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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora