Help Us Put Power Back in the Hands of the Communities.
These words were said to us by a villager in Bukanga Lonzo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as he was evicted from his land.
In 2014, the government of DRC offered 80,000 hectares to a South African firm to set up an agro-industrial park pilot. The park was established on land stolen from local communities after they were misled by officials on the project and its impact.
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The project has resulted in land rights violations, human rights abuses, pollution and health hazards, and violence. The US$100 million project, financed by the Congolese government with support from the World Bank and the African Development Bank, was ultimately a failure. But the government continues its plans to build 21 other agro-industrial parks in the country.
But today, we have some good news to celebrate.
Extensive media coverage of our report, “The Bukanga Lonzo Debacle: The Failure of Agro-Industrial Parks in DRC,” informed the public in Congo and around the world about the theft of land from local communities. It also led to the mobilization of Congolese civil society to reject agro-industrial parks and call for a policy shift toward sustainable agriculture and family farms.
Following the report’s release, a coalition of farmer unions, women’s organizations, and environmental organizations launched a campaign to challenge the funding of such projects by the government and international institutions. As a first result, they secured meetings with World Bank representatives and government officials to directly express their concerns and demands.
While meetings are a step in the right direction, they alone don’t promise change. With the traction gained we must push even more furiously to support local communities and civil society groups in their struggle for land and autonomy.
At the Oakland Institute, we strengthen local struggles for land rights by providing reliable facts, figures, and analysis that can be used to put pressure on government entities. While they do their part, help us do ours.
Help us continue to bring tools of truth to communities so they can chart a different path for their future.
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