G8 Urged to Fight Africa Land Grabs

G8 Urged to Fight Africa Land Grabs

JOHANNESBURG — In the last decade, international companies have acquired 11 million hectares of land in developing nations – an area larger than the nation of Ireland.  The aid agency Oxfam, which released the figure, says many such acquisitions are done secretly and that residents only find out when they get their eviction notices. The group is pressing G8 leaders – who are meeting this week in Northern Ireland – to do something to halt such land grabs. One community in rural Swaziland is facing such a land grab, and its situation is representative of what is happening globally.

Malkerns is an idyllic farming area that overlooks a lush and picturesque valley in the southern African nation of Swaziland. In this area lies a small village of some 150 inhabitants who live in simple mud huts. They keep cows and goats, and they grow subsistence crops like maize.  It is a pretty picture, and a life that many say they have grown to love since their families were moved to this area in the 1950s at the request of Swaziland’s king.  After farming this land for nearly six decades, though, this community’s future is now uncertain.  Notice served:  Because of a series of land deals their lawyer describes as “mysterious,” the company that now owns the land has served the community with an eviction notice that may give them just a few more days in the place they know as home….

A worker harvests sugarcane near Swaziland's capital, Mbabane, June 2005.

Anita Powell –June 18,  2013

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