Stop land grabbing! Life, land, and justice in Uganda

Title Stop land grabbing! Life,   land, and justice in Uganda
Date released (year) 2012


Production company The Source Film, for Friends of the Earth International


Length 5mins
Location Uganda
Keywords/tags Land grabbing, food security, agriculture, displacement
Link to film
Synopsis In   Kalangala, Uganda, John Muyisa woke up one day to find bulldozers clearing   his land to plant oil palms. John and his community have preserved their   forests and lands for generations. Now their way of life is at risk.
Reviews/discussion Land grabbing explained

This campaign highlights the destructive environmental and social   impacts of unsustainable resource use in the global North and South. We are   seeking to defend community territories, protect land rights and increase   awareness of corporations’ agendas, strategies, abuses and violations.

An elderly woman holds on to the fence separating her   land, where she rears goats, from the advancing soya plantations, in Cordoba,   Argentina.For centuries, communities have been intimidated to abandon   – or forcibly removed from – their land in a seemingly endless battle to   control natural resources. Today, these problems still occur and are   manifesting in more direct and disturbing ways: multinational corporations   occupy large swaths of community land that provides critical supplies for   local populations in order to extract profitable resources – including crops   for agrofuels, food, carbon offsets or minerals – for the benefit of often   quite distant national and international elites.

Driven by greed and materialism, the destruction of local communities   and their environments often results in the violation of both human and   community rights. We have seen increased militarization and criminalization   of communities who resist the appropriation of their communal lands. We have also   witnessed severe environmental degradation and the destruction of natural   commons for the longevity of communities.

More: Read   our report on Land Grabbing in Uganda

More: Watch   this true story about resistance to Lord Grabbing

This system continues to perpetuate the gross inequity in the   distribution of natural commons (healthy ecosystems, water and air), create a   poor underclass in both Global North and South, all of which further divide   our world in to the haves and have-nots. Meanwhile, the consumers of these   ill-begotten resources are not necessarily happier as a result of their   consumption.

This campaign seeks to stop the destructive consumption race by   creating, protecting and enforcing community and individual rights to land   and their commons. It will also challenge the current unsustainable   consumptive patterns of elites and target specific commodities with the aim   of significantly reducing their consumption.


Investors must stop land grabbing, say civil society groups

LONDON (UK), November 30, 2012   – Major farmland investors such as banks and pension funds must stop   facilitating land grabs, say civil society groups [1] on the eve of a global   farmland investment conference in London on 3-5 December. [2]

Banks and pension funds are   increasingly engaging in large-scale acquisitions of land with extremely   damaging consequences for local populations. The London conference will bring   together funds with more than USD3 trillion in assets to explore   opportunities for investments in Africa, Latin America and Russia.

The civil society groups are warning that pension funds and banks attending   the conference, for instance Deutsche Bank, must ensure they do not fund   risky investments that threaten the livelihoods and food sovereignty of   countless local communities.

Since 2008 rising financial investments in land have contributed to more than   200 million hectares of land being taken from small farmers, fisherfolk, and   other rural communities, robbing them of their means of survival. [3] Land   grabbing also frequently involves violent evictions and human rights   violations. Institutional investors are expected to increase by 500% their   agricultural investment portfolios by 2017.

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth International Food Sovereignty   programme co-ordinator, said: “Unfortunately private investment in farmland   may be seen by many as low risk and positive for developing countries. Yet   they are often a disaster for local communities and the environment. Legal   uncertainty and community opposition means that most farmland investments are   also risky for investors.”

“Major investors such as banks and pension funds need to urgently investigate   their investment portfolios and stop funding land grabs,” she added.
Earlier this year Friends of the Earth Europe released the report ‘Farming   money: How European banks and private finance profit from food speculation   and land grabs’. The report analyses the activities of 29 European banks,   pension funds and insurance companies, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays,   RBS, Allianz, BNP Paribas, AXA, HSBC, Generali, Unicredit and Credit   Agricole. It reveals the significant involvement of these financial   institutions in food speculation, and the direct or indirect financing of   land grabbing. [4]



In Liberia, farmland investments have facilitated land grabbing. A quarter of   the country – including vast swathes of fertile land- has been handed to palm   oil, rubber and logging companies, preventing its use for food production.   These large plantations are promoted as a means to create jobs, bring   development, and increase the government’s budget. In reality they are   jeopardizing the land rights of local populations, threatening local   livelihoods and putting the future of one of the world’s most significant   biodiversity hotspots into doubt.

