AFRICA/GHANA - "Land grabbing; threat or possibility of development?" forum in Accra organized by Caritas Ghana

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Accra (Agenzia Fides) - "Unmasking land grabbing in Ghana; restoring livelihoods; paving the way for Sustainable Development Goals". Is the title of the forum which is being organized by Caritas Ghana under the auspices of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference which opened on August 23 in Accra.
During the sessions the results of a-six-month research prepared by Caritas Ghana in collaboration with the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge on Development (CIKOD) and the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AF&JN) will be discussed.
In his report to the forum don Aniedi Okure, Executive Director of Africa Faith and Justice Network points out that Africa is the continent targeted most for large-scale land acquisitions. "Over 10 million hectares, centered mostly in East and West African countries, have been acquired by investors from the Middle East who are looking for food and fodder production; UK and Asia (India, China, Malaysia) searching for biofuel production – for clean energy; private companies for the production of sugar, rice, rubber, oil palm and jatropha as well as livestock activities".
Land deals have consequences for the life styles of communities, because the lands bought by foreign investors were very often community land used for crops destined for local consumption. In addition, these lands are located mostly along major rivers and natural water sources and are among the most fertile and the population around provide cheap labor for investors, and most of the crops planted in grabbed land are not for consumption by the local communities but cash crop.
As a result, local people lose their self-sufficiency by becoming employees and receive a salary offered by foreign investors who, says Don Okure have in mind their interests and not those of the local population, despite promising to bring "development" and to work for the good of the local communities.
The priest says that land grabbing is already causing conflicts among local communities who see their spaces restricted.
Don Okure cites the case in an area in Sierra Leone where there is conflict between communities because of land grabbing. In one community for example, their common land was given out to investors. The communities no longer have a space to bury their dead. An attempt to get a piece of land in the neighboring town for burial plot has resulted in serious conflict. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 25/08/2016)