This is going to be a long post, folks. Sorry, but there is nothing I can do about it. I could, I suppose, just post a little and then link, but I don't like to do that. I figure you can make up your own mind how much you want to read, a little, a lot, none at all, or all.
Anyway, the story is about what is happening to water in Africa. Where it all is going these days. It's a story of winners and big losers.
On the winning side we find the Empire, global capital, huge corporations and the like.
On the losing side we find the multitudes who make up the people of Africa and we also find lots of other animals and plants as well, if you think about it for a minute.
This is one more environmental disaster in the making.
By now, you are thinking, what is this guy talkng about?
I'll let AlertNet tell you,
A scramble for cheap African farmland by foreign investors threatens to leave millions of people without water and could ultimately drain the continent's rivers, a report warns.
"If these land grabs are allowed to continue, Africa is heading for a hydrological suicide," said the report's co-author Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, an organisation supporting small farmers.
Foreign governments and wealthy individuals are snapping up millions of hectares of land on the continent for large-scale agriculture projects to grow food and biofuels for export.
In some cases communities are already being moved off land to make way for these mega-projects. In others, the plantations will divert water from rivers that local people depend on for their own farming and everyday needs.
"Millions of Africans are in danger of losing access to the water sources they rely on for their livelihoods and for the survival of their communities," Hobbelink said.
"The worst case scenario is indeed we end up with a situation where the entire continent's river systems will dry out."
That is what I am talking about.
A report from the
Water grabbing refers to situations where powerful actors are able to take control of or divert valuable water resources and watersheds for their own benefit, depriving local communities whose livelihoods often depend on these resources and ecosystems.1 The ability to take control of such resources is linked to processes of privatisation, commodification and take-over of commonly-owned resources. They transform water from a resource openly available to all into a private good whose access must be negotiated and is often based on the ability to pay. Water grabbing thus appears in many different forms, ranging from the extraction of water for largescale food and fuel crop monocultures, to the damming of rivers for hydroelectricity, to the corporate takeover of public water resources. It also inheres in a model of development which is underwritten by a trade in virtual water.
Water grabbing is not a new phenomenon and has much in common with earlier resource grabs and what has been called the “enclosures of the commons.” 2 The new dimension of contemporary water grabbing is that the mechanisms for appropriating and converting water resources into private goods are much more advanced and increasingly globalised, subject to international laws on foreign investment and trade. There is thus a real concern that a new generation of ‘Mulhollands’, the early 20th Century Los Angeles official who made water grabbing infamous, will profit from this scenario to the detriment of local communities and ecosystems, and at a scale that has not been seen before.(see Box 1) In the context of a ‘global water crisis’, where 700 million people in 43 countries live below the water-stress threshold of 1,700 cubic metres per person, there is an urgent need to put an end to the global water grab.
If you want to know a whole lot more, please check out the post below from GRAIN.
|Ethiopia||1,312,500||84,640||3,600,000||The irrigation potential refers here to the 'economic potential' of the Nile Basin in Ethiopia, which does not take into account the availability of water. According to FAO the whole of Ethiopia has an irrigation potential of 2.7 million hectares taking into account water and land resources. The vast majority of the leased out land in the Nile basin.|
|2,784,000||1,863,000||4,900,000||Virtually all of the water is from the Nile. FAO-Aquastat states that in 2000, the total area equipped for irrigation was 1,863,000 hectares, but only about 800,000 hectares, or 43 percent of the total area, are actually irrigated owing to deterioration of the irrigation and drainage infrastructures.|
|Egypt||4,420,000||3,422,178||140,000||857,822||Virtually all of the water is from the Nile. FAO Aquastat states that plans are underway for new irrigation of 150,000 hectares in Sinai, as part of the al-Salam project, and 228,000 hectares in Upper Egypt at Toshky, amongst others. This would bring the country quickly to its irrigation potential – or over it.|
|Total for all four countries||8,516,500||5,369,818||8,640,000||FAO, commenting on its own figures, states that the irrigation potential figures should be considered with caution and are probably much lower. It puts the overall irrigation potential of all countries in the Nile basin at around 8 million hectares, but 'even these 8 million hectares are still a very optimistic estimate and should be considered as a maximum value'|
|Source: Irrigation figures from FAO Aquastat and FAO: 'Irrigation potential in Africa: A basin approach' Land lease figures from GRAIN dataset on land grabbing 2012 and other sources.|
|Mozambique, Limpopo river|
|30,000 hectares close to Massingir dam leased to Procana for sugarcane production. Project was suspended and government is now looking for new investors. One study puts the total new irrigation plans due to the various land acquisitions at 73,000 hectares||One study concluded that the Limpopo River does not carry sufficient water for all planned irrigation and that only about 44,000 hectares of new irrigation can be developed, which is 60% of the envisaged developments. Any additional water use would certainly impact downstream users and thus create tensions.|
|Tanzania, Wami River|
|Ecoenergy has been granted a concession of 20,000 hectares to grow sugarcane. The company claims that the size of the project has now been reduced to 8000 hectares.||The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project revealed that the amount of water EcoEnergy requested to withdraw from Wami River for irrigation during the dry season was excessive and would reduce the flow of the river. The EIA also predicts an increase in local conflicts related to both water and land.|
|Kenya, Yala Swamp (Lake Victoria)|
|Dominion Farms (US) established its first farm on a 7,000 hectare piece of land in the Yala Swamp area in Kenya, which it obtained on a 25-year lease.||The local communities living in the area complain of being displaced without compensation, of losing access to water and pasture for their livestock, of losing access to potable water and of pollution from the regular aerial spraying of fertilisers and agrochemicals. They continue to struggle to get their lands back and to get Dominion to leave.|
|Ethiopia/Kenya, Omo River & Turkana lake|
|The Ethiopian government is building an enourmous dam in the Omo river to produce electricity and to irrigate 350,000 hectares for commercial agriculture, including 245,000 hectares for a huge state-run sugar-cane plantation. Known as 'Gibe III', the dam has sparked a tremendous international opposition due to the environmental damage it will cause, and the impact it will have on indigenous people depending on the river.||Descending from the central Ethiopian plateau, the Omo River meanders across Ethiopia's southwest before spilling into Kenya’s Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake. The Omo River and Lake Turkana is a lifeline for over half a million indigenous farmers, herders and fishermen,, and the Gibe III Dam now threaten their livelihood. Construction of the dam began in 2006. Studies suggest that irrigating 150,000 hectares. would lower Lake Turkana by eight meters by 2024. If 300,000 hectares. are irrigated, the lake level will decline by 17 meters, threatening the very future of the lake which has an average depth of only 30 meters.|
|Ethiopia, Nile River|
|Multiple foreign investors, including the following in the Gambela region:||Ethiopia has leased out some 3.6 million hectares. The vast majority of these are in the Nile basin, including the Gambela region. The FAO puts the irrigation potential of the Nile basin in Ethiopia at 1.3 million hectares. So if all the land offered for lease is brought into production and under irrigation, the plantations will draw more water than the Nile can handle. The first ones to lose out are the local communities. The government has started a 'villagization programme' in which it is is forcibly relocating approximately 70,000 indigenous people from the western Gambella region to new villages that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare, and educational facilities.|
|Sudan & South Sudan, Nile River|
|Multiple investors, including Citadel Capital (Egypt) Pinosso Group (Brazil), ZTE (China), Hassad Food (Qatar), Foras (Saudi Arabia), Pharos (UAE), and others. Total land deals documented by GRAIN amount to 3.5 million hectares in Sudan, and 1.4 million hectares in South Sudan.||Together Sudan & South Sudan have some 1.8 million hectares under irrigation, virtually all of it drawing from the Nile. FAO calculates that, together, Sudan and South Sudan haven an irrigation potential of 2.8 million hectares. But GRAIN identified almost 4.9 million hectares that have been leased out to foreign investors in these two countries since 2006. Of course, considering the recent tense political situation, it remains to be seen whether and when this land is put under production. But even if a part of it is, there is clearly not enough water in the Nile to irrigate it all.|
|Egypt, Nile River|
|GRAIN documented the acquisition of some 140,000 hectares of farmland by Saudi and UAE agribusiness in Egypt for food and fodder for export by Al Rajhi and Jenat (Saudi Arabia), Al Dahra (UAE) and others||Egypt is fully dependent on the water of Nile for its food production. Currently the country has some 3.4 million ha under irrigation, and FAO calculates that it has an irrigation potential fo 4.4 million ha. It still has to import much of its food. The country is continuously expanding its agricultural area, including the Toshka project to transform 234,000 hectares of Sahara desert into agricultural land in the South, and the Al Salam Canal to irrigate 170,000 hectares in the Sinai, Despite concerns over the needs for water to feed its own population, the Egyptian government has signed off to lease at least 140,000 hectares to agribusiness from the Gulf States to produce food and feed for export. It is difficult to see how this is compatible with feeding its own population.|
|Kenya, Tana River Delta|
|The government has given tenure rights and ownership of 40,000 hectares of Tana Delta land to TARDA (Tana River Development Authority) who entered into a joint venture with Mumias Sugar company to establish sugarcane plantations. A second sugar company, Mat International, is in the process of acquiring over 30,000 hectares of land in Tana Delta and another 90,000 hectares in adjacent districts. The company has not carried out any environmental or social impact assessments. Bedford Biofuels Inc, from Canada, is seeking for a 45 year lease agreement on 65,000 hectares of land in Tana River District to transform it into biofuel farms, mainly growing Jatropha.||The Tana is Kenya's largest river. Its delta covers an area of 130,000 hectares and is amongst Africa’s most valuable wetlands. It is home to two dominant tribes, the Orma pastoralists and the Pokomo agriculturalists. According to one study more than 25,000 people living in 30 villages stand to be evicted from their ancestral land that has now been given to TARDA.|
The impacts of these intensive agricultural projects are numerous and they raise both environmental and social issues. Even the Environmental Impact Assessment of Mumias questions whether the proposed abstraction of irrigation water from the Tana River can be maintained during dry months and drought periods. Reduced flow could lead to damage of downstream ecosystems, reduced availability for livestock and wildlife and increased conflict, both inter-tribal and between humans and wildlife.
|Mali, Inner Niger Delta|
|GRAIN has documented the acquisition of some 470,000 hectares of farmland in Mali by different corporations from all over the world. They include Foras (S. Arabia); Malibya (Libya); Lonrho (UK), MCC (US), Farmlands of Guinea (UK), CLETC (China) and several others. Virtually of this is in the 'Office du Niger' located in the Inner Niger Delta, a huge inland delta which constitutes Mali's main agricultural area.||The FAO puts Mali's potential to irrigate from the Niger at about half a million hectares. But due to increased water scarcity, independent experts conclude that Mali has the water capacity to irrigate only 250,000 hectares. The government has already signed away rights to 470,000 hectares in the delta – all of it to be irrigated. And it announced that 1 to 2 million hectares more are available. One study by Wetlands International calculates that the combined effects of climate change and all the planned water infrastructure projects will result in the loss of more than 70% of the floodplains of the delta.|
|Senegal, Senegal River basin|
|GRAIN has documented the acquisition of some 375,000 hectares of farmland by investors from China (Datong Trading), Nigeria (Dangete Industries), S. Arabia (Foras), France (SCL) and India.||A lot of the land deals are in the basin of the Senegal river which is the main irrigated rice producing area of Senegal. Around 120,000 hectares in the area are suitable for irrigated rice production and about half of these are currently being farmed under irrigation. The FAO calculates that the river has a total irrigation potential of 240,000 hectares. Unesco reports that the flood plain ecosystems of the Senegal river are in bad shape due to dam building: “In less than ten years, the degradation of these environments and the consequences on the health of the local population have been dramatic.” Taking more water from the river to produce export crops will make a bad situation worse.|
|The agro-industrial group Herakles American Farms leased more than 73,000 hectares of farmland in South West Cameroon to produce oil palm.|
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