Progressio welcomes many of the points raised in the final Communique from the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland.

Women farmers

We are pleased to see an acknowledgement for the need to support the "critical role played by smallholder farmers, especially women" - which is exactly what Progressio partner organisations and Development Workers are doing in many of the countries where we work.

In the Dominican Republic, Karina Cuba is helping deliver knowledge and skills that enable women to plant their own ‘nutrition gardens’ and grow less water intensive and more nutritious crops. Women such as Milagros Gomez - who is now able to advise others on food safety and nutritional health, and how to grow more and better quality food.

“The communities in the border area are forgotten by all, especially the government,” Milagros says. “I want to do what I can to support more people, especially families with children.”

One practical way is through improvements in the quality and variety of crops that people grow in their ‘nutrition gardens’. Milagros is one of 24 women who Karina has trained in sustainable food production and management of their home gardens.

“The G8 could have gone much further and agreed some more specific steps to support small-scale farmers, especially women farmers who account for 70% of farmers worldwide”, said Daniel Hale, Progressio’s Campaigns Manager.

Managing natural resources

The G8 Communique also recognises the importance of helping to “improve management of natural resources in poor countries”, particularly land and minerals which are key to tackling poverty.

“But the G8 shouldn’t stop there”, said Daniel Hale, “since water was the forgotten resource at the conference  and plays a critical role for small-scale farmers around the world.“

In Haiti, Progressio Development Worker Gabriel Petit-Homme is working with local people to install a new water tank or ‘impluvio’ to capture rain water so that people are less dependent on the increasingly unpredictable rainy season.

Gabriel explains that, “The impluvio is a structure that consists of collecting rainwater and then directing it to a tank where it is stored and distributed to users.

“The aim of this impluvio is to supply water to irrigate some small farms during drought seasons. We chose Lamine as the area for construction, as there are major problems with water supply, in particular in the community Vosanges. In this area farmers grow food with rainwater only, and in drought periods the crops fail due to the lack of stored water.”

Supporting the transition to democracy

"Continued support for countries in transition to democracy... including upholding women's rights" has also been pledge by the G8. The confirmation of this commitment supports our work in places such as Somaliland, where we led the team of International Election Observers in November.

The report from this election, co-authored by Progressio’s Steve Kibble and UCL’s Michael Walls, congratulated Somaliland on the numbers of women not only participating in campaigns but standing for election too. Whilst the elections could not be proclaimed ‘fair’ at all times, the overall outcome did, the IEOs felt, represent the will of those who voted in Somaliland.

Keeping up the pressure

“Overall the Communique includes many warm words, which, if the world leaders who attended the summit are able to act on, could vastly improve the lives of many of the world’s poorest people,” said Daniel Hale. “We’ll be keeping up the pressure to ensure we see progress by G8 nations on these issues.”

Photo: Women in Wedza, Zimbabwe, watering crops © Macpherson Photography/Progressio