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    Archived pages: 861 . Archive date: 2012-12.

  • Title: Press Release: Investigation Reveals that Land Grabbing in Mali Threatens the Niger River and the Lives of Millions of West Africans | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Press Release: Investigation Reveals that Land Grabbing in Mali Threatens the Niger River and the Lives of Millions of West Africans.. Thursday, November 17, 2011.. Contacts.. :.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE.. Frédéric Mousseau.. fmousseau@oaklandinstitute.. org.. ; tel +1510.. 512.. 5458.. CNOP/VIA CAMPESINA.. Chantal Jacovetti:.. chantal.. jacovetti@wanadoo.. fr.. ; tel + 223.. 76.. 81.. 87.. 93/64.. 86.. 89.. 26.. Lamine Coulibaly:.. laminezie@gmail.. com.. Oakland, CA – As farmer groups and civil society organizations from around the world gather at the.. International Conference on Land Grabs.. from November 17-20 2011 in Nyeleni, Mali, The Oakland Institute and the National Farmers Organisation Coordination (CNOP) of Mali are releasing a new report on land grabs in the west African country.. Comprendre les Investissements Fonciers en Afrique: Rapport Mali.. is an updated, French version of the Oakland Institute's.. Understanding Land Investment in Africa: Mali.. report that was published earlier this year.. This.. comprehensive report.. analyses the current trend of agricultural land investments in Mali, revealing that by the end of 2010 at least 544,567 hectares of fertile  ...   documents attacks on smallholder populations in the irrigated agricultural zones of the Office du Niger.. Most of the large-scale land acquisitions are concentrated in state-owned lands within the large, riverine delta of the Office du Niger, where informal customary rights of the local people are not protected by law, and are not recognized by public officials.. While the government of Mali justifies the massive leasing of lands with the need to “modernize” Malian agriculture, plans for large-scale irrigated agriculture pose great risks to the survival of populations dependent on the water flows of the Niger River in Mali as well as in the rest of West Africa, where over 100 million people depend on the river for their livelihoods.. Download the report:.. In French:.. http://www.. oaklandinstitute.. org/comprendre-les-investissements-fonciers-en-afrique-rapport-mali.. In English:.. http://oaklandinstitute.. org/understanding-land-investment-deals-africa-mali.. Contact.. the oakland institute.. P.. O.. Box 18978.. Oakland, CA 94619.. info@oaklandinstitute.. Donate.. Your tax-deductible donation allows us to conduct independent research, analysis, and advocacy to facilitate democratic participation in critical policy decisions that affect our quality of life..

    Original link path: /press-release-investigation-reveals-land-grabbing-mali-threatens-niger-river-and-lives-millions-west
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  • Title: Update on Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa Special Investigation | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Update on Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa Special Investigation.. Wednesday, November 9, 2011.. Dear friend,.. A lot has happened in just a few months.. In June the Oakland Institute (OI) went public with the first three reports and eight briefs on land investment deals in seven African countries as part of its project,.. Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa.. Our research revealed a disturbing pattern of a lack of transparency, fairness, and accountability  ...   these investments.. We also examined the impact of land deals on local communities, their displacement and loss, and documented the important role small farmers play in preserving biodiversity, sustainability, and economic growth.. The dynamic relationship between research, advocacy, and press has resulted in an amazing string of successes and organizing in the US and abroad.. We are happy to share the results (so far) of our work with you.. Read the full letter.. OI_letter_11_11.. pdf..

    Original link path: /update-understanding-land-investment-deals-africa-special-investigation
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  • Title: Statement of H.E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, The President of the Republic of South Sudan on Accountability and Transparency | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Statement of H.. E.. Gen.. Salva Kiir Mayardit, The President of the Republic of South Sudan on Accountability and Transparency.. Thursday, September 22, 2011.. Download the full statement..

    Original link path: /statement-he-gen-salva-kiir-mayardit-president-republic-south-sudan-accountability-and-transparency
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  • Title: Press Release: Investigation Exposes Half a Million Lives Threatened by Land & Water Grabs for Plantations in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Press Release: Investigation Exposes Half a Million Lives Threatened by Land Water Grabs for Plantations in Ethiopia s Lower Omo Valley.. Monday, September 12, 2011.. Media Contacts.. Anuradha Mittal.. (510) 469-5228.. ;.. amittal@oaklandinstitute.. Frederic Mousseau.. (510) 512-5248.. Oakland, CA– A new Land Deal Brief from the Oakland Institute (OI) exposes that the controversial Gibe III hydroelectric project located in Ethiopia's Omo Valley, portrayed as development, is facilitating the take over of 350,000 hectares (ha) of land for sugar cane and cotton plantations and resulting in state-sponsored human rights violations, which have escaped international attention so far.. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lower Omo Valley is home to approximately 200,000 agro-pastoralists made up of some of traditional ethnic groups, including the Kwegu, Bodi, Suri, Mursi, Nyangatom, Hamer, Karo, and Dassenach among others and contains two National Parks.. The project also threatens an additional 300,000 agro-pastoralists who rely on the waters of the Lake Turkana in Kenya, fed by the Omo River.. In recent months, the Oakland Institute (OI) was contacted by a growing number of people on the ground who reported increased political pressure on the population and criminalization of  ...   grazing lands, areas of wild food harvest, loss of the ability to grow food along the Omo River, sacred/culturally significant lands, and water sources, with no indication of how lost livelihoods will be replaced.. OI's investigation shows that this travesty is taking place as the Ethiopian government continues to receive massive financial and political assistance from donor countries.. For instance, the US is the single largest donor of aid to Ethiopia.. The United States, thus cannot and should not turn a blind eye to the massive human rights violations resulting from land and water grabs in South Omo as well as in other regions of Ethiopia.. Without significant and timely intervention, the rich cultural traditions of the indigenous people will be gone forever, raising immediate questions about their future livelihoods and identity.. The numbers of people forced to relocate and lose their self-sufficiency, will undoubtedly rise due to this land development, joining the already swelling ranks of aid-dependent villagers in Ethiopia.. As one Suri pastoralist puts it “This is the end of pastoralism in southern Ethiopia.. ”.. Read the Brief.. Learn about OI's project, Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa..

    Original link path: /press-release-ethiopia-omo-valley
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  • Title: Landless Peasants of Diokoul Will March on July 18, 2011 To Claim Their Land | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Landless Peasants of Diokoul Will March on July 18, 2011 To Claim Their Land.. Thursday, July 14, 2011.. Landless peasants of Diokoul and CICODEV Africa to march against land grabs.. PRESS RELEASE.. Download as PDF.. Diokoul, Senegal.. July 11, 2011--18 hours GMT.. 99 peasants of four villages in the rural community of Diokoul, Louga region, just filed a declaration.. of march planned for July 18, 2011 with the Sub-Prefect of Ndande and the Prefect of Kébémer to.. claim the land they have been dispossessed by the farm Mametola, allocated to a political-religious.. authority.. By resolution No.. 004 AND / CRDD of 21 July 2005, the Rural Council of Diokoul affected 2070 ha of.. land to a private company called Mametola, thus dispossessing 99 farmers in four villages of Diokoul,.. Nguer-Nguer, Yadiana and Dara.. This expropriation without consulting the farmers had a dramatic.. impact on food security for farmers and their families as well as on the sustainability of natural.. resources (1).. In order to defend their case together and to fight this injustice, the peasants gathered in the.. Collective of Landless Peasants of Diokoul in partnership with CICODEV Africa (Institute for Consumer.. Citizenship and Development)  ...   the march-scheduled for Monday, July 18, 2011 at 10am- is to deliver to the.. Chairman of the Rural Council (PCR), a letter in which the Landless Peasants of Diokoul to attract his.. attention that the farm Mametola is not located on the site which it had been allocated during the.. deliberations of the Rural Council in 2005.. As a result, the Collective of Landless Peasants asks the PCR:.. - To take the necessary measures to require the farm Mametola to move to the site it has.. been allocated in the minutes of the deliberations of the Rural Council.. - The Rural Council to make a new deliberation and affect to the landless peasants the land.. handed back by the farm Mametola.. - To inform them of the date on which the Rural Council will hold its meeting which will.. consider their request for allocation of land, so they can attend the meeting in accordance.. with the Local Government Code.. (1) On this subject see the study by CICODEV Africa: "The village where you can hear the pestle: Land Grab in West Africa.. Export or feed the people.. Impacts on rural consumers”.. February 2011.. www.. cicodev..

    Original link path: /landless-peasants-diokoul-will-march-july-18-2011-claim-their-land
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  • Title: An Open Letter to the People of India, a Day Light Robbery in Ethiopia: “Doing Business” with African Dictators | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: An Open Letter to the People of India, a Day Light Robbery in Ethiopia: “Doing Business” with African Dictators.. Wednesday, June 15, 2011.. Download the.. PDF.. June 15, 2011.. “If it is unacceptable for Ethiopians to go to India, China or Saudi Arabia and clear their land without consulting the people, it is unacceptable here.. We are human too and we care about the future of our children like everyone else.. my message to the foreign investors is, listen to the owners of the land!” (An Anuak man from the Gambella region of southwestern Ethiopia).. Dear People of India:.. I greet you in peace and hope that the good people of India, who have yourselves thrown off the shackles of colonialism only 63 years ago, will join with Ethiopians and other Africans in confronting the hundreds of Indian companies who are now at the forefront of colluding with African dictators in robbing the people of their land, resources, lives and future! As either prospective buyers or simply as justice-loving Indians, you deserve to have full disclosure regarding the nature of these Ethiopian “business deals,” the impact it is having on “real people” on the ground, and the risks of “doing business” in Ethiopia with the current dictator of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi.. On June 8, 2011,.. Oakland Institute.. (OI) and the.. Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.. (SMNE) released a joint investigative report on Ethiopia,.. Understanding Land Investments in Ethiopia.. , part of a larger study of nine African countries affected by the new phenomenon called land-grabs.. In Ethiopia, these “land-grabs” are being carried out as foreign investors make deals to lease some of the most fertile agricultural land for up to 99 years at negligible prices.. Because private land ownership is prohibited in Ethiopia, “land deals” are being negotiated in secret agreements between these foreign investors and the Ethiopian government; without any consultation with the people.. My name is Obang Metho and I am writing this to you on behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), a non-violent, grassroots social justice movement of diverse Ethiopians committed to bringing truth, justice, freedom, equality and the respect for human and civil rights to the people of Ethiopia and beyond.. Our guiding principles are based on putting “humanity before ethnicity,” or any other distinctive that dehumanizes other human beings; and secondly, that “no one is truly free until all are free,” meaning that ignoring or contributing to the injustice, exploitation and oppression of our neighbors, near or far, creates greater insecurity and disharmony for all of us in this global world.. I come to you first and foremost as a fellow human as I call you to join our effort to stop the plundering of Ethiopia and Africa by African dictators, their cronies and their foreign partners—some of whom are Indian—who are hungry for our resources but care little for our people.. An indigenous Ethiopian man described it this way: “This regime is one of the most hated regimes in Ethiopian history… they kill the people like they are nothing and with no remorse.. ” In light of this, I must warn you that those who are “doing business” in Ethiopia, are partnering with an illegitimately elected dictator and his authoritarian regime built on the brutal suppression of the rights of its citizens.. The intent of my open letter is to expose the dark underside of these “deals” with the hope of joining forces with those in India who demand justice and human rights for all.. Ethiopia is controlled by a repressive regime, posing as a democracy, which maintains its power not by the ballot, but by the bullet; clearly shown by its 99.. 6% claim to victory in the 2010 election and complete closing off of any political space.. All sectors of society are tightly controlled by a one-party minority government, which politicizes all benefits—including business opportunities, education, jobs, agricultural supports and even food aid (see recent.. Human Rights Watch report.. )—and punishes any dissent; creating a silenced Ethiopian society.. Ethiopians are pro-business and pro-investment; particularly as Ethiopia is reported to be the second poorest country in the world with 90% of the people living under the poverty level.. What we oppose is the daylight robbery of Ethiopia by modern day bandits who are willing to make secret deals with a corrupt government that would be illegal in India and other more developed countries.. Abundant resources; combined with a disenfranchised public, few protective regulatory mechanisms, a lack of transparency, duty-free deals and government promises of cheap labor have brought opportunists from all over the world—from India, China, Saudi Arabia,  ...   should be warned of the risks of complicity in human rights violations or corrupt practices—including bribes and kickbacks—when partnering with a regime known for both; particularly as the government attempts to evict citizens from their land.. Additionally, once this TPLF/EPRDF regime ends—something inevitable considering the rising outrage surrounding these deals—a whole new set of laws will be put in place and any prior agreements will not be binding.. Instead, companies seeking to do long-term business in Ethiopia should put pressure on this regime to ensure that no unethical business practices were followed and that the civil and human rights of the people were upheld.. As Gandhi warned, “There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall.. Think of it—always.. My fellows’ Indian people, from far away, you may not hear the cries of the Ethiopian mothers, see the tears flowing on the cheeks of the children, feel the pain in the hearts of the elders or know the desperation of the fathers as they lose hope in providing for their families.. You may not see the increasing numbers of Ethiopian children with swollen bellies, the emaciated people dying in the streets or the homeless children searching for food, for Ethiopia is already widely known for these images of suffering; however, to Ethiopians, the level and depth of poverty has tragically deepened despite claims of double digit economic growth—the profits of which all must be ending up in the pockets of those in power who have sold out on the people.. Only good leadership, accompanied by good governance, will change the image of Ethiopia.. As the people of Ethiopia engage in a fervent struggle for such change, will the people of India support or hinder them?.. What would you do if an Ethiopian company came to India and evicted citizens from millions of hectares of their own land in order to grow food for export; affecting food security for generations? Would you stand for it? As Indians anticipate the vote on the National Right to Food, does that same right apply to Ethiopians?.. In 1947, the Brits did not offer independence to the Indian people, but liberation only came when the Indian people rose up to peaceably demand their God-given rights—something that has made India a shining example to the world.. Will you deny us the same? Ghandi’s fight for Indian independence was undergirded with a deep belief in the worth and dignity of every human being.. It inspired the greatest movements for freedom and rights in the 20th century; including the Civil Rights Movement of Dr.. Martin Luther King, Jr.. We Africans have been the target of colonialization, slavery and exploitation in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and a target of African dictators and their foreign cronies in the 20th century.. We have had enough and will not tolerate this new onslaught of exploitation and dehumanization in the 21st century! Many want to keep us Africans poor, disenfranchised and vulnerable only to more easily take advantage of the pillaging of our continent.. Will you help work within India to bring greater transparency and compliance with whatever protective laws and safeguards are in place in India? Will Indian individuals, social justice groups, the media, policy making groups, religious groups and all other stakeholders join us in our struggle for freedom from a dictatorial regime robbing us of our future?.. Ethiopians are ready for their liberation and they will slowly, but surely claim it, but we ask you not to be a roadblock.. Africans know that when two elephants fight, the grass in the middle is trampled.. Right now, the people of Ethiopia and Africa are in the middle of a giant struggle for African resources.. Many who are profiting want Africans to stay just as they are—struggling for survival so they “do not get in their way.. ” Yet, behind the scenes of these business deals, real people are suffering.. Gandhi said, “Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty.. ” What does this mean today? As investors, companies and nations seek opportunity; let none of us forget the shared humanity of our brothers and sisters both near and far and our God-given responsibility to live “humanely” among each other.. Only then will we have reason to hope for greater peace, harmony and cooperation among peoples and nations, for “no one will be free until all are free!.. Your African brother,.. Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE.. Phone 202 725-1616.. Email:.. Obang@solidaritymovement.. Website:.. solidaritymovement.. You can find more about The Oakland Institute (OI) through its website at.. org/..

    Original link path: /open-letter-people-india-day-light-robbery-ethiopia-%E2%80%9Cdoing-business%E2%80%9D-african-dictators
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  • Title: Statement from African Centre for Biosafety | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Statement from African Centre for Biosafety.. Friday, June 10, 2011.. The African Centre for Biosafety warmly welcomes the new reports from The Oakland Institute, titled "Understanding land investment deals in Africa', which brings to light further shocking evidence on the widespread hunger, suffering and displacement being caused by massive land grabs in Africa.. These reports confirm what many civil society activists in Africa have long suspected: having already caused untold damage to the global economy through speculation in housing and food, the seers of high finance have pounced on land in Africa as the next great get-rich-quick opportunity.. By accessing previously unseen documents, the Oakland institute has meticulously unpacked the web of deceit being spun around just who benefits from these deals.. 'Investors' are being offered land at next to nothing, for up to 99 years,  ...   The reports show that the scale of the land grabs is phenomenal: involving up to 60 million hectares- an area the size of France-being acquired in 2009 alone.. With over 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, the impact of this speculation on the economic, political and social landscape of Africa is and will be profound.. The ecological impacts of these short term investment plans appear to have been given scant consideration.. These transactions are often justified on the grounds they are using 'marginal' or 'unproductive land'.. Since over one third of Africa's land is used productively but not permanently by pastoralists represents an astonishing lack of understanding of the complexity of the African agrarian landscape on the part of these investors, and those who are party to their beneficence..

    Original link path: /statement-african-centre-biosafety
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  • Title: Press Release: Green Scenery Launches Oakland Institute Country Report Sierra Leone: Study Reveals Serious Problems With Large Land Deals And Agricultural Investment In The Country | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Press Release: Green Scenery Launches Oakland Institute Country Report Sierra Leone: Study Reveals Serious Problems With Large Land Deals And Agricultural Investment In The Country.. Thursday, June 9, 2011.. 82 Soldier Street, P.. Box 278, Freetown, Sierra Leone.. Tel/Fax: 232 22 226216.. Cell: 232 76 601979.. contact@greenscenery.. Web:.. greenscenery.. PRESS RELEASE.. Download PDF.. Freetown, Sierra Leone.. 9 June 2011.. A new report from the US-based Oakland Institute shows that by early 2011 close to 500,000 ha of farmland in Sierra Leone had been leased or were under negotiation for lease by foreign investors.. That represents almost 10 percent of the country’s estimated 5.. 4 million hectares of arable land suitable for farming.. The report, “Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa, Country Report: Sierra Leone,” is the result of an in depth study undertaken in Sierra Leone in late 2010.. It notes that most of the land acquisitions are recent, part of a global rush for farmland sparked by the financial, fuel and food crises of 2008-2009.. Most of the land deals to date in the country are for the production of sugarcane and palm oil, the raw stock for producing biofuels, primarily for export.. Sierra Leone does not have the facilities to make use of such fuels.. The report notes that such land deals put smallholder farming, which employs about half the population, and food security at risk.. According to Patrick Caulker, CEO of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), the purpose of foreign investment is to create employment and end the country’s dependence on donor funds.. But the Oakland Institute notes that in its bid to attract foreign investment, the Government of Sierra Leone is offering investors advantages that will limit both, revenue accrued in the country and local employment.. General fiscal incentives include a 10-year tax holiday on agricultural investments in tree crops and rice and zero import duty.. Sierra Leone also allows 100 percent foreign ownership in all sectors, requiring no restrictions on expatriate employees and permitting full repatriation of profits.. The Oakland Institute finds a serious lack of transparency and public disclosure in the land deals.. Land leases are negotiated directly with chiefs and landowners, and often the signatories do not have copies nor are they aware of the terms of the leases or even the land area covered.. The Research team faced difficulties in accessing information on legal frameworks and overviews on the quantity of leased land and investment in agriculture.. As a result of the lack of public information and disclosure, there is little critical or accurate media coverage of the land deals and there is no serious public debate on the subject.. There is confusion  ...   surrounding the “availability” of land for investment in Sierra Leone poses great risks to local communities.. Without proper land inventories, smallholders’ land will continue to be infringed upon.. 4.. Land is being cultivated for agro fuel production as opposed to food production for local markets raising serious doubts about the value of investments for local food security.. 