News / Africa

    Forum Recognizes Indigenous Peoples Land Rights

    One of Burkina Faso's indigenous people. Credit: International Land Coalition
    One of Burkina Faso's indigenous people. Credit: International Land Coalition

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Indigenous Children in Sarawak Taught in Mother Tongue Preschool 1604868 110911 fb

    • De Capua report on climate and indigenous people

    Joe DeCapua
    Africa has been the focus of large-scale foreign land acquisitions following the food and financial crises of 2008 and 2009. The 1st Africa Land Forum is being held in Cameroon this week (11-7/8) to consider how those deals are affecting indigenous people.


    The 1989 Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples says governments “shall respect the special importance for the cultures - and spiritual values of the peoples concerned - of their relationship with the lands or territories…they occupy.” The treaty adds that “the rights of ownership and possession…shall be recognized.”

    Organizers of the 1st Africa Land Forum say those rights are not being recognized in many countries, including the host country Cameroon.

    “You know that the land issue is really moving very fast. There are substantive changes taking place with the global interest in land now. You have heard about the large-scale land acquisitions. Some call it land-grabbing and Africa is a primary target of this land-grabbing,” said Madiodio Niasse, director of the Rome-based International Land Coalition.

    The coalition estimates there are 350-million indigenous people in the world, adding while they represent 5 percent of the population, they represent 15 percent of the world’s poor.

    Niasse said African land is highly prized because the continent has – what he called -- the “biggest yield gap.” That is, the amount of food currently being produced is no where near the continent’s potential.

    “That is why the continent is really the prime target,” he said.

    He said that China, which used to be food self-sufficient, is now importing “massive amounts” of food. It is one of the countries acquiring land in Africa for food production. Others include India and Saudi Arabia. There are also many international companies and universities that are buying land, including those in the U.S. and Britain. It’s not just for crops for food either, but for biofuels as well. Niasse added that large foreign land acquisitions are more likely to happen in countries with either weak or authoritarian governments.

    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates between 2007 and 2010, international investors acquired over 20 million hectares of land in Africa.

    The International Land Coalition director said indigenous people have hard hit by the land deals.

    “The indigenous people are also the most victims because of the fact that they are common property users. They don’t have private land titles. And therefore the land they use is generally considered [by] the capital cities as unused land and therefore the land that can be given to foreign investors,” he said.

    In addition, Niasse said since indigenous people live on the periphery of society, they have very little political influence.

    “When indigenous people’s land is given away, they have to move to another place, and therefore they will be foreign in another area. These are the groups which have an intimate relationship with their environment. It’s not only for their own livelihoods, but it’s in fact their culture. Their identity is associated with a given physical environment,” he said.

    Niasse also said some African countries do not recognize certain populations as indigenous. Instead, they claim that all Africans are indigenous. Niasse says the rights of indigenous people have received greater recognition elsewhere in the world.

    Organizers said the 1st African Land Forum aims to “demonstrate the importance of secure and equitable land access” to the “poor, vulnerable and marginalized.” It also seeks to “identify concrete actions” to improve land policy and implementation.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora