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Posted by OromianEconomist in Land and resource Rights, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia.
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???????????Tigrean Neftengna's land grabbing and the Addis Ababa Master plan for Oormo genocide

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

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Land Grabs and the African land question March 20, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Land and resource Rights, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia.
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???????????Tigrean Neftengna's land grabbing and the Addis Ababa Master plan for Oormo genocideLand grab inOromiaThis is a teenage girl working in Dugda Flower Farm. This was owned by her father in Dugda area...and taken away by the Ethiopian governemnt and given to a TPLF affiliate businessman...now she works as a labourer in this farm being paid under half a dollar a day...

The African land question is replete with issues of increasing landlessness, insecure tenancy, eviction and conflict. Portrayed against the backdrop of African Land Tenure and Foreign Land Ownership, commonly referred to as Land Grabs, this article raises questions as to whether such a phenomenon poses a threat or provides opportunity for sustainable development in Africa. More specifically, our thesis contends that the current land acquisitions by foreign investors have put the land question in Africa back on the global development agenda and also argues that land ownership and land use in Africa is a highly contentious, yet emotive, and worthy of critical analysis.

The concept of land is complex and incorporates many different aspects. Even when land is narrowly defined as a question of control over agricultural and pastoral land (rather than rights to natural resources such as water, minerals or forests, which are linked to, and to a large degree, embedded within the question of land rights), the land question is multi-dimensional, with economic, political, social and spiritual dynamics – it is as one civil society activist put it, “When someone loses their land not only do they lose their livelihood, but they also lose their identity”.

During the period 2007 to 2008, when the food insecurity crises pervaded the globe, the land question took on a new meaning and direction. Africa became the new frontier for global food and agro-fuel production. Currently, billions of dollars are being mobilised to create the infrastructure that will connect more of Africa’s farmland to global markets, and billions more are being mobilised by investors to take over those farmlands to produce for foreign markets.

In a rapidly globalising world, land demands are to an increasing extent driven by factors anchored exogenously. Products derived from land use are often not consumed where they are produced. The globalisation of the economy implies that local land use changes are increasingly driven by demands for products that are part of commodity chains with a large geographical span. Local human needs and local capital input are not necessarily as important determinants for land as was the case in many land use systems before the phenomena of globalisation swept the world. In this respect, the land question in Africa has come to the fore, once again. However, this time around, Africa has become the new frontier of land acquisitions – not by local people, but by foreign financial institutions, specifically multinational corporations.

Various terminologies have been used to describe the phenomenon of land outsourcing in Africa and other developing countries. Terms such as “commercialisation”, “colonisation”, “new imperialism”, neo-colonialism”, “land grabbing”, “agro- investments” and “new land invasions” are being used to describe the land acquisition process in Africa. Some investigators contend that the direct control of land by foreign companies is only part of a general trend towards the commodification of land in Africa. They warn that in this period of globalisation, a new inherent tension of security of property rights is born in a hegemonic form, and this in turn, is based on the right to exclude and alienate land. In this respect, it is the peasantry which suffers the most, especially being alienated and evicted from their customary land, once again.

A combination of higher and more volatile global commodity prices, demand for green energy, population growth, urbanisation and globalisation and its overall effects on economic development are the main macro-level factors that have contributed to the land grab phenomena. More specifically, though, the strategic programmes for land acquisition are of food security, particularly in the investor countries, bio-fuels for energy markets in the developed world, finance and hedge funds for land speculation, and more recently, biochar production for the carbon market accreditation.

Given the financial meltdown of 2008, all sorts of players in the finance and food industries, investment houses that manage workers’ pensions, private equity funds looking for a fast turnover, hedge funds which are driven off the now collapsed derivatives market and grain traders seeking new strategies for growth are turning to land, for both food and fuel production – as a new source of profit. Traditionally, land itself is not a typical investment for many of these transnational firms. Indeed, land is so fraught with political conflict that many countries don’t even allow foreigners to own it. And land doesn’t appreciate overnight like gold.

To get a return, investors need to raise the productive capacities of the land. Moreover, the food and financial crises of 2008 combined have turned agricultural land into a new strategic asset. Globally, food prices are high and land prices are low and most of the “solutions” to the food crisis talk about pumping more food out of the land that is available. Clearly, there is money to be made by getting control of the best soils, near available water supplies, as fast as possible.