5.. The manner in which land deals are negotiated takes advantage of local vulnerabilities and social structures.. The process lacks safeguards and grievance mechanisms.. 6.. The non-binding nature of Environment Impact Assessment requirements, and their lack of enforcement, allows investors to ignore their responsibilities and the health of ecosystems.. 7.. Promotion of land investment by the government and the World Bank Group leads to important questions regarding who benefits from these investments – a small privileged group or the majority of Sierra Leoneans.. 8.. Land deals are being negotiated in a manner that alienates local landowners and creates social conflict.. Investors are not fulfilling pledges to the community and grievance mechanisms are not being honored.. The report notes that because of these problems, “the conditions surrounding agricultural investments in Sierra Leone are ripe for exploitation and conflict”.. Until they are resolved, the Oakland Institute calls on international institutions and donor partners to discontinue support for large-scale land acquisitions in Sierra Leone.. About the report and the Oakland Institute.. This Sierra Leone report is part of the Oakland Institute’s (OI) seven-country case study project to document and examine land investment deals in Africa (Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia) in order to determine social, economic, and environmental implications of land acquisitions in the developing world.. The Oakland Institute is a policy think tank dedicated to advancing public participation and fair debate on critical social, economic, and environmental issues.. The research team conducted an in-depth study of the issue of large land acquisition in Sierra Leone, including thorough literature review, interviews with a multitude of stakeholders, informants and officials, field visits to sites.. The report provides background on the institutional and political context of the country, the current macroeconomic situation, the state of food and agriculture, and the current investment climate.. Additionally, it documents detailed information regarding four land investment deals currently being carried out in Sierra Leone.. For more information, contact:.. Joan Baxter, Research associate, Oakland Institute land acquisition research project in Sierra Leone and Mali.. baxterjoan61@yahoo.. Green Scenery, Research partner of Oakland Institute land acquisition research project in Sierra Leone.. , Mobile: +232 766 019 79.. Theophilus Gbenda, Chairman of Association for Journalists on Mining and Extractives, Research assistant of Oakland Institute land acquisition research project in Sierra Leone.. theophilussahrgbenda@yahoo.. , Mobile: +232 769 826 23..

    Original link path: /press-release-green-scenery-launches-oakland-institute-country-report-sierra-leone-study-reveals
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  • Title: Water Grabs Accompany Huge Land Grabs | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Water Grabs Accompany Huge Land Grabs.. Wednesday, June 8, 2011.. The Oakland Institute's Report released today on massive land grabs in Africa by large scale investors also reveals details of significant water grabs.. In Sierra Leone, for example, a Swiss oil and gas company, Addax and Oryx (AOG) which is chaired by Swiss billionaire Jean Claude Gandur, has secured control over 20,000 hectares of land to produce sugarcane for ethanol exports to the European Union.. Since sugarcane production requires a great deal of freshwater, AOG struck a sweetheart deal for rights to withdraw virtually unlimited volumes of freshwater from the Rokel River for their mass irrigation schemes.. As a result, studies show there is now a severe risk to the livelihood of many thousands of people in the Sierra Leone river estuary.. In Mali, which has a large land base but only 5 percent of which is arable, the country's Investment Promotion Agency (API) has authority over fertile lands in the inland delta of the Niger River.. According to the API, which is financially supported by the World Bank and USAID, 2.. 5 million hectares of Mali's  ...   hectares in Niger dela region with no limits on water withdrawals.. Meanwhile, millions of people living downstream are facing serious water shortages.. Finally, it should be noted that these are only two examples.. Nor is this pattern of water-related land grabs only occurring in Africa and other parts on the South.. They also take place in the North as well.. A prime contemporary example from my own country Canada, concerns the Alberta oil sands which requires massive volumes of freshwater in the production of crude oil for export to the US.. For these purposes, the long term land leases granted to the big oil company's operating in the Alberta tar sands are also allowed direct access to two-thirds of all the water in the Athabasca River system.. As a result, water flows have been substantially depleted while volumes of water are contaminated, causing serious harm to the health of wildlife and communities of people downstream.. --Statement by Tony Clarke, director of the.. Polaris Institute Canada.. , member of the Oakland Institute board, and co-author of the international bestseller,.. BLUE GOLD: The Corporate Theft of the World's Water..

