ABSTRACT (Full report here)
‘Our land is sacred, our land is our life, our land is not for sale. God forbid that we betray this trust and turn Africa land into commodity for sale’[1]. These words are the opening commitment statement of over 150 participants at a continental conference against land grabbing in Africa in November 2015 in Kenya. The Ghanaian participants at the Conference, comprising National Catholic Secretariat and the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), agreed to work together to explore ways of raising the issue of land grab as a national issue. The purpose was also to enhance our understanding of what could be done to address the issue. We especially sought to broaden public, including community members’, awareness about the canker of land grabbing so that they are able to take actions directly when the threat occurs. This research work is expected to be catalytic towards the development of a long term programme of work to address the problem of land grab in Ghana. It is our hope that this work would help mobilize apprehension, energies and resources needed to be able to confront this emerging threat to rural livelihoods.
The opening chapter 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. Another more recent catalyst to this evil has been urbanization. The chapter has noted that limited consultation with farmers, communities and households whose livelihoods depend on land, in very important decisions is a serious aberration with consequences for the violation of fundamental human rights.
Chapter two uses Pope Francis’ encyclical – Laudato Si on the Care of Our Common Home and his other teachings to emphasize the need for dialogue on how we are shaping the future of our planet. ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’ (LS160). The chapter suggests that the Church has critical role to play by first taking a hard look at itself to see where it may likely be part of the problem. Secondly, by taking inspiration from Pope Francis to do advocacy on the care of the earth. A collaborative approach between church and state is proposed to address the problem.
In chapter three, the research report presents three case studies which demonstrates how land grab is a real threat to lives and livelihoods of especially those already at the margins of society and whose only coping mechanism is through their God-given resource of land. The narrations of the cases of Okumaning, Babator and Brewaniase, based on information gathered from field interviews, are chilling and sometimes heart-breaking from the level of atrocities and flagrant disregard to people’s well-being. At first hand, based on promises and plans often outlined, they are paved with good intentions but actual results are disappointing to the people. Some of the research questions for this survey and the definitions of land grab cases are recommended for use when sensitising communities and for further investigations on the subject matter.
Chapter four helps us to understand the dynamics of land grabbing which are tactfully driven and controlled by the foreign investors with their ability to exploit loopholes in national legal frameworks and the ignorance of communities. The potential for corruption, manipulation, threats and intimidation that pave the way for land deals done in surreptitious circumstances, have been explained in this chapter. The chapter provides lessons for the Church in its attempt to tackle this menace in Ghana; from the adage ‘Forewarned is forearmed’. The experience of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) in applying the Community Bio cultural Protocol (BCP) in a small community in the Upper West Region has helped the people to ward-off the ills of land grab for mining exploration.
The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the global new framework for development has thought us profound lessons about how development ought to be done and the need for a change in mind-set. Our proposals for policy consideration and recommendations, in chapter five, begin on the premise of Pope Francis’ encyclical – Laudato Si On the Care for our Common Home. Land grab can have dire and negative implications to the attainment of some critical sustainable development goals in Ghana. This last chapter recognizes that there already exist some policy guidelines and on-going advocacy efforts of other civil society organizations on land grab and or its related issues. We see Laudato Si as a framework for collective and collaborative response of church, state, society and corporate bodies to build consensus in addressing the problem.
This work is the result of both joint and collaborative effort for which gratitude is owed to many organizations and individuals. The resources that supported the work came from the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), DKA Austria, Misereor- Germany and the Africa Faith Justice Network. The organizations are duly acknowledged also at the back-cover of this report. Besides, making financial resources and availing staff time, the Bishops’ Conference of Ghana also prioritized the need for this work during their Plenary Assembly in May, 2016 which helped to set a strong agenda for this work beyond this research.
[1] SECAM Conference on Land Grabbing and just Governance in Africa, November 22 – 26, 2015 commitment to act against land grabbing and to support local communities.