While the benefits for land-seekers are obvious, the benefits to African countries may not be as apparent. For example, one of the most important patterns to notice in these transnational land acquisitions is the limited importance of financial transfers. Recent reports by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reveal that the main benefit to the host country is perceived to be investor commitments like employment creation and infrastructure development. Similarly, other reports indicate that such land agreements can provide macro-level benefits such as GDP growth and greater government revenue, raise local living standards, and bring technology, capital and market access. In addition, improving the productivity of African agriculture undoubtedly serves as a huge point of interest for governments seeking foreign investment and in turn transnational land leases.

Despite the possibility for benefits associated with such land transfers, reactions from land-based movements, civil society organisations and organisations like the Oakland Institute and GRAIN have been highly critical and the perceived costs to the local land users appear high. Complaints about the lack of transparency in land agreements are widespread, a problem which can easily spur corruption and unfair negotiations. Many reports describe unbalanced power relationships where rich governments or international corporates have an obvious advantage in negotiating with African nations that may not always be politically stable or respectful of the rights of their citizens and may lack the institutional frameworks necessary to enforce contracts.

Similarly, the issue of land tenure comes up repeatedly, as African governments are criticised for failing to protect their agricultural workers from exploitation in this regard and accused of leasing land that they only “nominally own.” Land deals are often done in secret without informing the current land users, which causes them to be suddenly dispossessed.

Land garbs are also beginning to pose other threats and risks. Many global analysts predict that the biggest security threats in the twenty-first century may centre on disputes over water and the food that earth’s dwindling water supply is able to produce. The greatest threat to our common future, writes Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, “is no longer conflict between heavily armed superpowers, but rather spreading food shortages and rising food prices—and the political turmoil this would lead to.”

Commodity speculation in food staples has created huge profits for companies such as the American investment firm Goldman Sachs, which is regarded as one of the world’s leaders in the trading of crop futures. Many other international banks are also heavily involved. The United Kingdom–based public interest group World Development Movement (WDM, now renamed Global Justice) estimates that Barclays, for example, has made up to £340 million a year from speculating on food prices. The WDM also found that financial speculation on food had nearly doubled in the preceding five years, from $65 billion a year to $126 billion a year worldwide.

Even ‘prestigious’ universities are joining the queue to invest in these new hedge funds. A new report on land acquisitions in seven African countries suggests that Harvard, Vanderbilt and many other US colleges with large endowment funds have invested heavily in African land in the past few years. Much of the money is said to be channelled through London-based Emergent asset management, which runs one of Africa’s largest land acquisition funds, run by former JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs currency dealers.

Land grabs—whether initiated by multinational corporations and private investment firms, sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East or state entities such as China and India—are now in the news constantly.

Land grabs in the contemporary period are reminiscent of the colonial era with foreign nations again staking a claim on the continent. Moreover, since African governments are partnering with foreign investors in the land grab, onlookers are left to question if this is another case of corrupt African leaders selling their citizens short or simply governments pursuing an economic development opportunity. Evidence suggests a marked disparity in the benefits received by those involved in and affected by these transnational land acquisitions, particularly for those originally dwelling on the land.

Such a problem deserves both increased international attention and country-level debate to ensure these agreements provide more equal benefits to all parties involved.

The new phenomenon of land outsourcing spawns it own discourses and prescriptions as to how land should be held and how disputes and conflicts should be adjudicated and the institutional frameworks that should underpin such systems. Thus holistically viewed, land outsourcing has to be understood within the context of two mutually inclusive processes, i.e. the macro level (global, regional and national levels) and the micro level (the peasantry and the intermediary administration). In this respect, it is essential to understand nuances and narratives at the intersections of the two, in order to establish what is really going on within the land acquisition process.

The possibility of volatile land conflicts also loom large within the context of the land acquisition process. Given that most of these acquisitions are for macro scale crop production, it is highly likely that a large number of vulnerable rural inhabitants will be displaced. As long as the African peasantry feel and experience economic exclusion, they are more likely to protest politically about their lack of access to land.

