Oxfam Warns of ‘Land Grabs’ in Africa

Posted September 22nd, 2011 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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The British aid group Oxfam says poor people in developing countries, particularly Africa, are being hurt by foreign investors rushing to buy land, often in deals made secretly.

In a report released Thursday, the group said people are being pushed from their homes without prior consultation, compensation or the ability to appeal.

The group said many of the deals amount to “land grabs” that ignore the needs of poor communities and leave people without food or a way to make a living.

Oxfam said since 2001, up to 227 million hectares have been sold, leased or licensed, and half of the confirmed deals have taken place in Africa.

The organization said such deals have been especially devastating to poverty-stricken locals in Uganda and South Sudan.

The report accused a British business called New Forests Company of a “land grab” in central Uganda. The report says in that case, more than 22,000 people were evicted in the Kiboga and Mubende districts over a four-year period ending in 2010.

A spokesman for New Forests blamed the evictions on the Uganda government. The timber company bills itself as being socially and environmentally responsible.

The Ugandan government said Oxfam's figures are exaggerated and said most evicted residents left peacefully and were give four months notice.

Oxfam warned the land rush is likely to intensify as investors move quickly to meet consumer demands and international target dates for increasing the use of biofuels.

Oxfam cited similar problems with land deals in Honduras, Guatemala and Indonesia.