Category Archives: Africa

Senegal farmers, pastoralists complain of “land-grabbing”

April 14, 2014. Source: African Press Agency

Photo: Farmlandgrab

Photo: Farmlandgrab

Over nine thousand farmers and pastoralist in St. Louis in the north of Senegal are facing possible evictions from their land as multi-national agro-industries scramble for agricultural land in the region. Speaking to the African Press Agency on Sunday, Fulani cattle herders of the local community in Ross Bethio accused Senhuile – Sénéthanol, an Italian multinational company of encroaching on their grazing and farm lands.

They claimed that more than 37 villages are currently deprived of their land thanks to activities by the company which is based in St. Louis.

The local population said they have lost over twenty six thousand hectares, leaving them without the means to continue herding cattle and farming their lands.

“We prefer to die than to allow our land to be taken away by a foreign company. We shall not succumb to this new form of colonization” said Gorgui Sow, a member of the youth platform in Ndiael local community to fight the “illegal occupation”. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Corporate Globalization, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water

Up for grabs: Land and food in a hungry world

By Suzanne York, April 14, 2014. Source: How Many?

Image: Stephanie McMillan

Image: Stephanie McMillan

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, warned that battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to ten years as a result of climate change.  As he was talking of the risks of climate change, the UN announced that food prices had risen to their highest in almost a year.

 At about the same time as these announcements were happening, the Oakland Institute released a report on the World Bank and land grabs, stating that the World Bank was destroying traditional farming to support corporate land grabs (where corporations, individuals and governments buy or lease prime agricultural lands, often displacing poor and marginalized communities who have lived there for generations).

The Uptick on News on Food Security

It’s easy for some to dismiss talk of food shortages and insecurity as just more “chicken little warnings” that have been wrong in the past.  But a look at recent news on food security should give people cause for concern. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

April 17: International day of peasant struggles

April 8, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year we dedicate the 17th of April, international day of peasant struggles, to the defense of seeds. Seeds are an essential basis for achieving food sovereignty because almost everything in agriculture depends on them: What we can plant and how it is grown; the quality and nutrition of our food, our ability to account for different tastes and cultural preferences; and also the wellbeing of our communities, our ecosystems and the planet. In this article we explain why this implies not so much the defense of seeds as such but especially the defense of peasant seeds—that is, seeds that remain in the hands of the peasant and family farmers of the world. We also give some examples of how we are carrying out this defense among the organizations in the 73 countries that make up La Vía Campesina.

The seeds used in agriculture are different from those that exist in non-cultivated nature. Until several thousand years ago the enormous diversity of peasant varieties of rice, potatoes, cabbages or barley did not exist as such. The richness of our nutrition today is based on the knowledge, practices, visions and needs of the peasant communities around the world that created them in the first place. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Ethiopian military opens fire on resettled communities

April 4, 2014. Source: Ethiopian Satellite Television

A squad of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) that has travelled to the Southern Omo region of Ethiopia to quell the month long fights between the Bodi and Konso communities has on April 2, 2014 fired heavy weapons on the Bodi people wounding many. Among the wounded, at least 17 elderly women, children and youth are attending medical treatment in Hana Health Centre in Jinka, Southern Ethiopia, the Omo Peoples Democratic Unity (OPDU) office told ESAT.

The Administrator and the Deputy Administrator of Selamago Woreda are in a row with the Head of the Security Head of the area following the actions taken by the ENDF.

According to OPDU, the Konso elders have complained to the officials “When you resettled us here, you told us that you have talked with the people and that everything was alright. However, after we have come here we faced several clashes. Despite our progresses in resolving our conflicts via peaceful and traditional methods, you have taken such a reckless measure which could dim our hope of living together after now. ”

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Filed under Africa, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression, War

World Bank’s new agriculture project threatens food security, warn experts

By Sam Jones, March 31, 2014. Source: The Guardian

The World Bank's agriculture-focused ranking system may encourage land grabs, say supporters of the Our Land; Our Business campaign. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The World Bank’s agriculture-focused ranking system may encourage land grabs, say supporters of the Our Land; Our Business campaign. Photograph: AFP/Getty

World Bank pilot project designed to measure and improve agricultural productivity will jeopardise food security in developing countries and create a “one-size-fits-all model of development where corporations reign supremely”, according to a coalition of thinktanks and NGOs.

An international campaign – Our Land; Our Business – is urging the Bank to abandon its Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA) programme, claiming it will serve only to encourage corporate land grabs and undermine the smallholder farmers who produce 80% of the food consumed in the developing world.

The campaign, whose signatories include the US-based Oakland Institute thinktank and the Pan-African Institute for Consumer Citizenship and Development, argues that the Bank’s attempts to adapt its ease-of-doing-business rankings to the agricultural sector will sow poverty “by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals”. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, World Bank

Thomson Safaris sued over Maasai land near Serengeti

By Richard Smallteacher, March 3, 2014. Source: CorpWatch

Maasai gather in Sukenya village top discuss lawsuit. Photo: Minority Rights Group

Maasai gather in Sukenya village top discuss lawsuit. Photo: Minority Rights Group

Thomson Safaris, a Massachusetts company that runs the luxury Enashiva tourist camp near the Serengeti wildlife park in Tanzania, has been sued over 10,000 acres of land that the company allegedly acquired illegally from Maasai tribes.

Title to the 10,000 acre parcel of land known as Sukenya Farm was originally given to Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) in 1984. For two decades, TBL only used a fraction of the land, leaving the Maasai to continue their ancestral traditions of grazing cattle without hindrance.

