Category Archives: Africa

Dr Blessing Karumbidza, more land grabbed in Africa than rest of the world combined

Photo of Conference from its Facebook page.

Photo of First Africa Conference on Land Grabs from its Facebook page.

Dr. Blessing Karumbidza, a member of GJEP’s New Voices Speakers Bureau, presented at the First Africa Conference on Land Grabs, held this week in Johannesburg. He reported to the conference that more land has been grabbed in Africa in the 21st century than in the rest of the world combined–a startling 55 million hectares of land between 2000 and 2012.

CCTV Africa covered the story:

SAPA, the South African Press Association, also ran a story picked up widely by South African media.

More land ‘grabbed’ in Africa than rest of the world combined

Sapa, Times LIVE, 29 October 2014

Over 55 million hectares of land in Africa have been “grabbed” since 2000, according to research presented at a conference.

More land had been “grabbed” in Africa between 2000 and 2012 than in the rest of the world combined, Dr Blessing Karumbidza, senior research associate at the Durban University of Technology, told the Africa land Grab conference in Midrand.

See the whole story here.

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Filed under Africa, Land Grabs, New Voices Speakers Bureau

Ebola and Palm Oil

An enormous oil palm plantation cut from the Liberian rainforest. Photo: Chulius Caesar via Flickr.

An enormous oil palm plantation cut from the Liberian rainforest. Photo: Chulius Caesar via Flickr.

The real drivers of Ebola in West Africa–poverty and oil palm

A new article in the Ecologist links the underlying causes of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the “explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms.”

Oil Palm Explosion driving West Africa’s Eboloa outbreak

By Richard Kock. Ecologist. 29 October 2014

The medical response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been monstrously inadequate, writes Richard Kock. But so has been recognition of the underlying causes – in particular the explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms, and undermines local economy and traditional governance, leading to a ‘perfect storm’ of disease.

The growing Ebola virus outbreak not only highlights the tragedy enveloping the areas most affected but also offers a commentary on they way in which the political ecology in West Africa has allowed this disease to become established.

Read the whole article here.

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Filed under Africa, Biofuelwatch, Forests, Palm Oil

REDD-Monitor breaks down recent leaked World Bank report on its role in Sengwer land grab

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

News broke earlier this week about a leaked World Bank report that identifies the Bank’s role in the horrible forced evictions–the literal burning out–of the Sengwer people from their homes in the Cherangany forest reserves of Kenya. As usual, Chris Lang of the REDD Monitor does a great job breaking down what the leak shows and what happens next.

John Vidal broke the story in the Guardian:

A leaked copy of a World Bank investigation seen by the Guardian has accused the bank of failing to protect the rights of one of Kenya’s last groups of forest people, who are being evicted from their ancestral lands in the name of climate change and conservation.

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

Quick Note: the UN, of course, condemned the evictions, as did many organizations in civil society. However,  many in these same institutions champion the same false solutions to climate change that spurred the land grab. Vidal doesn’t make this criticism, but clearly identifies carbon offsets in the early paragraphs of his story, which is very important.

Now to Chris Lang’s great overview!

Evictions of Sengwer indigenous people: World Bank violates safeguards in Kenya
By Chris Lang. REDD-Monitor. September 30, 2014

 

The World Bank’s inspection panel has found that the Bank violated its safeguards in a conservation project in the Cherangany Hills in Kenya. Thousands of Sengwer indigenous people have been evicted and their homes burned down.

 

In January 2013, the Sengwer made a complaint to the World Bank about the Bank-funded Natural Resource Management Project (NRMP). A copy of the Inspection Panel’s May 2014 report was leaked to the Guardian. The report accuses the Bank of failing to protect the rights of the Sengwer.

Read the whole essay here.

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Filed under Africa, False Solutions to Climate Change, Land Grabs, World Bank

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, COP21 Paris 2015, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank, WTO

From Ferguson to Africa: The Tentacles of Institutional Racism

It is not only in Ferguson, MO where state-sanctioned and institutional racism is being exposed.  This new report demonstrates how the majority white UK is trying to convince Africans to grow and eat dangerous genetically engineered crops that have been rejected in Britain and the European Union.

British think tank tells Africans to grow and eat GMOs

by Claire Robinson,

Chatham House, GM and Africa

Chatham House report misleads about GMO risks and promises, writes Claire Robinson

report from the British foreign policy think tank Chatham House on agricultural biotechnology in Africa claims that GM “offers advantages over conventional plant-breeding approaches”.

The report notes, “Accordingly there are a various projects under way to develop new GM varieties for African farmers, ranging from drought-resistant maize to varieties of cassava, banana, sorghum, cowpea and sweet potato with resistance to pests and disease.”

Mercifully the report’s release has been low-key in the UK, where the long-suffering public must be tired of hearing rich white Brits telling Africans that they should grow and eat experimental GM crops on the basis of no evidence that they will be beneficial.

It is, however, being publicised in Africa.

For the entire article, click here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Racism

Obama/Bloomburg Africa Business Summit Promotes False Solutions

Source- Photo by James Oatway/Panos/ActionAid "Julio Ngoene, a farmer in Mozambique

Source- Photo by James Oatway/Panos/ActionAid “Julio Ngoene, a farmer in Mozambique”

U.S. President Barack Obama hosted the US/Africa (Business) Summit earlier this week which included “Signature Events” such as “Civil Society Forum,” and Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate.

