When our partners Lucy Mulenkei from Kenya and Rose Cunningham from Nicaragua (pictured together above) were in New York for an annual UN meeting on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, we gave you the chance to reach out to them with your questions.
Many of you asked Lucy and Rose to talk about their work to combat the challenges their communities face, to share recent wins and their future goals. We raised these questions with Lucy and Rose, and here’s what they had to say.
Where I live and work in Kenya, we have been experiencing severe drought. Indigenous women and their families who depend on the land are hit the hardest. That's because drought means they don't have enough water to nourish their crops and grow food for their families. It means that they don't have clean water to drink. And it means that girls are pulled out of school so that they have more time to search for water.
At the Indigenous Information Network, our aim is to help women and families survive and to strengthen communities. Many people think we need big solutions to solve these impacts of climate change. But more urgently, we need local solutions.
And that's what we do at IIN. We install water tanks so families can access clean water and girls can stay in school. We plant and maintain tree nurseries that offer important protection of our water sources. Soon, we hope to expand these projects to more communities. Little by little, we are helping women and families in Kenya survive.
- Lucy Mulenkei, Indigenous Information Network
In my remote, coastal community in Nicaragua, many families struggle to feed their families. Food is scarce. Harvesting Hope, our local women’s farming collective, helps. We train women in organic farming. We have seed banks that protect our seeds from storms and floods. And we arrange farmers markets so that women can sell their crops and raise money. This all helps women grow food for their families.
But, it also does more than that. That’s because we work in a comprehensive way. When women are able to provide for their family, it also helps them feel more powerful. What we see is that these women are now raising their voices in their communities.
For example, Albertina is a farmer in my community (pictured at left with the cabbage she has planted). She grows vegetables, beans and rice. When she first started with Harvesting Hope, she was timid. She stayed at home and did what her husband told her to do. But as she started getting more involved in Harvesting Hope, her confidence grew. Now, she is recognized a leader in her community.
Just two weeks ago, I was at a meeting in the village to talk about installing a pipe for running water, and there was Albertina, negotiating for her community! It’s amazing to see how women change when we get together and begin working. We need to keep working hard for our families, our communities, our environment, our future. And together, we will.
- Rose Cunningham, Wangki Tangni