This week in Liberia the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) / Friends of   the Earth Liberia is holding a major conference with oil palm   plantations-affected communities who are demanding to be heard and consulted.

Between 2009 and 2010 the government of Liberia allocated more than a million   acres of land to transnational palm oil producers Sime Darby and Golden   Veroleum Liberia without consulting or securing the consent of those living   on and using the land. [5]


In the past few years, Ethiopia allocated huge areas of fertile arable   farmland to foreign investors with little consultations with the affected   communities. Since 2008 more than 3.6 million hectares of land has been   allocated to foreign investors. For instance, in Gambela region, an Indian   company -Karuturi Global- has been allocated staggering 300,000 hectares of   land depriving indigenous people of access to water, fishing and grazing   grounds, traditional construction materials, and food. Like in many other   cases there has been a lack of prior consent and consultation with the local   people and affected communities were not consulted and did not give their prior   consent these farmland investments.

“In Ethiopia and elsewhere farmland investments for instance in plantations   are jeopardizing the land rights of local people, and threatening local   livelihoods ,” said Nyikaw Ochalla from Anywaa Survival Organisation-ASO.


“In Madagascar, landgrabbing is caused by foreign and domestic investors   implementing agribusiness projects and setting up biodiversity conservation   areas, but also developing tourism and extractive industry infrastructure”   says Mamy Rakotondrainibe, from the Collectif pour la défense des terres   malgaches -TANY in Madagascar.

“We are currently supporting pastoralists communities’ claims against the   Italian company Tozzi Green which aims to lease 100 000 hectars in the   Ihorombe region to mainly cultivate jatropha for agrofuel production” she   adds.


A report released earlier this year by Friends of the Earth Uganda revealed   widespread violations of people’s rights and environmental destruction from a   land grab in Uganda. [6]


Links to other resources Friends of   the Earth Internationa, land-grab campaign:

World Bank Refuses to Stop   Funding African Land Grabs, October 8, 2012, African   Globe.  Source:

Seeds of freedom


Title Seeds of Freedom
Date released (year) 2012
Production company The Gaia   Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network. In collaboration with GRAIN,   Navdanya International and MELCA Ethiopia .
Length 30mins
Keywords/tags Agriculture, food, food security, poverty
Link to film
Synopsis The story of   seed has become one of loss, control, dependence and debt. It’s been written   by those who want to make vast profit from our food system, no matter what   the true cost. It’s time to change the story. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.

Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of   traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being   transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food   system.The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural   system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on   the enormous agro -biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the   world, since the beginning of agriculture.

Seeds of Freedom seeks to challenge the mantra that large-scale, industrial   agriculture is the only means by which we can feed the world, promoted by the   pro-GM lobby. In tracking the story of seed it becomes clear how corporate   agenda has driven the take over of seed in order to make vast profit and   control of the food global system.

Through interviews with leading international experts such as Dr Vandana Shiva   and Henk Hobbelink, and through the voices of a number of African farmers,   the film highlights how the loss of indigenous seed goes hand in hand with   loss of biodiversity and related knowledge; the loss of cultural traditions   and practices; the loss of livelihoods; and the loss of food sovereignty. The   pressure is growing to replace the diverse, nutritional, locally adapted and   resilient seed crops which have been bred by small-scale farmers for   millenia, by monocultures of GM seed.

Alongside speakers from indigenous farming communities, the film features   global experts and activists Dr Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, Henk Hobbelink of   GRAIN, Zac Goldsmith MP (UK Conservative party), Canadian farmer Percy   Schmeiser, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, Gathuru Mburu of the   African Biodiversity Network, Liz Hosken of The Gaia Foundation and Caroline   Lucas MP (UK Green party).

Reviews/discussion The Gaia Foundation (Gaia) has over 25 years experience working with   partners in Africa, South America, Asia and Europe to regenerate cultural and   biological diversity. In collaboration with partners on the ground,   particularly through the African Biodiversity Network, The Gaia Foundation   works with communities who are committed to regaining their seed, water and   food sovereignty. Together, Gaia and partners have pioneered the Climate, Seed & Knowledge (CSK) programme,   which supports the revival of indigenous seed diversity and related knowledge   through tools such as eco-cultural calendars. These were developed through   Gaia’s work in the Amazon in the 90’s with Gaia Amazonas. In the 90’s, when   the first GM crop was shipped from USA to Europe, without any public debate,   Gaia helped to initiate a broad-based coalition of civil society groups in   the UK calling for a moratorium on genetic engineering (GE) in food and   agriculture. This later became what is now known as the GM   Freeze campaign, the first of many to fight against GM across   Europe and beyond.

