By Sostine Namanya
KAMPALA - Climate change is real and its effects are visible globally.
Many organisations are teaming up to help mitigate its effects and those to do with land and water issues.
One of these organisation is the American Jewish World Service (AJWS). AJWS supports and strengthens grassroot organisations to advance their human rights agenda in Uganda.
Since 2012, AJWS has provided support to groups working on natural resource rights with the ultimate goal of ensuring that rural communities in western and northern Uganda have increased participation in decisions over the use of their natural resources and increased control over those resources.
In 2017, following a process of research, consultation and reflection, AJWS developed a new three-year strategy (2018-2020) that focuses on advancing rural communities’ capacity to pursue climate justice, defined as ecologically sustainable forms of development and natural resource pursued by marginalised rural communities, as an essential pathway to mitigating the trajectory and impacts of climate change.
The new strategy also supports feminists organising some of the existing AJWS partners that have been engaged in over the past year on land rights and climate justice-oriented approaches to strengthening the livelihoods of rural communities, particularly of women farmers.
In addition, the strategy also seeks to promote climate justice work that addresses the challenges of large-scale land acquisition of community-controlled land, particularly in northern Uganda.
The strategy builds on work that AJWS partners were doing on land and the protection and promotion of women’s land rights in western Uganda.
It also adopts a more deliberate focus on movement building and climate justice and presents a significant expansion to cover areas of northern Uganda.
Against this background, AJWS, in collaboration with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) is convening a three-day meeting in Entebbe of partners and allies to enable sharing, learning and reflection from July 30.
The overall objective of the convening is to create a space for sharing, learning, networking and reflection for AJWS Partners.
The specific objectives of the convening are:
i) Sharing and relationship building
While a number of the relationships under the new strategy are with long term AJWS partners working in the same geographic area (i.e. the Albertine region, and Hoima and Bulliisa districts, specifically) who know each other and have had previous opportunities to share and learn from each other, AJWS has also recently begun to fund several new grantee partners.
The meeting is intended to provide an opportunity for all AJWS’s partners to share on current interventions and strategies that they are undertaking; and discuss challenges and opportunities for collaboration and learning.
ii) Collective visioning, learning and perspective building
As a number of AJWS partners are working on different aspects of land, water and climate justice or other natural resource rights struggles, the meeting aims to allow partners to develop a shared understanding of climate justice, climate change, and transformative approaches to addressing them such as through movement building, and feminist approaches and perspective building.
iii) Wellness, safety and security
Community activists, leaders and organisations in Uganda are operating in an increasingly restrictive and challenging environment.
The convening aims to facilitate a process of collective reflection among partners and proactive planning on individual, organisational and collective wellness, safety and security.
The approach used will encourage partners to integrate their thinking and efforts on wellness, safety and security into their core agendas on and approaches to advance natural resource rights.
iv) Together, starting with our own knowledge and experiences, we will build understanding:
We will deepen our analysis about the politics of patriarchy (male power) and capitalism (an economic system based on the maximum exploitation of natural resources and labour of workers, peasants and women) building on our experience and knowledge.
The meeting offers a place to make visible what we know, deepen and critically engage this knowing through collective analysis.
The deepening of our knowledge will occur through reflection and discussion, critical reading, teaching (inputs from resource people), storytelling and case studies from our respective communities.
Together; we will make the link from our community stories and cases to the larger economic, political and social systems of exploitation.
3. Envisaged benefits:
It is hoped that the convening will; Provide an opportunity for the partners to engage in a critical and informed review of current interventions they are pursuing and that the process will inform future planning and design of projects and initiatives.
It will also lay a stronger foundation for movement building that address natural resource rights and climate justice through a feminist lens.
It is anticipated that this activity will comprise of a three day (July 31 – August 1, 2018) meeting bringing together representatives from 10 partner organisations.
The meeting will be facilitated by thought leaders with expertise from within the network of partners who will work with NAPE and AJWS to draw up an appropriate agenda for the meeting and guide the sessions.
The writer is the gender and food security officer of the National Association of Professional Environmentalists. The article was co-written by Caroline Adoch, the AJWS Country Consultant.