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Witness Radio Milestones

Global agribusiness continues to displace rural communities



Global agribusiness continues to grow with harmful consequences for smallholder farmers and rural communities.

Land grabs facilitated by multinational corporations, foreign investors and local governments in a pursuit for agribusiness have been escalating during the last decade. Huge acquisitions of farmland have led to violent displacements of rural populations. Although reports of the practice are not as recurrent in the media, the problem is far from over.

Between 2006 and 2016, 491 land grabs(link is external) motivated by agriculture took place, amounting to 30 million hectares of land in 78 countries. The majority of where these land grabs happen are poor countries located in the global South. Although land grabbing received a lot more media attention in the early 2010s, the phenomenon has not disappeared.

According to an investigation by GRAIN(link is external), a recent example can be found in Kiryandongo, Uganda, where three foreign multinational companies, with support from the Ugandan government, have facilitated violent land grabs leading to the displacement of thousands of families.

Before their lands were taken, the locals farmed a variety of vegetables and fruit and kept animals. Now, the agribusiness companies have replaced the diverse farmlands with maize, coffee, sugarcane and soya, all of which is being exported elsewhere. One of the companies is also producing cereal for the United Nations World Food Programme whilst the local communities now suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

Many of the locals have had no other option than to start working for the very companies responsible for their displacement. Receiving inhumanely low wages and having to endure poor conditions the workers are also suffering physically from the heavy use of agrochemicals. Those who speak out about the vast injustices are being silenced through violent actions taken by company security forces and Ugandan officials.

Events like the ones taking place in Kiryandongo have not been rare during the past few decades. Multinational corporations, foreign investors and local governments are continuously putting profits before the livelihoods and rights of rural populations.

Resistance and mobilisation towards land grabs is increasingly growing on a global scale with social movements working together to question the power of corporations and governments. The most famous movement is perhaps La Via Campesina(link is external), bringing together rural communities, agricultural farmers and indigenous populations to fight for the rights of smallholder farmers in an era of neoliberal globalisation. Thanks to years of activism work by the movement, the UN General Assembly adopted the ‘United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas’(link is external) in 2018, giving hope for the future of rural livelihoods.

Whilst land grabbing(link is external) is not a new phenomenon, it became globally known after 2008 when the global food crisis led to a rush for farmland. Governments and multinational corporations were looking to produce food and biofuels due to both a fear of food insecurity and an increased desire for profits.

Land grabs are defined as the acquisitions of land by investors from smallholder farmers or rural communities. Often smallholder farmers and rural populations that communally utilise land do not have legal ownership over the lands their families might have been farming on for generations. This land is then falsely viewed by investors as empty excess lands that can be sold to them by local governments seeking profits. Those living or farming on these lands receive little to no compensation for their forced evacuations.

Original Source: Land Portal

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Witness Radio Milestones

Ugandan community files complaint to World Bank amid forced evictions



A community kickboxing academy marked for demolition by the Kampala Capital City Authority.

In 1998, Patrick Mwenza moved to the Kawaala settlement in Kampala, Uganda, where he built his family home and a few rental properties for additional income. But Mwenza — whose name has been changed to protect his identity — said that in 2013 the Kampala Capital City Authority tried to take his land to make way for a development project.

Though Mwenza, now 49, managed to keep his land after rejecting the compensation offered by the authority, he says some of his properties were destroyed during the diversion of the local Lubigi drainage channel, and he did not receive any financial assistance to rebuild them.

Seven years later, on Dec. 3, 2020, Mwenza and his neighbors woke up to find KCCA representatives accompanied by armed guards, distributing eviction notices around their village and placing a red “X” on many structures, which they said were intended for demolition to accommodate the expansion of the Lubigi drainage channel.

Though Mwenza’s property wasn’t marked with the dreaded “X,” he said he did find a pole in the middle of his compound, which marked where the next phase of the channel’s construction will begin — indicating that he should soon expect another eviction notice.

The expansion of the Lubigi drainage channel is part of the second phase of the World Bank’s Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project, KIIDP-2, a project with $175 million committed in the pipeline to enhance urban mobility.

During the first phase, in 2014, authorities constructed a channel diversion which Accountability Counsel — an international civil society organization that advocates for communities harmed by projects like this — said ran through the land of many local residents in Kawaala, as well as cut others off from easy access to schools and basic services.

 “This is a very stark example of failure to meet the World Bank’s own safeguard policies.”

— Caitlin Daniel, senior communities associate, Accountability Counsel

KIIDP-2 will expand on this channel diversion, widening it significantly. It is expected to lead to the eviction of more than 100 families across an area that is more than 1.5 miles long and 230 feet wide.

Accountability Counsel says neither KCCA nor the World Bank provided community members in Kawaala Zone II with adequate information on compensation and resettlement last year — as required by World Bank policies before issuing eviction notices.

In response to this, the community filed a complaint about the project to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel with the support of local NGOs, Witness Radio, and Accountability Counsel. The panel registered the case last month.

Caitlin Daniel, senior communities associate at Accountability Counsel, said many of the issues plaguing the first phase of the project haven’t been dealt with, and that — despite KCCA having had years to organize a resettlement process — the Kawaala Zone II community has been largely excluded from the process.

The organization believes that KCCA has been taking advantage of the community’s lack of awareness, driving affected community members through a rushed resettlement process — prioritizing project timelines over the livelihoods and the well-being of affected people and its equitable implementation.

Robi Mosenda, communities associate at Accountability Counsel in Kenya, alleged that KCCA has also used unscrupulous tactics such as threats, misinformation, and enforced surveys “to drive out this community.”

“There have been allegations of extortion and people asking for bribes to get higher values or figures for compensation,” he said, adding that, although many community members are illiterate, they’ve been asked to sign documents only to be never given copies. “Most of them just figured that this is a government agency and they will do whatever they want to do and we don’t have recourse against them.”

In the midst of all this, community members and civil society groups say that the World Bank has been largely absent, leaving KCCA frequently unsupervised. Community members aren’t clear about their rights in relation to a World Bank-funded project, Mosenda said, because nobody gave them that information.

“This is a very stark example of failure to meet the World Bank’s own safeguard policies,” Daniel explained. “These commitments that they have made to ensure that community members are not resettled without first receiving compensation and resettlement assistance — enough to make sure they are not any worse off than they were before the project began, and that just really clearly didn’t happen.”

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She added that COVID-19 further complicated the process, with World Bank personnel reluctant to travel to project sites. “But community members really strongly feel if the World Bank were there in person then the KCCA’s actions would be improved,” she said.

A representative from the World Bank’s country office in Uganda said that the bank cannot comment on an ongoing deliberation by their inspection panel.

Meanwhile, KCCA insists that the allegations leveled against the authority are false.

“It’s supposed to be a better place after we have finished the channel but because some people want a little money and their recognition, they hype it,” said KCCA spokesperson Daniel NuweAbine. “It is politics and the selfishness of individuals that want to keep our cities and our people … behind.”

NuweAbine claimed that the authority has “engaged and reengaged with the community,” and provided adequate compensation to those affected.

Those that have not been compensated, he said, illegally settled on the land after the first phase of the project — when the aforementioned compensations were already made — or bought land from owners who had previously received compensation. He blamed lawyers and civic groups for wanting “to be looked at as saviors” and misleading the community about how much their properties are worth.

The Accountability Counsel’s Daniel challenged KCCA’s assertion, citing a person whose proposed compensation amount was so low that it wouldn’t even cover administrative fees to obtain the documents that proved they owned the land.

“We are not rebelling [against] the project but we want to be compensated and leave the land for the project to go on,” said one 42-year-old woman, who has lived in Kawaala her whole life.

Jeff Ssebaggala, Uganda’s country director at Witness Radio, said the project’s problem is that it wasn’t community-led from the beginning.