Visit   Website

The African Biodiversity Network

The   African Biodiversity Network (ABN) is a regional network of individuals and   organisations first conceived in 1996 in response to growing concerns over   threats to biodiversity in Africa. As the agendas of global agri-business   turned their attention to Africa, the need to develop strong African   positions, a united African voice and the legal instruments to oppose these   threats became increasingly important. This advocacy work is rooted in ABN’S   work to revive ecosystem and community resilience, by focusing on the   regeneration of indigenous knowledge and ecological agricultural practices.   The Climate, Seed & Knowledge (CSK) programme   emerged out of the work with communities, to recuperate their traditional   seed diversity and related knowledge. This is the foundation of climate   change resilience, and in turn food and seed sovereignty. ABN is one of the   founding partners of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA),   which was initiated in 2009, bringing together a number of African regional   networks working on issues ranging from farming and agro-ecology, to   indigenous peoples’ rights and related advocacy.

Visit Website



The African individuals and communities who feature in the film have   been working with partner organisations of the African Biodiversity Network   to revive their local seed varieties. In Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa in   particular, these communities are reclaiming their seed sovereignty. This   area of work, known as the Climate, Seed & Knowledge programme, has been   developed by the ABN and Gaia with communities over the last decade. Find out   more:

Dr Hans R Herren, President Biovision Foundation and Millennium   Institute

“Yet another important piece of   the puzzle that we needed to get the full picture of what a sustainable   agriculture, food and nutrition security reality looks like. It is time for   our decision makers to protect the branch we are sitting on, them included,   and so they need to return the rights to the seeds to their legal owners, the   farmers”

Vandana Shiva, Founding Director, Navdanya, India

“Seeds of Freedom is a powerful film with an important message. There   is a new wave of cultural imperialism taking place right now in the field of   biodiversity and seed. We are losing our critical seed diversity to just a   handful of corporations in the western world. The genetic erosion taking   place here is tantamount to ecocide. The rate of farmer suicides because of   crop failure and debt is nothing short of genocide. We must decentralise our   food system.”

Henk Hobbelink, Co-ordinator, GRAIN

“It   is time for people to realise that diversity means survival. Diversity is   what gives us resilience, and resilience is exactly what we are going to need   as the climate changes alongside social, political and economic landscapes.   It’s very important for people to realise that we simply won’t be able to   produce the food that we need if we allow our natural biodiversity to be   further eroded. Watch Seeds of Freedom and then do something about it. It’s   time for us all to stop partaking in this aggressive food system and to   demand something different.”

Kumi Naidoo

“There’s a popular myth that Africa needs and wants GM, which needs   to be dispelled. Quite categorically, they don’t – farmers from the continent   have been successfully saving and selecting seeds for thousands of years.   Films like Seeds of Freedom are vital in highlighting the voices of these   people, a people who recognise the importance of maintaining seed ownership   and diversity for reasons of culture, climate resilience and food   sovereignty.”


Links to other resources United Nations University, Are transgenic crops safe? GM agriculture in Africa, at:


Jennifer G. Cooke, Richard   Downie (2010) Assessing the Debate in Zambia, Kenya, and South   Africa:


GMO Watch:

A Thousand Suns

Title A Thousand Suns – Global Oneness Project (Part   1)
Director(s) Stephen Marshall
Date released (year) 2009
Production company ChannelSideBySide
Length 8.50mins
Location Ethiopia
Keywords/tags Indigenous, climate change, agriculture, food security
Link to film
Synopsis A Thousand Suns tells   the story of the Gamo Highlands of the African Rift Valley and the unique   worldview held by the people of the region. This isolated area has remained   remarkably intact both biologically and culturally. It is one of the most   densely populated rural regions of Africa yet its people have been farming   sustainably for 10,000 years. Shot in Ethiopia, New York and Kenya, the film   explores the modern world’s untenable sense of separation from and   superiority over nature and how the interconnected worldview of the Gamo   people is fundamental in achieving long-term sustainability, both in the   region and beyond.


