Saturday, March 02, 2013

Land grabbing - Ethiopian style

Despite the defence of land-grab by the Ethiopian embassy in a recent issue of the Indian newspaper, The Hindu, the  prime focus of the policy of the government of Ethiopia is NOT ensuring food security of its citizens but faciliating the export of food to accrue profit. Nor is the land being leased unused and mostly inaccessible. Nor is the re-location of people peaceful.

Over 80% of the 85 million population of Ethiopia live in rural areas, in settlements and villages, and work in agriculture. Many are small-scale farmers who, according to government figures, farm “eight percent (about 10,000,000 hectares) of the national land area”, and traditional pastoralists who have, for generations, lived simple lives. Huge tracts of agricultural land with water supplies are being leased to foreign companies for food export. The Oakland Institute, a US- based policy think-tank and leader in the field, have produced in-depth reports on worldwide land sales stating that, between 2008 and 2011, “3,619,509 hectares were transferred to domestic investors, state-owned enterprises and foreign companies”. Amounting to a third, if government figures are correct, of the land farmed by Ethiopians themselves, an area the size of a small country, e.g. Holland. The government proclaims land sales are part of a strategic, long-term approach to agriculture reforms and economic development, that foreign investment will fund infrastructure projects, create employment opportunities, help to eradicate hunger and poverty and benefit the community, local and national. What growth there will be will benefit onl the rich, privileged minority, mainly members of the ruling party.

With the coming of industrial-size farms in Ethiopia, local people, villagers and pastoralists deemed superfluous to the government’s, economically-driven development plans are being threatened, and intimidated by the military; forcibly displaced  their homes destroyed and herded into camps. Along with vast agricultural complexes, dams are planned and constructed, water supplies re-directed to irrigate crops, forests burnt, natural habitats destroyed. Dissenting voices are brutally silenced.

In Ethiopia, land sales are occurring in six key areas. Oromia and Gambella in the south, Amhara, Beneshangul, Gumuz, the Sidaama zone, or SNNP and the Lower Omo Valley – an area of outstanding natural beauty with acclaimed UNESCO World heritage status. Genocide Watch considers the Ethiopian government’s conduct in Omo and Oromia “to have already reached stage 7 [of 8], genocidal massacres” It is a regime whose loyalties rest firmly with investors, corporations, multi-nationals and the like, and who cares little for the people living upon the land, or indeed in the cities.

Conditional within land lease agreements is the requirement that the government will clear the area of ‘encumbrances’, meaning indigenous people. The national Villagisation program aims to move people from their ancestral homes, over four states, into large settlements is well under way, as these 2010 figures from Cultural Survival show, “by February 1987, 5.7 million people (15 percent of the rural population) had been moved into 11,000 new villages. By the end of this year, 10 million rural inhabitants (25 percent of the population) are expected to be villagized in 12 of Ethiopia's 13 provinces.” This mass movement is being carried out without consultation or compensation, contrary to federal and international law, which requires the free, informed and prior consent of the people, no matter the official claims to the contrary.

“Fear and intimidation” is endemic, not just in areas associated with land sales, but throughout the country; suppression is common and freedom of expression greatly restricted. The media – TV, radio, press as well as print companies, are state-owned, so too the sole telecommunication company, restricting access to the internet, which is monitored. The judiciary is simply an extension of government, lacking credible independence, the political opposition marginalised and completely ineffective. International media are frowned upon and, in some areas (e.g. Ogaden) completely banned.

What about the bumper benefits promised, particularly the numerous employment opportunities? The Oakland Institutes states, “the basic facts and evidence showing growing impoverishment experienced on the ground”. It turns out industrialised farming is highly mechanised and offers few jobs; overseas companies are not concerned with providing employment for local people and care little for their well-being, making good bedmates for the ruling party. They bring the workers they need, and are allowed to do so by the Ethiopian government, which places no constraints on their operations.

Full story here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

[url=]sac longchamps[/url] The Rice University area is another slice of Houston charm, where national retailers mix with hip boutiques and mom-and-pop-owned shops. The Variety Fair 5 (2415 Rice Blvd) is a mix of old and new, kitschy, and useful items that amaze and amuse. The Bead Shop (2476 Times Rd) is a wonderland of beads, Mulberry Dominic Natural Leather Messenger Bag Brown for Men,Authentic Mulberry handbags on sale outlet. gems, and other jewelry-making baubles that range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars..
[url=]sac longchamps[/url] These little surprises will thrill Shop discount Highly Appreciated Mulberry Women's East West Bayswater Printed Leather Shoulder Brown Bag and handbags from our Mulberry outlet UK store, all kinds of Mulberry ON SALE NOW! the guests. You can do the same with the drinks. Serve wine in mugs or cups so that the guests will think it is actually coffee or chocolate drink until they discover what it is really when they take a sip.. This is still a feel-good tale, sort of, but it a bit racy for the elementary school audience. It also casts the whole Christmas gift-giving tradition in a disturbing light. Are we giving little Timmy a PlayStation because we simply want him to be happy, or because we afraid of the measures he might resort to in order to obtain it himself?.
[url=]longchamp soldes[/url] This is a totally different kind of leather from the two earlier mentioned. It is also designed from natural leather. The only thing is that the natural leather is taken through certain extended treatment before it is being used to make the leather bags. High Heels with Socks: Yup, you read that right. Think Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz) meets teenie-bopper, rocker girl. It's very creepy -- even worse than when baby doll tops were all the rage a couple of years ago. It not just editorial work, either. Ad agencies are having similar problems. Clients can afford them, or have the budgets for the campaigns they want, etc. It is very important to choose the tight kind of handbag that match to the style you want to show off. Before you pick and buy Practical Mulberry Women's Standard Bayswater Printed Leather Shoulder Black Bag well made, Cheap Mulberry bags UK For Sale one, make sure to find the right size, color and design that would match with most of your outfits. Large bags often look casual and appropriate only when you are wearing loose top or skirt, while small bags will work best when wearing a sun dress or jeans with a close-fitting top...