Land is one of the oldest resources that have been grabbed. This phenomenon is older than the colonial expansion model. It continued in post-colonial countries by dreams of “development” through large dams, mines, plantations and others.
Yet this phenomenon really intensified due to the global food crises of 2007-08. It intensified land grab from large corporations and governments, especially in Africa, and has continued since then. Coupled with weak implementation of land laws and high corruption, it has led to an increasing number of small landholders being dispossessed of their lands, which are moving towards commercial and corporate food production, tourism developments, biofuel production, etc.
Southern governments appear eager to oblige, based on loose promises of development opportunities. Mozambique is no exception. Jatropha is being pushed in Africa as a potential agrofuel crop. JA’s study on Jatropha in 2009 exposed the myths being peddled about this crop and how it is endangering food sovereignty and rural livelihoods.
Communities are losing their lands in a large-scale land grab, and hence are losing their livelihoodsJA/UNAC
Mozambique’s landscape includes extensive forests, unique grasslands, internationally-renowned wetlands and highly diverse marine ecosystems, and this immense natural beauty is also the country’s lifeline. Mozambican livelihoods are sustained by natural resources such as land, water sources, forests, etc., and by services provided by ecosystems, such as energy, meat, fish, medicine, water and more. For example, 85% of energy needs of Mozambicans are met by wood and wood-based charcoal obtained from forests. Over 80% of our population is subsistence-based, sustained by agriculture, fishing and/ or hunting. In fact, these communities produce 75% of their own food requirements.
We conducted a survey and mapping of land grabbing instances in 9 out of 11 provinces in Mozambique, including collecting information on locations where land was bought or leased, players involved, types of investment, agreements made with Mozambican authorities, etc., for agri-business, tourism, mining or other infrastructure projects. We surveyed areas where conflicts already exist which resulted in land grabbing, and where future conflicts are predicted. We analysed the current situation of the land grabbing phenomenon in Mozambique in the context of national legislation and international agreements related to foreign investment in forests. We also evaluated the participation of women in the decision-making processes at a communal and official level.
We found in the study that, among other things, mechanisms need to be established for efficient monitoring of the entire process of local investment and interaction with local communities in order to avoid future conflicts. We found that there is a need for greater awareness-raising among local populations.
We also found it important that awareness surrounding gender issues needs to be raised due to differences in how men and women manage the natural resources they depend on, and how they are impacted by their loss.
The 2011 report was a preliminary analysis. JA and UNAC are now considering ways to conduct follow-up research. We will continue our justice-based approach by focussing on the ways and methods by which land is being usurped and the impacts on natural resource-based communities.