Given the recent history of colonial exploits, we contend that the new phenomenon of land acquisition begs the question of how to make the new agreements consensual endeavours as opposed to unwelcomed “land grabbing” that infringes upon the rights of local land holders. While there are definite possibilities for macro level economic benefits for African countries from foreign investment in agriculture and land development, these gains may not be felt by those originally dwelling on the land. The issue must be seriously and immediately debated by African governments, civil society organizations, policy makers, politicians and scholars.

Finally, the authors are of the sincere conviction that business schools, if they are ‘worth their weight in salt’ and bear any testimony to the intrinsic values of social entrepreneurship should assist in unveiling the exploitative tentacles of insidious financial institutions and multinational corporations. In this respect, business educators can contribute significantly by introducing issues of social responsibility, social justice and ethics in their programmes, especially when they deal with investment portfolios of the new hedge funds and multinational companies. This must of necessity be the founding principle of mission statements of all business schools in Africa and other emerging economies.

Certainly investors can make huge profits through investments in new international hedge funds which focus on land, but at what cost? Let us be reminded, once again by Dalrymple’s visionary account of the history of the East India Company – “its story has never been more current”. The new wave of ‘looting’ of land and other natural resources will continue on a scale hitherto unknown. We need to think of the thousands of people in Africa and other emerging nations who are and will become landless in the countries of their birth by an act which is transcribed by a pen on a piece of paper, and then ‘transported’ by a click of a button, thousands of kilometers away to be sanctioned and acted upon. The negative multiplier effects of such acts are too horrendous to contemplate. Remember Dalrymple’s prophetic words!

Source: From part of the article:

Hedge funds and corporate raiders in Africa: Space invaders of the third kind by Dhiru Soni, Ahmed Shaikh, Anis Karodia and Joseph David, 2015-03-16, Issue 718

Ahmed Shaikh, is a senior Faculty and the CEO of REGENT Business School. Anis Karodia, is senior Faculty and Director of the Centre of Health Care Management at REGENT Business School. Joseph David, is senior Faculty and Director of the Centre for Public Sector Management at REGENT Business School. Dhiru Soni, is a researcher and consultant to the higher education sector

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The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme, says the Guardian Global Development February 28, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Gambella, Land and resource Rights, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, Omo Valley, Oromia, UK Aid Should Respect Rights.
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British support for Ethiopia scheme withdrawn amid abuse allegations,

Sam Jones and Mark Anderson


The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme. Hundreds of people have been forced from their land as a result of the scheme, while there have also been reports of torture, rape and beatings.

Until last month, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was the primary funder of the promotion of basic services (PBS) programme, a $4.9bn (£3.2bn) project run by the World Bank and designed to boost education, health and water services in Ethiopia.

On Thursday, DfID said it had ended its PBS contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”, adding that financial decisions of this nature were routinely made after considering a recipient country’s “commitment to partnership principles”.

It has been alleged that programme funds have been used to bankroll the Ethiopian government’s push to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country.

Opponents of the commune development programme (CDP) say it has been characterised by violence. One Ethiopian farmer is taking legal action against the British government, claiming UK money has funded abuses against Anuak peoplein the Gambella region. The man, an Anuak known as Mr O, says he was beaten and witnessed rapes and assaults as government soldiers cleared people off their land. DfID has always insisted it does not fund Ethiopia’s commune development programme.

A scathing draft report from the World Bank’s internal watchdog recently concluded that inadequate oversight, bad audit practices, and a failure to follow the bank’s own rules had allowed operational links to form between the PBS programme and the Ethiopian government’s resettlement scheme.

Although the bank’s inspection panel found that funds could have been diverted to implement villagisation, it did not look into whether the resettlement programme had involved human rights abuses, claiming such questions were outside its remit.

DfID, which has contributed nearly £745m of UK taxpayer money to the PBS programme, said the decision to withdraw financial support was prompted in part by Ethiopia’s “impressive progress” towards the millennium development goals.

“The UK will now evolve its approach by transitioning support towards economic development to help generate jobs, income and growth that will enable self-sufficiency and ultimately end poverty,” it said.

“This will go alongside additional funding for specific health, education and water programmes – where impressive results are already being delivered – resourced by ending support for the promotion of basic Services programme.”

