Presentation on theme: "Presented by: Abass John Kamara (Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food) Presented at: UEMOA, Cotonou, Benin."— Presentation transcript:
Presented by: Abass John Kamara (Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food) Presented at: UEMOA, Cotonou, Benin
SiLNoRF was established in 2008 SiLNoRF is a member of the African network on the Right to Food SiLNoRF is a network with a membership of 25 civil society organisations in Sierra Leone. SiLNoRF works to ensure that land and other resources in Sierra Leone are properly utilised for the effective and efficient realisation of the right to food. Activities of SiLNoRF include awareness raising and community mobilisation, capacity building, creating platform for engagements with stakeholders, lobbying and advocacy, and monitoring.
Context of Sierra Leone Land is highly contentious issue in Sierra Leone, and one of the major structural causes underlying the 11 years civil war that claimed the lives of somany people. There had been a big rural/urban divide in Sierra Leone over the years that caused a neglect of countryside with less rural and agricultural development. Sierra Leone also operates under a complex and outdated Land Tenure System/policy of 1962 and therefore, big agricultural investors such as Addax operating in Sierra Leone using those outdated laws and policies is not considered realistics. Companies are operating in the context of weak enabling environment such as less or no parliamentary oversight on large scale land deals, little or no financial transparency by investors, no land planning and management system in place by goverment, and also weak capacity of Sierra Leone government structures/institutions to monitor large scale investment in land.
Background to the Addax Bioenergy Project Addax Bioenergy, is a division of the Swiss-based energy corporation Addax & Oryx Group (AOG), the company is developing a Greenfield integrated agricultural and renewable energy project in Sierra Leone to produce fuel ethanol and electricity. The project is billed to produce about 90,000m3 of ethanol per annum, primarily for export to the European Union (EU) market and 32MW of nominal electrical power capacity, of which 15MW of power will be available for sale to the national grid (ESHIA Executive Summary, African Development Bank, 2010). The company has leased 57,000 ha of land for a period of 50 years and sugarcane plantations will cover 10,100 ha, plus 2,000 ha developed as part of the project’s Farmer Development Programme (FDP) which Addax believes will impact positively on food availability as this surface will be divided into about 60 community fields to be established and sown by Addax and dedicated to staple food production (mainly rice and cassava) to the benefit of the local population. 13,617 people live in areas affected by the project.
The project will consist of a sugarcane plantation, ethanol distillery and biomass power plant and related infrastructure. The project area is located approximately 15km west of the town of Makeni in the Chiefdoms of Makarie Gbanti and Bombali Shebora in the Bombali District and in the Chiefdom Malal Mara in the Tonkolili District, in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The project area is a large, gently undulating plain limited to the north by the Freetown-Lunsar-Makeni highway and to the south by the Rokel River. (ESHIA Executive Summary, African Development Bank, 2010). The project will cover about 14,300ha of land comprising approximately 10,100ha of irrigated sugarcane estates, land for the project’s infrastructure including an ethanol factory, a power plant, resettlement areas, roads and irrigation infrastructure and supporting infrastructure (including a power line connecting the power plant to the national grid). (ESHIA Executive Summary, African Development Bank, 2010)
It leased 57,000 ha of land for a period of 50 years and sugarcane plantations will cover 10,100 ha, plus 2,000 ha developed as part of the project’s Farmer Development Programme (FDP) which Addax believes will impact positively on food availability as this surface will be divided into about 60 community fields to be established and sown by Addax and dedicated to staple food production (mainly rice and cassava) to the benefit of the local population. 13,617 people live in areas affected by the project.
Civil Society Monitoring/observation As part of our monitoring processes, 2 studies have been conducted between 2011 and 2012 (visit www.silnorf.org) specificly focusing on the Addax Bioenergy project, which looked into the following:www.silnorf.org 1. Legal Representation of Land Owners: The monitoring process firstly refers to a Legal Analysis of the Land Lease Agreement (LLA). This analysis concludes that there is lack of clarity as to whether traditional land owners and chiefdom councils had access to effective legal advice in the preparation of the LLA, as their lawyers were hired and paid by Addax. Moreover, a clause in the LLA conferring of a right on Addax to stop or alter a water course or restrict access to a water course may constitute an interference with the right to access water for domestic uses of those within or near the project area as stipulated by The Water (Control and Supply) Act 1963. Over the past three years since 2009, SiLNoRF has been closely monitoring large-scale agricultural investments in Sierra Leone including the Addax Bioenergy project.
According to Addax, a reputed law firm was selected by the communities to represent them in the land lease negotiations with Addax but studies and monitoring activities have found out that many land owners have not set eyes on their „legal representatives„. Even those who have, lack trust in them because of the simple fact that they are hired and paid for by Addax. During the negotiation process, Addax made juicy but unenforceable promises of the eradication of poverty, provision of development packages such as health facilities, school buildings, community centers, jobs for all the youth, technical- vocational training, building of good roads, etc. Furthermore, another clause of the LLA suggests that disputes have to be resolved by an arbitration tribunal in London, which may be too costly for the chiefdom councils. Besides, such a clause suggests a distrust of in-country dispute settlement mechanisms. The duration of the LLA (50 years) is also seen as dispossessing a whole generation of people of their land, exposing them to the socio-economic challenges of landlessness in a culture where land ownership determines the status of a family to a large extent.
