Two short films have been released by Friends of the Earth International and the Belgian charity for small-scale farmers La Via Campesina to highlight the 'devastating extent of land grabbing' in Africa.
Released to coincide with the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty in Washington which has been running from Monday until today, the films highlight the negative effects of "corporate-friendly policies promoted by the World Bank" which the charities say "lead to violent displacements, hunger and facilitate the global takeover of community land by private interests".
The charities say that in Mali, west Africa, a Libyan multinational company was awarded 100,000 hectares of land to grow crops for export. The film features interviews with occupants of the land who say that during the process of overtaking the land, villagers were beaten, including pregnant women, and people were offered only "a small amount" for their homes. The film says that since 2008, an area the size of France has been snapped up for exportable crops in Africa, pushing food prices up in the native countries.
While one film addresses the issue in a reportage-style, the second presents a longer feature documentary and plea from John, a farmer in Kalangala on Lake Victoria, Uganda, who lost his land to land investments.
Friends of the Earth International produced Land, life and justice, a report into food sovereignty to accompany the films explaining the extent of the issues faced through land grabbing, and making recommendations for international and African governments. It calls for better communication from African leaders with their people on the effects of such action, and further, to hold international financial institutions to finance projects which reduce poverty, "rather than those that promote poverty through violation of community rights and subsequent land grabbing".