Five alarming land grabbing cases

Extractive industries remain a concrete threat to indigenous communities and this year's The Indigenous World 2018 describes many cases of land grabbing from indigenous peoples. In this article we take a closer look at some of the examples.

In many countries forced evictions and land grabbing in the name of conservation, development and investments continues its encroachment with impunity. This was thoroughly documented by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in its report on extractive industries and their impact on indigenous peoples published in 2017 and the Extractive Industries Report by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2016.

Infrastructure project across indigenous land

In Kenya, the US$25.5 billion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Project bridging Kenya’s coast to Cameroon cuts across indigenous peoples’ territories. This large-scale infrastructure project will potentially affect small farmers, hunter-gatherers, fishing and pastoralist communities, who have consistently raised concerns regarding implementation of the project, which is taking place without due regard for tenure or resource rights.

National parks triggering forced evictions

Land grabbing and land conflicts in Tanzania continued to be related to the expansion of national parks. In 2017, protests continued against the invasion of rangelands in West Kilimanjaro by the Tanzania National Parks Authority, which in 2016 left maasai without their entire territory of 5,500 acres, upon which they and their livestock depend heavily for their survival. The forced evictions in Loliondo (northern Tanzania) were also a clear example of land grabbing in 2017. These attempted evictions, carried out in the name of “wildlife conservation”, gained international attention when the Ngorongoro District Commissioner issued an order to evict legally-registered village lands in the vicinity of Serengeti National Park. Maasai houses were burnt to the ground and most of their property destroyed, leaving families without any shelter, food or water.

Agricultural investment without consultations

In Ethiopia, the government continues to lease vast fertile farmlands to foreign and domestic companies, directly affecting indigenous peoples along the Ethiopian lowlands-Gambela, Benis-Hangul-Gumuz and the Lower Omo Valley. With the aim of increasing agricultural investment,indigenous land is unfairly labelled by the government as “underutilised” and indigenous peoples are thereby being dispossessed of their lands and their food security seriously undermined. These lands comprise an estimated 11 million hectares and are the source of livelihood for about 15 million indigenous peoples – pastoralists, small-scale farmers and hunter-gatherers – whose customary land rights are being constantly violated.

The danger of mining

In 2017, Mexico ranked as the fourth most dangerous country for activists to defend land rights. This fact is directly linked to the 29,000 mining, hydroelectric and wind power concessions currently active in the country, over 35% of its national territory. Half of the operations on this area run on indigenous territory.

Hydropower affecting indigenous communities

In Cambodia, the largest hydropower source was carried through to near-completion in 2017 with total opposition from indigenous communities. In December 2017, the government redoubled its lack of respect of their rights by announcing that more than 30,000 hectares around the dam would also be converted into economic land concessions. Large-scale investment continues to expand in Laos, especially due to a dam-building spree, including 72 new large dams, 12 of which are under construction and nearly 25 in the advanced stages of planning. These hydropower development plans give rise to the forced removal of indigenous peoples, with 100 families reported as victims in 2017.

All the above cases are described more thoroughly in this years edition of The Indigenous World 2018 that you can download for free 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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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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