News

    Leasing Land, Leasing Water

    The Nile River Basin serves many African countries and is at the heart of regional water agreements.
    The Nile River Basin serves many African countries and is at the heart of regional water agreements.
    Joe DeCapua

    A new report says land acquisitions in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America have sharply increased since the 2007/2008 food crisis. Some fear the investments by foreign countries and private corporations could lead to regional tensions over water rights.

    The Stockholm International Water Institute released the report at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France. (3/12-17/2012) The study -- Land Acquisitions: How will they impact transboundary waters? -- says there is very little systematic analysis of land investment.

    The World Bank estimates nearly 60 million hectares of land in Africa were leased in 2009 – and over 200 million hectares leased in developing countries overall in the past 10 years.

    The land is being used not only to grow food, but crops for biofuels as well.

    Who’s who?

    “There is a range of actors. India and China are big in these land acquisitions, but also European and U.S. companies are making investments. Other big actors are some of the water-short countries in the Middle East – Jordan, Arab Emirates and so forth. Even northern European ones, such as my own country Sweden, have companies that are investing in these African lands,” said Anders Jagerskog, the institute’s director of applied research and co-author of the report.

    Since all the leases are not readily available for public inspection, Jagerskog says it’s difficult to know just how many African countries are involved.

    “I know that there’s been [a] fair degree of investments in Sudan and Ethiopia, also in Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria and a country like Liberia, in relative terms at least, that has been leasing a lot of its land. Some figures say up to 60 percent of its Agricultural land has been leased, although that may be on the high end of the estimates,” he said.

    Water rights

    The report says land investment is a water investment. So do countries leasing the land automatically have rights to the water?

    “Often we have found that water is presumed to be included in the contract without explicitly mentioning it in these land lease agreements. And that has a lot of implications for land and water rights in these areas and these countries, which may have [an] effect on [the] national level, for pastoralists and so forth, but even moreso perhaps on an international level. In river basins, some of these land leases have occurred, and the implications have not been taken into account in river basin organizations or the equivalent of those,” said Jagerskog.

    In many cases indigenous people, who’ve lived on these lands for generations, have not been consulted about the land leases.

    “There could be a positive spin to all these investments – technological transfer, foreign direct investment that, if managed in a good way, boost the economies of these African countries. But the evidence seems to point in the other direction. That these deals are not necessarily that good for the countries that are seeing these investments,” he said.

    The Stockholm International Water Institute report recommends that international principles be followed in land leasing. It says this would help protect host countries and local populations. It says while the land deals could help ensure food security in countries leasing the land, they also run the risk of creating food insecurity in the host countries.

    What’s more, a land deal signed by one country could have detrimental effects on the water rights of neighboring countries.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    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 Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora