Land grabs push thousands further into poverty

Land grabs update, 23 January 2012

Good news – an independent process has been announced to resolve complaints from communities in Uganda, where people claim they were kicked off their land as a result of a land grab.

Thousands of GROW campaigners have been pushing since October for justice on this issue, which involves the UK-based New Forests Company (NFC) - and this is an important first step in making sure people’s voices are heard. Oxfam welcomes NFC’s agreement to participate. Their sustained engagement will be crucial for the process to work.

What the process means

Towards the end of 2011, communities in Uganda, along with Oxfam, wrote to the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (or CAO) about the impacts of the land grab.

Why the CAO? Well, they handle complaints from communities affected by investments made by the International Finance Corporation (or IFC) – the World Bank’s private sector arm. And the IFC invests in a fund which has a stake in NFC.

This means that an impartial, independent body will now spend  time reviewing the situation in detail, before proposing an agreed way forward.

And that’s an important first step towards justice for thousands of people in Uganda.

What happens now

As soon as more details emerge about the results of this process that we are able to share, we’ll post them here.

Because land grabs are one of the major issues GROW campaigners around the globe are determined to tackle.

And together, we really can make a difference.

Sign up and tackle land grabs

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Modern day land rush

Preliminary research indicates that as many as 227 million hectares have been sold, leased or licensed in large-scale land deals since 2001, mostly by international investors. This modern-day land rush follows a drive to produce food for people overseas, meet damaging biofuels targets or speculate on land to make an easy profit.

However, many of the deals are in fact ‘land grabs’ where the rights and needs of the people living on the land are ignored. Global safeguards exist to protect poor people, but they are being flouted in the scramble for more land. And it’s women – who produce up to 80 per cent of food in some poor countries – who are most vulnerable.

What Oxfam is calling for

Investors, governments and international organizations need to prioritize putting a stop to land grabs:

  • They need to strengthen and uphold rules and standards that are failing to protect people.
  • They need to scrap incentives like biofuels targets that are driving the scramble for land.

Land and Power cover

What you can do