Rights-based and Agroecological Initiatives for Sustainability and Equity in Peasant Communities (RAISE) 

 South Asia and Africa

The RAISE consortium was launched in January 2022 to support the agroecological transition and implement the rights of peasants as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNDROP) in India, Nepal, Kenya, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Africa. RAISE is taking a “network-of-networks” approach with a diversity of local and international partners involved in peasant and pastoralist development and human rights work. 


Lead organization

Fastenaktion: is an NGO is based in Switzerland and was created in 1961. It is committed to disadvantaged people in the global south – for a fairer world and overcoming hunger. The group relies on local knowledge and develop effective approaches in dialogue with our partner organizations. In the spirit of helping people help themselves, Fastenaktion supports communities in organizing themselves and in demanding their basic rights. Working with partner organizations in 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and with organizations in Switzerland, the NGO leads the RAISE consortium under the SDC co-funded project on human rights in food systems. 

Partner organizations: 

  • Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA): is a self-organised alliance of national rural women’s movements, assemblies, grassroots organisations and chapters of mixed peasant unions, federations and movements across ten countries in Southern Africa. It was founded in 2009. 
  • Veterinaires Sans Frontières Suisse: was founded in 1988, which has 250 members and about 150 staff. They manage an average of 30-40 projects per year in Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Togo. VSF-Suisse is part of the VSF International network and is Zewo-certified in Switzerland. 
  • DKA Austria is the development agency of the Catholic Children’s Movement in Austria and campaigning for a decent life for all, free from exploitation and poverty. They have been supporting people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania for almost 60 years now. Since 1953, over 400 million euros have been collected and some 500 projects are supported annually. 
  • Center for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE): is an NGO established in 2011 which supports minorities and indigenous communities (pastoralists, forest peoples and fisher communities) in Kenya to support their rights.  
  • Reseau Billital Marobee (RBM): is an association based in Niger promoting the rights of pastoralists in Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Tchad. 
  • The Commutiny Youth Collective is building vibrant ecosystems and empowering spaces to nurture the leadership potential of young people towards transforming self and society. It cooperates with the Farm 2 Food Foundation based in Northeast India, which provides training and tools to enable local communities to take control of their own production and development processes to build a productive, change-oriented, and self-reliant society. 
  • Youth For Action strives to promote many community-led opportunities, promoting gender equality, governance, social justice and socio-economic development of women, women farmers and their families. YFA operates the KVK in Mahabubnagar 
  • International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth (MIJARC) – Asia: MIJARC is the international network for rural and Christian youth and represented within RAISE through its Asia chapter 
  • Social Work Institute (SWI): was established in 1987 to promote young leaders/social workers in Nepal. Their core areas of work are training, integrated community development and network, and advocacy. Their vision is a just and inclusive society in Nepal. In 2022, they discussed and formulated a Strategy on Agroecology, and the aim is to build existing and emerging alternative forms of agricultural practices to strengthen agroecology.



India, Nepal, Kenya, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Africa. 


The project started in January 2022 and is currently operating in Phase 1. It is a 10-year project focusing on human rights in food systems through promotion of agroecology and the implementation of peasants’ rights.  


The overall budget is CHF 4.5 million (EUR 4,723,300). RAISE is co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) under their Programme on Human Rights in Food Systems and own contributions by the different consortium partners. 


The focus of RAISE is to promote the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).  Accepted in 2018 by the UN General Assembly, this Declaration, however, does not have any implementing mechanism. 

RAISE’s partners focus on agroecology, right to food, right to seed, right to land, and effective participation of peasants, especially women, youth and children. 


The root causes of rural hunger and poverty lie in inequality and lack of justice, weak access to basic social services and productive assets like land, water, seeds, technology and markets. Exclusion from political discourse and decision-making make peasants – especially women – vulnerable to violations of their rights and integrity. The situation is further exacerbated by conflicting claims for access and user rights to land and water between different groups of peasants (e.g. farmers and pastoralists). Demands from industry, construction, mining and large-scale plantations violating peasants’ traditional rights pose additional challenges. 

Translation of peasants’ rights into national laws is routinely lacking and even when progressive laws exist, their adequate implementation at the national and local level is often not guaranteed. In many cases, rights-holders are not aware of their rights or are unable to participate in decision-making. Duty bearers often lack knowledge of international human rights and norms, or do not understand the situation of rights-holders. Women, youth, as well as pastoralists in particular are often not granted their rights and find themselves excluded from participation in decisions that concern their daily lives. 

Realizing their rights requires peasants to have access to and control over their assets. Therefore, they must be allowed to participate in decision-making concerning the use of natural resources and the policies concerning food systems. This includes the right to produce food with dignity and in a manner that protects and conserves natural resources. In other words, peasants’ rights are very much linked to the practical, but also political, social and cultural aspects of agroecology. 


Main beneficiaries

Children (12-18 years) and Young Farmers (19-30 years): South Asia 

Women Farmers: Southern Africa 

Pastoralists: East and West Africa 



    The general objectives of the project are: 

    • To ensure peasants know their rights and are empowered to claim them; 
    • To insure that duty bearers are aware of peasants’ rights to bring forward their implementation;  
    • To contribute in strengthening global frameworks on peasants’ rights through influencing UN mechanisms; and 
    • To create global awareness among potential alliance partners to further advance peasant rights. 

     The strategic objectives in agroecology are: 

    • To promote the rights of the people to produce, distribute and consume and reinforce food sovereignty; 
    • To strengthen climate resilient communities and farms;   
    • To build capacities of staff, partners and communities both on conceptual clarity on ecology, agroecology and practices; and 
    • To build networks and alliances, as these are a critical source of power. 

    Overall goal in the regional unit South-Asia:  

    The rights of peasants in regard to food, land, seed, biodiversity, water, participation, as well as other human rights relevant to peasants, are strengthened and implemented on the national level. 


    Focus of the implementation in the South-Asia (January 2022 – end 2023) 

    DKA Austria is the link between the RAISE consortium and the partners implementing RAISE activities in Nepal and India. Partners were selected by ecological zone: 

    • Mountain Region: KDCSS Jumla 
    • Hilly Region: IS Surkhet and HPC Surkhet 
    • Plain (Terai) Region: SWI Kailali 

    Activities are: 

    -Adaptation, contextualization, and translation of “Sambidhan Live, Be a Jagrik” toolkit to raise constitutional awareness: 

    • Role play and small tasks performed by children 
    • Fundamental rights (31 Fundamental rights included Land Right, food sovereignty and security, etc.) 
    • 4 Fundamental duties  
    • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (UNCRC) 
    • UNDROP 
    • Formed community-based child clubs: 17 clubs, 328 children. 

    -Co-creation of an Agroecology Toolkit, using participatory tools (under development), which integrates HLPE’s 13 principles of agroecology: 

    • Understanding local food system  
    • Understanding local agriculture practices  
    • Existing/ traditional technologies related agriculture and food  
    • Dietary intake  
    • Supply chain 
    • 15 Youth group/ 258 Youths directly involved 
    • Youths are started to discuss about agroecology 

     –Youth Conference on Agroecology (Jamshedpur, India); 

    • Youth Conference in India held on 01 to 04 November 2023: this conference allowed youths from Nepal and India to share problems and issues on farming, creating common goals, exchange the knowledge and create a movement. 
    • National Youth Conference in Nepal held on 28 to 30 December 2023: it created common understanding and vision on Agroecology among the youths, fostered knowledge exchange among the youths, and promoted agroecology in Nepal. 

    Creation of a Youth Network on Agroecology amongst South Asian partners; 

     –Networking and Advocacy work for a Special Procedure on UNDROP (Consortium Level); 

    -Kailali Memorandum to Kailari Municipality (Dialog with Local Authority): Children discussed the agriculture practices in the village, and they decided to have a meeting with the municipality members and hand over the memorandum. Children request Municipality to support to promote organic agriculture, support to produce local food and discourage using chemical fertilizers and pesticide. 

    -Comparative research and discussion on UNDROP: Comparative study on implementation UNDROP and National legal framework in Nepal. 

     –Local implementation work in Assam, Telangana, Karnataka, Nepal: 

    • Trail Farm: Young farmer / Facilitator run the trail farm: Youth in the local area started the trail farms. They use local seeds, organic fertilizers, insect repellant, mix cropping; 
    • Local seed exchange program; and 
    • Knowledge exchange. 

    Effects and Impacts

    Lessons learned so far

    • In-person meetings are key to trust-building; 
    • “Network of networks“- approach: Effective (administrative) coordination, (physical) workshops and personal meetings build common perspectives and ownership; 
    • Diversity (culturally, organizationally, language): Translation and inspiring moments are needed for cooperation, motivation and solidarity; 
    • Child- and Youth-led advocacy: Social preparation, empowerment, and capacity building. The youth were able to explain the 13 principles of agroecology. The vast range of knowledge about agriculture and agroecology enabled peer learning among them; 
    • Various local languages: Decentralizing the bottom-up approach; 
    • Shrinking Space: Being mindful of (advocacy) language, build on “positive advocacy“ and respected concepts (e.g. natural farming and agroecology). 
    • Need for relevant consortium-level impact data versus local diversity of approaches: Keep things meaningful and simple. 

    Relevant links

    We, The Changemakers – A Facilitator’s Guide to Empowering Changemakers: Agroecology Modules for Adolescents and Youth.

    Published by ComMutiny – The Youth Collective and the RAISE Consortium partners in May 2024.


    First Coordinator: Christa Suter, Fastenaktion, suter@fastenaktion.ch  

    RPU South Asia: Philipp Bück, DKA Austria, philipp.bueck@dka.at 

    RAISE is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). 


    Picture credits: Youth for Action (1st picture in slider), Social Work Institute (2nd and 3rd picture in slider)