Monday, March 23, 2015

Natural Resources – Who Are The Rightful Owners?

As the world lurches from crisis to crisis, the value of land, water, forests, minerals and other natural resources as sources of wealth creation continues to rise. For those with long-standing ties to land,water and territories, nature’s greatest wealth and value is life itself, and these crises simply confirm the necessity for humans to live symbiotically with nature. However for many, natural resources are things that can be parceled, packaged, changed, bought, sold and traded in markets far away from the original location of the resource.
The attribution of rights to natural resources reflects these differences. 

Corporations, financial institutions and many governments promote marketable rights through land titles, water trading rights, emis- sions trading, etc. Most governments recognize those who can pay most as rights holders to land, water, minerals and forests. For peasants, fisherfolk, workers, indigenous peoples and rural and urban poor, their rights to resources are legitimate claims to lands and eco-systems that are rooted in respect for nature, as well as their rights to self determination. The realization of these rights is a necessary precondition for building democratic and just governance systems, and ensuring peace and harmony with nature.

One particular example: Dominion Farm’s land grab in Nigeria

Farmers in Nigeria’s Taraba State are being forced off lands that they have farmed for generations to make way for U.S. company Dominion Farms to establish a 30,000 ha rice plantation. The project is backed by the Nigerian government and the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa.
The lands being given to Dominion Farms are part of a public irrigation scheme that thousands of families depend on for their food needs and livelihoods. The local people were not consulted about the deal with Dominion Farms and, although the company has already started to occupy the lands, they are still completely in the dark about any plans for compensation or resettlement. Local people oppose the Dominion Farms project. They want their lands back so that they can continue to produce food for their families and the people of Nigeria (...).

Quotes from local farmers speaking during meetings with ERA and CEED at Gassol community:

“We were happy when we heard of the coming of the Dominion Farms not knowing it was for the selfish interest of some few members of the State, Federal Government and the foreigner in charge of the Dominion Farms. Our land is very rich and good. (..) But since Dominion Farms people arrived
with their machine and some of their working equipment we were asked to stop our farm work and even leave our lands as the land is completely given to the Dominion Farms project. (...)”
- Mallam Danladi K Jallo 

“We are speaking in one voice against Dominion Farms because we are opposing their activities. We have fish ponds that we inherited from our forefathers on that land, but Dominion Farm has said that they will sand fill all of them to give them more space to plant their crops. When they commenced
work on the land they came with security personnel whom Dominion Farms mandated to evict all farmers who were working on their lands.”
- Alhaji Mairiga Musa 

“We do not subscribe to a foreign agricultural and farming system that we do not have knowledge. They came here to farm. The only story we hear is that our land is taken away and will be given out.
We were not involved at any level. For the sake of the future and our children, we are requesting governmental authorities to ask Dominion Farms to stay away from our land”
– Rebecca Sule (Mama Tina)

Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Friends of the Earth Nigeria, CEED,

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