A DfID spokesman said the move had nothing to do with Mr O’s ongoing legal action or the World Bank’s internal report, but added: “Changes to programmes are based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, country context, progress to date and commitment to partnership principles.”

The department said its overall financial commitment to Ethiopia, one of the largest recipients of UK aid, would remain unchanged, with almost £256m due to be spent between 2015 and 2016.

The Ethiopian government said DfID’s decision was not a matter of concern.

“They have been discussing it with pertinent government bodies,” said the communications minister, Redwan Hussien.

“What they said is that the aid that they’re giving will not be refused or stopped, it will be reorganised.”

The World Bank’s executive board met on Thursday to discuss the internal report on the PBS programme and the management response.

In a statement released on Friday, the bank said that although its inspection panel had concluded that the seizing of land and use of violence and intimidation were not consequences of PBS, it had determined that the programme “did not fully assess and mitigate the risks arising from the government’s implementation of CDP, particularly in the delivery of agricultural services to the Anuaks”.

The World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim, said that one of the institution’s core principles was to do no harm to the poor, adding: “In this case, while the inspection panel found no violations, it did point out areas where we could have done more to help the Anuak people. We draw important lessons from this case to better anticipate ways to protect the poor and be more effective in fighting poverty.”

Opponents of the villagisation process have been vocal in their criticisms of the bank’s role. Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the inspection panel’s report showed the bank had “largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia” and highlighted “the perils of unaccountable budget support” in the country.



The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in #Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for #Africa February 24, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in African Poor, Aid to Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Free development vs authoritarian model, Gambella, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, Land and resource Rights, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, World Bank.
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World Banka: Address Ethiopia Findings
Response to Inquiry Dismissive of Abuses
The new village of Bildak in Ethiopia's Gambella region, which the semi-nomadic Nuer who were forcibly transferred there quickly abandoned in May 2011 because there was no water source for their cattle.
The new village of Bildak in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, which the semi-nomadic Nuer who were forcibly transferred there quickly abandoned in May 2011 because there was no water source for their cattle. © 2011 Human Rights Watch
The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia. The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals. – Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher

( FEBRUARY 23, 2015, Washington, DC) – The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for Africa. The bank’s response to the investigation findings attempts to distance the bank from the many problems confirmed by the investigation and should be revised. The World Bank board of directors is to consider the investigation report and management’s response, which includes an Action Plan, on February 26, 2015.

The Inspection Panel, the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, found that the bank violated its own policies in Ethiopia. The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint brought by refugees from Ethiopia’s Gambella region concerning the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) projects funded by the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the African Development Bank, and several other donors.

“The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals.”

The report, leaked to the media in January, determinedthat “there is an operational link” between the World Bank projects in Ethiopia and a government relocation program known as “villagization.” It concluded that the bank had violated its policy that is intended to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. It also found that the bank “did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent rollout of the villagisation programme.” These findings should prompt the World Bank and other donors to take all necessary measures to prevent and address links between its programs and abusive government initiatives, Human Rights Watch said.

Rather than taking on these important findings and applying lessons learned, World Bank management has drafted an Action Plan that merely reinforces its problematic current course, Human Rights Watch said. The Action Plan emphasizes the role of programs designed to mobilize communities to engage in local government’s decisions without addressing the significant risks people take in speaking critically.

The Inspection Panel also found that the bank did not take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk presented by Ethiopia’s 2009 law on civil society organizations. The law prohibits human rights organizations in Ethiopia from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from foreign sources. As a result of the law, most independent Ethiopian civil society organizations working on human rights issues have had to discontinue their work.

The plan also pledges to enhance the capacity of local government staff to comply with the bank’s policies and to provide complaint resolution mechanisms without addressing the role of the local government in human rights abuses. This continues an approach of seeing the officials implicated in human rights abuses as a source of potential resolution, Human Rights Watch said. Management has also concluded, contrary to the Inspection Panel, that the World Bank is adequately complying with the bank’s policy to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

Human Rights Watch research into the first year of the villagization program in the western Gambella region found that people were forced to move into the government’s new villages. Human Rights Watch found that the relocation was accompanied by serious abuses, including intimidation, assaults, and arbitrary arrests by security officials, and contributed to the loss of livelihoods for the people forced to move. While the Ethiopian government has officially finished its villagization program in Gambella, it is forcibly evicting communities in other regions, including indigenous people, ostensibly for development projects such as large-scale agriculture projects.

