Buy land. They’re not making it anymore.*

Posted by Luned Jones Media and Communications Officer, Wales

4th Oct 2012

Picture: Keith Morris

Today, Oxfam is launching its land campaign to right global land wrongs. The campaign highlights the sale of land in developing countries to rich corporations and countries which is fuelling hunger and human rights abuses across the world.

A couple of days ago, bundled into the back of a car, I along with a number of other Oxfam campaigners and activists took a journey in the rain - to Llanrhystud just south of Aberystwyth and home of the iconic "Cofiwch Dryweryn" mural; a local Welsh protest against the building of the Tryweryn Reservoir - a land grab over five decades ago.

Fast forward to the early years of the twenty-first century, and echoes of Tryweryn are being heard every day and all around the world.

 And that's why, today, Oxfam is launching its land campaign to right global land wrongs. The campaign highlights the sale of land in developing countries to rich corporations and countries which is fuelling hunger and human rights abuses across the world. South Sudan, the world's newest country, was only established last year but already ten percent of its surface area already flogged off.

The scale of this is truly breathtaking. Oxfam research shows  that in poor countries, over the past ten years, an area of land the size of Wales has been sold off to foreign investors every thirty-seven days. And the rate of the sell-off has been accelerating.

In fact, it's estimated that the land sold off over the past decade would be enough to grow food for a billion people - the number of people who go hungry in the world today.

Many governments and elites in developing countries are offering up large swathes of land at rock bottom prices for large-scale mechanised farming, the production of biofuels, or other purposes with scant regard for the lives and livelihoods of those who may have lived on or farmed the land for generations

And as in 1950s Wales, communities feel that they are powerless: overlooked and under-represented. Oxfam Cymru's campaign launch ignites memories of injustice felt around Tryweryn in Wales and links to new injustices and present day plight of thousands of people around the world.  

Oxfam campaign is to persuade the World Bank to freeze investment in large land deals for six months while it reviews its policies to prevent land grabbing.

The World Bank can ensure that investments help not harm poor communities. Investment should be good news for developing countries, not lead to greater poverty, hunger and hardship.

*Mark Twain

Join the campaign - www.oxfam.org.uk/land

Blog post written by Luned Jones

Media and Communications Officer, Wales

More by Luned Jones