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Facilitating Change in Rural Communities

Our work with communities in low income countries has helped local people respond to the threats posed by globalisation, pollution and climate change. We focused the work on former Eastern Bloc Countries where changes in agricultural policy, commodity prices and markets have meant that many small holdings and rural businesses have become less and less viable. In countries like Lithuania and Romania, that joined the European Union, farming communities have also been profoundly affected by restrictions on the sale of traditional, home-produced foods and on logging and other activities that have for years provided essential top-up income.

In countries outside of the Union, like Albania, Moldova and Ukraine, commerce and local economies have also been affected as governments aligned their rules and regulations with those of the EU. The pressures forced many to leave the villages and caused stress and depression for those that remained. Moreover, many villages are fast losing the traditions and customs that once made them distinctive and brought real pride and satisfaction to community life. The photo is of villagers in Brusturoasa (Romania) celebrating an old winter festival called Janiul. The tradition had been 'lost' for over 20 years until our colleagues at Prietenii Pamantului helped to get it started again.