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Press Release: The Oakland Institute and Polaris Institute Sound an Alarm for Africa's Water Supply

Monday, December 12, 2011

MEDIA CONTACT: Anuradha Mittal, (510) 469-5228, [email protected]


The Oakland Institute and Polaris Institute Sound an Alarm for Africa's Water Supply

Land Grabs Leave Africa Thirsty


Oakland, CA: In the rush for cheap agricultural land in Africa, access to water is of the utmost importance to investors. The land grab taking place in Africa is accompanied by a major "water grab" that raises serious concerns. The volume of water needed to irrigate existing land deal acquisitions is already far and beyond what is sustainable for Africa.

Land Grabs Leave Africa Thirsty, a new Land Deal Brief from the Oakland Institute and Polaris Institute, suggests that this new pressure on water resources will adversely impact small farmers, pastoralists, and fisherfolk, who rely on water resources for their livelihoods. Research also warns that jeopardizing Africa's fragile river systems will have political and ecological consequences and that irrigation schemes and canals are going to divert water from rivers and lakes that are already under serious stress, such as the Niger River and Lake Turkana.

"America and Europe are heroes after the fact," said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute. "Severe droughts are a common factor in recent food crises in Africa. Images of hunger evoke concern and efforts among aid agencies and civil society to alleviate the damaging effects of drought and water shortages. It is a large-scale tragedy and betrayal that 'responsible agro-investors,' many from aid providing countries like the United States, will be producing crops on African soil--primarily for export outside the continent--and taking valuable, life-giving water used for cultivation along with them," she continued.

The Oakland Institute sounds an alarm for Africa's water supply and argues for investment in sustainable water management including water harvesting, storage, and small-scale irrigation that would benefit small farmers and manage resources in a durable way.


Find out more about the threat to Africa's rich heritage of land and water:

Land Grabs Leave Africa Thirsty at


See other country reports and briefs at Oakland Institute's Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa: Phase II research:




The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental


The Polaris Institute is a public interest research organization based in Canada. Since 1997 Polaris has been dedicated to developing tools and strategies for civic action on major public policy issues, including the corporate power that lies behind public policy making, on issues of climate justice, water rights and the global economy.