Explaining the links that connect the sugar in your Coke or Pepsi to the global scandal of land grabs that kick poor farmers off their land can be a long and winding story. That’s why we enlisted the help of the infographic design agency, Killer Infographics, to turn all of our data into one comprehensive picture of why we’re campaigning to stop land grabs! The results speak for themselves. Check it out, get the facts, take action and spread the word! Use your consumer power to speak up and tell the world’s biggest companies in the sugar industry to set a zero tolerance policy against land grabs.
Posts Tagged ‘land grabs’
Hunger is about power. Its roots lie in inequalities in access to resources and opportunities. For Harriet Nakabaale, a sliver of land next to her house in Uganda’s sprawling capital, Kampala, has given her the power to ensure not only that her family is well fed, but that the community around her sees what’s possible when enterprise meets with even a little bit of opportunity. Nakabaale has turned a 50-feet-by-32-feet chunk of hard urban ground into an oasis of green, bursting with fruits and vegetables.
“I’ve learned that wherever you put soil, you could grow a crop there,” says Nakabaale, who was determined to save money in an expensive city by growing everything that she could as soon as she got a place of her own. That place is now called “Camp Green,” a backyard enterprise that mixes intensive gardening with community education on urban agricultural practices.
This week, Nakabaale will be a featured speaker at Oxfam America World Food Day events in the Midwest and on the West Coast, where she’ll share her experiences as an urban gardener and innovator.
“What is important is to eliminate poverty,” says Nakabaale.”I try to lead the way so other people could do the same.”
Respecting the land, our common ground
The real magic in Nakabaale’s story is in the immense productivity that’s possible when land—even a tiny sliver—is treated with respect and used with great care. On her small city plot, Nakabaale grows everything from herbs to fruits to root vegetables. She raises poultry. She makes briquettes. She composts and recycles. A single mother of two children, Nakabaale makes a living that not only ensures the well-being of her family through a healthy diet but has provided her with income to help cover other important expenses, such as school fees.
“Anywhere weeds can thrive, crops can grow there, too,” says Nakabaale. “In Africa, we get hungry because we don’t know what to do with the soil we have, the land we have. It’s very important to people in urban areas to use the small space they have. If they use it profitably, it would help you cut the cost of living in town, which is very high. If you don’t cut costs, you’ll always buy and be poor forever.”
Urban families are not alone in facing the challenge of food security. Hard-working small-scale farmers around the world grapple with access to land and other vital resources such as water and seeds. A key to ensuring the world has enough to eat is making sure that farmers can hold onto the land that feeds us all—our common ground.
Since 2000, nearly 800 large-scale land deals covering more than 81 million acres have been recorded. In the past decade, an area of land four times the size of Portugal has been sold off to foreign investors globally. The crops grown after these deals have gone through rarely provide sustenance to the people who live there: In fact, more than 60 percent of foreign land investors in developing countries intend to export everything they produce on the land. Two-thirds of agricultural land deals by foreign investors are in countries with a serious hunger problem.
But families in those countries shouldn’t have to face such devastating losses. And no one should go hungry. Our bountiful planet can produce enough food to feed every man, woman and child –if we stand together, and if we learn from the wisdom of farmers like Harriet Nakabaale.
Take action to support farmers’ land rights around the world: Tell Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Associated British Foods to make sure their sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs.
Gerard Dougher is a new media specialist at Oxfam America. Find him on Twitter at @gdougher.
One day, less than a month after I moved to Luang Prabang, Laos, I woke up to the sound of coconut trees crashing down beside my house. When I walked outside to investigate, my landlord told me that the two families who had been living and working on that plot for years had been displaced by a new development.
This was my first, but not my last, experience, with land grabs: land deals that happen without the free, prior, and informed consent of communities, and that often result in farmers being forced from their homes and families left hungry.
Before joining Oxfam, I spent two years researching land rights issues in Luang Prabang—a city recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique architecture, urban layout, and natural heritage. Truly visually stunning, Luang Prabang’s heritage rests not only in its landscape, but in the diversity of agricultural methods the local community has used for decades.
