Throughout the area affected by the tsunami, the member organizations of the Via Campesina have been hard at work surveying the damage to rural communities, providing emergency food and medical relief, and beginning the process of rebuilding.
In Thailand, the Federation of Southern Fisherfolk is about halfway through its survey of the more than 400 villages that were devastated by the tsunami. With estimates of nearly 5,000 dead, the villages have also lost thousands of boats plus nets and gear for catching fish, shrimp, crab and squid. The Federation has begun to provide maternal and child care, health care services, and boat and engine repair services.
Throughout the region, the Via Campesina’s members are not only fighting to save lives, they are fighting to save their ways of life. Early signs suggest that some « relief » money will only come at the cost of accepting market based reforms. The members of the Via Campesina are organizing to protect their land rights, their access to traditional fishing grounds (which some forces would like to see transformed into tourist beaches), and the imposition of high-technology fishing methods that would cripple traditional fishing economies.