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  • Title: Understanding Land Investment Deals in Ethiopia: SMNE Independent Commentary on Report Regarding Political Impact and Recommendations | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Understanding Land Investment Deals in Ethiopia: SMNE Independent Commentary on Report Regarding Political Impact and Recommendations.. The.. Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE.. ) and the.. Oakland Institute (OI).. have jointly published a comprehensive report: Understanding Land Investment Deals in Ethiopia, which resulted from.. extensive research and an in-country assessment of the new phenomena of the explosion of land investment deals within Ethiopia.. In light of this report,.. the SMNE would like to make some independent comments and recommendations.. based on this report which will include observations regarding the political impact and.. specific recommendations to address concerns.. As many know, Ethiopia is a country with long-standing poverty, dating back many decades.. Chronic food insecurity concerns continue and efforts to reduce poverty and hunger among Ethiopians remain a serious.. challenge for both the present and the future; particularly as its population grows.. At the same time, Ethiopia, like many African nations, is negotiating the long-term leases of its most productive agricultural lands to foreign investors.. We in the SMNE are deeply concerned that greater accountability and responsibility be placed on the current EPRDF administration of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose tight grip on the country, nonresponsiveness to the people and opening up of Ethiopian land and resources to easy access from these new investors will undermine the future of Ethiopians unless greater safeguards are taken.. In light of that, we want to provide you with the following information because these are the kinds of details you will never hear; knowing that this government has blocked the media, has criminalized dissent and has perpetrated genocide and crimes against humanity against its own citizens.. PM Meles leads a repressive and corrupt one-party government that has closed all political space within the country, while charmingly portraying themselves to outsiders as a democratic country that cares about human rights, the rule of law, the environment and the overall well being of its people.. Instead of using these land investment deals to increase the well being of the Ethiopian people, this regime and its cronies are personally profiting through control of every sector of society.. This includes this fastpaced leasing of large segments of agricultural land to foreign and private investors; without consulting the people even though it will affect their lives and livelihoods for years to come.. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their homes, crops and land; only to be resettled elsewhere.. Dissenters have been targeted with intimidation, beatings, imprisonment and even death.. Some of those who have spoken out publicly— for example, on the BBC and Voice of America Radios—have been forced to flee the country for safety despite the fact that these transactions ignore Constitutional laws.. Even though Ethiopia is one of the most food insecure countries in the world, foreign companies have made clear their intentions to export most of the produce to other countries; even while the federal government now pleads for additional food assistance for millions more people.. Similarly, PM Meles Zenawi, elected by the African Heads of States as the representative for the continent on climate change, is claiming a right to compensation and assistance from industrialized countries for global warming; while at the same time promoting agricultural development without consideration of the environmental impact.. Political impacts.. Local Political Impact.. Increasing loss of access to land and resources, whether through commercial land investment or other mechanisms (villagization, etc.. ) is increasing the level of dissatisfaction with local government officials.. As discussed above, while open dissent is not tolerated, this increasing frustration may express itself in several ways locally, including lack of open communication with officials, increasing levels of distrust and potential conflict.. Most local government officials are not accountable to the populations in any way, although local government officials (kebele or sometimes woreda) are the faces that local impacted people express frustration to.. It is these government officials that are likely to be the first to bear the brunt of any frustration or open dissent that does or will occur.. From all accounts, conflict will also likely increase into.. the future in the areas where land investment is occurring.. Domestic Political Impact.. Inside Ethiopia, there is widespread fear of criticizing government, at almost any level.. This is reported from numerous Ethiopians in country, from the diaspora and from numerous reports on the current situation in the country.. Obviously, this varies greatly by location and ethnicity across the country as a whole, but certainly in the areas of land investment we visited there is significant frustration, rarely publicly expressed, about government policies.. This is due in part, but not exclusively to, land issues.. It is just another one of many frustrations that contribute to local dissatisfaction with government.. While this would usually result in increased pressure on government, the lack of ability to express dissatisfaction presently limits the pressure on government.. However, the extent to which it contributes to an unexpressed level of frustration is clear to the research team.. Frustration and “quiet” dissent is increasing.. If it is ever openly expressed, in whatever form, the pressure on the government will be great, to potentially devastating effect.. There is definitely a perception in the country that long-term conflict may be inevitable due to government policies, and that land investment issues will contribute to this.. Resentment is also a result of the development of the business conglomerate EFFORT (Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray), which was formed to help rehabilitate the region after the overthrow of Mengistu but has monopolized business opportunities.. Even though many average Tigrayans remain marginalized; EFFORT and its inner circle of elite members, including the prime minister’s wife who heads up this multi-billion dollar organization, have allegedly amassed fortunes and now dominate nearly every sector of the Ethiopian economy; including access to land and natural resources.. Even though EFFORT is called a non-government organization, meant for the betterment of the Tigrayan region, it lacks any transparency, is inextricably politically connected to the ruling party, is seen as corrupt and does not allow disloyalty to the EPRDF.. While the EPRDF and regional governments usually present a unified front on issues surrounding land investment, there have been recent signs that not all are in agreement.. In late January 2011, the federal government’s president Mr.. Girma Wolde-Giorgis reportedly wrote a letter to the federal Minister of Agriculture expressing concern over the continual EPRDF granting of large tracts of land.. He focused on Ethiopia’s worsening international reputation, climate change concerns, lack of proper assessments, and deforestation concerns.. While the president’s