LAND GRABBING AND RURAL LIVELIHOOD SUSTAINABILITY: EXPERIENCES FROM THE BUI DAM CONSTRUCTION IN GHANA

ABSTRACT
This study investigated the effects of the large scale agricultural land grabbed for the Bui Dam project on the livelihoods of the affected people. The methods used to carry out this study were the interviewer administered questionnaire and unstructured interview as well as observation. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected through the use of interviewer questionnaire administration, interview guide, focus group discussions and observations. A total of 142 household heads were interviewed, while some key informants such as chiefs and community development officers of the district assemblies were also interviewed. The descriptive statistical tools and the t-test of the Statistical Package for the Social Scientist (SPSS) and excel software were employed to analyse the quantitative data whilst content analysis was applied to qualitative data with the result presented in the form of direct quotations. The study revealed that local food crop production and the quantity of fish catch have declined after the land grabs. Equally, it was found that income annual levels of the local people have fallen after the Bui Dam project. It was also found that the land grabbing incident in the study communities as a result of the Bui Dam construction has brought about improvements in the physical assets of the affected people. On the contrary, the local people‟s access to the natural capital, especially the land for agricultural activities has been worsened. In addition, it was found that the land grabbing situation resulted in conflict between some communities and the Bui Power Authority. Finally, it was revealed that the most popular coping strategy for women after the Bui dam project was petty trading whilst that of the men was casual work, popularly called „by-day‟ in the Ghanaian society. The study recommends the introduction of a comprehensive livelihood enhancement programme such as skill training for the youth and the landless group of people in the study communities by the Bui Power Authority and the district assemblies. This would enable them to promote their livelihood sustainability.


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
Over the years, there has been a rise in the grab for land for dam construction and other large scale projects throughout the world which has attracted much attention concerning their impacts on livelihoods of people (Scott and Pearse, 2012). The concept „land grabbing‟ also called large-scale land acquisition refers to land acquisitions or purchases, often involving tens or even hundreds of thousands of hectares (Friends of the Earth, 2010). Simply put, the concept „land grabbing‟ describes the large-scale purchases or leases of agricultural or forest land on terms that are detrimental to the interest of the people already living on the land (Cotula, 2012). The phenomenon of land grabbing is not new. Globally, there are many examples across centuries of human history because before the era of colonialism vast lands were taken through territorial wars (Cotula et al., 2009). The current trend of land grabs for example, is not essentially different from the previous struggles over land. What is different is the scale and speed at which they are occurring now (White et al., 2012).

The initially flagged culprits for land grabbing were food-importing nations like the Gulf States (South Korea, United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, China) driven by their perception that it was no longer prudent to rely on market-sourcing of foods, as they had in the past (Hall, 2012). The core actors of land grabbing however, are the private sector such as banks, investment house and government (Ministries, state owned enterprises) (Cotula et al., 2009; cited in GRAIN, 2014). Recently, the European Union (EU) has also been heavily implicated in land grabbing. This is manifested directly through the involvement of European Union capital and corporations in the takeover of land, and indirectly through the suite of European Union (EU) policies such as renewable energy directives which are transforming land into a global commodity (McMichael, 2012). For example, the European Union legislation in 2009 that 20 percent of all energy used in the European Union and 10 percent of each member state‟s transport fuel must come from renewable energy sources by the year 2020. This caused the influx of most European countries into Africa to secure land to meet their targets (Schaffnit, 2012). This desire to achieve energy and food sufficiency explains why rich individuals, international and multi-national corporations and governments are playing active roles in the recent business of land grabbing in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe (Cotula et al., 2009).

The growing debates on „land grabs‟ have often tended to focus mostly on the international drivers of the current trend of land transactions in developing economies with very little attention to the motivations of domestic governments, that play an essential role in promoting land deals (GRAIN, 2008; Cotula et al., 2009). Domestic governments are of the belief that responsible large scale investments in agriculture on grabbed lands can play crucial developmental roles, including addressing food crisis, employment creation, foreign revenue generation and technological transfers. Hence, they have been playing significant roles in promoting land grabbing recently (McMichael, 2012; Cotula et al., 2009). In many instances, domestic governments instead of protecting the rights and interest of local communities and land right-holders, they rather align themselves with investors, welcoming them with low land prices and other incentives, and even helping to clear the local inhabitants from their own lands (Cotula et al., 2009).

Globally, the available statistics on land grabbing indicate 66.2 percent for Africa, Asia (21 percent), Americas (8.2 percent), Europe (2.3 percent) and Oceania also representing 2.3 percent. Also, there are 1,217 publicly reported cases of land grabs, of which 62 percent projects covering a total area of 56.2 million hectares are located in Africa, while some 17.7 million hectares are reported in Asia, and 7 million hectares in Latin America. The remaining 2.2 million hectares are in other regions, particularly Eastern Europe and Oceania (Anseeuw et al. 2012; cited in Malkamuu and Zakaaryaas, 2012).

Not long ago, many rural African dwellers could boast of having land as one of the most tangible assets that they could utilise in perpetuity, but today many livelihoods are insecure because such assets such as land is becoming lucrative for investors (Cotula et al., 2009). As a result, several nations and wealthy individuals are currently purchasing poor countries‟ livelihood resources, including land and water bodies at very low rates as compared to the livelihoods that can be generated from the land for the local residents (Hall, 2012). Today, Africa has become the hub of land as many foreigners consider the continent as a place with available lands that are still not being used completely by local inhabitants (Dyer, 2009). Although land dispossession of the local occupants has been a continuous process over centuries, such dispossessions in countries like Mozambique, Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania are bigger now with dire consequences on livelihoods when compared with the situation in the early 1990‟s (Birega and Botto, 2008). In Zimbabwe for example, large scale land deals now concentrate on biofuel production. Gamela, a region in Ethiopia is also a home to one of the worse forms of land grabbing in the World (GRAIN, 2011).

In Ghana, the issue of large scale land acquisition is not new. In the Tongu District of the lower Volta in the Volta region for example, a total of 1,250 hectares of farmland used by the local communities for subsistence agriculture was grabbed by the Parairie Rice of Texas USA (Atafori and Aubyn, 2012).

The dramatic rise in land grabbing cases across Africa and elsewhere originated principally from three main drivers, popularly called the‟ triple-F „crisis‟ (food, fuel and finance). The food spikes in the 2007/08, rising and fluctuating oil prices in the 2007/09 and the meltdown in international financial market in the late 2009 showed how insecure nations are to global commodities of food, fuel and finance, hence compelling many countries to engage in land transactions in developing nations, especially in sub- Saharan Africa (Lorenzo et al., 2009).

Following the acquisition of vast lands and its associated forced evictions, usually the local occupants are denied of their land, thereby depriving them of their means of survival as well as their human rights. Local food security is threatened in many countries, since the bulk of the production on the acquired land is often meant for export (Friends of the Earth, 2012). International large land grabs are marginalising the rights of poor local farming communities (land tenure rights, ownership rights, farming rights,). This implies that, the rural dwellers in affected areas are displaced, and or dispossessed, largely to their disadvantage. Since land grabbing in most cases leads to a complete shift in landuse and rights, it has huge repercussions for property acquisitions which then lead to conflict as the local residents seek to reclaim their land. This may trigger security and social challenges including, riots, coups d‟├ętats, hunger and poverty (Chizoba et al., 2012). A research in Kenya‟s Tana Delta for instance, shows that while community members have little monetary income, they gain decent livelihoods when they are still in possession of their land. With access to land, they can cultivate varieties of food crops and graze their animals, and can balance their meals with fish, fruits and honey while women sell the surplus and keep the proceeds. However, the current trend of large-scale land transactions has often undermined their efforts to seek for decent livelihoods as investors tend to employ young men, while older people and women, particularly those with children, are left without income or resources (Makutsa, 2010).

Even though land grabbing has its attendant challenges on livelihoods, there are still those who hold the view that once investors and governments bring much needed capital for development, if investments in grabbed lands are properly designed and honestly carried out, it can enhance the socio-economic development of the economies of less developed nations (Shepard and Mittal, 2009). Specifically, ports, plantations and hydro power dam investments are capable of bringing about clear cut benefits such as job and income creation (through both direct employment and through out- grower programmes), training and skills development for local communities, the creation of economic facilities such as roads, the provision of water and electricity, and social infrastructure such as medical facilities, schools and housing as well as technology and knowledge transfer to the local inhabitants (Shepard and Mittal, 2009).

While there is increasing demand for land to undertake investment in agriculture by the powerful north on the weak and vulnerable global south, the quest on the part of many governments to accelerate development has also led to the acquisition of land and water resources from the poor rural folks to construct huge hydro dam projects. This increasing desire by domestic government, individuals and organisations for land, coupled with the foreign pressures on African lands have made the livelihood activities of the local people unsustainable, thereby crippling development (Chizoba et al., 2012). Therefore, following this unprecedented worldwide rush for land to undertake major investment in plantations, mining, dam constructions, ports and estate development, it is crucial that the influential actors, institutions and Non- governmental organisations put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure that the poor people are not losing out (Pablo, 2012). The World Bank, as the largest development organisation in the world which has a major influence on both governments and the private sector, must act now to put its own house in order and set an example to ensure that investments in grabbed lands benefit the poor whose obvious means of survival is the land (IBRD, 2011). The ensuing paragraph explains why the land taken for the Bui Dam construction can be considered a grab.

In rural environments, land is perceived as an essential resource for promoting livelihood sustainability. In the Banda and Bole districts, the desire by the government of Ghana to ensure sustainable energy supply for the purpose of promoting socio-economic development, led to the acquisition of 444 square kilometre of agricultural land belonging to the inhabitants of the Bui catchment area. Since land farming is the primary economic activity of the local people, the likelihood is that, this land acquisition potentially would undermine the survival strategies of the affected communities. Generally, the notion is that, a process of land acquisition becomes a grab if and only if the size of the land acquired tends to undermine the interest of the affected communities and people of the area. Cotula (2012) and Friends of the Earth (2010) for example share this view. Against this backdrop, the scenario under investigation can be considered as a land grab since the process will endanger the local people‟s access to land which invariably happens to be their core livelihood asset.

There are many reasons for which lands are grabbed either by states, rich individuals or international and multinational corporations. Considering the fact that the land is the main livelihood asset of many rural folks, coupled with the large sizes of recent land acquisitions, this study focuses on the land grabbed for the development of the Bui Dam project in Ghana and how it has affected the local people‟s livelihoods.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Project Material  |  Attribute: 134 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: GH50  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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