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By Carol Schachet
June 14th, 2012
The day-to-day struggle in Palestine centers on access to and control of land and water. Not only are these vital resources critical to self-determination, but they are necessary for life. And in Gaza, the five-year Israeli-imposed blockade and unrepaired destruction from Operation Cast Lead have pushed the population into dangerous health and sanitary conditions.
Yesterday I spoke with two members of Brazil’s Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) in Sao Paulo City. MAB is an inspiring organization formed by families who have been displaced by mega-dams in Brazil. Grassroots supports MAB in the organizing of displaced families, or atingidos, so they can collectively defend their land, water and food rights.
By Shiney Varghese
May 31st, 2012
Earlier this week, The Guardian reported on a study that looked at rising sea levels from a new angle. The study found that efforts to meet increasing freshwater demand by harnessing “fossil” groundwater [groundwater that cannot be replenished for millennia under current climate conditions] contributes more to rising sea levels than melting glaciers. Since there it cannot be replenished, tapping groundwater results in land subsidence (downward-shifting of ground surface) and a one-way transfer of water into the oceans.
In South Africa, land occupation is expanding as a strategy for achieving genuine agrarian reform, food sovereignty and climate justice. Since these are all critical issues for people living in cities, land occupations in both urban and rural areas are an important, and often unrecognized, part of global movements.
The tiny motorboat’s engine coughs a couple of miles offshore and whirls to a stop. Gazing out over the aquamarine Mediterranean waters, I feel high from the fumes of cheap Egyptian diesel and the smell of sea salt. “Let’s get in,” says Mahfouz Kabariti, a fisherman, stripping down to swim trunks and diving overboard. A Palestinian friend who is a medical student also came along for the ride. We eye each other cautiously. She winks, and we both jump in the water, fully dressed, our long pants weighing us down. It’s a perfect Friday afternoon. From out here, the ubiquitous bullet holes in buildings are invisible and Gaza City looks like a coastal resort town.
By Alicia Tozour and Mina Remy
Compared to their Arab neighbors, the occupied Palestinian territories are endowed with an abundance of freshwater. Despite this fact, Palestinians do not have access to enough water to meet their daily needs or support their small farms. Although Israel’s illegal expansion into the Palestinian territories is commonly viewed as a land grab, the placement of Israeli settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall is also a strategic water grab.
“Anytime a new wall is built, hundreds of acres of forest and fertile land for food production is flooded. Anytime a new wall is built, a river dies. The death of the rivers is the end of our livelihood” - José Josivaldo, Movement of People Affected by Dams, National Coordination body member
The hugely profitable business of building dams has taken the Amazon region by storm. One hundred-forty new dams will be built in the Amazon in the next years. The lion’s share will be in Brazil, spurred on by its booming economy, but the Amazonian regions of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname, French Guyana and Guyana are also targeted by the industry.
From all corners of the world, small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights activists have been percolating solutions upward to advance their rights to land, water and food. With 2011 behind us, Grassroots International celebrates some of the victories and inroads that took place last year, all with funding from Grassroots International and our supporters. Below are just some of the highlights.
According to a local proverb, bad news arrive arrives fast. So it was with the announcement that Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff will end the popular and effective One Million Cisterns Program in the country’s semi-arid regions.