Donors to the Ethiopia Promoting Basic Services Program, including the World Bank and the UK, have repeatedly denied any link between their programs and problematic government programs like villagization.

Human Rights Watch has long raised concerns over inadequate monitoring and the risks of misuse of development assistance in Ethiopia. In 2010 Human Rights Watch documented the government’s use of donor-supported resources and aid to consolidate the power of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Government officials discriminated on the basis of real and perceived political opinion in distributing resources, including access to donor-supported programs, salaries, and training opportunities. Donors have never systematically investigated these risks to their programming, much less addressed them.

The Inspection Panel report is the first donor mechanism that has investigated the donor’s approach to risk assessment in Ethiopia. Although the Inspection Panel adopted a narrow view of its mandate and decided explicitly to exclude human rights violations, its findings underscore the need for donors to considerably enhance and broaden their risk assessment processes in Ethiopia. These processes are crucial for ensuring that their programs advance the social and economic rights of the people they are intended to benefit, without violating their human rights. Management’s response misrepresents the panel’s view of its mandate, erroneously concurring “with the panel’s conclusion that the harm alleged in the Request cannot be attributed to the Project” – the Inspection Panel report makes no such sweeping conclusion.

“The bank directors should send management’s response and Action Plan back and insist on a plan that addresses the Inspection Panel’s findings and the concerns of the people who sought the inquiry,” Evans said. “A meaningful Action Plan should address the program in question, bank-lending in Ethiopia more broadly, and how to apply lessons from these mistakes to all bank programing in high-risk, repressive environments around the world.”

The Action Plan should include provisions for high-level dialogue between the bank and the Ethiopian government to address key human rights issues that are obstacles to effective development, Human Rights Watch said. These issues include forced evictions and development-related displacement, restrictions on civil society, including attacks on independent groups and journalists, discriminatory practices, and violations ofindigenous peoples’ rights.

The plan should include provisions for identifying and mitigating all human rights risks and adverse impacts at the project level, and for independent monitoring to make sure these concerns are fully addressed. The plan should also include provisions for people affected by projects to be involved in projects from their conception and remedies for people negatively affected by bank projects.

Given the climate of fear and repression in Ethiopia, Gambella residents who brought the complaint to the bank and have taken refuge in South Sudan and Kenya are unlikely to feel safe returning home. In light of this, the Action Plan should address their most urgent needs abroad, including education and livelihood opportunities, Human Rights Watch said.

The Inspection Panel’s findings also have wider implications for donor programming in Ethiopia. Donors’ current appraisal methods do not consider human rights and other risks from their programs. The panel highlighted particular problems with budget support or block grants that cannot be tracked at the local level.

“The Inspection Panel report illustrates the perils of unaccountable budget support in Ethiopia,” Evans said. “Donors should implement programs that ensure that Ethiopia’s neediest participate in and have access to the benefits of donor aid.”



FEBRUARY 23, 2015

Dear Vice President Diop,

As you are aware, Human Rights Watch has researched and documented human rights violations that the government of Ethiopia has committed in the course of its “villagization” program in both Gambella and in the Lower Omo valley. We have also reported on the links between villagization and the various iterations of the World Bank’s Promoting/ Protection of Basic Services projects. With this in mind, I write to you as your staff are working to prepare an action plan responding to the Inspection Panel’s findings of non-compliance in its Ethiopia investigation.

We urge you to ensure that World Bank management responds to the Inspection Panel findings comprehensively in its action plan. Human Rights Watch has been profoundly disappointed by the lack of constructive engagement of World Bank management on the problems of villagization in Ethiopia and its unwillingness to work to address a range of human rights risks in its programming. The concerns raised in the Investigation Panel’s report are an opportunity to adjust management’s course on its Ethiopia programming and address these issues.

We believe the Action Plan should include a commitment to:

1.    Enhance Management’s High Level Dialogue with the Ethiopian Government

Whenever World Bank staff, particularly you or President Kim, meet with the Ethiopian government, we urge you to raise the continuing negative impact that several Ethiopian government policies and practices are having on development efforts.

First, forced evictions and development-related displacement continues to have serious negative effects on communities in various parts of the country, well beyond Gambella. While the government has officially finished its villagization program, it continues to forcibly evict people, including indigenous peoples, from their land ostensibly for development projects, including large-scale agriculture, including for sugar plantation development in the Lower Omo Valley. Bank staff should work with other donors to highlight problems with ongoing practices, as well as pointing to key standards (which should include the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, and standards and jurisprudence of the African regional human rights institutions). While we recognize bank management has discussed some concerns about villagization before and supported the development of standards for involuntary resettlement, relying on the Bank’s safeguards, dialogue needs to recognize the problems with the existing practices and advise on how to address them.

Second, it is crucial that the Bank asserts the importance of civic participation and social accountability for effective development. This means consistently raising concerns, and urging reforms of the Ethiopian government’s Charities and Societies Proclamation and Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which have had such a devastating impact on the ability of Ethiopians to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. It is also crucial that the Bank and other donors press the Ethiopian government to reverse the practices of arbitrary arrest and detention, and politically motivated prosecutions of independent journalists, activists, and opposition party members including media reporting on problematic “development” initiatives. Independent nongovernmental organizations and media are essential for accountability, and these repressive policies undermine both civic participation and social accountability.

Third, you should raise concerns over discriminatory practices in the country, both on the basis of ethnic background and political opinion. President Kim has spoken passionately about the scourge of discrimination. This should translate into a dialogue with the government not only about how discrimination is wrong, but how it undermines development. Human Rights Watch and others have documented discriminatory practices against individuals not supporting the ruling party in the distribution of the benefits of development, including access to agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers, micro-credit loans and job opportunities. In this context, bank management should highlight these ongoing discriminatory practices, including against those who do not support the ruling party and against indigenous groups in areas where villagization occurred including Gambella and the Lower Omo valley.

Finally, it is essential that Ethiopia respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. You may want to consider the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has on several occasions discussed indigenous rights within the African context. The African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/ Communities has suggested that, in determining whether groups fall within the definition of indigenous peoples, the:

focus should be on … self-definition as indigenous and distinctly different from other groups within a state; on a special attachment to and use of their traditional land whereby their ancestral land and territory has a fundamental importance for their collective physical and cultural survival as peoples; on an experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination because these people have different cultures, ways of life or modes of production than the national hegemonic and dominant model.

The Commission has helpfully addressed common misconceptions regarding indigenous peoples in Africa, paraphrased in attachment 1.

2.    Address Risks at the Project Level

The report of the Inspection Panel shows that the World Bank needs to have systems in place to analyze and avoid or mitigate the above and other human rights risks linked to its projects in Ethiopia. The Bank should acknowledge that the repressive environment in Ethiopia requires an entirely different approach to participation and social accountability. It should work with other donors to develop creative methods for participation that avoid risks of reprisals against those who express dissent and to encourage fearful individuals to use mechanisms and institutions that ensure participation and accountability, free of intimidation and fear. In recognition of the difficulties of ensuring participation and effective, secure avenues for accountability, the Bank should routinely identify security risks for project-affected persons including the risk of reprisal if individuals criticize a project or oppose resettlement.

Considering the high-risk environment, World Bank management should explicitly report to the board on how it has analyzed and addressed all risks of social and human rights impacts in each project in Ethiopia at least annually. Such a report should outline how management has addressed security risks, risks of all forms of discrimination, potential obstacles to participation and accountability, and risks related to land rights or forced evictions, as well as any other potential adverse social or human rights impact.

The World Bank should also ensure that it comprehensively complies with its Indigenous Peoples’ policy in all projects in which indigenous peoples stand to be impacted, directly or indirectly. Compliance needs to go beyond consulting with indigenous peoples in the course of undertaking a social impact assessment, and instead involve comprehensive participation of indigenous peoples in all bank-projects that affect them beginning at the project proposal stage and throughout the entire project cycle. The World Bank should only proceed with projects that affect indigenous peoples with their free, prior, and informed consent as provided by international law.