Reviews/discussion The Global Oneness   Project is a digital, ad-free, bi-monthly magazine. Through stories, we   explore the threads that connect culture, ecology, and beauty. Our collection   of films, photography, and essays feature diverse and dynamic voices from   around the world.


A. Nyong,  F. Adesina & B. Osman Elasha (2007) The   value of indigenous knowledge in climate change mitigation and adaptation   strategies in the African Sahel, Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Volume   12, Issue 5 , pp 787-797.


Past global efforts at   dealing with the problem of global warming concentrated on mitigation, with   the aim of reducing and possibly stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG)   concentrations in the atmosphere. With the slow progress in achieving this,   adaptation was viewed as a viable option to reduce the vulnerability to the   anticipated negative impacts of global warming. It is increasingly realized   that mitigation and adaptation should not be pursued independent of each   other but as complements. This has resulted in the recent calls for the   integration of adaptation into mitigation strategies. However, integrating   mitigation and adaptation into climate change concerns is not a completely   new idea in the African Sahel. The region is characterized by severe and   frequent droughts with records dating back into centuries. The local   populations in this region, through their indigenous knowledge systems, have   developed and implemented extensive mitigation and adaptation strategies that   have enabled them reduce their vulnerability to past climate variability and   change, which exceed those predicted by models of future climate change.   However, this knowledge is rarely taken into consideration in the design and   implementation of modern mitigation and adaptation strategies. This paper   highlights some indigenous mitigation and adaptation strategies that have   been practiced in the Sahel, and the benefits of integrating indigenous   knowledge into formal climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.   Incorporating indigenous knowledge can add value to the development of   sustainable climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies that are rich   in local content, and planned in conjunction with local people.


Links to other resources Oxfam report on climate change in Ethiopia:

Marius Keller, Climate Risks and   Development Projects: Assessment Report for a Community-Level Project in   Guduru, Oromiya, Ethiopia. Source:

Re-greening in Niger, a road trip with Dr Chris Reij

Title Re-greening in Niger, a road trip   with Dr Chris Reij
Director(s) Mark Dodd
Date released (year) 2013
Production company 1080filmandtv
Length 8.56mins
Location Niger
Keywords/tags Agriculture, permaculture,   desertification, food security, environmentalism
Link to film
Synopsis This 9 minute film is an insight   into the work of soil and water conservation expert, Dr Chris Reij. In June   2012, I joined him on a whistle-stop tour of communities in southern Niger.   This area is right on the edge of the Sahara and yet growing in the sandy   soil are an abundance of vegetables, cereal crops and trees.


Reviews/discussion Permaculture has been practised in   Africa for over 30 years, with ongoing and effective projects mainly situated   in Southern and Eastern Africa.    Central and West Africa has seen a rapid increase in interest for and   development of permaculture projects more recently.

Fambidzanai in Zimbabwe is the   longest running project and has led to the establishment of Schools and   Colleges Permaculture Education (SCOPE), which became Regional SCOPE   (ReSCOPE) in 2007 and is now based in Malawi.

ReSCOPE (   supports permaculture projects to take permaculture into formal education   systems.  The Malawian government has   funded a pilot project to bring permaculture into primary schools.

Permaculture in Africa is linked in   to the wider sustainability network through organisations like PELUM , which has networks across Southern and Eastern Africa


Links to other resources Also see:

Dryland Permaculture with Bill   Mollison:

See Hope in a Changing Climate:

East Africa food crisis appeal 2011

Title East Africa food   crisis appeal 2011
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Christian Aid
Length 1.56 mins
Location East Africa: Kenya
Keywords/tags Drought, food crisis, climate,   famine, aid, poverty
Link to film
Synopsis As the drought intensifies in north   eastern and eastern Kenya, Christian Aid partner CCSMKE provides much need   relief, including transporting water to villages experiencing the worst of   the drought conditions.


Reviews/discussion From the Institute of Development Studies:

The East African food   crisis: beyond drought and food aid

11 July 2011


Millions   of East Africans are once again threatened by famine. The last major famine   in the region occurred in Ethiopia, not in 1984 when an estimated 590,000   people died, but in the country’s Somali Region in 2000 when between 70,000   and 120,000 lives were lost.