Throughout the city, families use all available land to grow food both for sustenance and as a secondary source of income. These activities occur in every imaginable space: from sizable rice paddies, swamps in between houses (yes, you can grow food in swamps!), the city’s riverbanks, and in large urban gardens. With little arable land and expensive food imports as the only alternative, it is not an exaggeration to say that land used for urban agriculture has been a lynchpin in the long-term sustainability of Luang Prabang.
Sadly, as in so many other communities throughout the developing world, land grabs have threatened Luang Prabang’s sustainability, resulting in the uprooting of families, displacement of farmers, and destruction of income sources and food supplies. While I lived there, urban agricultural plots were uprooted and sold off to build luxury hotels and restaurants. A tent city popped up to house families displaced by infrastructure projects. Farmers were squeezed off of the city’s riverbanks to make way for hotel patios. What was most disturbing about all of these events is that they always affected the city’s most vulnerable people.
1. “No farms, no food” is more than a bumper sticker.
If you’ve ever planted a vegetable garden, weeded a field, or just spent a day picking berries at a local farm, you know the equation: to grow food, you need land. No matter where we live, we rely on the soil itself for fresh, healthy local crops.
But right now the farmland that sustains millions of families is at risk. According to American Farmland Trust—creators of the “No farms, no food” slogan—the US is losing an acre of farmland every minute. (I’ve seen this happen in my own hometown, where developers turned a family-owned apple orchard into a condo complex.)
In developing countries, the rush for land is even more intense. In the past decade, nearly 800 large-scale land deals have been recorded, covering more than 81 million acres. Although these large-scale land deals are often being struck to grow food, the crops grown on the land rarely feed nearby communities. Instead, the land is used to grow profitable crops, often for export.
2. Families are being kicked out of their homes.
Imagine waking up one day to be told you’re about to be evicted from your home. That you no longer have the right to remain on land that you’ve lived on for years. And then, if you refuse to leave, being forcibly removed. How would you feel? What would you do to fight back?
For many in developing countries, this is a familiar story. They’re among the communities worldwide affected by land grabs: land deals that happen without the free, prior, and informed consent of communities and that often result in farmers being forced from their homes and families left hungry.
For example, in the Sre Ambel district of Cambodia, 200 families are fighting for land from which they were evicted in 2006 to make way for a sugar plantation. The families say their lives have been devastated because they no longer have anywhere to grow crops or graze their livestock. Their experience isn’t unique: Oxfam’s research into land rights and conflicts has identified similar cases in South America, Africa, and beyond.
3. Our global sugar rush is adding to the problem.
Okay, let’s just admit it: Americans love sugar. And we’re not alone. Global demand for sugar is set to rise by 25 percent by 2020.
Unfortunately, our sugar cravings are harming more than our health. As global demand for sweets increases, so does the rush for land to grow sugarcane. As a result, many small farmers are being kicked off their land—losing their homes, their food, and their income in the process—to make way for giant sugar plantations.
Do the world’s biggest food companies really listen to their customers? Six months ago, you helped prove that they do. More than 125,000 of you joined Oxfam in our Behind the Brands campaign, an effort to hold the 10 biggest food and beverage companies accountable for the impacts of their policies on global hunger and poverty. Often, these are the companies behind the food and beverage brands that you buy every day:
As consumers, you made your voices heard—signing petitions, spreading the word on social media, and even getting involved in events around the country. And the best part of all of this buzz is that it works! In March, your efforts persuaded Mars, Mondelez International, and Nestlé to make big changes in their policies on women’s rights and to take steps to ensure equality for women in their cocoa supply chains. That created a domino effect that motivated other big companies to do their part, improve their policies, and help fix the global food system.
Now, as our momentum is building, we’re getting ready to call on companies again, but we can’t do it without you. Beginning next week, we will call on you to join us in another Behind the Brands action. The targets and details of this campaign are top secret until October 2, but this exclusive video gives you a hint of things to come:
Just as you spoke up in March in support of women cocoa farmers, you can also help make a difference for communities affected by land grabs. Sign up at behindthebrands.org for the latest updates, and check back on October 2 to find out more about how you can join the effort!
