Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What “Land Grabbing" is

This is just a section of my response from a discussion about Land investment and its difference from Land grabbing.

The term land grab refers to the purchase or lease of vast tracts of land by wealthier, food-insecure nations and private investors from mostly poor, developing countries in order to produce crops for export.

1.       Is land leasing always considered as land grabbing?

No, Land investment is not always considered as Land grabbing.Land investment can be seen as a means of poverty-reduction and means of creating jobs, building schools and health posts as these are the standard in any land acquisition agreement. It becomes land grabbing when deals and negotiations are not transparent and are not made between the existing local land holders and the foreign investors .This deal has to be made through prior and free consent to fulfill the need of the indigenous and other marginalized ethnic group. The deal also needs to respect the existing customary and common rights [Land rights].As we know ,in Ethiopia, land is owned by state and the 80% of the population that lives of farming mostly has a non formal title to the land and have been using it under customary tenure arrangements.

The other case that makes land acquisition a grabbing is when the benefit is not shared as the local community SHOULD NOT lose from any foreign investment and the bargains should be made in equal term .For instance relocations should be smooth not only voluntary and proper grazing land for their cattle, fuel wood should be available and the promised skilled and non skilled jobs should be made available with the proper wage. The other reason is adherence to national trade policies. When national food security is at risk (for instance, this year Ethiopia will have scarce of food for 3 million people from acute drought), domestic supplies should have priority. Foreign investors should not have a right to export during an acute national food crisis.   

2. How much percent of the total amount of land is leased compared to all cultivable land that we have ?
1.8 million hectares of farmland to Indian investors for 70 years.
250,000 hectares of land to the Saudi Star Agriculture Development Company.
Sold hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in Gambella for $1 a year "lease".
Land leased by unknown private investors(Saudi Arabia) in exchange for US$100 million investment
5,000 hectares secured by Dubai World Trading Company (UAE) in joint venture fortea
13,000 hectares secured by FloraEcoPower (Germany) for biofuel crops; contract farming arrangement
Land secured by Sun Biofuels (UK) forjatropha (biofuel)

3.       We don't have liquidity and the required equipments for large scheme farming therefore leasing the land to whoever has such capacity to produce is best alternative because the other alternative is sleeping on the land.

Ethiopia has given pieces of land for 815 investors for the past 5 years. Foreign investment can provide key resources for agriculture, including development of needed infrastructure and expansion of livelihood options for local people. If large-scale land acquisitions cause land expropriation or unsustainable use, however, foreign investments in agricultural land can become politically unacceptable. It is therefore in the long-run interest of investors, host governments, and the local people involved ensuring that these arrangements are properly negotiated, practices are sustainable, and benefits are shared. Because of the transnational nature of such arrangements, no single institutional mechanism will ensure this outcome. Rather, a combination of international law, government policies, and the involvement of civil society, the media, and local communities is needed to minimize the threats and realize the benefits.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Failed prevention or made up ? - Jimma

     It has been three months since we are held in a fire of revolt that have shocked the world. North Africa and the Middle East autocratic regimes are affect one way or another. Some totalitarians, those of Tunisia and Egypt, have fallen and some are on the way. This fever of revolution has inspired many states and the people that are oppressed and ruled under an autocratic regime, making the sits of the dictators to burn ever than before.

