On a blistering cold and windy Sundayin December, the Oxfam Youth Action team trekked out to one of London's most prized sanctuaries, Hampstead Heath. Clad in hard hats and high visibility jackets, we staged our very own landgrab of the Heath-a place that would raise the critical issue of landgrabbing to Londoners.
In the park, we came upon a Christmas Market, and after interacting with the local food vendors, we staged a photo of us "grabbing" their stations and selling them off. We continued our journey around the park, claiming trees with tape and different areas of the park with our signs.
Parliament Hill was our main spot. Once we reached the top of the hill and staged a few more photos, we started to get a reaction from the locals. Many asked, "What's being sold?" and we would respond simply with "the Heath!" This grabbed their attention and kicked off a conversation about the real issue at hand. Although we were only staging a landgrab, landgrabbing is a harsh reality for many people in Africa and Central America.
Did you know that every three seconds, land the size of a football pitch is grabbed by another corporation? This accumulates to land the size of London every six days.
Everyday, corporations buy out large amounts of land that have been lived on and cultivated by small hold farmers for generations. These lands are either neglected, or worse, stripped of their natural resourses for harmful bio fuels. As a result, families are forcefully evicted from their homelands and are left without a livelihood.
When we explained these unfortunate statistics and facts to the frequenters of the Heath, we noticed how little people knew about landgrabs. However, it was interesting to see how our staged "landgrab" of the heath elicited visceral reactions from the people we encountered.
Today was a success. The photos we took can be used to illustrate the dangers of landgrabbing. We will share them via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media websites to raise further awareness.
Youth Action team member Lisa Atsikidi shares her thoughts: "Today gave a visual idea of how shocked people actually were, people actually cared."
Find out more about the campaign and take action with Oxfam
By Holly Carter and Ana Reis