Land grabbing and its implications on rural livelihoods in Ghana and Ethiopia : a comparative study

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för naturvetenskap, miljö och teknik; Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för naturvetenskap, miljö och teknik

Abstract: The rush for land has escalated the last decade, with Sub-Saharan Africa as the most targeted region. Governments, local elites and foreign corporations are increasingly taking control over large areas of agricultural lands with the aim of creating higher financial returns and achieve food security. This phenomenon, known as land grabbing, has received a lot of attention worldwide, not least from non-governmental organizations and scholars stressing the negative impacts on rural farmers and families. Yet, several international organizations as well as many African governments keep advocating the positive effects that land grabbing can have on poverty reduction and economic growth. The dominating capitalist and neoliberal view on development, focusing largely on the economic part, undermines the social and environmental impacts that these investments bring. The purpose of this comparative study is therefore to examine, analyze and compare these impacts in Ghana and Ethiopia, two countries heavily affected by land grabbing. This is done through the lens of political ecology, where concepts such as environmental justice, accumulation by dispossession and sustainable rural livelihoods will be of particular significance. Based on a systematic literature review, the results show that land grabbing projects, said to aim at stimulating economic and social development, have resulted in dispossessions, injustices and environmental conflicts wherein indigenous communities have been deeply affected. Their traditional livelihoods, based mainly on cultivation, fishing, gathering and hunting, have been threatened by several impacts from the land grabs. These include loss of land, declined access to resources, damaged ecosystems, deforestation and lack of alternative ways to maintain food security.

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