An audience gathered for an evening of videos and discussion on Thursday 23rd May at Nexus Art Café in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. We heard first hand from two speakers; Elly Ahimidwe Kimaro, a Tanzanian biofuels and land campaigner, and Joy Mwakisambi, Kenyan food rights campaigner.
Joy Mwakisambi, Action Aid Activista, spoke about how Kenya is in the top thirty countries experiencing a hunger crisis. She cites climate change and land grabs as the main causes. As the demand for environmentally friendly fuels has grown, investors are seeking land for the production of biofuels. In Dakatcha woodlands in Kenya, twenty thousand people were moved from their land in order to produce jatropha crops. The
money which villagers received for their land was two thousand Kenyan shillings, less than sixteen British pounds and completely inadequate to support and feed a community.
There was then a brief but effective video in which Halima Weli talked about her experiences in the Kisarawe region.
NGOs have a vital role in providing this voice to those in power. Marginalised communities are identified with outreach work using knowledge of areas where populations have fled from fighting or where there are high concentrations of pastoralists or farmers.
A member of the audience asked, ‘Do people not have papers showing ownership?’ Joy described how Kenyans can assume that allotments given by the government are theirs and that the paperwork they have proves ownership. However, they are often unaware that they need to maintain payments for the land to retain this ownership, if they have not done this then it will be used as a reason to reclaim it.
Elly said that in Tanzania all land may be reclaimed by the government if it is deemed to be in the national interest. With no knowledge of how to fight for their land and the power of European and Asian investment companies it would be unlikely to be refused. As Elly said, the links between Europe and Africa are strong – as demand for biofuel increases in Europe there is a need for strong policies and a voice for those who rely on their land for food.
As Joy said, let’s join hands against this on the 8th of June. There are coaches down to Hyde Park (just £20 per person). For more information email Jo Chamberlain on: email@example.com or register online. Join the Thunderclap and act now to stop landgrabs.
Photo credited: Jokob Dall