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Indigenous organisations outraged by Ethiopia's government land deal with iconic land grabbing company

The Anywaa Survival Organisation (ASO) is outraged by recent news report that the Ethiopian government is providing a new lease of lands to the disgraced land grabber Karuturi Global Ltd.

A new report documents several years of failed land investments policies in Ethiopia, but once again indigenous peoples in Gambela, the western part of Ethiopia, fear for food insecurity and displacement as the Ethiopian government seems to has started leasing new land to private companies.

New report: Failed land investment policies

A recently published report by ASO reveals how previous attempts of the Ethiopian government to create development in Gambela and other remote parts of the country by introducing new land policies and a villagisation programme have failed. Huge areas were leased to companies which caused widespread evictions, food insecurity and conflicts amongst indigenous peoples in Gambela and other remote parts of the country.

“In Gambela, foreign and domestic investors have forced indigenous peoples out of their ancestral lands, which threatens their food security and ability to protect their natural environments and the ecological systems of the wetlands and forests,” says Nyikaw Ochalla, Executive Director of ASO in a press release.

ASO’s report also shows how the Ethiopian government has had to reconsider its commitment to the land investment policy given the mounting evidence of failed projects, corruption and violent conflicts. The former Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalgen, recently called for an enquiry into the mismanagement of loans for numerous agricultural projects supported by the land investment policy.

More land goes to land grabbers

Despite these findings, news about a new lease of 25.000 hectare land offered to the Indian owned Karuturi Global company has once again brought fear to the local communities because of this company’s previous history in the country.

In 2009-2010, Karuturi Global was awarded leases of 300.000 hectares in Gambela and other parts of Ethiopia for agricultural production. The investor never cultivated more than a few thousand hectares, but nevertheless evicted the local population living in the areas. In September 2017, Karuturi announced its impending departure, but it is now trying to get the Indian government to persuade Ethiopian authorities to give it another chance and with the recent news it seems like the company has succeeded.

“The on-going land grabbing in Ethiopia is exposing the country’s indigenous peoples to serious food insecurity and leads to destruction of their cultures and environments” explains Marianne Wiben Jensen, Senior Advisor and Team Coordinator for Land Rights in IWGIA.

New land investment strategy should be implemented

Instead of trying to breathe new life into the old land investment policy, ASO suggests that Ethiopia’s government should adopt the FAO-guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests fully, to improve their governance of tenure in order to achieve food security for all. The recognition and respect of all legitimate tenure right holders and their rights, including indigenous peoples’ rights, as well as their consultation and participation in all relevant decision making is one of its basic principles of implementation.

“We wish for speedy return of peace to our ancestral land and an end to violent conflicts against our community.” Said Oron Ojulu, Chairman of the Anywaa Community Association in North America in a press release.

Read and download the report here >>  
Read more about Ethiopia’s indigenous peoples’ and their current situation here >>

Tags: Land rights



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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