Three quarters of worldwide land acquisitions have taken place in Sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty ridden and economically vulnerable countries (many run by governments with poor human rights records) are ‘encouraged' to attract foreign investment by donor partners and their international guides. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and donor partners, powerful institutions that by “supporting the creation of investment-friendly climates and land markets in developing countries” have been a driving force behind the global rush for agricultural land. Poor countries make easy pickings for multi-nationals negotiating deals for prime land at giveaway prices and with all manner of government sweeteners. Contracts sealed without consultation with local people, which lack transparency and accountability, have virtually no benefit for the ‘host' country.
In Ethiopia , bordering South Sudan, the fertile Gambella region (where 42% of land is available), with its lush vegetation and flowing rivers, is where the majority of land sales in the country have taken place. Since 2008 The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government has leased almost 4 million hectares, for commercial farm ventures. Land is cheap – they are virtually giving it away. Deals in the region are made possible by the EPRDF's ‘villagisation programme'. This is forcibly clearing indigenous people off ancestral land and herding them into State created villages. 1.5 million people nationwide are destined to be re-settled, 225,000 (over three years) from Gambella. By driving these people off their land and into large settlements or camps, the government is not only destroying their homes, in which they have lived for generations, it is stealing their identity.
Pastoralists and indigenous people are being forcibly moved by the regime, Human Rights Watch reports, they are “relocating them through violence and intimidation, and often without essential services,” such as education (denying children ‘the right to education'), water, and health care facilities - public services promised to the people and championed to donor countries by the government in their programme rhetoric. The new settlements that make up the villagisation programme, are built on land that is “typically dry and arid”, completely unsuitable for farming and miles from water supplies, which are reserved for the industrial farms being constructed on fertile ancestral land. The result is increased food insecurity leading in some cases to starvation. HRW documented cases of people being forced off their land during the “harvest season, preventing them from harvesting their crops”.
Graham Peebles the Director of The Create Trust, full article can be found here at link.