2 The Negotiation Process of Land Lease Agreement: According to Addax, a reputed law firm was selected by the communities to represent them in the land lease negotiations with Addax. The studies revealed that many land owners have never set eyes on their legal representatives throughout the negotiation process. The studies also revealed that during the negotiation process, Addax and its agents made juicy but unenforceable promises of the eradication of poverty, provision of development packages such as health facilities, school buildings, community centers, jobs for all the youth, technical-vocational training, building of good roads, etc. All these promises aroused the excitement of farmers and were responsible for their decision to give up their lands. The studies showed that communities had limited or no knowledge of the terms of the Land Lease Agreement (LLA).
The bolilands have good access to water and are currently used for rice production, by thousands of small-scale farmers including women. The affected farmers said Addax had an oral agreement with them that no bolilands will be used for the plantations. Land owners have little or no say in the negotiations as regards the size of their lands to be leased and/or the compensation rates offered. Claims that Addax secured the free prior and informed consent of communities for the takeover of their lands are very doubtful as it was gained through promises to the land owners and users. Moreover, community members revealed that, during the consultation processes, they felt intimidated to question certain aspects of the project in the presence of a local politician and their local authorities.
Women’s right Like other rural communities in Sierra Leone, women in the three Chiefdoms contribute significantly to household food production and income generation. In addition to helping the men on the rice farms, women also do market gardening, fishing, petty trading, and animal rearing. Traditionally women in rural areas have been more attached to land than men but the land tenure system in this part of the country strongly discriminates against women. As indicated by Unruh and Turay (2006), women cannot own or inherit land but can access it for farming through male relatives. Even though the 2007 Devolution of Estates Act grants women inheritance rights, customs and tradition bar women from inheriting land and enjoying full tenure rights in Bombali and Tonkolili Districts; that discrimination has now been heightened by the ADDAX land lease arrangements.
Women had little say in the arrangements though there are reports that they took part in the consultations. Since land is owned by households and families which are headed by males, land lease fees were evidently paid to and shared by male family members. Women beneficiaries were obviously sidelined in the process and the arrangements did not take into consideration the specific needs of women like access to water sources and distance to farm sites and local markets. For example, in Ropotor village in Bombali Sebora Chiefdom, the road that links the community with the nearest market where women sell their produce and buy goods, was cut off by ADDAX bulldozers in June 2012, forcing them to carry their wares on their head through dangerous foot paths. Human Rights Defenders had to engage the Community Relations Manager of ADDAX on the implications of such action before the road was re-opened.
Due to the insecurity of jobs offered to locals, women are forced to carry the burden of providing for the family when their husbands are laid off. As a result of the company’s operations, most men abandoned farming and sought employment but when the jobs did not last and the planting season was already past, the women were left with the burden of producing food for the family. The number of households where women are now the bread winners in the affected areas is reported to be on the increase due to the insecurity of ADDAX employment particularly of unskilled labour that is predominant in the affected chiefdoms. This brings into question the company’s assertion that it has created over 2000 jobs and that ‘’household income in the area has risen by almost 40%’’. A woman in a Focus Group Discussion in Motero, Malal Mara Chiefdom, summarised the situation by stating that women ‘’are now the men because our men have no more land to farm and no secure job with ADDAX’’.
A study commissioned by SiLNoRF and partners (Bread for all, Bread for the world and the EED) in 2011 also indicated that the women complained about the long distances that they now have to do on foot to look for water, firewood and medicinal herbs since their original fields for these purposes have been cleared of vegetation. In addition, employment opportunities for local women are only limited to unskilled and low paid jobs like cleaning which exposes them to Gender Based Violence. Even the influx of men into the area has the potential of exposing local women to sexual abuse and HIV, an issue which no one has tried to address. In summary, gender considerations appear to be lacking both among locals and by the Company. The rights of other vulnerable groups like children and persons with disabilities are also seriously at stake. A blind man in Maronko, Makari Gbanti Chiefdom, stated that persons with disabilities are more seriously affected than others because they depend on non-disabled relatives whose livelihood has been undermined.
Livelihood Activities and Food Security The main activity from which people in the affected areas derive their living is farming. Food crops like rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, yam, maize and bananas are grown annually for home consumption although some of the produce is sold to augment family income. Fishing in the rivers and streams provides supplementary income and protein all the year round while hunting is also carried out particularly for rodents known as grass cutters. Land is everything to people in this area because the majority of them are farmers. Before the intervention of ADDAX, the people practiced shifting cultivation whereby a piece of land is cultivated for a year or more, and then left to fallow for a few planting seasons while the farmer continues growing crops on other portions of land. When the fallow land recovers its fertility, the farmer returns and cultivates it. Such practices require large tracts of land and reliable water systems.
