Over the past 30 years, the Rhône-Alpes Region has gone from simply providing humanitarian aid to actually working in cooperation with the local populations for their development. We have done so by choosing to engage over the long term with local regions abroad in order to ensure that everyone has access to basic human rights, work to reduce inequality and poverty (which are priority objectives of the Millenium Development Goals), and to strive for a world that is fairer, more interdependant, and more conscientious.
Today, we are active on three different continents, in 13 of the world’s poorest regions. We work directly with these regions over the long term by supporting the activities of our civil societies, their NGOs, and their exchanges. That’s why the Rhône-Alpes Region decided to vote into effect an actual public policy in this area: to ensure the long-term integration of our efforts in those countries where only international resources and regulations are capable of meeting the challenges at hand. The policy focuses on local development, especially in rural areas, because, against all logic, smallholders are the ones who suffer the most from widespread hunger and poverty throughout the world – a paradox that must be remedied.
Smallholder farming (livestock raising, fishing, forestry, etc.) is still practiced by a majority of the world’s population. This type farming needs to continue to feed and employ as many people as possible, while at the same time preserving the environment for the benefit of everyone. The smallholders themselves must also be able to live in decent conditions through their work as farmers.
The Rhône-Alpes Region provides funding for AVSF in four different regions around the world: in Sénégal [Senegal], to promote the collective management of agro-pastoral spaces around a well; in Brésil [Brazil], to train landless smallholders and small producers in the methods of agro-ecology; in Mali [Mali], to promote agro-pastoral policy in the Tombouctou region; and in Madagascar.
AVSF is one of the first French (and European) NGOs to propose, implement, finance (and advocate for) territorial approaches that are integrated, participative, multi-actor, and that provide technical, social, organizational, and institutional assistance to the smallholders and livestock farmers to help them in their unceasing efforts to feed themselves and earn a living from their work so that, at the local level, they can resist the absurd and illogical competition from subsidized industrial agriculture throughout the world.
The potential for progress is still huge for agro-ecological production systems, which are resistant to climate change and resourceful...when you think about it, these systems are actually quite modern! AVSF’s local teams are hard at work alongside the local smallholder communities, supporting their innovative technical solutions, their organization, their management of resources, their role in the development of their respective local areas.
Now it is up to the elected officials and citizens to promote policies that benefit the rural half of the world and to bring these trial projects to the scale neccessary to meet the needs of the local populations.