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Why Does Deliberative Community Consultation in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions Fail?: A Critical Analysis of Mozambican Experiences
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5522-5280
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2581-2588
2018 (English)In: Revista iberoamericana de estudios de desarrollo / Iberoamerican Journal of Development Studies, E-ISSN 2254-2035, Vol. 7, no 2, p. 164-193Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Community consultation prior to large-scale land acquisitions (LSLA) is a cornerstone that justifies the portrayal of projects as partnerships or land grabs. This study focuses on one of the countries most targeted by LSLA in the last decade, namely, Mozambique. We examine the legal and theoretical bases that support community consultations and analyse their corresponding everyday practices in Mozambique. The article argues that, although the existence of these participatory forums is inspired by normative ideals of popular deliberation, the prevailing practices in these spaces are diametrically opposed to deliberative foundations and values. As shown in this study, this mismatch between theory that is institutionalized in legal frameworks and practice derives largely from the interplay of hierarchical relations anchored in, inter alia, formal and customary ethnically based realms, gender disparities, and livelihood orientations. A core argument of the article is that any attempt to ameliorate these practices must consider critical insights regarding the centrality of enhancing social equality and inclusion in participatory spaces —challenges that are immense in places marked by deep structural inequalities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Prensas Universitarias Universidad de Zaragoza, 2018. Vol. 7, no 2, p. 164-193
Keywords [en]
Development studies, consultation, deliberative democracy, large-scale land acquisition, land-grabbing, land rights, Mozambique
Keywords [es]
consultas, democracia deliberativa, adquisición de tierras a gran escala, apropiación de tierras, derechos a la tierra, Mozambique
National Category
Law and Society Social and Economic Geography Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-36725DOI: 10.26754/ojs_ried/ijds.274ISI: 000449492400007Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85056593972OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-36725DiVA, id: diva2:1261926
Note

Fieldwork supported by the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, and the foundation Forskraftstiftelsen Theodor Adelswärds Minne.

Available from: 2018-11-09 Created: 2018-11-09 Last updated: 2020-11-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Livelihood Implications of Large-Scale Land Concessions in Mozambique: A case of family farmers’ endurance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Livelihood Implications of Large-Scale Land Concessions in Mozambique: A case of family farmers’ endurance
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the process and the implications of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) for local livelihoods, especially the livelihoods of those who make a living from farming. These individuals were historically known as peasants and are now more commonly referred to as smallholders, small-scale farmers or family farmers. What happens to their livelihoods as land under their control is allocated to investors?

Promoters of LSLAs stress that when land acquisitions are preceded by community consultations, there may be synergism between investors’ activities and local livelihoods. Accordingly, local farmers are expected to gain from, for example, closer ties to the market and new livelihood alternatives such as formal employment. Differently, critical voices contend that despite sound legislation on the matter, in practice LSLAs constitute drivers of dispossession, being therefore disguised land grabs. This research seeks to fill a knowledge gap on the immediate local livelihood implications of LSLAs. By employing a case study design in Mozambique (one of the countries targeted by recent LSLAs), this thesis adds empirical evidence that is crucial to the above-named theoretical debate involving LSLAs.

The analyzed case is pivoted by a Chinese company that in 2012 was granted 20,000 hectares in the lower Limpopo region. Despite legislation that asserts the legality of customary land occupation, in practice, land was seized without adequate consultation and compensation. Consequently, local farmers lost the most fertile areas. Nonetheless, farmers were able to regain or maintain access to farmland that was more peripheral and of worse quality. Concomitantly, the company generated a small number of jobs and created a contract farming scheme that, despite bottlenecks, benefited farmers who were able to handle risk. In general, families who lost land and those who entered the contract farming scheme strive to keep a foothold on farmland – a strategy that is partly explained by the economic rationale of seeking to meet the consumption needs of current and future generations. Additionally, family land is embedded with symbolic value (illustrated, for example, by individuals’ relations with ancestors buried in family land). The existence of symbolic and thus immaterial values that land embodies poses insurmountable challenges to the idea that it is possible to achieve fair compensation for the loss of land and the environment in general.

This study shows the renewed pressure (now through the hands of private actors backed by public efforts) placed on family farmers, derived livelihood trends (i.e., the overall precarization of family farming, the widening of economic inequality, and the feminization of poverty), and family farmers’ continuous endurance. Ultimately, this study illustrates local processes and livelihood implications of LSLAs in Mozambique, and likely also in contexts marked by similar democratic deficits and renewed incursions over valuable land that is intensively used. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2020. p. 189
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 180
Keywords
Large-scale land acquisitions, land concessions, land grabs, livelihoods, family farmers, peasants, gender, community consultations, popular deliberation, cultural ecosystem services, Mozambique, Lower Limpopo Valley
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social and Economic Geography Globalisation Studies
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-42236 (URN)978-91-89109-33-9 (ISBN)978-91-89109-34-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-12-11, MA636/via link, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-11-18 Created: 2020-11-16 Last updated: 2021-01-07Bibliographically approved

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PorsaniLalander2018(522 kB)420 downloads
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Porsani, JulianaLalander, Rickard

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