International Year of Indigenous Languages


According to the United Nations, "An International Year is an important cooperation mechanism dedicated to raising awareness of a particular topic or theme of global interest or concern, and mobilizing different players for coordinated action around the world."
In terms of the 2019 theme, 40 per cent of languages spoken around the world are in danger of being lost forever. This places the cultures and knowledge systems of indigenous peoples at risk. 
Indigenous peoples are often isolated both politically and socially through location, histories, cultures, languages and traditions.
But indigenous peoples are also leaders in protecting the environment, and their languages represent complex systems of knowledge and communication. Therefore indigenous peoples should be recognized as a resource for development, peacebuilding and reconciliation. 

The importance of indigenous peoples knowledge systems in agriculture:

Although officially agriculture contributes approximately only 2% to the South African GDP, the 2011 census results show that at least 20% of the South African population are involved in agriculture, making a huge contribution to employment in South Africa.
Additionally, research indicates that including the trickle-down effects, agriculture in fact contributes more than 15% of South Africa’s GDP.
 But 30% of people involved in agriculture have ‘no income’.
Additionally, households in agriculture tend to have limited access to basic services. For example,  only 29% of agricultural households have access to flush toilets and 55% have access to electricity.
Agricultural households, found mainly in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo and Northern Cape. are involved mainly in subsistence and smallholder farming. 
Developing indigenous cultural knowledge systems and improving the lot of subsistence farmers in South Africa can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals:

1: No Poverty
2: No Hunger 
3: Gender Equality
8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
10: Reduced Inequalities
13: Climate Action

According to NGO pulse, subsistence farming has the ability to empower communities to "overcome food insecurity, generate income and reduce the risk of contradicting ‘avoidable’ diseases".
Developmental programs need to focus on developing general agriculture skills, facilitating access to markets, providing funding and giving credence to the indigenous knowledge systems of rural communities. 

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