Togo land grabbing

Togo today

Togo, twice the size of Maryland, is on the south coast of West Africa bordering on Ghana to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, and Benin to the east. The Gulf of Guinea coastline, only 32 mi long (51 km), is low and sandy. The only port is at Lomé. The Togo hills traverse the central section.

  • President: Faure Gnassingbe (2005)
  • Prime Minister: Komi Sélom Klassou (2015)
  • Land area: 21,000 sq mi (54,390 sq km); total area: 21,925 sq mi (56,785 sq km)
  • Population (2014 est.): 7,351,374 (growth rate: 2.71%); birth rate: 34.52/1000; infant mortality rate: 46.73/1000; life expectancy: 64.06; density per sq mi: 301.9
  • Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Lomé, 1.524 million
  • Monetary unit: CFA Franc

Our today\s matters focused on “Conflicts and Land Appropriation in Togo; from cash crops to the registration of land titles.

In Togo, land conflicts and frauds concerning land sold twice are steadily increasing, as many chieftaincies (whose legitimacy is based also on their role of mediators of land issues) can testify. It is often stated, even in official speeches that, after malaria and AIDS, conflicts over land are the leading cause of death. Land tenure in Togo is characterized by complex “bundles of rights” through which different subjects in asymmetrical power relationships (men and women, migrants and “first comers”, elders and young people) claim different rights on the same parcel. Opposing the representations of “traditional” land tenure regimes as unchanging, chaotic and unproductive, our research has shown how fundamental the historical impact of cash crops had been in changing the local forms of land access, as well as the impact of State projects to improve land privatization through the registration of property titles.

Togo-land grabbing

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.

Indigenous communities, although not organized either politically or economically, express their discontent in differentiated ways against the state and social forces – particularly over land and access to employment, and around state politics; and their reactions range from covert to more open forms of resistance.

Multidisciplinary Togolese actors such as civil society, parliamentarians, researchers, traditional leaders, representatives of the Togolese government, representatives of technical and financial partners and associates are now debating for on the phenomenon of "land grabbing in Togo.

The appointment of our administration laid the groundwork to the creation of a broad national coalition against land grabbing. A coalition that will launch major challenge to promote family farming to ensure food sovereignty in Togo, to fight against grabbing that threatens 25,000 ha in the Togolese Republic, in 53 cases of lease contracts or large-scale land acquisitions.

The organization will unify events that involve all lands owners and chiefs because “ all cities, including Lomé, the capital, as well as our hamlets, without exception, have become quite important in regards to land and there, urban and agricultural speculations, tensions and conflicts are getting more and more concerning” . According to our research, land issue is a “ major issue in the country”. “It is sensitive and concerns the Togolese people. It is complex but can be solved.”

Issues of multiple sales, land spoliation of stolen or fake properties, illegal occupation of administrative reserves, and inadequate functioning of administrative institutions, among others will continue to be discussing at our workshops, meetings, conferences etc. Faced with an ever-growing demography and land-related needs, we need urgent reforms to deal with tenure insecurity which gives rise to land insecurity and sometimes represent a block to economic growth.

We are wishing for more key actors at prefectural, regional, national and international levels to get more involved in the resolution of the issue. Our administration wishes for a social consensus to be reached regarding laws that will put in place in the land sector in Togo, for the sake of transparency and security. In our country, patterns of land grab are connected to the historical and cultural patterns of land and resource appropriation, starting from the colonial encounter and the political dynamics involved in land contestation.

  • Have you seen evidence of mid-scale land grabs or land deals?

According to our research, land issue as mid-scale land grabs or land deals is a “ major issue in the country . It is sensitive and concerns the Togolese people. It is complex but can be solved.

  • How widespread or common is it in your country ?

Indigenous communities, although not well organized either politically or economically, express their discontent in differentiated ways against the state and social forces – particularly over land and access to employment, and around state politics; and their reactions range from covert to more open forms of resistance.

  • Does our idea of ‘mid-scale land grabs’ make sense to you, from your experience? How would you define a ‘mid-scale land grab’?

Land grabbing is the contentious issue of large-scale land acquisitions: the buying or leasing of large pieces of land by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and individuals. Today our administration wishes for a social consensus to be reached regarding laws that will put in place in the land sector in Togo, for the sake of transparency and security in the communities.

  • How do you learn of these types of land grabs or exploitative land deals? (e.g. from communities, in the media etc.)

The organization (Website under construction), is a grassroots not for profit organisation based in Togo occupied 85% of the population as farmers; supporting farmers through sustainable agriculture and allow agribusiness to thrive through research and advocacy activities. Our mission is therefore to alleviate poverty in the country and improve livelihoods by promoting agriculture and guaranteeing environmental sustainability though a partnership with valuable organizations around the world.

The appointment of our administration, laid the groundwork to the creation of a broad national coalition against land grabbing. A coalition that will launch a major challenge to promote family farming to ensure food sovereignty in Togo, to fight against grabbing that threatens 25,000 ha in the Togolese Republic, in 53 cases of lease contracts or large-scale land acquisitions.

  • Where do you suggest we look to collect information about mid-scale land grabs in your country?

You can collect information about mid-scale land grabs in our country from multidisciplinary Togolese actors such as civil society, parliamentarians, researchers, traditional leaders, representatives of the Togolese government, representatives of technical and financial partners, indigenous communities and associates that are now debating for on the phenomenon of "land grabbing matters in Togo.

  • Have you read any reports, articles, or other research into mid-scale land grabs and/or how to prevent or remedy them?

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.

  • Have you heard of or tried any strategies to prevent or remedy these types of land grabs in your country?

We are wishing for more key actors at prefectural, regional, national and international levels to get more involved in the resolution of the issue. The organization continues to unify events that will involve all land owners and chiefs to discuss at our workshops, meetings, conferences etc; issues of multiple sales, land spoliation of stolen or fake properties, illegal occupation of administrative reserves, and inadequate functioning of administrative institutions, among others; faced with an ever-growing demography and land-related needs, we need urgent reforms to deal with tenure insecurity which gives rise to land insecurity and sometimes represent a block to economic growth in the poor communities.

Note

Togo still belongs to the impoverished fragile states. The state’s monopoly on the use of force is guaranteed in principle over all its territory and population. However, a long-standing culture of impunity for extra-legal killings committed by the security forces persists. The army, gendarmerie and police are loyal to the incumbent government, apart from rivalries within its own ranks.

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