The North-South Institute



The Land Crisis in Southern Africa: Challenges on Good Governance

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The Land Crisis in Southern Africa: Challenges on Good Governance

Published: April 12, 2013

The international land grab for food and financial security has come to the fore of public and international attention.  It has been estimated that these deals, located mainly in Africa, totalled 20 to 30 billion dollars between 2006-09 and were made by foreign investors from China, South Korea, India and the Gulf States.  Land deals have become a national security strategy for states facing environmental scarcity or preparing for future energy shortages.  These developments come at a time when most sub-Saharan African countries are still trying to come to terms with a land crisis involving a number of obstacles and challenges, such as their colonial legacy, structural inequality, land tenure insecurity, communal impoverishment, and environmental stress.  While the land deals are also being used as a positive example of South-South cooperation, questions have risen about where the profits and products are being distributed.  African governments need to enhance the benefits they derive from the land deals they sign with foreign corporations and governments.  They need to be accountable to their populations in ensuring that allegations of corruption and embezzlement arising from these land deals at the expense of poor farming communities are addressed while manifestations of neo-colonialism are not repeated.

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Author: Hany Besada and Ariane Goetz