Continental women’s assembly demands sanctions, penalties on polluters

The Southern Africa Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) has demanded that African countries should impose sanctions and penalties on companies and organizations that pollute the environment in the continent.

RWA has also demanded that survivors and the families of victims of climate disasters (such as Cyclone Freddy and Idai) must be generously compensated for loss of life, livelihoods and material positions.

The demands come in light of the devastating destruction Cyclone Freddy has caused in the southern districts of Malawi.

In a statement made available to us on Wednesday, the assembly says rural women bear the brunt of natural disasters, often facing difficult challenges with resilience and rebuilding.

Namalomba captured outside her cyclone-ravaged house

The statement adds that the effects of Cyclone Freddy will not only leave physical destruction in its wake, but will also have a lasting impact on the social, economic, and psychological well-being of the people in its path.

“Many women in rural areas have lost their homes, livelihoods, and access to basic services, making it even harder for them to rebuild their lives. Mary Namalomba, who is our member in Nsanje district in Malawi, has lost everything due to flooding,” reads the statement in part.

It further states that some of the communities in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi that were hit by Cyclone Freddy have barely recovered from Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Ana and also battling other social challenges such as cholera in Malawi.

These cyclones, it continues, are devastating communities that are not major emitters of carbon dioxide and are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.

“In light of the extreme circumstances caused by climate change, the Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly would like to reiterate its key climate justice demands that polluters must be sanctioned, penalized and contribute to a Climate Justice Fund, rural women should form part of decision-making structures for a Climate Justice Fund, rural women must be involved and participate in the drafting climate change-related legislation, access to land, with title deeds, and running water,” the assembly demands.

RWA emphasizes that the destruction of Cyclone Freddy is an example of the urgent need for the promised ‘loss and damages clause’ of the COP27 to urgently become a reality. We demand that polluters take full responsibility for climate change.

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