The Oakland Institute has produced outstanding reports exposing the complex trend of land-grabs that has recently plagued the continent of Africa. Land-grabs aren’t new per se, but only in the past few years have they become a major threat to indigenous communities, pastoralists, small-scale farmers and rural inhabitants of African countries. It is important to organize and empower the people whose livelihoods are destroyed as a result of land-grabbing; many of them lack legal representation or even understand their rights, which makes them easy targets for this sort of abuse. Convenings like the National Coordination of Farming Organizations’ first international conference on land-grab are important to build a critical mass of experts against unjust practices that threaten the livelihoods of thousands; also those affected by land grabs can strategize, organize and share available resources while they work towards a solution.
Just weeks ago, Zainab R. Kamara woke up at 3 a.m. and traveled 5 hours from Makeni to Freetown to have her voice heard at the BBC Africa debate, which took place on February 24, 2012. She had hoped to speak directly to the representative from Addax Bioenergy about the deal–but instead found an empty chair, since the investor firm refused to participate in the debate at the last minute. She explained to the group that had gathered for the debate how the economics of Addax’s investment is a disaster for women like her. Her small farm, previously planted with oil palm, earned enough money to support her 25 member family. Now, Addax’s annual payment of $2.00 per hectare is a mockery of her poverty and makes it a struggle to survive.
At the beginning of October 2011, more than a hundred landowners started a blockade in the Socfin Agricultural Company operation area on land they claim as their own. The peaceful protest followed several attempts by land owners to renegotiate the lease agreement that was signed by the government and subleased to the company. Forty people were arrested; after three days, 25 people were released, but 15 landowners are still facing trial on charges of riotous conduct, conspiracy, and threatening language. All because they wanted to protect their livelihoods and food security.These events and more have pushed communities and civil society organizations to organize at the national level. In just three weeks-in what will surely be a historic event-farmers, women, youth, landowners, and elders are coming together to challenge the impact of unbridled foreign land investment, commonly known as “land grabs,” in Sierra Leone.Unfortunately, most of the participants have no resources to cover travel and other costs. To ensure that the poorest have a voice in decision making, the Oakland Institute has pledged to raise $10,000. Please help us make this possible by donating $25, $50, $100, or more if you can.We don’t have a lot of time to raise these funds.
HOW TO DONATE:The easiest way to donate is to go to our website, http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/join-us, and give securely using your credit card.Or, send a U.S. check or dollar-denominated international money order to the Oakland Institute, which will receive the money and transfer it to Green Scenery in Sierra Leone.
More information on land grab in Africa:
- How African Governments Allow Farmers to be Pushed off their Land
- Oakland Institute Reports on Land Grab in Africa