ActionAid USA participated in the tenth annual Food Sovereignty Prize on Sunday, October 14, where the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) honored the Black Mesa Water Coalition and Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica de Puerto Rico. The event, which was held on Lummi and Nooksack land in Coast Salish Territory, in the city now called Bellingham, Washington, was a broad reminder that social justice and democracy are integral to community and international development. As an international organization that sees the struggle for human rights as critical to the work of development, ActionAid USA strongly affirms the message of the 2018 Food Sovereignty Prize.
Black Mesa Water Coalition, the domestic honoree, was awarded the prize for restoring indigenous food sovereignty and uplifting youth leaders among Navajo and Hopi communities. Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica de Puerto Rico, the international honoree, was recognized particularly for mobilizing Food Sovereignty Brigades to help farmers recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Presented as an alternative to the corporation-backed World Food Prize, the Food Sovereignty Prize honors steadfast commitment of food sovereignty. Social movements, community organizations, and activists around the world recognize the importance of the prize.
“These grassroots organizations demonstrate how frontline communities most affected by social and ecological crises are the ones with solutions to society’s most pressing problems,” said Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth, a food justice and food sovereignty organization based in Richmond, CA, and a co-coordinator of the Western Region of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance.
Black Mesa Water Coalition utilizes green economic development and other diverse strategies, rooted in indigenous knowledge, to address issues of poverty, hunger, and environmental injustices driven by extractive industries and centuries of colonialism.
“We need to notify humanity that we need to drastically change the way we do things, especially getting away from fossil fuels, and the food system is one way to begin that transition,” said Roberto Nutlouis of the Black Mesa Water Coalition.
Organización Boricuá organizes farmers to transition to sustainable agriculture and sovereignty in Puerto Rico. In the midst of devastation caused by climate change and Hurricane Maria and the obscene and inhuman response from the Trump Administration to this tragedy underscores the importance of fighting and dismantling colonialism.
“Agroecology as Puerto Ricans, coming from a colonial context, has given us a space to organize and deepen our struggles. This work is a vehicle of transformation for a sovereign, free, and just Puerto Rico,” said Jesus Vázquez of Organización Boricuá.