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The most precious resource

DAFNE - Women, Environment and Community forests for food security in Rakhine

Rural sustainable development for the assertion of the right to land

Rakhine forests, in Myanmar, are fragile ecosystems, threatened by natural disasters and by human activities. However, they represent an irreplaceable necessity for local populations, which entirely depend on the resources this environment offer them. Community forests are Oikos’ answer to protect local biodiversity, defend the right of local communities to use the land where they traditionally live and give them sustainable economic alternatives. Enhancing the role of women, the real environment, cuisine traditions and local cultures keepers.

The Thandwe District, in Southern Rakhine, has an enormous and recognized environmental and cultural value. It includes a great variety of environments and huge forests areas that represent one of the most important productive resources in the region: they offer building material as wood and bamboo, but especially food for local communities, whom survival is based on subsistence farming.
But these precious ecosystems are at risk, threatened by extreme environmental degradation and by human activities: forestry lands are bought by private subjects that log them in order to get fine wood or to get room for India rubber plantations. Moreover, the villagers, who have no economic alternatives, undertake the uncontrolled cutting of trees for charcoal production and to clear the way for farming.
Improving forests management is therefore fundamental. We do it by creating community forests, which means giving local communities the right to use a specific plot of forest for 30 years, in line with specific land use plans. Women play a fundamental role in the process of sustainable development that we want to foster in the territory. They are the reference point for home economics – they take responsibility for harvest, transformation and selling of agricultural and forestry products, the only source of income they have to take care of their families – even though they still are on the fringes of society and they have not enough socio-economic opportunities. For this reason, they are the main actors in the setting up of small economic activities based on the sustainable use of forestry resources, such as dried chili production and bamboo weaving.
Through a huge awareness campaign addressed to 64 local schools we are committed to spread the importance of biodiversity of this territory and of Rakhine culinary and cultural traditions, by giving value to local varieties.



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