Report on ‘Land Grabbing in Ghana’ launched

LandThe National Catholic Secretariat in collaboration with Caritas Ghana, a Catholic humanitarian organisation, and the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Development has launched a joint report on ‘land grabbing’ in Ghana.

The 48-paged document was titled: “Unmasking Land Grabbing in Ghana; Restoring Livelihoods; Paving way for Sustainable Development Goals”, and catalog findings from a research they undertook on land issues in Ghana.

The research is expected to help in the development of a long term programme of work to address the problem of land grab and help mobilise apprehension, energies and the resources needed to confront the emerging threat to rural livelihoods.

The findings are expected to kick-start a national dialogue on the issue of land grabbing with the view to provide policy and programme solutions to address the challenges.

Mr Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko, the Programme Manager of STAR-Ghana, who chaired the launch, commended the institutions for spearheading the research which reveals some crucial setbacks to the country’s land management and administration systems.

He said the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the global new framework for development has provided sound lessons about how development ought to be done and the need for a change in mind-set.

The proposal for policy consideration and recommendations in the report begins with a warning about the dire and negative implications of land grab to the attainment of some critical SDGs.

Mr Ibrahim-Tanko said currently the country’s natural resources have become the object of speculation and massive investments where the land owned by millions of Ghanaian peasant farmers are being grabbed by foreigners including the Chinese and other multinationals.

The process, he said, was is weakening rural economies and with government pushing on with the development of agro-industry and making substantial efforts to attract foreign investments, the dire consequences may not only be on the environmental impact and the natural resources, but also fair and balanced food systems, peace, as well as the very sovereignty of millions of peasant and organic producers.

He said seeking a reversal of the situation would depend on the way stakeholders and most importantly decision makers react to the issue.

Mr Ibrahim-Tanko called for the collective and collaborative response of the church, society, corporate bodies and all stakeholders, to build consensus in addressing the problem.

Mr Samuel Zan Akologo, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana and Head of the Department of Human Development at the National Catholic Secretariat, in an overview of the report said land has currently become merely a commodity on which companies could speculate and it had become the new gold.

He said the study highlights that farmland grabbing in Ghana interacts with long-term processes of land concentration which was a matter of high policy and social concern.

It further study argues the threat posed by investors are mainly that they are often preoccupied with how to increase efficiency and develop their products at the expense of labour conditions or local economic development.

He said the opening chapter of the report, reveals how inadequate land management and utilization policy, coupled with previous economic development programmes, largely influenced by external forces, has created an environment for land grabbing in Ghana.

The issue of rapid urbanisation was also cited, stating that there were often limited consultation with farmers, communities and households whose livelihoods the depend on lands, in very important decisions on development projects.

He said the preceding chapter of the report also have quotations from Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si on the Care of our Common Home”, and his other teachings to emphasise the need for dialogue on how to shape the future of the planet and for the generations to come.

He said the chapter suggests that the church has a critical role to play by first taking a hard look at itself to see where it may likely be part of the problem and by embarking on a strong advocacy on the care of the earth.

The report, he said, presents some case studies on communities like Okumaning, Babator and Brewaniase in the Volta Region, which were chilling and sometimes heart-breaking from the atrocities and flagrant disregard to people’s well-being.

Mr Akologo said these communities are often promised massive development and scholarships for their children in exchange for their useful lands, which later prove to be disappointing.

The report further presents some of the dynamics in land grabbing which was tactfully driven and controlled by foreign investors with their ability to exploit loopholes in national legal frameworks and the ignorance of communities.

He said the potential for corruption, manipulation, threats and intimidation that pave the way for land deals done in surreptitious circumstances, have been explained in the report.

Reverend Father Wisdom Laweh, the Assistant Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said his office was committed towards addressing the issue of land grabbing and land grabbers with the aim of protecting and restoring the livelihoods of rural people and protecting the environment.

He expressed the hope that the report would become the timely and timeless springboard for many more fruitful steps to roll back the issue of land grab and restore productively of the livelihood of affected communities.

Rev Fr Dr Aniedi Okure, the Executive Director of the African Faith and Justice Network, suggested some key areas for consideration during discussions as the bad contracts presented by some multinational companies to land owners or heads of communities.

Source: GNA

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