Bua Mining Community (BuaMC)

Rustenburg, South Africa

South Africa’s mining industry was built on gold mining. However, in the last 20 years this has shifted towards platinum mining; 80% of the world’s platinum group metals are found in two of South Africa’s most impoverished and rural provinces – the North West and Limpopo. This boom in platinum, unlike the preceding gold boom, has shifted the geographic focus of mining into rural areas and in particular onto ‘communal’ lands that fall under the former Lebowa (located in Limpopo province) and Bophuthatswana (located in the North West province) homeland areas of the country. These densely populated and poverty-stricken areas are characterised by high levels of unemployment, poor education standards and a shortage of basic services.

Bua Mining Community (BuaMC) is a social movement dedicated to fighting against the injustices brought by the mining industry. Based in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality in the North West Province of South Africa, the organisation was established in 2012 and is led by seasoned activists who organise in mining affected communities. These are predominantly rural but have some footing in urban centres.

War on Want supports the Bua Mining Community to have organised and empowered communities affected by platinum mining effectively take forward their struggles against the negative impacts of mining and to hold key stakeholders accountable for these negative effects of on their livelihoods, health and environment. To achieve this, the project will: support the strengthening of the Platinum Belt Community Alliance so that it is a strong, representative and democratic alliance; organise and empower the mining communities to effectively participate in the alliance; and strengthen and capacitate the Platinum Belt Community Alliance to hold government, traditional leaders and mining companies accountable.

Ubunye Bama Hostela (UBH)

Durban, South Africa

Ubunye Bama Hostela (UBH) organises with hostel dwellers in Durban. Here, ‘hostels’ refer to housing blocs built during the apartheid era to house labourers supplied to the city at a time when their movement was restricted by apartheid laws. Although built as transitional housing, decades later they remain, overcrowded, dirty and dangerous.

Founded in 2006, UBH works in ten hostels which house over 120,000 people. They have been campaigning, independently of party political affiliations, for an end to slum conditions in the hostels. Their demands include access to safe and permanent public housing, access to basic services, an end to evictions and forced removals and an end to corruption in the allocation of social housing, which is often based on political affiliation. UBH activists engage with local, city and provincial authorities through protest marches and are attempting negotiations and meetings with city officials. They also work to build relations between immigrants and locals living in the hostels.

War on Want is supporting Ubunye to grow and strengthen the movement by organising and mobilising hostel dwellers so that they have a strong, collective voice to demand the right to decent housing. We are also supporting the development of their capacity to engage with government to bring about change to the policies on hostels.

Housing Assembly

Cape Town, South Africa

The Housing Assembly is a social movement with over 6,500 members organising poor communities across six districts in the Western Cape. They campaign for the rights of poor people to access decent housing and essential services like the provision of water, electricity and sanitation.

The Housing Assembly, which formed in 2009 and is leading the National Campaign for Decent Housing, is also a leading voice against privatisation because this process has cut countless poor families off from basic rights like these. They organise people who are squatting in backyards and living in shacks, living indefinitely in transit camps and in dilapidated social housing. They also mobilise against evictions, forced removals and against the privatisation of water.

The Housing Assembly uses  grassroots organising methods developed by the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s, such as door-to-door visits and community speakouts, to raise awareness of housing law and rights to basic services. They also engage with city officials, and local and provincial authorities through protests and negotiations. The Housing Assembly have won a number of improvements in eviction laws. They are regularly seen fighting against evictions, and protesting the installation of water management devices that are being installed by the City of Cape Town without the consent of residents.

War on Want supports Housing Assembly in their fight for decent housing and against evictions. We support the strengthening of the movement and its ability to organise and mobilise shack dwellers to fight for their right to decent housing. Housing Assembly has established a strong learning and knowledge production model through their use of rights based education as an organising tool. This has formed the basis of a research project War on Want is involved in with the University of Sussex’s Centre for International Education and the Institute of Education. 

Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM)

Durban, South Africa

The Abahlali baseMjondolo movement (meaning simply ‘people who live in shacks’), campaigns for: decent public housing; provision of water, sanitation and refuse removal in informal settlements; electrification of shacks to prevent recurrent fires; an end to evictions and forced removals; and fair access to land.

Abahlali began in 2005 and now organises over 20,000 members in more than 50 informal settlements across South Africa. At the heart of the organisation's values and objectives are the rights of poor people to access decent housing, security of tenure and essential public services. They organise protest marches on government, police and municipal offices, engage in grassroots awareness raising through community workshops, and negotiate on behalf of their communities with policy makers and politicians.