position is largely symbolic and it wields little real power, it is evident that despite the unified front shown in public, there is considerable divide within government on land investment policies.. External Political Impact.. Many diaspora advocacy groups have been writing about the land investment issues, in an effort to bring awareness to the issue and to pressure the Ethiopian government.. The majority of these efforts have had little impact inside Ethiopia to date, but may serve to inform other diaspora, decision-makers, and the general public about the issues.. Given the size of the Ethiopian diaspora population, and Ethiopia’s desire to have this community investing in Ethiopia, diaspora perceptions and attitudes may put some pressure on the Ethiopian government.. Ethiopia is often seen as a strategic ally of Western powers, including the US and the EU.. Given the numerous international criticisms of Ethiopia’s poor human rights record, pressure is mounting on Ethiopia’s government.. However, given Ethiopia’s key geographical location, and its role as a strategic ally of the West, it is evident that the West seems unwilling, at least thus far, to use its considerable diplomatic and financial influence to bring about change.. However, there are signs that this patience is wearing thin, and the EU in particular, is demanding an improved human rights record in exchange for financial,.. development, and diplomatic support.. Outside of ongoing human rights concerns, there was no indication from diplomats the research team met with that land investment issues have been discussed at a high level.. At the same time, on January 28, 2011 Wikileaks released a February 2010 diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa that outlined several land investment deals and summarized international concerns over land investment in Ethiopia.. The cable ended with the view that “[despite] being a step in the right direction… that evolving policy is a long way from proving its worth as a vehicle for achieving the GoE's stated goals of modernizing the sector, generating foreign exchange reserves, and increasing the domestic food supply.. No one should be led to believe that these investors are there to feed starving Ethiopians or to improve food security in Ethiopia; they are there to make money.. Drastic changes are necessary; not only from the Ethiopian government, but from the people as well as from stakeholders and donor countries.. The following recommendations are not only for the EPRDF, but for any future government that comes into power in Ethiopia.. Recommendations.. To Ethiopian government(s):.. The following recommendations are intended for the current or future Ethiopian federal government(s).. Many of these recommendations also apply to regional levels of government that may be involved in the disposition of land for investment.. However, it is expected that the federal government will take  ...   risk.. Increased attention towards water use.. Water is of critical importance to all, yet there are no permits required, limits on use, protection measures or fees.. Water use needs to be a critical part of pre-project assessments - including ensuring there is adequate supply for downstream users and ensuring adequate water is available for human and ecological functioning, (taking into account expected modeled climate fluctuations).. Ensure the financial and technical (farming) ability of investors.. There needs to be an assessment before handing out investments of the capacity of the company to carry out its plan - both the financial and technical ability.. If the investor has no technical or financial ability to carry out a commercial agricultural operation they should not be permitted to do so!.. Environmental Code of Conduct.. should be mandatory, enforced, with strict penalties for non-compliance.. While compliance with the minimum standard (bronze) should be a condition for ongoing approval, incentives could be given to encourage compliance with the higher standards (silver, gold).. This could include relaxation of land use fees, or other fiscal/taxation incentives.. In addition, the Code should be broadened to include more measures related to social, cultural, and food security impacts.. It should be evaluated, reviewed and updated on a regular basis though consultation with impacted stakeholders.. With assistance from civil society, regularly scheduled, independent audits could be carried out communities and/or civil society (with government’s support) to evaluate performance relative to Code standards.. 9.. Repeal.. Charities and Societies Proclamation.. (Proclamation 621/2009).. Restricting the activities of those investigating human rights and good governance just opens up the door for criticism of Ethiopia’s human rights and governance records.. If Ethiopia is abiding by human rights obligations then it should be open to showing the world that.. The very existence of the law raises suspicions that Ethiopia is contravening its international human rights obligations.. Surely if Ethiopia has nothing to hide it is in their best interest to show the world that the perceived advantages of land investment are.. being realized, and that none of the feared impacts are being experienced.. To civil society:.. To continue to support info gathering and dissemination on this critical issue.. Many civil society bodies are carrying out work on different aspects of land investment.. Civil society should continue to support the efforts of the ILC’s Commercial Pressures on Land portal, farmlandgrab.. org, etc and should openly and freely share and disseminate information on this issue as much as is possible (including this report).. It is important that the information not only be disseminated between governments, civil society, and international bodies, but between ordinary Ethiopians.. In a country where information is not freely available, dissemination of this information within the country is critical in order to improve awareness and debate as ultimately significant change will only happen in Ethiopia through grassroots efforts.. To consider funding and supporting above recommendations.. Many of the above recommendations to the Ethiopian government can be implemented in a more effective, efficient, and timely manner through the contributions (financial, expertise, encouragement and otherwise) of civil society.. None of the recommendations involve new approaches and techniques.. Civil society can play a leading role in bridging the gap between government and those international resources that can assist.. To report on rights violations with respect to land grabbing through your in-country projects.. Whether it be health care, education, capacity building, natural resource conservation, or social service provision almost all of the services that civil society undertakes in Ethiopia will be impacted indirectly in various degrees by land investment.. It was our experience that many of these NGOs and individuals are understandably uncomfortable speaking about these impacts and about what they see.. But it is these individuals and organizations that are often in the best position to be able to report about what is actually happening on the ground.. There are many avenues through which these individuals and organizations could contribute to this body of knowledge without jeopardizing their organization’s position within Ethiopia.. Advocate for implementation of these recommendations.. Put pressure on your national governments and other bodies to support these recommendations.. Ethiopia receives massive amounts of aid from Western powers.. This aid should come with responsibilities.. Civil society can play a critical role in ensuring that our governments and other funding institutions hold the Ethiopian government accountable.. To diaspora groups:.. Continue to advocate.. Use mainstream media and social networking to spread information that is grounded in positive change, facts, and realism and not conflict-inducing messages, rumours and rhetoric.. There are many diaspora groups active in exposing land grabbing in Ethiopia.. Unfortunately, very few of their materials and communications area available inside Ethiopia.. Diaspora groups should continue to be creative in getting their messages into the hands of ordinary Ethiopians inside the country.. Talk to families and relatives back home.. Share information on this issue with relatives and friends in Ethiopia.. Share with them what is being talked about outside of Ethiopia, and try to gain an understanding of what information they have.. Share this report.. Ask them to share this information with others.. Discuss the pros and the cons of the issues with those inside the country.. To donors:.. Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to recognize human rights and provide social and environmental safeguards in land investment practices.. Ethiopia is dependent on international aid and as such, donors are in a powerful position to demand that Ethiopia lives up to its international obligations and implements the above recommendations.. Aid flows should be restricted if Ethiopia is not living up to international human rights, good governance, and indigenous rights standards.. Ensure that not aid monies are going into any project that will be involved in land investment in its present form.. Aid monies should not be funnelled towards projects that will make it easier for land investment in its present form to continue to take place.. Aid flows be considered to aid and assist Ethiopian government in achieving the above goals.. Many of the above recommendations will more easily be implemented if the financial support is available to support them.. Areas of Further Research:.. The research team just scratched the surface of what is a large and complex issue in Ethiopia.. The land investment landscape is constantly changing, and the type and amount of land investments granted and under development is constantly shifting and evolving.. Research of this type needs to be ongoing in order to provide up to date information on a constantly shifting and dynamic situation.. More specifically, certain areas need to be further studied in the short term:.. Land investment in highland areas.. While understandably much attention is being paid to the areas where intensive land investment marketing is occurring (lowland areas), it is also of critical importance to look at land investment in the Highland areas.. Highland areas are more densely populated, but are also better connected to markets and have more infrastructure making them potential land investment targets.. Little media coverage or in depth research has been done regarding land investment in Highland areas.. Villagization.. It is hard to underestimate the impacts that villagization will have on the people of lowland Ethiopia.. Very little has been written or researched about this latest round of resettlement, the long-term impacts on livelihoods and food security, and its connection with the land investment phenomenon.. Cumulative impacts on water.. One area that could use much more study is the cumulative impacts of water use in the rivers that flow through Gambella and on rivers in the Blue Nile watershed.. Dams, hydroelectric facilities, irrigation schemes, uncontrolled commercial land investment (and associated deforestation and wetland alteration), local uses and a changing climate are just some of the pressures on water resources in the Western part of the country.. At the same time there are little, if any, controls on water use in land investment processes.. Cumulative impacts on indigenous lifestyles of the Omo Valley.. As discussed before, the cumulative pressures on the indigenous groups of the Omo Valley are reaching a critical point.. The attention of civil society has been focused on this area in the past because of the proposed dam and because of issues surrounding the national park, but to our knowledge, no one has done in-depth research to analyse the extent of land investment in the area and how this is interacting with the other suite of pressures on traditional lifestyles.. ENDS.. For media enquiries, including interview requests, contact Mr.. Phone 202 725-1616 or Email:.. The SMNE is a non-violent, non-political, grassroots social justice movement of diverse Ethiopians; committed to bringing truth, justice, freedom, equality, reconciliation, accountability and respect for human and civil rights to the people of Ethiopia and beyond.. The SMNE has branches in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom and chapters in various cities and countries throughout the world, including within Ethiopia.. You can find us on Facebook or through our website at:.. Land Investment Deals in Africa.. Publications Overview.. Cameroon.. Ethiopia.. Mali.. Mozambique.. Sierra Leone.. South Sudan.. Tanzania.. Zambia.. AgInvestment Conferences.. AgriSol Energy LLC.. Emergent Asset Management.. Nile Trading Development.. Quifel Natural Holdings.. World Bank Group.. Land Deals Featured Media.. Interactive Land Matrix – Resource in Documenting Land Grab across Africa.. Humanitarian News.. Ethiopia: The Morality of Development and its Operatives.. ECADF.. view all..

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  • Title: Why Did the Oakland Institute Publish its Findings on Land Grabs in Africa? | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Why Did the Oakland Institute Publish its Findings on Land Grabs in Africa?.. Our mission at the Oakland Institute is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues in both national and international forums.. Land grabs encompassing the size of France, displacing thousands of families, building miles of irrigation canals without concern for environmental impacts, allowing crops to be planted that do not improve food security for Africa--done with little or no consultation with those directly impacted, and have no accountability or transparency--are exactly the kind of issues the Oakland Institute was established to investigate and make public.. For the public to be fully engaged it needs to be informed.. Everyone would agree that investors need information.. Isn't it  ...   once the environmental damage is done there is no going back.. This would not and could not be repaired.. For those who make agricultural policy, for the small family farmers, for those advocating food and water security issues, for those who care deeply about the ecological health of the planet, and for those who invest from the sense of a social justice perspective, we humbly offer this information with the hope that it will be of some benefit to your work and lives.. - Jeff Furman, Oakland Institute Board and Chair of the Ben Jerry's corporate board and a trustee of the Ben Jerry's Foundation.. For further explanation of the Oakland Institute's motivation for making this information public, please read.. FAQs on Food Security and Western Investors..

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