Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Fund to protect land rights defenders, communities in NegOcc launched

Contributed photo

NON-GOVERNMENT organization Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (Kaisahan) has launched a fund to protect agrarian communities, as well as land and human rights defenders (LHRDs) in Negros Occidental through a virtual event Tuesday, September 21.

Two types of grants are made available under the project of “Kaisahan Dagyaw Negros Para sa Duta” (Negros Solidarity for Land Rights).

These are the protection fund and community subgrant for land rights defenders working on agrarian reform, who are facing threats of human rights violations.

The protection fund may be used by LHRDs for legal fees, bond or guarantees, medical expenses from injuries because of land rights activities, obtain psychosocial support, support the temporary relocation or sanctuary of LHRDs and with their immediate family or household members to a safer refuge, provide security measures to protect LHRDs, or other cases as approved upon deliberation by the screening committee.

A maximum of P55,000 per case will be awarded to at least 10 grantee, or until funds are available, until September 2022.

The fund will be transferred to the grantee within three working days after submission of the application if the screening committee has deemed the application valid and approved.

Meanwhile, the community subgrant is given to assist agrarian reform communities or organizations in implementing their security plans while they undergo the land acquisition process.

Applications can be about capacity-building activities to improve their knowledge of their rights, security training and planning, psychosocial support to the members of the organization, and the likes.

It may also be mechanisms to ensure the safety of actual and potential agrarian reform beneficiaries such as fencing, communication security system, support for security detachment, and community advocacy campaigns, among others.

Six organizations can be awarded P110,000, but the exact amount will be determined by the scope and capacity of the organization.

Timely launched during the International Day of Peace, Kaisahan believes that addressing landlessness is a social justice effort that would contribute to the attainment of peace in the countryside, particularly in Negros Occidental.

Social Action Center Director of the Diocese of Bacolod Rev. Fr. Chris Gonzales, who was the keynote speaker, emphasized the importance of pushing for land reform to attain peace.

For his part, Dagyaw Negros Project Coordinator Jec Magbato said “grants like these are indispensable since it safeguards the safety of the land and human rights defenders while pursuing land claims considering the situation of agrarian reform in Negros Occidental where security of land rights advocates is most at risk.”

Additional details and application forms are available through their Facebook Page, Dagyaw Negros

Kaisahan is a group working on facilitating agrarian reform implementation and sustainable rural development since 1990.

It has been working in Negros Occidental for almost a decade and has assisted numerous agrarian reform beneficiaries process their claims to land, access government’s support services, and cultivate their land peacefully. (PR)


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