Poor countries in the developing world often experience a sudden influx of investment from foreign companies and multinational corporations. Local governments typically embrace these powerful businesses and their agendas. As companies construct dams, build tourism projects, or mine for salt, gold, titanium, or other natural resources, they too frequently ignore the human costs to local people—like indigenous people in Guatemala and rural farmers in Burma. Projects often proceed with little or no input from the communities and families living on the proposed project sites.
As a result, small-scale farmers, indigenous communities and women often suffer devastating losses. Companies ravage and pollute their rivers and lakes. Governments evict them from land that they have lived on for generations or depend on for economic survival. In many cases, this land holds spiritual and cultural significance and is central to the identities of its inhabitants.
AJWS supports advocacy organizations that work to defend the land and water rights of communities facing unbridled economic development. The advocates work to stop damaging projects and insist that local communities be consulted and benefit from economic development. Together, these advocates and communities are building powerful social movements to ensure the ethical use of their natural resources.
We believe everyone has the right to:
- Participate in free and informed decisions about economic projects that will affect their communities
- Access safe water for drinking and household use
- Access the land they need for growing crops, herding animals and more
- Manage their communities’ natural resources in ecologically sustainable and economically equitable ways
AJWS grantees are educating communities about their right to land and water. Advocates supported by AJWS aim to create lasting change and vary across countries. Some challenge illegal mining contracts. Others work to increase the use of eco-friendly farming techniques.