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Losing your Land

Losing your Land: Dispossession in the Great Lakes

An Ansoms
Thea Hilhorst
Series: African Issues
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Losing your Land
    Book Description:

    Dispossession of land on a small scale can have as great an impact on living conditions as large-scale land-grabs. With the increasing commodification of land, new forms of dispossession, in urban as well as rural districts, are also gaining in importance. This book looks at this largely uninvestigated issue through case studies in the Eastern DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda: here the loss of land often represents the loss of people's livelihoods in these areas of extreme land scarcity in highly populated regions. In the post-conflict states of the Great Lakes, governance challenges increase the risk of dispossession of the already poor and vulnerable: formal institutions are weak or biased; customary authorities have lost some of their moral authority. The cases in this book show in particular how local power dynamics, often rooted in history, bear upon the processes of land competition, dispossession and land grabbing. This timely volume will be important not only for those in African Studies, but for those in development studies as well as practitioners and policy-makers worldwide. An Ansoms is assistant professor in development studies at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium); Thea Hilhorst is a senior advisor at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-341-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Business, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. viii-x)
    (pp. xi-xi)
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  7. 1 Introduction Causes & Risks of Dispossession & Land Grabbing in the Great Lakes Region
    (pp. 1-10)

    Contemporary contestations in the land arena in Africa’s Great Lakes Region are often embedded in long-term historical trajectories in which struggles over land are closely associated with strife and violence. Indeed, the region has for decades been torn by local and regional conflict, war and instability. Today’s peace in central Africa is brittle and further conflict never seems far away. Yet however fragile the current situation, new and old underexploited opportunities appear to rebound to the surface, including within the land arena.

    In fact, the struggles over land taking place today in the Great Lakes Region tie in with a...

  8. 2 Land Grabbing & Development History The Congolese Experience
    (pp. 11-35)

    The literature of ‘land grabbing’ expanded at the end of the last decade. One of the most promising fields in the latest discussions is the renewal of very old research themes, such as agrarian transition and the role of enclosure in primitive accumulation (Hall, Hirsch and Li, 2011), the relationships between land use and property rights (Borras and Franco, 2012), between the role of the State, market and institutions in the access to common goods and their management, between modes of production and social relations (Bernstein 2010), and between dispossession, impoverishment and proletarianisation of small farmers (Li, 2011).

    Figures revealing...

  9. 3 This Land is My Land Land Grabbing in Ituri (DRC)
    (pp. 36-57)

    The most famous song by the celebrated American folk singer Woody Guthrie –This Land is Your Land(1940) – was a response to dispossession and alienation during the Great Depression in the United States, but its message transcends space and time. Guthrie sought to remind Americans of massive land grabs by government agencies and private interests (Terrell, 1972; Reisner, 1993; Brown, 2001), which deprived millions of people – including indigenous populations – of land and livelihood. Guthrie’s song provides a useful starting point for understanding land grabbing in the Ituri District of Northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The...

  10. 4 Land Grabbing by Mining Companies Local Contentions & State Reconfiguration in South Kivu (DRC)
    (pp. 58-81)

    Large-scale foreign direct investments in land are not new, as Peemans demonstrates in this volume. Foreign investors and concessions granted to multinational companies were crucial in themise en valeurof ‘vacant lands’ in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Vellut, 1983). More recently, a ‘new [resource] scramble for Africa’ has been observed (Southall and Melber, 2009), targeting primarily oil and mineral-rich regions. As such resources are in high demand and becoming scarcer, multinationals continue to prospect for reserves and are seeking to gain and secure access to strategic mineral and energetic resources in more risk-prone environments.

    Risk is a...

  11. 5 Competition over Soil & Subsoil Land Grabbing by Local Elites in South Kivu (DRC)
    (pp. 82-102)

    Population growth, environmental degradation, slow rates of economic development and land grabbing have all contributed to the transformation of Africa from a continent of land abundance into a continent characterized by increasing land scarcity and competition over land (Berry, 2002). However, the contemporary struggles over land vary in nature depending on the specific political, social and economic context in which they occur. Shifts in land access, changing property relations and land distribution patterns can lead to different outcomes in different contexts. For some actors involved in struggles over land, it may open a window of opportunity; for others, it may...