The Summit was co-hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Touted as the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Summit, focus areas included Finance and Capital, Infrastructure, Power and Energy, Agriculture, Consumer Goods, and Information Communication Technology.

Visit the Bloomberg webpage on the event here.

In an op-ed in Forbes Magazine on August 5 by Michael Bloomberg and Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, two of the keynote speakers at the Forum declared that “Africa is open for business.” The article said that the forum will catalyze $14 billion in business deals.

According to the article:

For decades, the U.S.-Africa economic relationship has too often taken a back seat to other pressing issues and priorities. Yet right now, our commercial partnership—between governments, among businesses, in markets on both sides of the Atlantic—is as important as ever. Strengthening and deepening that pillar of our alliance will prove a net gain for workers, entrepreneurs, and communities in the United States and across Africa. The continent’s economic potential is enormous. Africa is home to six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies. Its GDP is expected to rise six percent annually over the next decade. Real income has increased more than 30% over the last 10 years, and many African governments are making investments in infrastructure, education, and health care that are improving millions of lives. Yet investment by U.S. companies in Africa remains too low.

In a Bloomberg News article with the headline “GE Doubling Jobs in Africa as Ford Plans Eventual Surge,”  Jim Benintende, Ford’s head of operations in the Middle East and Africa who was interviewed during the forum, said:

Everything is pointing toward a surge in the African economy. We’re really focused on this region like never before.

It was also announced at the forum that there will be a doubling of private investment for the New Alliance for Good Security and Nutrition.

Responding to the forum’s announcement to double private sector funding for food security, ActionAid International Africa issued the following comments:

Response to Private-Sector Funding Announcement for African Agriculture

President Obama has missed the mark when it comes to agriculture in Africa. The ‘New Alliance’ is fundamentally flawed. Handing over the future of farming in Africa to big agribusinesses will only hurt people living with poverty and hunger. Poor farmers need investment from US and African governments to help their farms flourish. Companies should be part of Africa’s agricultural future but profit must not be prioritised over people’s rights.”

Western companies are already taking land that’s being used to produce food from African farmers, pushing them further into poverty. Under the New Alliance, this will only get worse. The US and African governments must invest in the farmers producing food for the continent, not big businesses growing crops for export. The New Alliance will put more money into the pockets of a few wealthy businessmen who are clearly not concerned with the food security of Africa’s most vulnerable people.

 

Obama’s Agricultural Vision for Africa Will Push Poor Farmers off Their Land and Further into Poverty

The administration’s current agricultural vision for Africa is misguided. It will only benefit the American agricultural industry with no real benefit to the poorest in Africa, who will be left without land to grow food.

Land is already being grabbed at an alarming rate in many African countries to meet the world’s demand for food and biofuels. Policies like the US biofuels targets are already increasing demand for land. Obama’s vision for Africa will only put more money into the pockets of a few wealthy businessmen. Programs like the ‘New Alliance’ are driving a system that robs the poor to pay the rich and will only result in more land being grabbed.

List of US Companies attending Summit

List of African Companies attending Summit

Climate Connections thinks that the commodification of African markets, land, and people is a false solution for climate change and human rights. We want to know what you think. Please comment!

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Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests and Climate Change, Land Grabs, Pollution

ESKOM’S coal is killer, new study finds

July 3, 2014, Source: Friends of the Earth International

Photo from FOEI

Photo from FOEI

 

While Eskom awaits decisions from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on its applications for postponement (in many cases, effectively exemption) to meet minimum emission standards for its coal-fired power stations, a new study [1] commissioned by NGO groundWork [2] reveals that while some of the country benefits from Eskom produced electricity, it’s the health and lives of people in the Highveld that are carrying the disease burden of the energy utility’s pollution.

With one of the world’s highest air pollution levels, most of the Highveld was declared a Priority Area (HPA) by government in 2007 because of the health implications. Home to 12 of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, the area experiences a disproportionate amount of Eskom’s pollution. groundWork’s new study shows  that 51% of deaths due to respiratory illness and 54% deaths due to cardiovascular disease, related to outdoor pollution in the area, can be attributed to Eskom. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Coal

Land grabber’s paradise: Cameroonian environmentalist faces trial

June 18, 2014. Source: GRAIN

Screenshot by France24

Screenshot by France24

Arrested, assaulted and then charged with libel: this is just some of what land and environmental activist Nasako Besingi has faced while helping communities from the southwest region of Cameroon stop US company Herakles Farms (HF) from grabbing their lands for the development of a 20,000 hectare palm oil plantation.

On June 19, 2014, Besingi and four other opponents of the HF project will be in court, accused by the government of “participating in the organisation and holding of an undeclared public meeting”. The five were arrested and charged while distributing t-shirts critical of Herakles Farms in November 2012.

Nasako Besingi was travelling to a village to talk about Herakles’ plans when he was ambushed by a group of men. (Screenshot: France24)
Nasako Besingi was travelling to a village to talk about Herakles’ plans when he was ambushed by a group of men. (Screenshot: France24)
Besingi will face separate charges of defamation on June 24, brought against him by the US firm. Herakles Farms alleges that Besingi published “false news via the internet” when he sent out a private email detailing how he was ambushed in August 2012 by four men employed by Herakles as he was travelling on motorbike to a community affected by the company’s plantations. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Climate Change, Land Grabs