“Development should be community-led,” he said. “No poor community would fight a development project, but people are not included.”

Original Source:

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Witness Radio Milestones

Kawaala residents protest expansion of Lubigi channel, want fair compensation



Community members in Kawaala Zone II in Kampala, Uganda have filed a complaint to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel following attempts to evict them from their homes and farmland without adequate compensation.

The eviction is intended to make way for the expansion of the Lubigi drainage channel, a project funded by the World Bank.

Their complaint comes just weeks after a declaration of a new Covid-19 lockdown in Kampala, leaving residents even more vulnerable to the impacts of eviction.

The residents want a fair and comprehensive resettlement process, following events last December
when excavators accompanied by armed guards began to evict residents, destroying homes and crops in
the process.

Before the fateful day, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) had distributed eviction notices throughout the area, requiring residents to vacate their land within 28 days.

The residents claim that they were not consulted or provided with compensation before evictions began, despite their recognised Kibanja land holding rights.

The drainage channel is part of a broader road and infrastructure project, the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project, which has been carried out in two phases.

This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.

In the complaint, the residents allege that the impacts from the 2014 channel diversion have never been rectified.

These are: increased flooding and a lack of safe walkways or bridges, which has led to at least one death.

They say the planned expansion will worsen the flooding issues, loss of family grave sites, and loss of homes and farmland, the income from which is used to pay children’s school fees.

Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, country director of Witness Radio said: “Since last December, the KCCA has
pushed residents through a rushed and problematic resettlement process, pressured them to sign
documents in English that they do not understand and used threats and other coercive tactics to convince
them to relinquish their land rights. With the Covid-19 pandemic currently ravaging Uganda, residents
are even more vulnerable to the impacts of forced displacement, yet the project and the forced
displacement process have continued.”

Robi Chacha Mosenda of Accountability Counsel explained that since the project is receiving funding from
the World Bank, it is subject to the Bank’s commitments to provide fair compensation and resettlement
assistance prior to evicting anyone for a project it finances.

“As these commitments have not been upheld,
Kawaala community members are turning to the World Bank’s independent accountability office, the
Inspection Panel, to demand the right to resettle themselves with dignity,” he said.

Original source: Nile Post

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farm news

Ibanda district issues total livestock ban over foot and mouth disease



A herdsman grazes cattle. Farmers and other stake holders are requesting for urgent intervention from policy makers in order to fight foot and mouth disease. 

Authorities in Ibanda district have banned all animal movements and sale of animal products in the district as a measure to curb Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

This was announced on June 2 by the district Veterinary Officer, Dr Hilary Arinaitwe, while meeting cattle farmers, milk vendors and butchers at the district’s headquarters.

“With effect from June 4, there will be no slaughtering of cows, goats, sheep and pigs and no selling of meat to consumers till further notice,” Dr Arinaitwe said.

“We have stopped the sale of meat, ‘muchomo’, pork and fresh Milk within the district until further notice because FMD has now spread to the Municipality,” he added.

Dr Arinaitwe said all milk dairies in the district have been ordered to close until when the disease has been defeated.

“The veterinary department has with immediate effect stopped all milk collectors and dealers in transportation of animal products such as butter, ghee, hides and skins,” he remarked.

Dr Arinaitwe said farmers should cooperate with authorities to fight the disease instead of selling infected animals and milk to the business people which makes containing the disease difficult.

“Many businessmen are buying animals from Kazo and Kiruhura districts which are also having the disease while others slaughter the cows and cover meat with tarpaulins and then sell it at night to the locals,” he revealed.

Dairy farmer Mr Amos Bakunda said persistent FMD outbreaks are caused by fake acaricides on the market.

“Veterinary doctors should fight that habit because it is one of the reasons why we are failing to fight FMD. If we had right acaricides by now the disease would have gone,” he said.

Mr Sulaiman Muhwezi, a butcher in Ibanda Municipality opposed to the ban said they have loans to meet and the ban predisposes them to further hardships.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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