as a part of his livelihood. The welcoming feeling and hospitality was great, but it wasn’t until the next morning that I got a feeling that I never got before. The father and I went for a walk through the community and he explained it all to me, from the beginning until the point they have currently reached. He introduced me to every neighbor and told me the story of the community being built. He told me about a line of a hundred people that passed the blocks to build the homes. He also could not stop from continuing to thank me for honoring him and visiting his humble abode.
He took me to the gardens where he works and makes his livelihood. He explained that each family has a section of donated land that they each plant stuff in. He was especially proud pointing out his spot – so I made sure to capture the moment and the smile on his face. We walked to where the pigs and chickens are kept. He explained to me about the organic farming they do. He showed me the chickens and explained that they are separated out and taken care of by groups. Specifically divided into 5 groups of which he is in group three and he therefore takes his turn on Thursdays to maintain them.
We walked in silence some of the way, but he kept turning back and smiling at me, sometimes continuing to say thank you so much for coming. It was not long after that we had to prepare to leave the GK Village, but the memories they made for us with their wonderful welcoming hospitality is something that will last a lifetime. The visit may have had to come to an end, but a future partnership of solidarity is sure to be shared for a lifetime!
On June 24th I was fortunate to be a part of a small group of Development and Peace members that camped out at Arrowhead Provincial Park in Huntsville Ontario.
This year Development and Peace’s campaign revolved around urging our Prime Minister to put Food Sovereignty on the G8 agenda. I have spent much of my time as a volunteer member with D&P, educating youth throughout central Ontario on the injustices surrounding small scale farmers in the global south. For me this was a chance to not just speak about the injustices but to take a stand. As the cliché goes, I was able to practice what I preach.
Participating for my first time as an activist and being a voice for 1.02 billion voiceless who go hungry every day is a feeling that can’t be described. I have always been taught that it is equally unjust to know and do nothing as it is to commit an injustice itself. As citizens in a democratic society we are asking our government to take action and increase support for small scale farming, the poorest profession in the world.
Our plan for the few days we had committed to being present in Huntsville was to find a creative way to get our message across to those who chose to listen.
We also felt it was important to educate as many people as we could on the importance in supporting small scale farmers and the injustices they face on a daily basis.
As a group we created a piece of street theater relating to the world cup. We were filmed by an OPP officer in the public demonstration area who was responsible for having footage sent to the G8 summit. The concept of the world cup match was between small scale farmers and the G8 Industrial Agricultural Machine (IAM).
The small farmers had a tough go of it – they were fouled constantly without benefit of referee intervention. This action was an excellent depiction of reality for many current small scale farmers both in the Global South and even locally here in Canada.
Saturday was a very special day because we were joined by a bus load of Development and Peace members from the Archdiocese of Peterborough.
In the heart of Huntsville we were blessed to participate in mass presided by Fr. Bob Holmes. Incorporating the sacrament of the Eucharist into our peaceful demonstration was an experience I will never forget.
My time in Huntsville has left me with an overwhelming sense of hope that change is possible and will undoubtedly occur as we as Canadian citizens continue to work in solidarity with the oppressed throughout the Global South.
Last week I was privileged to be a part of an incredible board wide initiative organized by local volunteer members in the beautiful city of Sault Ste Marie.
After a day full of presentations at St Thomas Aquinas C.S.S I made the 7 hour journey to the “soo” without any real idea as to what was laying ahead of me the next morning. I was given the opportunity to meet with wonderful local, hard working D&P members that participated in this initiative. I was taken in and treated as if I was family and welcomed everywhere I went with open arms, for that I am always great full.
St Basil’s C.S.S were instrumental in making this wonderful day happen; Justice Walk 2010.
With promotional videos made, posters of truth, and an already burning desire to make a difference we hit the street; with a very special grade 12 class leading the way. As we walked to MP Tony Martin’s office with a solid 200 strong we met up with a few classes from the partnering high school down the road St Mary’s. With us were students carrying a thousand plus signatures supporting our campaign on food sovereignty. Mr. Martin so graciously met us outside and spoke to the students, quoting Martin Luther King Jr’s speech on politician, labeling this generation of youth now “changing the course of the wind”.
I was completely blown away as I watched this day fall into place. After walking back to the school unsure of what was next I learned about a prayer service, but first we had to pick up a large group of elementary school students from down the road to join us.
These young students came walking out of their school with smiles as big as I have ever seen, waving Afghanistan flags (each elementary school chose I country and learned about the work D&P is doing in that country) and singing this year’s theme song; waving flag by K’naan. As we walked back I was so ecstatic I had to run ahead through the school to watch the students walk out together. As the approached the back doors of the school to walk through the honor guard I could hear them without seeing them; singing together “when I get older, I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom, just like a waving flag”.
Now I am blown away. I was honored to be able to say a few words of thanks and begin the prayer service with the opening prayer. As pictures were taken and thanks of gratitude all around I sat back just trying to soak in everything that had happened in the span of 3 or 4 hours. Wow.
After eating a lovely lunch at the water front, I went to the school board to meet some very influential people in setting up this project. After being introduced and saying a quick thanks to everyone I joined them in watching the promotional video. Then came time for the directors to walk for peace and justice; I of course had to join even for a few moments; this was really special. I was then given the opportunity to speak in a classroom at St Mary’s high school and talk a little bit further about D&P and our campaign for this year. Finishing the evening off I was graciously welcomed into the home of the chaplain of St Basil’s C.S.S to join her and her family for a wonderful meal. The morning was welcomed with a sad good bye to such a great community but full of inspiration and a new challenge for me when I returned home. All that is left to say is THANK YOU to everyone in the “soo” for all their hard work and for making me feel at home; even for one day.
“To act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with God” – Micah 6:8
Accomplished by H.S.C.D.S.B on April 28th 2010.
Click here and here for more information about the Justice Walk.