In 2006, Thomson says it bought the land from TBL “in an open bidding process” and that it has since collaborated closely with the council of the neighboring village of Soit Sambu to create a “model for community development, conservation, and responsible tourism.” The land was named Enashiva (which is the Maasai word for ‘happiness’) was turned into a private nature reserve to house tourists who pay$5,000 and up for short visits to Tanzania.

But local villagers say that land in question has always belonged to the communities of Mondorosi, Soitsambu, and Sukenya. “The land Thomson took is crucial for our people,” says Daniel Ngoitiko, elected councilor of Soitsambu ward. “The water on that land is a precious resource that our cattle need to survive, and our families need to grow crops.” Continue reading

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Nigeria: Destroying communities for oil palm expansion

Source: World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

Okomu Oil Palm, which operates in the palm oil as well as rubber production business, was established in 1976 as a Federal Government of Nigeria pilot project covering an area of 15,580 hectares out of which 12,500 hectares could be planted with oil palm. In 1979 the company was incorporated as a private company with limited liability and in 1990, within a Structural Adjustment Programme, it was converted to a Public Limited Company (PLC). It is a member of the Belgian Socfin, a global player group in the cultivation of oil palm as well as rubber, coffee and tropical flowers. Socfin owns 62.69% of Okomu Oil Palm’s shares.

It has since grown to become one of Nigeria’s leading oil palm companies with an oil palm area of 9.713 ha (2012) in the State of Edo, with plans to add 402 ha in 2013 and other 400 ha in 2014.

The company’s 2012 annual report announced the intention to expand its oil palm and rubber plantations and also revealed plans to build the biggest oil mill in Africa expanding its oil mill capacity from 30 tons per hour to 60 tons per hour in Sierra Leone (see article below). Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

World Bank, Chinese investors push mega-dam on Congo River

By Carey Biron, February 11, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

The Inga III dam would be the first in a series of hydroelectric installations along the Congo River, collectively referred to as the Grand Inga project. Photo: alaindg/GNU license

The Inga III dam would be the first in a series of hydroelectric installations along the Congo River, collectively referred to as the Grand Inga project. Photo: alaindg/GNU license

WASHINGTON – Watchdog groups here are warning that a deal has been struck that would see Chinese investors fund a massive, contentious dam on the Congo River, the first phase of a project that could eventually be the largest hydroelectric project in the world.

Discussions around the Inga III dam proposal, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have been taking place in some form for decades. They have picked up speed over the past year, however, under the auspices of the World Bank, the Washington-based development funder.

On Tuesday, the bank’s board of directors were to have voted on an initial 73-million-dollar loan for the project, to be offered through the International Development Association (IDA), the institution’s programme for the world’s poorest countries. Last week, however, that vote was abruptly postponed.

Now, civil society groups are reporting that the project may be going forward instead under the World Bank’s private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with the backing of Chinese investors. Yet critics, who have long worried about the local social and environmental impact of the Inga project, worry that greater involvement by the private sector will result in skewed prioritisation of beneficiaries. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water, World Bank

Moroccan villagers occupy silver mine

February 1, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

An activist with the Berber flag. Protesters have occupied a hilltop above a silver mine for more than two years. Photo: Leila Alaoui for The New York Times

An activist with the Berber flag. Protesters have occupied a hilltop above a silver mine for more than two years. Photo: Leila Alaoui for The New York Times

A Jan. 23 profile in the New York Times put a rare spotlight on the ongoing occupation camp established by Berber villagers at Mount Alebban, 5,000 feet high in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, to protest the operations of the Imiter Mettalurgic Mining Company—whose principal owner is the North African nation’s King Mohammed VI.

The occupation was first launched in 1996, but broken up by the authorities. It was revived in the summer of 2011, after students from the local village of Imider, who were used to getting seasonal jobs at the mine, were turned down. That led the villagers—even those with jobs at the complex—to again establish a permanent encampment blocking access to the site of Africa’s most productive silver mine.

A key grievance is the mine’s use of local water sources, which is making agriculture in the arid region increasingly untenable. Protesters closed a pipe valve, cutting off the water supply to the mine. Since then, the mine’s output has plummeted—40% in 2012 and a further 30% in 2013. But Imider farmers say their long-drying wells are starting to replenish, and their shriveled orchards are again starting to bear fruit.

In addition to protection of local waters, villagers are demanding that 75% of the jobs at the mine be allocated to their municipality. But more general demands for Berber cultural rights and dignity also animate the protest, with the Berber flag flying above the encampment. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Corporate Globalization, Mining, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Water

Kenya: Preparing for REDD in the Embobut Forest and forcing Sengwer People “into extinction”

January 31, 2014. Source: No REDD in Africa Network

Forest guards arrive in Kenya's Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions.  Photo: Forest Peoples Programme

Forest guards arrive in Kenya’s Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions. Photo: Forest Peoples Programme

Last year the Government of Kenya was getting “ready” for REDD in the Embobut Forest, now it is violently evicting the Sengwer People and forcing them “into extinction.” According to Survival International, “as many as a thousand homes have already been torched.”[i]

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” caused by combined force of the Kenya Forest Service and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, which is now evicting the Sengwer not just from the Embobut Forest but from the entirety of the Cherangany Hills, destroying property and burning homes. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction,” he said.[ii]

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

The extension of the evictions to all other areas in the Cherangany Hills forest complex to include Kapolet and Lelan/Kamolokon “means the removal of the entire population of Sengwer indigenous people living in the Cherangany Hills from their ancestral lands.”[iii] Some13,500 Sengwer live in the Cherangany Hills in Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley, and are one of the few hunter-gatherer groups left in eastern Africa.[iv]

According to Forest Peoples Programme, the Sengwer are not squatters. “The Sengwer have their rights to their ancestral forest lands enshrined in the Constitution and international law.” [v] The Sengwer obtained court orders to prevent further evictions to no avail. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank