Al Warcha Media Collective

Tunis, Tunisia

Al Warcha Media Collective a grassroots group with a commitment towards the oppressed and marginalised and support for social movements. They are all young and socially committed, come from different parts of the country and aspire to create media that will focus on social justice, national/popular sovereignty as well as on socio-economic rights of the most marginalised and pauperised Tunisians – especially the voiceless citizens that live in the interior and in popular neighbourhoods.

Their main aim is to balance out the lack of attention given to struggles of social movements and news about marginalised regions of the interior, as well as about popular neighbourhoods, in dominant and traditional media outlets. They see a need to compensate for the deficit in coverage of struggles of people in the Global South who are faced with challenges similar to those seen in the Maghreb and the Arab region. Their media projects will give priority to themes that are absent, neglected or inadequately addressed by traditional media such as: climate justice, the fight against pollution, the agrarian question, struggles of small peasants and fishers, food sovereignty, agro-ecology, exploitation of natural resources, the struggle for national sovereignty and the re-appropriation of resources exploited mainly by multinationals.

The collective also aims to create a network of grassroots “reporters-citizens-activists” living in the interior regions and in popular neighbourhoods, to train them in journalistic reporting, and equip them with the proper tools to become bridges for progressive initiatives and ideas.

War on Want is supporting Al Warcha Media Collective in their work to create a committed, independent and innovative media project called “Inhiyez”, working for social and political change with a focus on socio-economic rights and national liberation. This media project will have roots in marginalised regions and neighbourhoods of the country, and will seek to platform the voices of disadvantaged populations by following their struggles and initiatives for social justice and popular/national sovereignty.

Agro-ecology and Green Environment (AGE)

Sfax/Kairouan/Tunis, Tunisia

Agro-ecology and Green Environment (AGE) is an organisation of activists and researchers who focus on food sovereignty and agro-ecology, environmental and climate justice and issues of access to land and water.

More than three decades of neoliberal economic restructuring and deregulation have heavily impacted small-holder farming in Tunisia and the region in general. The structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) have transformed the region’s farmers, dispossessing many, raising prices for inputs to unaffordable levels and promoting export-led agriculture of largely cash crops, rather than of staple food crops for local consumption. Issues of the right to food and just access to land are still at the heart of people’s socio-economic demands, which have been expressed once again in the popular demands of the Arab uprisings: “Bread, freedom and social justice”.

While most attention focused on urban rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and other countries, rural dissent and protest were also present across the region. It is not a coincidence that the 2010-2011 Tunisian uprising started in Sidi Bouzid, an impoverished agricultural region, where speculative capital and agribusiness flourished. It is also no minor detail that the incident that set the Arab uprisings into motion was the self-immolation of a fruit vendor: Mohamed Bouazizi. In addition to this, Tunisia suffers heavily from the effects of climate change, reflected in frequent droughts and severe shortages of water.

War on Want supported AGE's ground-breaking initiative of setting up the North African Network for Food Sovereignty. This network strives to be a unifying structure for struggles around food sovereignty in North Africa and will be involved in local, continental and international mobilisations.

Latin American Observatory for Environmental Conflicts (OLCA)

Santiago, Chile

The Latin American Observatory for Environmental Conflicts (Observatorio Latinoamerica de conflictos Ambientales – OLCA) advises communities in conflict to enhance their management capacities in favour of their environmental rights. It monitors environmental conflicts, develops management tools for them; investigates and disseminates aspects related to environmental protection and citizen rights; it carries out investigations at sector level, specific research and promotes the methodological training in conflict management.

Chile is the world’s top copper-producing country and the country with the world’s largest lithium reserves. The rising prices for copper and lithium globally means Chile is set to become one of the world’s top destinations for foreign mining investment in these industries. Chile is already the target of more than 30% of the total projected mining investment for Latin America.

The current expansion of these trends is associated with the expansion of social conflict, ecological destruction, pollution and poverty – hallmarks of extractivism.

War on Want’s work with OLCA has primarily focused on supporting the community of Caimanes in the Coquimbo region, who have resisted the expansion of LSE-listed Antofagasta PLC’s ‘Los Pelambres’ copper mine, and the ‘El Mauro’ tailings dam, which have been fraught with social and environmental conflicts and impacts on communities.