With the acquisition of land by ADDAX, farmers in the affected communities are no longer free to continue with their previous practice because, according to many affected people, local farmers have now been forced to work on marginal lands. Farm sizes have reduced significantly s a result of the massive land lease by ADDAX, thus leading to a reduction in food production. In fact some villages like Mamudu in Bombali Sebora Chiefdom have access to only the land in their immediate vicinity. The worst hit are those farmers who used to rent land for farming from local land owners. In Massorie village, Bombali Sebora Chiefdom and Maroki in Malal Mara Chiefdom, farmers who used to rent land told SiLNoRF that they now have no land to cultivate because land owners have leased all their land to ADDAX and reserved the marginal lands for themselves.
A very recent survey conducted by SiLNoRF indicates that food production, food quality and income levels among farming households have dropped significantly in the affected areas. In all the communities which the researcher visited, the majority of people were of the strong opinion that they can no longer produce enough to feed themselves because of the operations of ADDAX. Most young people have left their villages in search of jobs with ADDAX leaving only the women, children and the aged to work on the farms. Young men who used to provide cheap labour for farmers, are no longer attracted to farming. There is a genuine fear that many families might starve this year because only few farmers did any serious cultivation. Most families interviewed indicated that they used to have three adequate meals per day before but since the intervention of ADDAX, they can now afford only one meal per day.
According to the women, a household which used to subsist on Le 5,000 daily now needs Le 15,000. Reasons are that they now have to buy most food items from the market including fish, vegetables, oil and rice whereas most of these items were grown or acquired by the farmers themselves before. Coupled with that, the cost of goods and services has risen considerably since Addax started operations. Transportation on motor bike fondly called ‘okada’ which is the fastest and most reliable means of movement in the affected areas, has risen from Le 5,000 to le 15,000, a cup of rice which went for Le 500 now goes for Le 1,500 and the cost of palm oil has risen from le 700 to le 1,500.
Even land owning families who receive a percentage of surface rent each year from ADDAX cannot cope with the food price increase and so run out of money before the end of the year. No amount of rent can replace the direct and indirect benefits these communities got from their land. It is very clear, therefore, that food security has been seriously undermined in these communities in contravention of the Government’s Food Security Policy and the communities’ right to food enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Sierra Leone is signatory. This also undermines the Vision and Guiding Principles of the Government’s National Land Policy which encourages the incorporation of measures that will stimulate local production in the face of increasing demands on food imports and inadequate domestic food supplies (Foray 2011).
The role of SiLNoRF As a result of the absence of an effective complaint mechanism to deal with community grievances against ADDAX and because the relevant local authorities seem to be detached from their people’s concerns, SILNORF has emerged as the only institution that has won the confidence of residents of the affected communities. In addition to educating land users on their rights and obligations under the current land lease arrangements and facilitating the setting up of Affected Land User Associations (AFFLUAs) in most of the communities affected by the operations of ADDAX, SILNORF carries out regular monitoring of the impact of the Company’s operations on the livelihood of community members and engages various categories of stakeholders to help address the concerns of affected persons and groups through meetings, workshops and other public fora.
SILNORF has also carried out monitoring and research into the human rights impact of the company’s operations on the host communities and launched reports on their findings at regional and national levels. The Network has also been able to share reports with and engage international partners like United Nations Agencies, Bread for the World, Bread for All, EED, Cordaid and Amnesty International and the Dutch Foreign Ministry. SILNORF has been making reference to the International Human Rights Instruments like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women or CEDAW, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food, in addition to the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 and the country’s Gender Laws enacted i n 2007.
Recommendations IFC/ Financial institutions To consider special clauses (similar to extractives) for large scale land/ agri investments including: Taxation, profit sharing Full financial transparency, Free Prior and Informed Consent for all indigeneous people, full information disclosure, community development agreements, independent multistakeholder mechanism tsso take onboard isssues and grievance Consider large scale land investments as medium-high risk- and therefore, information sharing and disclosure to be paramount FIs– to develop policy for large scale agric investments/land policy (in addition to Green Policy); look also at impact at community level;
Government Should have a tax policy on land and large scale agricultural investments; To ensure the adequate implementaion of the new land tenure policy; The gorvernment should undertake a land use mapping in order to determine land availability and use; Government to consider adjustment of compensation for land lease ; Capacity building for rural communities to make informed decisions in terms of Large Scale Land Lease. National Land Commission to be established to regulate all large scale land deals and Government and relevant authorities to facilitate a review of the current Land Lease Agreements by companies including Addax taking into consideration the desperate concerns and informed participation of affected communities.
THANK YOU For more information on our work and to read our reports, please visit our website on www.silnorf.orgwww.silnorf.org