How to defend communities against land grabbing? Post your videos and photos on our platform!
Land Justice 4 West Africa is a social media platform meant to voice the concerns of farmers, especially women and small holders who are affected by large scale land acquisitions. We are looking for contributions from NGOs who are supporting communities to organize against the threat of losing their land in acquisition deals that were not negotiated in a participatory or transparent manner. Our lead question is: What are best practices to defend the interest of communities – what are the smartest ideas and tools to organize protest and negotiate with investors?
The Land Justice 4 West Africa platform is meant to collect knowledge of sustainable land use solutions and share these insights across the ECOWAS region between civil society and government actors, including the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.
Land grabbing is on the rise in the ECOWAS region. Farmland is one of the natural resources in sub-Saharan Africa where demand is high due to expected high yields, be it at stock markets or by sales as produce for bio-fuel. Governments within the ECOWAS zone see a potential resource to create income, to collect revenues and to find investors who speed up development and modernization. Whilst governments might see these investments as contributions to achieving food security, many agro-businesses invest in crops for the production of bio-fuel and ethanol with a focus on short- or long-term commercial profits with little regard to local food security issues.
In many cases, the large-scale acquisition of farmland deprives farmers of their livelihoods or seriously reduces their ability to make a living from subsistence agriculture. Some civil society organisations have started to focus on land issues and are mobilising communities across the ECOWAS region; however information and lobbying tools are not easily available to grassroots organisations.
The increase in foreign direct investment in land is taking place at the same time as ECOWAS countries are experiencing drought, desert encroachment and flooding. Communities, farmers, NGOs and Civil Society Organisations dealing with food security and climate change experience land grabbing as an additional threat. But how to organize to protect the interests of communities and female and male small holder farmers?
hbs is looking for contributions from NGOs who document their work on land issues as posts/contributions for the social media platforms Land Justice 4WA (FB…blog…). Each video and/or photo documentation should come along with a fact sheet stating facts & figures and give illustrations on the following guiding questions:
– What strategies did you use when you realized that the community was facing a land acquisition deal?
– How did you put this strategy in place? What tools did you use?
– Was the community mobilisation successful? Why? If it was less successful, why?
The WHY is almost more important than the WHAT, so feel free to share stories of success as well as of lack of success: as long as you explain the drivers behind the events (why did the community act/not act; why did the investors listen/ not listen), the story is worth sharing!
We are looking for illustrations of these stories to check on their veracity, to show the particular conditions of the communities concerned and to give a face to the main persons in the story. These illustrations could include:
– Photographs (of land and community in question)
– Portrays of people interviewed, with their quotes
– Videos (between 2 and 5 minutes, not longer)
– Audio clips
To give just a few examples, we would like to get stories such as:
• How a community set up land watch dogs
• Radio mobilizing
• How women mobilized to voice concerns
• Theater and music as campaign tools
• Documentation of traditional land rights
• Occupation of land
• Going to court
• How religious or traditional authorities supported their communities
• Any other story, as you best know it!
What’s in it for you?
– Your story will be uploaded on the Land Justice 4 West Africa platforms if it fulfills the above criteria
– hbs will give the first 20 stories a small grant of Euro 400 once they are agreed and uploaded
– Network members subscribed to the Land Justice 4 West Africa (www.landjustice4wa.org) will vote for the most appropriate stories to be presented to the ECOWAS committee on Land Policy reform, and hbs will sponsor the attendance of 6 NGOs for such presentation in 2014.
Check our blog http://www.landjustice4wa.org
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Program Manager Sustainable West Africa
Heinrich Böll Foundation Abuja
+234 903 38 77 689