Furthermore, the bank should require independent third party monitoring and independent grievance redress mechanisms for all of its projects in Ethiopia. Until the environment for independent organizations, including nongovernmental organizations and the media, improves substantially, there is little opportunity for individuals to report problems with World Bank projects. Many of the existing grievance redress mechanisms lack independence from the government or, equally important, are perceived to lack independence.

While the bank has championed its “social accountability mechanisms” in Ethiopia, we question the effectiveness of these mechanisms within the current repressive environment. Statements from the requesters indicate that they would never utilize such mechanisms because of government involvement, and the Bank should heed these concerns. Unfortunately, to date, the bank does not appear to have addressed the question of how these mechanisms can be effective within the current repressive environment. The World Bank needs to find alternative, effective mechanisms to supervise its projects and permit people to safely complain about grievances.

Finally, in accordance with the World Bank’s commitment to and expertise regarding fiscal transparency and accountability, management should only support projects for which funds can be tracked. Tracking the funding is necessary for tracking the full impacts of a World Bank-financed project. It is also particularly relevant considering the bank’s decision not to provide direct budget support to Ethiopia because of the high-risk environment. The Inspection Panel pointed to the challenge of tracking PBS’ financing, in particular, because the government did not share key financial information. This is immensely problematic and should be promptly remedied.

3.    Provide the Requesters with a Remedy

The requesters have proposed measures to remedy the problems they highlighted in their complaint and a strong Action Plan is needed to address these concerns, which Human Rights Watch supports. I attach their letter for ease of reference.

The Action Plan should provide effective development and much-needed basic services to the people of Gambella, free of the requirement to be supportive of the ruling party. As indigenous people, the requesters should be partners in the World Bank’s development initiatives, which includes the right to be meaningfully consulted and for development projects to only go forward with their consent, free of any intimidation.

Given the climate of fear and repression that exists in Ethiopia, it is unlikely that many requesters will feel safe to return home to Gambella. In light of this, the Action Plan should address some of the most urgent needs of the requesters in the refugee communities including the lack of education and livelihood opportunities.

Finally, we urge the World Bank management to present the final Action Plan to the requesters in person in Kenya and South Sudan, comprehensively explaining it and responding to the requestors’ letter.

Thank you for considering our recommendations. I would be most happy to discuss them with you or your staff further. I look forward to your response.


Jessica Evans

Senior Advocate on International Financial Institutions

Business and Human Rights Division

Human Rights Watch

Annex 1

The African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations / Communities has debunked several misconceptions regarding indigenous peoples in Africa:

Misconception 1: To protect the rights of indigenous peoples gives special rights to some ethnic groups over and above the rights of all other groups.

Certain groups face discrimination because of their particular culture, mode of production, and marginalized position within the state. The protection of their rights is a legitimate call to alleviate this particular form of discrimination. It is not about special rights.

Misconception 2: Indigenous is not applicable in Africa as “all Africans are indigenous.”

There is no question that Africans are indigenous to Africa in the sense that they were there before the European colonialists arrived and that they were subject to subordination during colonialism. When some particular marginalized groups use the term “indigenous” to describe themselves, they use the modern analytical form (which does not merely focus on aboriginality) in an attempt to draw attention to and alleviate the particular form of discrimination they suffer from. They do not use the term in order to deny other Africans their legitimate claim to belong to Africa and identify as such.

Misconception 3: Talking about indigenous rights will lead to tribalism and ethnic conflicts.

Giving recognition to all groups, respecting their differences and allowing them all to flourish does not lead to conflict, it prevents conflict. What creates conflict is when certain dominant groups force a contrived “unity” that only reflects perspectives and interests of powerful groups within a given state, and which seeks to prevent weaker marginal groups from voicing their unique concerns and perspectives. Conflicts do not arise because people demand their rights but because their rights are violated. Protecting the human rights of particularly discriminated groups should not be seen as tribalism and disruption of national unity. On the contrary, it should be welcomed as an interesting and much needed opportunity in the African human rights arena to discuss ways of developing African multicultural democracies based on the respect and contribution of all ethnic groups.

Source: Paraphrased from Report of the African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities, Adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 34th Ordinary Session, November 6-20, 2003.



