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AEGIS Conference of African Studies 2011 - Uppsala [Land grabbing in Gambella: is there land and water available for all?]

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AEGIS Conference of African Studies 2011 - Uppsala [Land grabbing in Gambella: is there land and water available for all?]

  1. 1. ‘ Land Grabbing’ in Gambella: Is there Land and Water Available for All? Ana Elisa Cascão / Gonçalo Mota Center of African Studies – IUL [ISCTE/IUL] Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)
  2. 2. GAMBELLA – History of resource-based conflicts <ul><li>The setting </li></ul><ul><li>Marginalised and underdeveloped region </li></ul><ul><li>Political instability </li></ul><ul><li>Federal/regional complexity </li></ul><ul><li>Population movements </li></ul><ul><li>Spillover effects from Southern Sudan </li></ul><ul><li>Distorted local economy/agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>The competition(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Competition for land and water – farmers, pastoralists, new comers </li></ul><ul><li>Problematic land tenure </li></ul><ul><li>Patterns of cooperation and conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Competition for political power </li></ul><ul><li>Instrumentalisation of identity politics </li></ul><ul><li>The environment? </li></ul>Gambella region
  3. 3. GAMBELLA – The environment <ul><li>Vast water supplies and fertile land </li></ul><ul><li>But... </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing ecological degradation/deforestation </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing pressure over riverian areas </li></ul><ul><li>Potential land grabbing </li></ul>Baro River Akobo River Sobat River Gilo River White Nile River
  4. 4. Marginalisation despite resources <ul><li>Marginalisation in the Ethiopian context </li></ul><ul><li>Sparsely-populated </li></ul><ul><li>Resources: forests, natural park, wildlife, gold and other minerals, and very likely oil </li></ul><ul><li>... and land and water </li></ul>
  5. 5. The myth of the ‘virgin land’ Alwero project Cotton fields Villagisation Mengistu (1980s): ‘ we will resettle 1.5 million people in the virgin lands of southern Ethiopia’ Meles Zenawi (2011): “ We do not want to admire the virgin beauty of our land while we starve”
  6. 6. 2000s: new race to the ‘virgin lands’ of Gambella? <ul><li>First visit to Gambella (2007): if there is so much land and water available, why it is not being developed? </li></ul><ul><li>Remoteness of region </li></ul><ul><li>Risky environment for investment because of conflict in Southern Sudan and in Gambella itself </li></ul><ul><li>Plenty of interest for the region by Al-Amoudi: for agriculture development, for the timber, for the gold, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Constantly blocked by the regional government </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Passive resistance’ </li></ul>
  7. 7. 2008: The global ‘tipping point’ <ul><li>Spikes in global food prices (and fuel) – race for FDI </li></ul><ul><li>Ethiopia: attractive fertile land + urgent need for foreign investment </li></ul>Public ownership of land as a ‘trojan horse’ of PM Meles Zenawi (despite liberal trends or customary land rights) ‘ Land as an economic asset’ (commercial, diplomatic relations, foreign currency)
  8. 8. Solution: Leasing contracts <ul><li>Long-term land leases (50 to 100 years) </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap land: at a price of less than USD 2 per hectare/year </li></ul><ul><li>Low taxes </li></ul><ul><li>Access to fertile land </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes even access to existing infrastructures (e.g. Alwero Dam) </li></ul><ul><li>Free access to the water resources ( KEY) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>GAMBELLA </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(since 2009): </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1 million hectares, nearly a quarter of its farmland, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>to 896 companies </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Two main agri-business projects Saudi Star/ Al-Amoudi Location: Alwero/Abobo, irrigation potential   Size: 10,000 ha Production: Mainly rice Impacts? Trade-offs Karuturi The company: world's top 25 agri-businesses Location: Baro banks Size: 100,000 ha(and further 200,000 ha) Production: Palm oil (20,000), Sugar cane (15,000), 40,000 ( rice and cereals) Impacts? many
  10. 10. ‘ Land Grab’ or Development Opportunity?
  11. 11. Water for all? <ul><li>Increasing deforestation, in particular of the river banks </li></ul><ul><li>Impacts on ecological balance and wildlife </li></ul><ul><li>Impacts on the soils of water-intensive agriculture [e.g. erosion] </li></ul><ul><li>Impacts on water allocation [agriculture/pastoralism/environment/downstream] </li></ul>
  12. 12. Thanks! [email_address]

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