  12. 6 The Continuities in Contested Land Acquisitions in Uganda
    (pp. 103-124)

    Land grabbing is a ‘hot’ issue in Uganda. In late 2011, NGO-activists raised the alarm bell, accusing local elites, army generals, and high-level politicians – including the president – to be at the centre of a series of contested large-scale land acquisitions and condemning the violence accompanying the evictions of land occupants. The debate on those acquisitions is complex not only because of the questionable roles of government and investors, but also because of the contested contributions of the deals to development. In that sense, the debate resonates with global discussions between those propagating the need for up-scaling and modernizing...

  13. 7 Land Grabbing & Power Relations in Burundi Practical Norms & Real Governance
    (pp. 125-140)

    Since the 1960s, Burundi has known several cycles of conflict – partly motivated by ethnic cleavages – with particularly violent escalations in 1968, 1972, 1973, 1988 and 1993 (Buyoya, 2011). These events lay at the base of massive refugee fluxes, with farmers leaving their place of origin and (temporarily) settling in neighbouring countries or elsewhere in Burundi, while leaving behind their land. Particularly following the 1972 flux, a large number of such properties were confiscated by the State or by individuals (see ibid.). Indeed, after the departure of these refugees, the reaction of local administrative authorities, fromchefs de collines...

  14. 8 Land Grabbing & Land Tenure Security in Post-Genocide Rwanda
    (pp. 141-162)

    Land is of vital importance to the people of Rwanda and the Rwandan State, both in terms of ‘access’ to this scarce resource in a densely populated country, and in terms of the symbolic and practical ramifications of changes to different kinds of land ‘uses’ (subsistence or commercial, individual or cooperative, rural or urban, polyculture or monoculture, etc.). In the past, access to land has been a source of socio-political controversy and conflict, particularly during the colonial era and in the decade prior to the 1994 genocide, when land became increasingly concentrated in the hands of political and economic elites....

  15. 9 The Reorganization of Rural Space in Rwanda Habitat Concentration, Land Consolidation & Collective Marshland Cultivation
    (pp. 163-185)

    ‘How do Rwandans envisage their future? What kind of society do they want to become? What are the transformations needed to emerge from a deeply unsatisfactory social and economic situation?’ These are the promising opening questions of the Rwandan Vision 2020 document, which was finalized in July 2000 (GOR – Government of Rwanda, 2000). In the early years of the new millennium, ambitions for economic growth within Rwandan government circles primarily concentrated on the service sector. The first Rwandan PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) actually contended that there was a window of opportunity ‘to leap-frog the stage of industrialisation and...

  16. 10 ‘Modernizing Kigali’ The Struggle for Space, in the Rwandan Urban Context
    (pp. 186-203)

    The 2006/7 UN Habitat report estimated that globally from 2007 onwards, more people would live in cities than in rural areas. The same report pointed to the problematic situation for the urban poor, often living in conditions that are worse than those of their rural counterpart (UN-Habitat, 2006). Since then, urbanization has continued at high speed, particularly in developing countries. In Africa, for example, overall population growth in urban areas between 2000 and 2010 (3.38 per cent) was over twice as high as rural population growth (1.67 per cent). Whereas 294 million Africans were living in cities in 2010, this...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 204-210)

    The various contributions to this book demonstrate quite clearly how dispossession of land rights and loss of access to, or control over, land are common phenomena affecting large numbers of women and men in the Great Lakes Region. Land alienation is occurring on a daily basis, be it through the denial of rights, by stealth, by means of expropriation or forceful eviction. Moreover, dispossession and land grabbing occur in both urban and rural areas. Each chapter has offered an in-depth perspective on the mechanisms underlying specific examples. The various case studies illustrate how these ongoing dynamics are resulting in greater...

  18. INDEX
    (pp. 211-218)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-219)