Rural Women’s Assembly Statement

KwaZulu-Natal Floods, Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events

The Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) would like to convey our deepest condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones due to the recent floods and in KwaZulu-Natal. Our sincere sympathy also goes to all households, women farmers and peasants who lost their livelihoods, livestock as well as their produce in these floods.

It is heart breaking to know that more than 400 people have lost their lives in this disaster, and possibly more.  This is a catastrophic situation, and is one of the most deadly extreme weather events in the history of South Africa . There is no easy way to recover from this terrible disaster unless we work together as a country. Together we can find a solution. We call upon anyone in a position to help to give aid in rebuilding KwaZulu-Natal. 

It is sad that these floods come in a month where we are commemorating the International Day of Peasant Struggles. Peasants daily struggles, especially women peasants, has  worsened as the frequency of extreme weather events increases. Peasants include small-scale farmers, landless rural workers, farm workers and other rural communities. Agriculture is one of the main sources of income for rural women. We can only imagine the setback this disaster has brought on them.  When a disaster of this nature occurs, rural women in particular are negatively impacted. Flooding and higher sea levels destroy crop production, which ultimately affects women’s ability to provide for their families and themselves. Additionally, in a flood, valuables are lost and for many rural women this also means the tools needed to farm. This makes rebuilding their lives more difficult, especially when they do not have the funds to buy new farming tools.

We sympathize with you our sisters in KwaZulu-Natal. You are not alone in these tough times. RWA stands in solidarity with you until we all get through this as a country. We are doing our part in reaching out to our sisters in KwaZulu-Natal to offer a helping hand. Please know we are here for you and please do reach out to us for assistance.

These devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal has brought into focus the material threat posed by climate change and extreme weather events. We are aware that climate change impacts rural women most particularly. The Rural Women’s Assembly commits to the following in response to climate change and extreme weather events:

  • Stand together in solidarity and lead the struggle against these powerful polluting forces
  • Continue to struggle for justice for rural women and hold our own governments accountable for representing our interests in negotiations such as this. We will specifically hold polluting countries accountable.
  • Put pressure on our governments to meet our 50/50 land ownership for women demand and adopt policies that will address climate change and support rural women farmers. We specifically demand fifty percent of funding for agriculture and agricultural adaptation go to women farmers
  • Struggle against false climate solutions which lead to the destruction of our land and seas, and the grabbing of our resources by private companies.
  • We reject the participation of our governments in carbon markets, GMO projects and biofuels farming. Climate change can only be addressed by a change in our current economic system which encourages unsustainable resource extraction and consumption
  • Work with others to ensure that our voices are heard inside the negotiations at COP 23 and beyond.
  • Work to create real alternatives that help us achieve sovereignty over our land, natural resources and the food we produce. Specifically, we will:
  • Keep, preserve, and exchange our own seeds
  1. Adopt and grow herbs to improve our farming and ensure our own health and well-being and that of our families
  2. Implement and encourage an agro-ecological approach to agricultural production
  3. Pursue alternative energy sources

We wish you well during these trying times.

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