Community Cafe

Land and water grab

Claudia Casarotto
Started by Claudia Casarotto on
11 Jul 2012 at 09:21
Deputy Country Director - Kenya , Innovations for Poverty Action
Know-how: Sustainable Agriculture, Energy, Basin Irrigation, Water

In many developing countries, the objective to ensure food and water security is hindered by investment deals that target productive farmlands and, of course, their underlying water. In many regions of the world we now see a process that can be defined as “water grabbing”, a situation where valuable water resources are controlled by powerful actors who use them for the own benefit, while local communities are deprived of the resources and the livelihood that depends on it.

What do you think about foreign investments in land? How do you think they impact the countries’ water resources? Which are the positive and negative aspects?

You can also read some recent and very interesting publications in the Documents folder of the Community Café. Feel free to share more documents and information and let me know your view on the land-water grab issue!


Claudia Casarotto
A recent paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, describes land grabbing as a "new form of colonialism that has intensiļ¬ed in the last four years, initially in response to the 2007 to 2008 increase in food prices". On the other side, "the interests of foreign land purchasers can be reconciled with those of developing countries if land grabbing can be used as a means to create new jobs and bring in investment and technological advances".
Read the article on:
Claudia Casarotto
Foreign investments in land and water can indeed have positive effects in terms of employment and efficient exploitation of natural resources. On the other side, I fully agree with you: appropriate management and security of land and water rights should be in place to ensure fairness in such deals and safeguard the livelihoods of the poorest rural people. FAO is trying to promote the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure by investors, but they have not been embraced by many countries yet. on the other side, this recent Oxfam report ( denounces how the new wave of investments in foreign land damaged the small scale farmers and hinders their rights and interests. Private companies and foreign governments should take responsibility and accept rule to fairly govern land deals... but how could this be achieved?
Yogesh Agrawal
With ever increasing population and commercial, industrial activities more and more land is required for residential / commercial buildings and development activities. All these activities require more and more water. The land is limited, therefore as in India, people are doing their construction activities on the land belonging to natural drainage channels like rivers and their tributaries, ponds, lakes, etc. Construction on such lands also ensures availability of sufficient ground water for their needs. The laws are already in force. But when influential people of society are involved in such activities, the government hesitate to take stern action. I have already written an article on these issues. In my opinion, the problem is enforcing laws in proper manner to protect land and water .
Destin Grace Gerard Sakamesso
i agree with Stephen, i think that the foreign investment in land is a good thing, but the real problem is the management
Stephen Siwila
In my view foreign investment in land is not bad at all as long as the citizens of a respective nation are given first priority in terms of land allocation especially taking care of the poor. Land-water grabbing can be highly avoided and properly handled if the water and laws adequately cover such issues in a transparent and straight forward way. Some activities e.g. mining have both negative and positive impacts for instance in my country we the mining de-watering contributes to water availability while mining causes water pollution if not carefully handled. Farming is another way of foreign investment on land and likewise also poses danger on water by excessive withdraws of both surface and ground water and pollution of water resources by chemicals. In both examples the poor of the land are employed and paid very little money and hence don't mind taking care of water and land. Other investors are more interested in obtaining profits than in sustainable development, etc.
Greg Majersky
It won't stop until national and regional official stand up instead of taking the bribe money and running. Or perhaps a band of local "freedom fighters" interferes with the intended operation.
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