News / Africa

Land Grab in Africa Threatens Food Security

Kim Lewis
The International aid agency Oxfam warns that more than 60 percent of investments in agricultural land by foreign investors between 2000 and 2010 were in countries where food security was a major challenge. 
 
The report, Our land, Our lives, also says that Africa’s land is the most targeted with known deals equaling nearly five per cent of the continent’s total agricultural area. 
 
Oxfam reports that while foreign investment is normally thought of as good for a country, these land deals potentially threaten the livelihoods of 80 million small landholders, farmers and pastoralists. 
 
“We distinguish between land deals and land grabs. Land grab essentially means the communities, many of which are poor communities, lose their land and livelihood as a result of transactions that take place sometimes between governments and investors, and sometimes between elites and foreign investors. These processes leave families basically without any alternative livelihood. And in many cases the transactions are accompanied by violence and conflict,” explained Irungu Houghton, Oxfam’s pan Africa director in Nairobi.
 
The report says that countries affected by “land grab” include, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.
 
Houghton said that Oxfam has seen about 700 deals over the last decade, which are equivalent in land area to Kenya or Cameroon. 
 
As a result Oxfam is stepping up its campaign to end land grabs that it believes violate human rights.  Houghton said first of all you have to know how the land is going to be used. There are two main areas of interest for investors.
 
“The first is for production of biofuel and there is a huge demand for biofuel globally, particularly in Europe and North America. The first group of interests has been in planting soy, palm oil and sugar cane to produce ethanol so it can be exported,” said Houghton.
 
The second interest said Houghton is producing food, which is largely going to the Middle East and Asia.
 
“What we are worried about is it is happening on a continent where one in four people are food insecure.  Many of these countries have food insecurity.  Within Oxfam and a number of different organizations, we are simply publicizing this issue and seeking government intervention across Africa, particularly under the auspices of the African Union,” said Houghton.
 
Houghton said that governments can protect their land by performing “due diligence” with environmental, social and labor impact assessments.  Also, investments should primarily support the communities by helping them increase productivity and not harm farming.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs