ActionAid

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency whose aim is to fight poverty worldwide. Formed in 1972, for over 30 years we have been growing and expanding to where we are today - helping over 13 million of the world's poorest and most disadvantaged people in 42 countries worldwide.

In all of our country programmes we work with local partners to make the most of their knowledge and experience.

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ActionAid Resources

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Format: 2016
Date of publication
March 2015
Geographical focus

The 2003 Maputo Declaration on Food and Agriculture committed signatory countries across Africa to a 10% allocation of national budgets to agriculture by 2008. To bolster the implementation of this commitment, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) was established. But 12 years later, the situation for women smallholder farmers across Africa has hardly changed. Even allowing for Africa’s diversity and varying policy and legal contexts, the disproportionately low levels of access to and control over productive resources by women – and limited efforts to match policy directives with programmes on the ground – is widespread across Africa.

Date of publication
May 2015
Geographical focus

In 2008, three sugar companies were awarded nearly 20,000 hectares of Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) in Oddar Meanchey province.

The new research finds that associated land grabbing totaling more than 17,000 hectares has affected more than 2,000 families. Of these, 214 families were forcibly evicted.

Meanwhile, at least 3,000 hectares of the misappropriated land has been used for logging rather than sugar plantations, according to the report, ‘Cambodia: The Bitter Taste of Sugar’, commissioned by ActionAid and Oxfam GB.

The research focuses on the activities of Angkor Sugar Company, Cambodia Cane and Sugar Valley Company and Tonle Sugar Cane Company.

Since 2000, the Royal Government of Cambodia has granted more than 114,000 hectares of land through 19 such sugar concessions. Many of these focus on exports under the European Union’s ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) preferential trade scheme.

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Date of publication
May 2015
Geographical focus

Over the past 15 years, tens of millions of hectares of land have been acquired by large investors in developing countries. The Land Matrix documented 1,037 transnational land deals covering 37,842,371 hectares during this period, while many more deals remain undocumented.1 This global land rush is causing widespread forced evictions and denial of access to key land and natural resources for millions of women, small- scale food producers, pastoralists, gatherers, forest dwellers, fisherfolk, and tribal and indigenous peoples.

Access to and control over land and natural resources is, however, crucial to people’s livelihoods and to ensuring their rights to food, water, work, housing and a healthy environment. Governments and donor institutions have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure that their policies and actions contribute to the recognition and respect of these rights. To prevent further land grabbing and help realise the right to food for all, ActionAid urges governments and donors to adopt a human rights-based approach to development and take the following four steps:

STEP 1: Fully implement the Tenure Guidelines on land, fisheries and forests through participatory, inclusive mechanisms that prioritise the rights and needs of legitimate tenure users, especially women.

STEP 2: Ensure the free, prior and informed consent for all communities affected by land transfers, including the fair and equitable participation of all groups within local communities, especially excluded and marginalised groups such as women, children, minorities, the elderly and disabled.

STEP 3: Review public policies and projects that incentivise land grabbing, and instead support policies that prioritise the needs of small-scale food producers – particularly women – and sustainable land use.

STEP 4: Regulate businesses involved in land deals so that they are fully accountable for respecting human rights, tenure rights and environmental, social and labour standards. This includes ensuring that investors carry out comprehensive human rights due diligence, are transparent and are fully accountable throughout all their operations at home and abroad.

This report sets out how these four steps can be implemented by governments through a detailed checklist of policy reforms and actions, including concrete examples from countries where these were implemented.

Date of publication
June 2015
Geographical focus

Ten African countries have signed up to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition – the G8 countries’ main strategy for supporting agriculture in Africa that was launched in 2012. As the New Alliance has been under way for three years, some of its likely impacts are becoming clearer. This briefing – covering Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Senegal – shows that some large companies involved in the New Alliance are already accused of taking part in land grabs in some countries. It also presents new research to argue that the initiative is further increasing the risk of rural communities losing their access to and control over land to large investors, largely through policy commitments on land titling and land reform.

Implicated in these reforms and risks of land grabs are the G8 donor countries bankrolling the New Alli- ance (the US, the UK, France, Italy, Canada, Japan, Germany and Russia) and the European Union. These governments must stop all engagement in and support for the New Alliance and replace it with genuine initiatives to support small-scale food producers and advance sustainable agriculture.

G8 states have committed $4.4 billion to the 10 countries of the New Alliance. The largest funders are the US and the European Union but the UK, France and Italy also play important roles. The G8 support for the New Alliance is part of a drive to secure larger agricultural markets and sources of supply in Africa for multinational corporations. New Alliance partner companies such as Monsanto, Diageo, SABMiller, Unilever and Syngenta have major commercial interests in Africa and close connections with Northern governments.

Our research shows that the four African countries under review are offering vast areas of land to large-scale investors under their New Alliance commitments: collectively, this amounts to 1.8 million hectares of land.

Date of publication
June 2016
Geographical focus

Author: Robyn Pharoah/ActionAid

The population of Africa’s cities is growing rapidly. But as poor people cram into towns and cities characterised by limited, weak and often under-resourced infrastructure, they are increasingly relegated to marginal, inadequately serviced, informal settlements and low-cost housing areas, leaving them vulnerable to numerous livelihood, health and security risks.

The impact of disasters, conflict and climate change is most severe for poor households, especially groups such as poor women and children, as they have the least access to resources to mitigate and recover from disasters. Disasters undo progress in achieving developmental goals, such as gains in education, healthcare and economic progress, and prevent vulnerable women, men and children from being able to claim their rights to basic needs such as food, shelter, work and healthcare. They also erode individual and household resources, undermining livelihoods and the realisation of human rights, which in turn increases vulnerability to disasters of all magnitudes. Climate change is compounding existing risks and creating new ones, placing additional pressure on urban poor people.

As part of its programme on strengthening urban resilience in African cities, ActionAid commissioned research to better understand the risks faced by urban poor people on the African continent. This exploratory research comprised a desktop review of the literature on urban risk in Africa, and fieldwork in three cities in Senegal, The Gambia and Zimbabwe. It examined hazards, vulnerabilities, local capacities, power imbalances and underlying risk drivers to identify strategies for enhancing resilience to disasters, climate change and conflict in Africa’s urban environments.