In many of the places where Namati and partners work on community land protection, we have noticed a phenomenon that we feel has not received enough attention from researchers, organizations, and media - especially compared the amount of attention received by Large Scale Land Acquisitions and land grabbing. We refer to the phenomenon as “mid-scale land grabs”, land grabs or coercive and exploitative land deals made by national elites (politicians, powerful families, military commanders etc.) that are too small to show up as ‘large scale’ land deals (50 ha here, 100ha there etc.), but which are very significant areas for local communities and which add up to large areas of land.
We are interested in mid-scale land grabs because:
- We think they are the greatest, most widespread, and most common threat to community and indigenous lands.
- They are typically not captured in research projects or data collection on land grabbing, which focus on international and transnational land deals.
- They are more difficult to prevent and remedy because they are harder to identify proactively and the elites behind them are often very powerful and ‘outside the reach of the law’ in their country.
- We need different strategies than those used against international and transnational land grabs because things like international consumer campaigns against corporations or laws and guidelines for international corporations are less effective against domestic elites and companies.
While local and domestic land grabbing is not new - in fact, one could say it has been an issue for as long as people have been laying claim to land and resources - we fear that it is increasing in response to the rising global demand for land and increasing awareness of the economic value of land, particularly among elites.
Namati is planning a research project to investigate mid-scale land grabs/deals. We want to document and describe this activity, assess whether it appears to be increasing or not, and suggest strategies for preventing or remedying it.
We want your input into how we design this project. Some questions that would particularly help us at this stage are:
- Have you seen evidence of mid-scale land grabs or land deals?
- How widespread or common is it in your country?
- Does our idea of ‘mid-scale land grabs’ make sense to you, from your experience? How would you define a ‘mid-scale land grab’?
- How do you learn of these types of land grabs or exploitative land deals? (e.g. from communities, in the media etc.)
- Where do you suggest we look to collect information about mid-scale land grabs in your country?
- Have you read any reports, articles, or other research into mid-scale land grabs and/or how to prevent or remedy them?
- Have you heard of or tried any strategies to prevent or remedy these types of land grabs in your country?