Land Grabbing

Dernière mise à jour le 4 September 2019


Translated by ASSOAL · Published 06 October 2016 · Updated October 06, 2016

The expression “land grabbing – to grab” resurfaced in the international scenes in 2007-2008 during the international drastic price rise. Nowadays Land grabbing has been politicised. It signifies the power to control land and other associated resources such as water, forest resources, in order to control the benefits linked to utilization. In conclusion grabbing can be virtual or real:  By real we mean taking the land for its immediate value; virtual, if this grabbing is hiding an objective second to subventions appropriation, bank loan and speculative value. (4) (5)

Magnitude of the phenomenon

During the last years vast agricultural lands were taken care of by foreign enterprises. Most of these lands were situated in Africa. A rapid increase of the population suffering from hunger and mal nutrition came about. These lands were sized without taking the population into consideration. This grabbing did generate debates in the media, developmental institutions, organizations in the UNO and civil societies.

The LAND MATRIX Website helps to understand who is buying who and to visualize the evolution of the land grabbing process in the world:

According to a recent study done by OXFAM (2012), once again, there is a need to ring the alarm in regards to a major phenomenon: « Every six days in poor countries, investors do buy a surface area equivalent to that of London. ». Laurent Delcourt of CETRI did reveal that this phenomenon principally affects the African continent although it is an international issue.  : “The phenomenon is alarming as it principally touches Africa more than half – close to 60 % – most of the lands that changed hands because of foreign investors as seen in  Sudan, Ethiopia, DRC, Cameroon and Angola, as well as small countries with galloping demography such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.” (1)

The causes

In general, the causes of land grabbing are to be found in the global phenomenon of financialization. However, the situation is particularly worrying in Africa.

Amongst the causes of this new “rush on African lands”, the author brings out the following elements which he considers interconnected and having a huge impact    (making reference to Delcourt 2010 and Polet 2011) (1):

  • The expansion of monocultures and the modes of industrial production with productivity detriment to the culture of the people concerned ;
  • The increase in population and commercial activity on the natural resources;
  • The monopolization of the value chain by great firms and agribusiness ;
  • The conversion to agro fuel ;
  • Integration and interconnection have always influenced the markets, under the commercial regime of total free  investment exchange ,
  • etc.

According to him, the rise in prices of products has been the principal element booster to the mad rush to acquire land. The Failure of the international financial system contributed to this rise. The question now is: will this phenomenon, in one way or the other be a real opportunity for development in the midst of all these crises.  (1)

“Land grabbing prevents land ownership by local communities and destroys means of continuity, reduces political space for the citizens and orientates the agro market to concentrate more and more on the global market instead of promoting durable local agriculture in a more local and national form as well as for the future generations», Sofia states: Monsalve, an expert in land ownership and natural resources with FIAN International. “It will also sky rocket the destruction of the eco-system and climatic crises as land grabbing violates human rights», concluded Sofia Monsalve. (2) (3)


  1. Laurent Delcourt, Haro sur les terres africaines ! Décryptage d’une tendance alarmante, CETRI 2012. article fr
  2. Site HIC article eng
  3. Site Internet FIAN Rapport Kenya et Mozambique
  4. « L’accaparement des terres – Un livret » – TNI – 2013″
  5. « The Global Land Grab – A primer » – TNI – 2013″

Sites to consult: