Water grabs

  • Land grabbing is a well-known problem. According to the World Bank, about ten million hectares were acquired from governments or local authorities between 2004 and 2009 in five African countries alone.
  • At the genesis of this are a number of laws from colonial times, stating Government’s entitlement to all unclaimed land, which includes up to 90% of sub-Saharan Africa’s land and most of its water resources. This allows government to sell customarily held land, leaving farmers or the public without grounds for disputing dispossession or reduced accessibility to water resource.
  • Recently there has been an increase in leases and acquisitions of water rights and Links: land use to international investors. This process has been unplanned, haphazard and unchecked, creating problems for local communities which are dispossessed of their land and left with less access to secure water.
  • The level of foreign investment observed in Africa may lead to a degradation of the quality of life for the population, reduce control of their resources, create barriers to rural development, to the countries self sustainability and incentivise the concentration of people in precarious conditions slums in urban centers.

As well as the well known implications for food security, the UK may also see the knock-on effects of water grabs via international conflict over water.

For more information, visit: http://tinyurl.com/7je5bm4; http://tinyurl.com/c9omd86

About Joao Delgado

Joao is a Research Fellow in Futures Research and leads on medium-large scale futures projects at CERF. Amongst other projects, he has led the development of scenarios for the future of river basin management for the Environment Agency. His professional interests include veterinary science, epidemiology, risk and systems thinking.
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