“We have our own seeds, we don’t buy seeds from the market, we are aware of the rates of our crops in the market and have direct linkages so we do not sell our crops to exploitative middlemen anymore.”
“I feel proud and secure, therefore I have an aspiration to reach out to the women in my neighboring villages to help them protect their rights of land, I want them to benefit the way we have benefited.”
Ameena Samoo lives in the far-flung village of Rind, in South-West Pakistan.
She holds 16 acres of land on which her family grows wheat, chilli, maize, cotton, oilseeds, sunflower and a variety of seasonal vegetables.
Ameena, who is a trained midwife, has lead her community’s women and men farmers towards empowerment in an inspirational journey.
Through an Oxfam programme within our GROW Campaign, she learnt about Right to Food, farmers rights and policies. Determined to put this newly acquired knowledge into concrete actions, she embarked on a fight for equal share of water from the village’s watercourses, which had been unduly hogged by influentials of the area.
The villagers were suffering from this blatant inequality. In one case, the community lost half of the chilli crop due to unavailability of water.
Men of her community were poor and local irrigation officials would often shut down their efforts to raise voice for this injustice. However due to cultural traditions, influentials did not dare to argue with women folks, a ‘weakness’ that helped Ameena and her fellow women. Lead by Ameena’s vocal leadership, the women continued with their struggle, and obtained regular water supply.
Motivated by the success, the community built a cemented pond to collect water for drinking and washing purposes. Hand pumps were installed at houses receiving supply from water pipes connected with the pond.
The next step was to receive lands from government’s land scheme for five landless houses of the village. Ameena meticulously followed up with the authorities and five women of village Rind were awarded few acres of land each in the neighbourhood. These women cultivated the lands, provided food for their children and earned out of selling crops.
After another Oxfam’s programme, agriculture practices improved, incomes increased, villagers were organized in producers organization and women had received accolades for their contribution in all this.
Photo: Oxfam in Pakistan
On March 3rd 2016, Berta Cáceres, an Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader of the Lenca people, was brutally murdered for having taken a courageous stand to protect the land and natural resources her community depend on. Less than two weeks after Berta Cáceres was murdered, another land activist, Nelson García, was shot and killed for supporting Lenca people .
Join the fight and demand justice now! No more activists should pay with their lives for standing for their people’s rights! Sign the petition to stop the Agua Zarca dam project here: https://act.oxfam.org/international/end-the-violence