RWA Madagascar: Rural Women and Extractivism; What’s at stake ?

Climate change impacts have been at the heart of debates over decades ; they are in a way or another due to anthropogenic activities. Countries from the global South that count small-scale polluters doing it for livelihoods are particularly blamed while the large -scale polluters are being praised for granting poor countries with aid.

A new form of exploitation of the human race, the nature has emerged in the wake of slavery and colonisation reinforcing neocolonialism, capitalism and exacerbating the climate crisis in the process :extractivism which is to describe the for-profit exploitation of natural resources.Madagascar is not immune to this phenomenon which is destroying thousand of lives through the establishment of the Base Toliara ; an Australian company in charge of setting up the country’s third largest mining project (ilmenite , zircon and rutile).

Located in Ranobe ; 50 km from the capital of the South West region of Madagascar (Toliara) ; the project is endangering the ESCR (Economic Social and Cultural Rights ) of the rural communities mostly women exposing them to extreme poverty and high health risk. These are tangible consequences of the extractivism on rural women at economic level :  deforestation causing desertification and livelihoods loss since they completely rely on agriculture and farming ; nevertheless green pastures tend to disappear as construction progresses on the mining project. Food sovereignty is then threatened.

At a social level, rural women are likely to be the most exposed to Gender Based Violence as extractivism is a male-dominated domain seeking for female companionship in the surrounding villages : early pregnancy and rape cases cannot be ruled out. At a cultural level, the sitting of the project requires the relocation of cultural sites and shrines which would violate the freedom of the local communities. In addition to all this, the right to a healthy environment is being infringed because of soil depletion and declining biodiversity and contamination of freshwater compelling women to go further than they used to go before. RWA members and the entire community have been standing against the company for several years.

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