Through the support of War on Want, Abahlali has already achieved concrete victories on a range of fronts. They have successfully engaged in litigation, including Constitutional Court challenges, to strengthen people’s rights against eviction. Abahlali has also managed to get the eThekwini municipality to provide basic services to shack settlements. Now almost all shack settlements that Abahlali is organising have been electrified, have tapped water and some have been provided with toilets and showers.

War on Want currently supports Abahlali’s struggle for land tenure, the right to decent housing and access to basic services. As land rights defenders, Abahlali has been on the frontline defending their right not to be evicted off land and to have their shack settlements upgraded on site to proper housing. They are also documenting each shack settlement in Durban, enumerating the shacks and creating demographics for each settlement. This is being used for advocacy and their campaigning.

Back to Basics: Progressive Trade Deals

February 2018

When the UK leaves the EU it will be in charge of its own trade policy for the first time in more than 40 years, so trade is set to be a hot topic for years to come. We teamed up with CLASS, Global Justice Now, the University of Warwick and the Trade Justice Movement to create this expert guide which goes back to basics on trade. It explains the dangers of modern trade deals and what we should be looking for in a progressive trade agenda.

PDF icon Back to Basics: Progressive Trade Deals, 2018

Wayuu Women’s Force

La Guajira, Colombia

Wayuu Women’s Force (Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu) is a women-led organisation that raises awareness about the violations of human and ethnic rights in La Guajira. They work to denounce the territorial impacts of mega mining projects, including forced displacement and the violation of rights of indigenous women.

“Being a Wayuu woman means guarding our territory, taking care of it, protecting the water and the Woumankain - Mother Earth, the greatest woman of all, who gave birth to everything. The Wayuu woman plays a fundamental role in culture, as the transmitter of culture and a vital part of Wayuu society. We do this because we want justice for those who will come after us, we are not paid to defend the territory, it is done through conviction." – Angelica Ortiz, General Secretary of Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu

For four decades, Carbones El Cerrejón, the largest open cast mine in Colombia, has been present in La Guajira, in the north of the country. The exploitation and exportation of this coal, and the company's interest in increasing these figures, have resulted in the violation of the fundamental rights of Afro-Colombian, Wayuu indigenous and peasant communities that live in La Guajira, the department with the second highest levels of poverty, and one which has historically faced the consequences of the social and armed conflict of Colombia.

War on Want works with Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu to ensure the fundamental rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in La Guajira are respected – especially with regards to access to water, Free Prior Informed Consent, compensation for forced evictions, territorial rights and environmental pollution. We do this by platforming the demands and messages of impacted communities to a UK and European audience.

Association for Social Research and Action (Nomadesc)

Cali, Colombia

In Colombia, more than five million people have been forced from their homes by violence and extreme poverty, made refugees in their own country. Rural Colombians have lost huge swathes of land. This humanitarian crisis and the needs of displaced people are well known in Colombia, and around the world.

The Social Research and Action Association (Asociacion para la investigacion y la accion social – Nomadesc) works to fix this massive disadvantage. By bringing these vulnerable groups together, Nomadesc gives these communities a voice. By strengthening the ties between the groups and giving them the tools to defend their human rights, these communities are better able to protect themselves from violence and displacement.

War on Want works to support our partners Nomadesc and Palenque el Congal (PCN), which develop mechanisms for the defence of territorial and human rights in the Pacific Coast of Colombia. We support Nomadesc in their work investigating violations of human rights and working to strengthen social movements through popular education initiatives.

Landless Workers Movement (MST)

National social movement, Brazil

In Brazil, less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the land and more than half the farmland lies idle. Four million homeless, landless and jobless peasant farmers are denied a decent living. The Landless Workers' Movement (Movimento Sem Terra – MST) works throughout Brazil to ensure that landless people have greater access to land.

The conflict over land, with homeless peasants on one side, and landowners’ armed thugs and the police on the other, has plagued Brazil for decades. The conflict has left over one thousand landless peasants murdered, and landless and rural people face malnutrition, lack of access to clean water, sanitation and basic health or education services, and a lifetime spent in roadside shantytowns of black plastic tents.

MST is one of the strongest social movements in Brazil today, and campaigns against the industrial export agriculture model that excludes peasants and causes inequality and environmental degradation. MST is a 1.5 million-member movement that organises landless and impoverished farmers to realise their human rights.

Despite heavy repression, it has managed to settle 350,000 families nationwide on unused land since its inception. MST has also built its own schools under its slogan 'education for every child’. In response to the increasing corporate takeover of agriculture, the MST is now developing sustainable farming methods through agroecology.

War on Want works with the MST to help ensure that farmers can use agroecological techniques, produce and save their own seeds, and call for the Brazilian government to adopt agricultural policies that support such sustainable approaches.


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