Africa: One Village in Tanzania Shows Locally Managed Development Makes Good Business Sense January 26, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Land and resource Rights, The Maasai in Tanzania.
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One Village in Tanzania Shows Locally Managed Development Makes Good Business Sense

by and  Celine Salcede-La Via *

Many developing country governments have transferred large swathes of community land to agri-businesses, extractive industries, infrastructure developers and other investors as a way to grow their economies. These actions often come at the expense of local communities, who lose rights to the lands they’ve lived on for generations. The transfer of community land is especially pervasive and problematic in Africa, where 60 percent of the population is rural and dependent on land and natural resources for food and livelihoods.

But development doesn’t need to come at the expense of local communities. As one community in Tanzania is showing, alternative business models can allow citizens to retain their lands and resources while also capitalizing on economic opportunities.

An Alternative Business Model for Community Empowerment

Northern Tanzania is home to Kilamanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti and some of the world’s largest populations of wildlife. It’s also the location of Ololosokwan, a village in Loliondo Division made up principally of the Maasai people. Maasai pastoralists raise livestock on communal rangelands across Tanzania’s northern drylands.

Ololosokwan is among the first villages in Tanzania to establish community-based eco-tourism. Beginning in the late 1990s, the Village Council (village governing body), representing the Village Assembly (comprised of all villagers above the age of 18), established several joint ventures with tour operators. One agreement is for the construction of a tourist lodge in a 25,000-acre concession area, for which the company is paying Ololosokwan an annual land rent of $ about 50,000, as well as a fee per tourist per night. Another venture allows selected luxury tour operators to establish campsites on village land in exchange for payments. In 2007, Ololosokwan earned approximately US$ 96,000 per year from the tourism operations.1 The joint ventures have also generated employment for villagers and helped establish a crafts market for local artists.

Ololosokwan’s Village Council has allocated much of its revenue toward education, especially building classrooms, employing teachers and sponsoring children to attend secondary school and university. The Village Council has also used some of its revenue to build a village dispensary, develop several water projects and reinvest in conservation to ensure wildlife populations thrive on Ololosokwan land.

Recipe for Success

Tanzania has relatively progressive land laws compared to other African nations. The 1999 Land Act and Village Land Act both recognize customary ownership of lands and allow local communities to lease their land and enter into collaborative business ventures. This legislation is complemented by the Local Government Act of 1982, which empowers the Village Council and Village Assembly to manage community lands and natural resources.

In addition to supportive legislation, local and international NGOs have aided communities by conducting capacity-building trainings with villagers. For example, the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha assisted a number of villages in Loliondo Division—including Ololosokwan—to obtain title deeds for their lands in the 1990s. The Pastoral Women Council (PWC) helped empower village women to participate in community decision-making. And the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT) and Sand County Foundation trained villagers on land and resource rights, and on negotiating contracts with investors, specifically tour operators. These groups also worked with villagers on how they could spend their revenues wisely.

The trainings paved the way for Ololosokwan to enact village by-laws, which establish a land-use plan for the community and mandate that the Village Council enact and enforce conservation measures like controlling illegal hunting, and report to the Village Assembly the community’s wildlife-related earnings and expenditures.

Land Rights Challenges Remain

Despite successes, Ololosokwan—along with other communities in Africa—continues to face threats to their land rights. In 2013, for example, Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources announced a plan to demarcate 1,500 km2 of village lands in Loliondo, including Ololosokwan land, as a reserve under government control. Reports suggested that the government intended to grant a concession to a Dubai-based luxury safari company for big game hunting in the region.

While the Prime Minister suspended the plan after outcry from affected community members, recent reports indicate that the government has revived its plan to create the reserve, which would evict the Maasai from their ancestral lands.

This threat notwithstanding, the case of Ololosokwan demonstrates the importance of communities managing and benefiting from their own natural resources. It shows that, given appropriate legal support and the right tools, communities can take charge of their own development and lift themselves out of chronic poverty.

The case of Ololosokwan also supports the global movement calling for bottom-up business models that work for communities and investors alike, such as the Our Land, Our Business campaign made up of more than 260 farmers, NGOs and civil society groups from around the world. It is time to take note and replicate successes like Ololosokwan’s across Africa.

*This post is co-authored by Emmanuel Sulle, a researcher and PhD student at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies in South Africa. His research areas include inclusive business models, land tenure and rural livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.

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