Just over a decade later, the humanitarian response has   started too late, as it did in 1983 and 1999, and many preventable deaths   have already been reported. What are the real causes of this crisis – beyond   drought – and what are the most appropriate responses – beyond food aid?

Drought,   or vulnerability to drought?

Drought-triggered food crises are regular events in   arid and semi-arid areas of the Horn of Africa. The famine of 2000 in   Ethiopia followed a sequence of droughts that started in 1997. In northern   Kenya, a complete failure of the short rains in 2005 caused 30-40 per cent   livestock losses and distress migration of pastoralists, 3.5 million of whom   needed emergency assistance. Another drought followed in 2008/9, and the   current crisis was precipitated by many districts recording the driest rainy   season in 60 years.

But drought doesn’t cause famine: vulnerability to   drought causes famine. The causes of vulnerability in the Horn are complex,   but include (1) climate change (not lower rainfall, but more erratic   rainfall); (2) policy failure (not least a shameful neglect of basic   service provision for pastoralist communities); and (3) conflict   (most visibly in Somalia, also low-level violence in southern Ethiopia and   northern Kenya). Two common factors across all affected countries are   persistent droughts and a persistent failure to support the efforts of local   people to adapt to their increasingly marginal environments.

One   crisis, many responses

The first response must be compassion   – humanitarian relief needs to be fully supported at every level, from   individual donations to institutional advocacy. For many years, people in   northern Kenya’s arid and semi-arid districts have received food aid for   several months each year. More ambitious social protection interventions,   like the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) in northern Kenya and the   Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia, deliver regular cash transfers to 300,000 Kenyans and   over 8 million Ethiopians, with the aims of boosting consumption, protecting   household assets and promoting investment in livelihoods. The Centre for   Social Protection, based at IDS, is monitoring and evaluating the impacts of   HSNP and PSNP. Significant positive gains have been recorded in household   food security and other indicators of wellbeing.

In Somalia, prolonged civil conflict and insecurity and   an absence of government means that these forms of support are virtually   absent. However, the inability of conventional social protection to build   resilience against severe shocks has been dramatically exposed by the ongoing   emergency. Because the underlying causes of vulnerability in the Horn were   never systematically addressed, the crisis never really went away.

Second, better analysis is needed, not just to sharpen responses   to the current crisis but to reduce the likelihood of similar crises in   future. (1)   What caused the crisis?Drought was certainly the trigger, but understanding   causes requires analysing livelihoods, policy processes (in agriculture,   pastoralism, social protection) and national, regional and global politics. (2) How   severe is the crisis? How many people need immediate relief? How   badly affected are they? What assistance will they need to rebuild their   livelihoods once food aid stops? (3) Why was the response late?Did early warning   systems fail to sound the alarm? Or did governments and donor agencies fail   to respond, and if so, why?

Third, more effective risk management   mechanisms are needed. These could include: (1) making social protection   interventions more flexible, by scaling up the HSNP and PSNP in difficult   years, or (2) offering low-paid work on demand, along the lines of India’s   Employment Guarantee Scheme, or (3) subsidising weather-indexed crop and   livestock insurance schemes (this is being piloted in Kenya). Recent thinking   on ‘adaptive social protection’, which links social protection, climate   change adaptation and disaster risk management, shows how an integrated   approach can enhance resilience to shocks and stresses.

Finally, the most sustainable solution is to build more   resilient   livelihoods. This includes conflict resolution mechanisms and   lifting restrictions on mobility and cross-border trade. It also implies   supporting alternative livelihoods and exits from pastoralism for those who   choose this (but not forced sedentarisation). Governments need to invest   seriously in education, especially for girls, to empower the next generation   with the skills they need to pursue less climate-sensitive livelihood   options.

Act now,   plan for tomorrow

The humanitarian imperative to minimise avoidable   suffering demands that we act now. But equally important is to take steps to   minimise avoidable suffering in the future. Only by understanding what went   wrong this time can the links from early warning to response be strengthened,   effective risk management mechanisms installed and climate-sensitive   livelihoods made more resilient. Ultimately, this requires political   commitment at the highest levels. In the meantime, as individuals we must do   what we can. Please donate.

By Stephen Devereux ,  IDS Fellow.


See related discussions at:

Links to other resources For critical discussion of FOOD   AID:

Christian Aid:

Save the Children:

The Guardian News: