Land grabbing is the contentious issue of large scale land acquisitions, that is, the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies, governments and individuals.
While used broadly throughout history, land grabbing, as used today, primarily refers to large scale land acquisitions following, especially, the 2007 to 2008 world food price upsurge.
Apart from the case of the Herakles Farms that caught the attention of national and international organisations, very many smaller scale cases are still common in many parts of Cameroon.
In the case of Bokwai community in the Southwest, the people were deceived that Government had reserved a portion of the surrendered land by the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, for priority development, but, later on, they discovered that individuals’ (members of Government in top positions) houses were beginning to germinate on the land. They decided to probe into the matter and found out that the chief was illegally selling the land and, by now, cannot give any account for the sold plots.
Thus, the International Center for Environmental Education and Community Development, ICENECDEV has begun working together with other civil society organisations to clarify and enforce laws and regulations especially with regards to
- Land governance of communal lands
- Environmental regulations
- Full consultations and compensations to the displaced for reason of any priority project
- Create and empower village land committees to negotiate with investors favourably for the communal good
- Enforce the Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs) of the country of origin of the investors or projects to obtain double checking of the behavior of such with regards to Human Rights.
ICENECDEV has published a book on land grabbing in Cameroon making reference to different case studies in the country to raise awareness among stakeholders, CSOs and local the population. ICENECDEV is calling the attention of the Government, civil society organisations, human rights activists, local communities and international communities to collective raise their voices by saying ‘NO TO LAND GRABBING IN CAMEROON’.
ICENECDEV appreciates the support of XMINUSY Netherlands to raise awareness through sensitisation campaign on land grabbing in Cameroon.
ICENECDEV hopes to organise sensitisation campaigns with other networks in Cameroon to raise the awareness on customary and state land grabbing in Cameroon.
Land grabbing is a fundamental human rights violation that calls for local, national and international concern. ICENECDEV appreciates the efforts and collaboration of the National Commission of Human Rights and Freedom, Southwest Regional office, in handling cases pertaining to land-grabbing in the Region.
ICENECDEV throws more light on the issues of land-grabbing to be more of national issues rather than regional as in the case of the Southwest Region. It calls on the general public to be watchdogs on the issue of State and customary land-grabbing in Cameroon, else the population will find itself in another economic crisis that might result in inter-tribal conflicts, poverty and involuntary migration that might have a long lasting socio-economic impact on Cameroon, leading to international crisis with neighbouring countries as with the case of many African countries.
According to Dr. Valentine Nde, a consultant with ICENECDEV, the issue of extra-territorially controlling the activities of home registered companies in host countries with respect to land-grabbing through human rights laws, should be secondary to the host States’ ability to ensure compliance.
The corruption and opacity of the Cameroonian Government in granting lease licenses for land is really the issue here and, hopefully, with the upcoming change and transition in Government in the near future, transparency will come to play a central role in the negotiations and granting of such leases, which will be compelled to integrate local contents.