News / Africa

HRW: Mozambique Families Displaced by Foreign Mining

Rio Tinto’s “Benga” coal mining operation in Tete province in central Mozambique. Arid, coal-rich Tete has been at the epicenter of a coal mining boom that has attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment.
Rio Tinto’s “Benga” coal mining operation in Tete province in central Mozambique. Arid, coal-rich Tete has been at the epicenter of a coal mining boom that has attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment.
— Mozambique is poised for a natural resource boom on the back of huge coal and natural gas discoveries.  But, new sources of wealth are often bad news for the communities living closest to where these resources are found.  A new report from Human Rights Watch highlights the plight of more than 1,400 families who were moved to make way for Brazilian and Australian coal mining operations in the province of Tete.  
 
Human Rights Watch says the Brazilian and Australian companies did build new homes for the displaced people in resettlement areas.  But, it says, in many cases the people lost the ability to grow food and ended up relying on the foreign coal companies for handouts.  

The scramble for coal in Tete province began in 2006 as Brazilian company Vale moved in followed by Australia's Rio Tinto and India's Jindal steel.   

Human Rights Watch researcher Nisha Varia, who made three trips to the area in 2012, describes how the lives of peasant families living close to the Zambezi River were affected.  

"Many of the people who were moved survived by farming and expected they would be able to do so when they were moved to the resettlement site," said Varia. "What happened is that the land where they were moved to is extremely dry and does not have access to the same water resources that many of them, not all of them, had before.  One of the biggest problems is that they weren’t able to grow the crops that they were used to growing for their consumption."
 
One of the people Human Rights watch spoke to, Senolia Sayeni, had to move her family to make way for the Vale company mine.
 
The plot of land she was given in the resettlement area turned out to already belong to someone else.

“All I want is land to farm," she says, "because farming is the only way we know how to survive.”

In the face of these difficulties, Human Rights Watch warns, people’s frustrations are growing.  

Atilia M. and her son harvest vegetables in a plot along the Revuboë River near their village, Capanga, before resettlement. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)Atilia M. and her son harvest vegetables in a plot along the Revuboë River near their village, Capanga, before resettlement. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)
x
Atilia M. and her son harvest vegetables in a plot along the Revuboë River near their village, Capanga, before resettlement. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)
Atilia M. and her son harvest vegetables in a plot along the Revuboë River near their village, Capanga, before resettlement. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)
Nisha Varia says it comes as no surprise that resettled communities have increased their protests against Vale's mine.

"We encountered a lot of frustration and a bit of a sense of betrayal," said Varia. "I think people are frustrated because they are having to ask for help and assistance and many of them don’t want to do that.  Many of them said we don’t want to be beggars.  We want to have the means to support ourselves."

So why did Senolia Sayeni and her family end up so far from their original home close to the river when they were resettled?

Part of the problem, says Human Rights Watch, is that land is becoming incredibly scarce in Tete province as more and more of it is set aside for mining.

"The land that many of these communities said they selected for themselves," said Varia. "They proposed some sites  - all of those sites were already in other mining licensed areas so the government wasn’t able to approve it.  In Moatize district, 80 percent of the land has actually been taken up by mining licenses.  People recognize this is now a problem but there aren’t a lot of options because the government has not planned effectively."
 
The farmland provided to Senolia S., upon her resettlement to Cateme, was reclaimed by its original cultivators. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)The farmland provided to Senolia S., upon her resettlement to Cateme, was reclaimed by its original cultivators. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)
x
The farmland provided to Senolia S., upon her resettlement to Cateme, was reclaimed by its original cultivators. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)
The farmland provided to Senolia S., upon her resettlement to Cateme, was reclaimed by its original cultivators. (Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch)
Close to three-and-a-half-million hectares of land is already allocated for mining in Tete province.  When you add in licenses being processed, that is 60 percent of the province.
 
Human Rights Watch's Nisha Vaira says this resettlement dilemma will likely get worse as Mozambique gets ready to exploit, not only its coal resources, but vast natural gas finds in the north of the country.  

She says the companies and the government of Mozambique must learn from their mistakes and the countries where the companies are based must uphold international human rights standards as they scramble for Mozambique's resources.

You May Like

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Nigerian Islamic School Tries to Combat Boko Haram

Kaduna school headmaster teaches his students that what militants are doing is are doing is 'a total misunderstanding of the Islamic religion' More

University Trains Students to Advocate for Deaf People Worldwide

Program prepares graduates to advocate internationally for access to education, jobs for people with disabilities More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid