Land Rights

The purchase and lease of vast tracts of land from poor, developing countries by wealthier nations and international private investors has led to debate about whether land investment is a tool for development or force of displacement.

The Facts: 

Over the last four years, there has been a significant increase in land-based investment, both in terms of the number of investment projects and the total land area allocated. Industrialized nations and private foreign investors have driven demand for arable land in developing regions, particularly in Africa, but also in South America, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. Governments are interested in the lands for purposes of food security and biofuel production. Both governments and private investors are attracted by policy reforms that have improved the investment climate in developing countries, as well as arbitrage opportunities afforded by the extremely low cost of leasing land in these regions.

While only fractions of arable land in developing regions are being used for agriculture, demand for strategic swats next to irrigation and shipping sites is growing with greater investment. These areas and other lands are frequently in use even though occupants’ have no legal rights to the land or access to legal institutions. As demand for land assets increases and governments and multilateral institutions promote investment in national lands, displacement and affected livelihoods are becoming serious sources of international concern.

What we are doing about it: 

Media coverage of land acquisitions has been sparse and lacking in investigative detail. The Oakland Institute is committed to increasing transparency about land deals including the terms of negotiation, theoretical consequences of investment, real impact on the ground, and ultimate impact on development in several African countries.

Southern Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley is one of the most culturally and biologically diverse areas in the world, yet the Ethiopian government is transforming more than 375,000 hectares (1450 sq. miles) of the region into industrial-scale plantations for sugar and other monocrops. A vast resettlement scheme for the local ethnic groups is accompanying these plans, as 260,000 local people from 17 ethnic groups who live in the Lower Omo and around Lake Turkana—whose waters will be taken for plantation irrigation—are being evicted from their farmland and restricted from using the natural resources they have been relying on for their livelihoods.
Le présent rapport dénonce les contradictions flagrantes entre, d’une part, la façon dont l’entreprise présente son projet au grand public et, d’autre part, le discours qu’elle tient aux investisseurs et créanciers potentiels. Il révèle également des communications internes qui contredisent les perspectives optimistes pour le projet d’huile de palme présentées par l’entreprise aux investisseurs.
A new report exposes the significant discrepancies between how Herakles Farms has represented their palm oil plantation project in Cameroon to the public and what it is telling prospective investors and creditors.

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April 11, 2014
En 2013, la Banque Mondiale classait le Mali parmi les pays africains ayant fourni le plus d’efforts pour améliorer le « climat des affaires » depuis 2005. Malgré la crise qui a secoué le nord du pays de 2012 à 2013, il est resté le premier parmi les huit nations de l’Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) au classement Doing Business 2013. En 2014, le Mali a perdu ce leadership en arrivant juste derrière le Burkina Faso au classement général (155e place). Le pays reste cependant un des « bons élèves » de la Banque Mondiale en Afrique sub-saharienne.
April 11, 2014
In 2013, Mali was classified among the African countries that made the most effort to improve their business climate since 2005 by the World Bank. Undeterred by the 2012-2013 political crisis, the country retained its top ranking out of the eight West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) nations in the Doing Business 2013 report. In 2014, Mali lost this leadership, coming at the 155th place, just behind Burkina Faso. The country, however, remains a good student of the World Bank in sub-Saharan Africa.
Quick Facts: 

56 million – total hectares of land (nearly the size of France) acquired in the developing world by international governments and investors since 2008.

70% of the population – in sub-Saharan Africa lives on their traditional lands that, because of colonial heritage, are classified as state lands in independent Africa. This is why governments believe that they can give away their land without consultation or legal redress.

$1 per hectare per year – the cost to private investors and foreign governments of leasing land in Ethiopia in 2008.