African bishops demand end to ‘land grabs’ by private companies

October 2021
Catholic News Service

Africa’s Catholic bishops have criticized the appropriation of land, natural resources and other economic assets by private companies and called on national governments to show greater concern for local community rights and needs. They said: ‘The impunity of corporate and elite capture of African land and natural resources and the damage this is doing to Africa’s food systems, to our environment, our soils, lands and water, our biodiversity, our nutrition and health is a major concern. Land grabs push people off the land, fuelling conflicts and provoking displacement.’ They expressed concern that land deals in 2021, covering more than 62 million acres, had been concluded ‘by private actors encouraged and financially supported by governments and public development banks.’ Such business ventures continued to reflect European perspectives because of ‘the legacy of colonialism and huge differentials of power and capacity.’