Every second poor countries are losing land to private investors, meaning that communities are being uprooted and left destitute as they can no longer feed themselves. What does this mean for Africa’s future?
Private investors are securing big land deals for agricultural land, but instead of cultivating more food for the local area the produce is mainly for exporting food and biofuels to richer countries.
One company in Sierra Leone, NW Africa, argued that their investments bring employment and growth to communities, but in reality food prices in the area rose by 27% between May 2011 and May 2012, leaving people destitute and unable to feed their families.
According to Oxfam, poorer countries are losing land the size of a football pitch every second to banks and private investors. The majority of this land is in 32 of the countries rated as “alarming” or “serious” by the Global Hunger Index (GHI), where most people directly depend on agriculture.
By snapping up millions of hectares of land, these companies are also placing Africa at risk to what some are calling a “hydrological suicide”, as there is simply not enough water in Africa’s rivers to irrigate all of the additional plantations.
“Millions of Africans are in danger of losing access to the water sources they rely on for their livelihoods and for the survival of their communities,” said Henk Hobbelink, the coordinator of GRAIN, which supports farmers.
The World Bank that provides loans to developing countries has been assisting many of these big land deals. Although not directly responsible, the institution has the power to stop the land transactions that are causing so much turmoil, by freezing the investment in land. Petitions are currently in place to get them to do this.
While working in Patongo we see the direct effects of land injustice as land rights are a constant issue in Uganda, especially for women and child-headed households where they frequently face discrimination.
We’re hoping to expand our current programme to include a paralegal team that would help young people facing land right injustices and get them access to legal representation in court. To read about Joshua’s* case and to find out more, please click here.