A couple of months ago, we invited you to submit your photos and videos to produce a crowd-sourced video set to an acoustic version of Coldplay’s “In My Place.” Now, we can share the resulting film, which is drawn from footage submitted by thousands of fans in 55 countries:
The concept and film was created by award-winning director Mat Whitecross to echo the dislocation and displacement thousands of families experience as a result of land grabs. (For one example, see this compelling series of photos of families affected by land grabs in Cambodia).
The film shows people from Argentina to Indonesia moving something favorite, personal, or familiar from their home to somewhere it doesn’t belong. Others show people doing something personal and familiar totally out of place, such as actor Dominic Cooper taking a nap outside in the freezing city of Budapest and the band Wolf Gang jamming in the street. Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran also makes an appearance holding a sign in support.
Coldplay, who have been working with Oxfam since 2003, said they were happy to break new ground with a crowd-sourced video. “Not only are Coldplay fans very good-looking but they’re also incredibly creative,” said the band. “We’re proud that they’ve dedicated their collective talent to this important cause.”
A community of 1,367 families were uprooted from central Phnom Penh in June 2006 and forcibly relocated to open swamp land in Andong, 13 miles from the city and their livelihoods.
Why? To make way for a shopping mall that is yet to be built.
Acclaimed photographer Emma Hardy traveled to Cambodia to capture the story of this community and others, fighting to reclaim their rights to own, inhabit, and work the land they once owned. She describes what she saw in Andong slum:
“Seven years on, these families are still waiting for public services. Their latrine is an open field. Water for washing and cooking is piped in rickety plastic hoses at uncertain times of day and stored in large open earthenware jars standing in shockingly-polluted water. In the rainy seasons most makeshift homes are practically submerged in sewage water. In drier months, the stench is overwhelming. Dysentery is rife. Dengue fever and cholera are chronic. These relocated communities have not, to date, received ‘even one grain of rice in compensation.’”
Below are five photos from Hardy, some of which will be featured in a pop-up gallery exhibit in Washington, DC, from April 10th to the 21st. (See invite here.) The exhibit was created in support of Oxfam’s efforts to bring attention to global land grabs and was first featured in The Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine.
The pictures speak for themselves.
(1) Street view, Andong slum
(2) Woman collecting water snails for food
(3) Slum dog
(4) Sor Sat, Executive Director of the Cambodian non-profit, Action for Environment and Communities, after a long meeting
(5) Daughter of land activists at a meeting
Around the world, a rush to grab land is underway. Land the size of the California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico combined was sold off globally in the last decade, enough to grow food for the one billion people who go hungry today.
The World Bank influences how land is bought and sold on a global scale. It has the power to step in and play a vital role in stopping land injustice.
Now, just before the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, encourage the World Bank to take action to halt the speed and scale of land grabbing around the world. Let them know the world is watching. Add your voice here.
Longtime supporters of Oxfam’s work know that we have a long and creative history of working with our global ambassadors, Coldplay. This week, we’ve taken this collaboration to new creative heights with the announcement of a crowd-sourced project that asks fans of the band to contribute to a video highlighting the global injustice of land grabs. Every two days, an area of land the size of Chicago is sold to foreign investors in developing countries; two-thirds of those investors plan to export everything they produce on the land – in some cases, destroying local food supplies in places where food insecurity is already dangerously high and forcing many people to go hungry.
For their contributions to the video, participants will move a favorite, personal, or familiar item from their home to somewhere it doesn’t belong, or do a personal, everyday, or familiar activity that they’d usually do at home, in totally the wrong place.The video, which will be set to an exclusive just-for-Oxfam acoustic version of the classic “In My Place,” will be stitched together by Coldplay’s music video and film director Mat Whitecross.
The project has already received quite a bit of attention in the mainstream media, the music press, and on Sirius/XM Radio. For more information on how to participate in the project, check out the widget above.
Ian Sullivan is an online campaigner for Oxfam.
Imagine waking up one day to be told you’re about to be evicted from your home. Being told that you no longer have the right to remain on land that you’ve lived on for years. And then, if you refuse to leave, being forcibly removed by hired thugs.
Thankfully, this scary situation is one that most of us will never have to face. However, for many communities in developing countries, it’s a scandal that’s on the increase. It’s what’s known as a land grab – a land deal behind closed doors that often results in farmers being forced from their homes and families left hungry. Read the rest of this entry »