However, along with UK-based partner The London Mining Network, we’ve recently set up a UK working group on extractivism in Chile. Its objectives are: to analyse and monitor other UK mining investments in the country – as well as their investors, including pension funds and faith-based investors – and to ensure that operations respect and protect human rights and the environment.

Observatory for Mining Conflicts in Latin America (OCMAL)

Latin American Network (based in Santiago, Chile)

Observatory for Mining Conflicts in Latin America (Observatorio de conflictos mineros en Latinoamerica – OCMAL) is a platform with over 40 organisations, with the aim of defending communities affected by mining. OCMAL is a space for research and exploration of new opportunities to achieve greater effectiveness in joint work, campaigns and actions to exchange information and actions that are part of the activities of community defence and environmental protection, incorporating tasks that seek integration in global action with other actors, politically influencing international forums that influence the decisions that affect our countries.

The last two decades have witnessed the boom and post-boom of commodities around the world, leading to exponential growth in mining. These were spurred by a variety of factors, including China and India’s expanding economies, increased production of consumer electronic products, and the highest military and industrial consumption rates of these materials in history.

This has led to a dramatic increase of the levels of mining and exploration in Latin America: In 2013, the region accounted for 27% of world investment in mineral exploration. A new post-boom era is being spurred on by rising commodity prices, and a shift from fossil fuel mining (though this is still widespread) to hard rock mining for minerals and metals primarily used to produce electronic goods and renewable energy technologies.

War on Want is in the planning stages of work with OCMAL to develop processes to safeguard and protect the rights and livelihoods of communities in Latin America experiencing human rights and environmental abuses because of mining and exploration, supporting them to secure justice for those abuses through judicial and non-judicial mechanisms.

The Interinsitutional Platform of Celendín (PIC)

Celendín, Peru

The Interinsitutional Platform of Celendín (Plataforma Interinistutcional Celendina – PIC) is an organisation that brings together over 20 grassroots social organisations in the provinces of Celendín and Cajamarca in northern Peru. It was formed at the end of 2009, with the aim of defending the rights of the province of Celendín, against mining and hydropower projects that threaten its territory.

Over the past two decades the mining industry in Peru has been growing at breakneck speed. But despite promises of jobs and prosperity, rural communities – who are rarely consulted in the development of mining projects – continue to live in poverty. Mining waste has polluted waterways, affecting local people’s drinking water and irrigation needs.

In the northern Peruvian highlands of Celendín, where almost half the land has been given away in mining concessions, US mining company Newmont and its Peruvian subsidiary, Minera Yanacocha, have proposed a new open-cast mega-mine known as the ‘Conga’. The Conga project is an extension to the Yanacocha mine, Latin America’s largest gold mine.

The Conga project faces significant opposition from the local community. War on Want works with PIC to bring together the community-based groups opposing extraction projects in Peru. PIC is internationally recognised as an example of successful anti-extractivist organising, and is leading the grassroots resistance against the Conga mine. War on Want is helping PIC to build the capacity of communities to speak out against the environmental and human rights abuses they are suffering at the hands of mining companies.

Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB)

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento de Atingidos/as per Barragems – MAB) emerged in 1991 as hundreds of families were displaced by the large-scale construction of hydroelectric dams. It’s a movement organised by the communities directly impacted by large infrastructure projects like dams, and fights the forced removal of families and the privatisation of rivers and other natural resources from which these families derive their livelihoods.

MAB not only analyses and exposes the effects of the current energy policy, but also seeks to develop an alternative structure for the energy industry. They want an energy industry based not on privatisation and profits for corporations, but on respect for water and energy resources as important elements for the promotion of human rights that must be stewarded through means of popular participation.

LSE-listed BHP Billiton owns 50% of the Samarco iron ore operation in Brazil. Samarco is an open-pit mine with 4,000 million tonnes of iron ore resources. It is exploiting itabirite, a low-grade ore. The useful mine life was estimated in 2005 at 50 years if it were to continue production at the level it reached then. But it had expanded its production in the period leading up to November 2015, when a disastrous tailings (fine wastes) dam collapse occurred. The increase in production may have been because the quality of the ore was lower than the company had previously estimated.

On 5th November 2015, the Fundão tailings dam (operated by the SAMARCO mining company) – in the Mariana District of the state of Minas Gerais in the Federal Republic of Brazil – burst, releasing a total of 45 million cubic metres of mining waste. At an altitude of about 1200 metres above sea level, the Fundão Dam was a holding structure for waste material from the processing of iron ore of the Germano Unit of the Samarco Mining Company. It was one of the megastructures of the Germano mining complex.

War on Want works with MAB to support impacted communities inhabiting the corridor of destruction and waste deposition along the Rio Doce – consisting of as many as 1.4 million people – to seek urgent action to remediate ecosystems and restore nature-related livelihoods in the face of delays by the Samarco partnership and their Renova Foundation.

The Socio-Environmental Youth Collective of Cajamarca (COSAJUCA)

Tolima, Colombia

The Socio-Environmental Youth Collective of Cajamarca (El Colectivo Socio-Ambiental Juvenil de Cajamarca – COSAJUCA) is a civil society organisation that was born in April 2007. It defends human rights with a focus on the defence of the territory as the essence of a dignified life for permanence in the territory. It develops this work based on five principles: non-violence, non-partisanship, autonomy, horizontality and environmental justice.

On the 26th March 2017, the people of Cajamarca, a municipality in Tolima, Colombia, voted with a 98% majority to ban mining in its territory.

One year on, and Cajamarca’s victory has become a beacon of hope and inspiration for many across Colombia, where the on-going peace process has failed to prevent the country becoming the second deadliest nation globally in which to be an environmental defender.

Following Cajamarca’s example, 54 municipalities across Colombia are now organising similar popular consultations, seeking to reject extractive projects in favour of unspoilt nature and sustainable livelihoods.

We work with COSAJUCA and its allies who are challenging the dominant extractivist model of development in Colombia, Latin America and globally. This process is returning decision-making power over the future of living territories to local people, who are engaging in peaceful, direct, human-scale democracy.

National Coordination for Unemployed people's Rights (NCDUR)

Ouargla, Algeria

Just 85km away from Hassi Messaoud, one of the wealth poles of the country and Algeria’s first Energy Town, where all the big oil and gas companies have offices and bases, the unemployed movement National Coordination for Unemployed people's Rights (NCDUR), that started in Ouargla in 2013, succeeded in mobilising tens of thousands of people in huge demonstrations demanding decent jobs and protesting against economic exclusion, social injustice and the underdevelopment of their region. The unemployed of Ouargla rightly wondered why they are not the beneficiaries of the oil wealth that is lying under their feet. How come they continue to suffer from unemployment and political and economic marginalisation while multinationals thrive and plunder their resources?

The movement has played an important role in bringing an anti-imperialist dimension to the anti-fracking uprising that started in January 2015, following the Algerian authorities’ announcement at the end of December 2014 that drilling would begin in the first pilot shale well in In Salah in the Ahnet Basin, by a consortium of three companies: Sonatrach, Total and Partex.

They did so to express their rejection of yet another project that will rob them of their resources, and that will allow multinationals to plunder their riches and maintain a corrupt caste at the head of a state that should serve them rather than bring destruction to their livelihoods. Their struggle has been for more jobs for the disenfranchised and economically disempowered youth; their struggle has been to confront the authorities and challenge them in order to bring about some kind of justice.

Algeria in the 21st century is blighted by political stagnation. Power rests in the hands of a corrupt military and political oligarchy that denies people the right to self-determination, while effectively operating for the benefit of domestic and international capital.

This ruling elite was relatively untouched during the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011. This was in part because its diffuse form of dictatorship was harder to dislodge than one that offered a precise target for popular resentment, as with Ben Ali in neighbouring Tunisia. Algeria’s own ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has not been seen in public since May 2012. In addition, the regime has used the country’s significant reserves of oil and gas not only to purchase relative peace domestically, but also to secure international acquiescence to its continued rule – Algeria is, for example, the third-largest provider of natural gas to the European Union. Ironically, it is the recent slump in oil prices that may just open up the cracks in the stagnant political model.

The bankruptcy of party politics in Algiers has meant that the growing dissent and discontent of the past few years have been expressed instead through the emergence of social movements organizing around environmental and other issues. These are particularly strong in the Sahara, which provides most of the country’s natural resources and foreign exchange but whose inhabitants have hitherto been marginalised.

War on Want supported NCDUR with their popular education workshops around issues of extractivism, economic justice and sovereignty on energy systems and natural resources.


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