Land Grabbers

My good friend Ben Willis put me on to this Guardian article relating to the process of wealthy States and individuals buying up land in parts of Africa (in this case a place called Gambella in south west Ethiopia) in order to secure food for its own population.

In the article by writer Fred Pearce, he highlights the plight of local villagers, who are inextricably linked to the land, ‘…here in Gambella, their land is like their blood.  It is everything.  And to lose it would be to lose their identity.’

Yet they are being re-located to villages outside their ancestral homes with little or no warning while this new ‘scramble’ takes place.

Pearce says,’The villagisation programme will relocate a domestic population much in the manner of Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot.’

One of the landgrabbers is Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoud – an Ethiopian born Saudi oil billionaire – and confidant of Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi.  The Sheikh has also employed a former Ethiopian minister to smooth over any land rights issues.

‘Land grabbing is having more of an impact on the lives of poor people than climate change,’ says Pearce.

Fred Pearce has a book out on the subject which can be bought here.

The Guardian blog on the subject is here.