    The regional responses varied to a level of extreme cruelty as in the case if Libya, Bahrain and Sudan nevertheless the case of Djibouti, Algeria, morocco and Jordan are still being blazing. The revolutions were initiated by the youth who have come from the different walks of life, poor, rich professionals, and laymen. What united them was the common question of freedom. This has cleaned the dust off the question in the minds of many Ethiopians making them think of the possibilities of struggling for an oppression-free Ethiopia.
     In the midst of all this, we were intercepted with an incident in Jimma, Church burnings that left two people dead and many to be displaced. This has made the communities, involved in the violence, furious. Christians have responded condemning the act and action taken by the government as being too late.
The Prime minister said that kawarja ,an extremist group, is responsible for the violence and are now hunting down and arresting those claimed to be suspects for committing the crime. Tension is understandable and justice to the victims is a must as it is essential to hold the vicious cycle of revenge but it is often essential to know and understand the underlying cause and the instigating force of such violence.
    In a country like Ethiopia where such sectarian clashes are rare, the one thing that cannot be ruled out is that the institution through which the state power of justice is exercise has failed to create fear in individuals of the possibility of being punished particularly in a region like Jimma where prior cases of conflict have occurred. As a result perpetrators who claim to represent one set of community can systematically instigate violence that can result in mass atrocities. 
     On the other hand, for a regime that oppresses and dictates its people ,people revolution in neighboring countries creates a concern of being next in the queue of being toppled.Consequently shifting the attention  and engaging the public in a local conflict that is deterring the unity of sects from maintaining integrity and raising the question of freedom and democracy is a way of trying to buy time or preventing similar upraising from happening.
    In any one of the correlation between the popular upraising in ME and intentionally provoked violence or a mass violence and state that can't reinforce peace, the outcome is only one.The people should continue to be aware and to question the state that has failed to vindicate the basic rights for its citizens.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Women’s Day, all you Ladies!!! J
Enjoy the day and make guys do all the work today! ;-)

What is your name ?


Missionaries in Africa were the upper hand in the conquest of invasion. There is an often repeated comment (a favorite with Archbishop Tutu), “When the white man arrived, he had the Bible and we had the land; now, we have the Bible and he has the land.” It is factual; in the process with the aim of making colonization complete, defacing the identity of a society is a stipulation – mother tongue given names being one.

Cultural and religions influence on names
Cultural products and norms vary across space and places as the human function changes spatially. Best example for this is the Yoruba people of West Africa, which is the largest ethnic group having its own language and religion, a religion which is interestingly comprised of the songs, histories and other cultural concepts which make up the Yoruba society. Yoruba people consider babies as the biggest gift and glorify the coming of a new life to this world as a greatest blessing. Giving names to babies has its own ceremony and convention which is exclusive only to Yoruba where as names are, at some regions, shared across culture with a slightly varying spelling. As in the case of Slovak people who share many names with Bulgarian, Czech, Polish and Russian people.  

South Indian names tend to be mainly dedicated to the Hindu gods or the chosen class.For instance the name Balasubramaniam, derived from Sanskrit and meaning dear to the Brahmins – Brahmins are the upper class society of priests who are considered as the keepers of the belief. Same trend is since in Muslim names a new born is given a name probably in Arabic that uses names of prophets or the name of god (Asmaul Husna ) to give an honorable and beautiful name to newborns ,as it is considered that the names given to a person influences character.

As Ethiopia practiced Judaism in the pre-Christian times and even in the post-Christian some of traditions have been passed to the generations till present day. This tie is strongly seen in the common names between Jew and Ethiopian culture; both having Biblical influence. Judaic name are obviously more from the Old Testament where as Ethiopian Christian names a mixed of both.

Now-a-days Ethiopian Christian names are extremely becoming Biblical that it is hard to find names that are culturally proverbial. Even though it is palpable to see such a devotion to ones own faith it is at times concerning that this might eventually cause a disconnect between culture and identity. And this for two reasons:

Biblical names, even though the Bible is translated in different language, are not translated to the local dialect rather the pronunciation may be different for instance Naomi (ኖአሚን) is a Hebrew name which has a meaning of "enjoyment" which could be beautifully translated to Haset (ሃሴት) yet it is seen to be used largely as it is.

Consequently, using these names will deter the creation or birth of new local names. Names like Amran (አምራን) is rarely discovered.


Friday, March 4, 2011

What is your name ?

Have you ever wondered about what would happen if people didn’t have names and everybody was a random he, she, him, her, that girl, this lad? And every one would identify each other as the square faced, crooked nosed or the granny smile? Making everything and every bit of distinct feature that a person has, to be used for identification? Weird.