ActionAid Senegal Say No To Land Grabbing

January 28, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

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By

Alpha Jallow

ActionAid Senegal, who last April started an advocacy campaign on land grabbing, used the recent African social forum in Dakar to launch its Ndiael report which chronicles large scale land grabbing from local communities by multinational agro industries in the country.

Mrs. Dellaphine B. Rauch Houekpon, Country Director for ActionAid Senegal, underscored the need for communities to regain control of their lands, important to grow food, as a place to build a home and a source of identity. She said that the issue of land should not be a long debate, stressing its importance to poor women and men in rural communities around the world; “land is an essential asset as a source of security and livelihoods”, she opined.

She called on all stake holders in the campaign against land grabbing to put all hands on deck in a bid to achieving the desired results.

“Recent statistics show that more than 33 million hectares (about 2.5 times the size of England) have been taken away from millions of rural people living in poverty, to make way for mechanised agriculture, mining, hotels and resort centres and other related dubious ‘public interest’ projects, thereby threatening the food security across many countries in Africa especially West Africa” she emphatically explained.

Actionaid Senegal’s Programme officer Aissata Dia stated that “Women are the main victims of land grabbing in Africa, although they produce more than half of the food consumed in their countries, they are much less likely to own the land they till, which hinders their ability to participate in decision making and exercise their rights as individual women farmers.”

Land grabs pre-empt land reforms that secure the legitimate land and resource rights of women and other marginalised communities. Actionaid is determined to support communities, especially women, in their quest to access and control land, in addition to land reform policies. Actionaid will continue defending their rights, they (and the communities they belong to) gain the value of the land not only as a productive resource, but as a source of status, political mobilisation, and security for themselves and their descendants.

Actionaid defines land grabs as the worst human rights violations in recent years.

During the launching of the Ndiael reports there were emotional testimonies from representative of the Ndiael community who were among the invited guests to attend the recent launch.

Communities of Ndiael in northern Senegal have lost large tracks of arable and grazing fields to trans-national multi agro industries, notably the infamous Senhuile ethanol company that has seized large tracks of land from this agro-pastoral region. The impacts are almost always negative and irreversible and include displacement, loss of livelihoods and culture, increased food insecurity for communities and an increased workload for women.

“In most cases land grabbers failed to honour their promises and commitments, such as infrastructural development, good roads, schools and health facilities, other promises such as jobs and other benefits are often unfulfilled also”, concluded Country Director Dellaphine B.Rauch Houekpon.

 

 

 

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Alpha Jallow

Alpha is a freelance journalist from Dakar, Senegal, having worked for the BBC African Radio service, West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) and Radio France Internationale (RFI).

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