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A THIRSTY THIRD WORLD: HOW LAND GRABS ARE LEAVING ETHIOPIA IN THE DUST, By Emily Ingebretsen September 19, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Land and resource Rights, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia.
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Land grab inOromiaEthiopian-land-giveaway

Attracting investment to Ethiopia by offering large plots of land to agricultural investors is a development strategy being aggressively pursued by the Ethiopian government. The government announced this strategy in 2009, stating it planned to lease 3 million hectares1 of land to foreign and domestic investors for agriculture use over a period of three years in order to increase productivity and earn foreign exchange (McClure 2009, 1). The simplest motivation for these actions is macroeconomic. In 2009, the IMF issued a staff report stating that the balance of payments in Ethiopia for the 2009-2010 year was “troubling” due to the global recession taking a toll on remittances, exports, and direct foreign investment. The impact of rising oil prices and decreasing foreign assistance was also expected to have an impact (IMF 2009, 5). In response to these prospects, the Ethiopian government created the Federal Land Bank to facilitate the acquisition of land by investors looking to acquire large tracts for cultivation. The foreign investors are mainly coming from India and Saudi Arabia, but also from Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Italy, China, and recently, even the National Bank of Egypt (Makki and Geisler 2011, 13). In addition, about half of the investors are domestic, representing Ethiopian diaspora or wealthy Ethiopian highland residents (Vidal 2011). The investors are mainly interested in growing crops to export to their home markets or in cultivating agrofuels, crops which are used to create biofuels. While some 1 Approximately 7.4 million acres A THIRSTY THIRD WORLD Page 7 of 74 companies promise to sell some produce on the domestic market, there are no contractual obligations to do such. The issue of transferring land and its productive uses from domestic cultivators to foreign interests is particularly concerning in Ethiopia as it is a country that has often made headlines for famines, and the underlying issue, droughts. Despite having a great deal of water in certain areas, sporadic rainfall and poor collection techniques make water security a central issue of concern for the country. Many of the countries that are choosing to grow crops in Ethiopia are countries that face water insecurities of their own. They are seeking to stabilize their food security, but the impact that this will have on water access and quality for Ethiopians who depend on subsistence agriculture for survival is not being addressed in the deals that have been made. Anders Jågerskog, a leading scholar on the issue of water and land deals from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) has noted that, “The risk from poorly supervised land acquisitions is that a wealthy economy simply exports its water “footprint” elsewhere” (SAPA 2012). It is especially concerning that the design and implementation of this policy is having a stratified, possibly intentional, impact on the different ethnically divided regions of the country. The region experiencing the heaviest concentration of land deals is Gambella, a comparatively tiny region in the southwestern part of the country, bordered by newly formed South Sudan to its west. This area has had 42 percent of its land leased out to investors. Gambella also has had a difficult and increasingly violent relationship with the federal government. There have been numerous instances of the government targeting this region with oppressive tactics, violence, and biased policies. It is also one of the areas that has been identified for the latest wave of villagization, a process of relocation that is being undertaken to “increase service delivery.” However, Gambella’s villagization program appears to be being pursued with greater intensity than other regions’ programs as the government has stated it intends to relocate every indigenous, rural household in Gambella (HRW 2012, 22). The scale and intensity of these land grabs in this region coupled with the fervor of villagization is very concerning and merits much closer attention. –  Emily-Ingebretsen.-A-Thirsty-Third-World

http://wh2ojournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Emily-Ingebretsen.-A-Thirsty-Third-World.pdf

Also read at:-

A THIRSTY THIRD WORLD: HOW LAND GRABS ARE LEAVING ETHIOPIA IN THE DUST,  WH2O Issue 4,   pp 94-103

http://issuu.com/daniellegambogi/docs/wh2o_issue_4_pq

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