Photojournalist and Documentary Photographer Luka Dakskobler is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. These images are from his project ‘Land Grabbing In Senegal’. To see Luka’s body of work click on any image.
As the world faces growing food crisis and searches for renewable-energy sources the rush for acquisition of farmland by international investors is in high swing. Especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Under false pretence the acquisitions often result in loss of land and gross human rights violations. The so-called land grabbing presents an additional way of prolonging decades of exploitation of the continent.
Mostly foreign agricultural businesses and investors are acquiring the land for growing food for export or crops for biofuels. The land grab deals are most often agreements between strong international agribusinesses and governments of developing nations promoting development through international investments. Too often the rights of local population and local communities are neglected.
The locals are most often denied access to their basic livelihood and displaced from their land necessary for their survival. Where there actually are employment opportunities for local population they often become dependent on the slavery-like working conditions in the companies. There is little evidence of positive contribution of large scale agricultural land grabs to so desired development of local communities.
"More than 37 pastoral villages have stood in the area for more than 200 years and are now under threat. The company is fiercely protecting their expanding operation on their acquired land (with security guards and barbed wire, journalists are being arrested...), destroying pastures, sacred trees, cemeteries, cutting villages off from each other, blocking pathways..."
Pictured here are just two prominent cases of land grabbing in Senegal. In the region of Ndiaël in Northern Senegal, pastoral communities are fighting against the operation of large agribusiness Senhuile/Senethanol, an Italian-Senegalese (and a shell company in New York) company with very murky operational background. After a violent opposition and casualties in Fanaye 30 kilometres away Senhuile acquired a 50 year lease on a 200,000 hectares of land in Saint-Louis region, including a Ramsar wetlands reserve that was partially declassified for their purpose. 9000 pastoralists and their 100,000 grazing animals live on that land that also provides them with food, firewood, medicinal plants, resins etc. More than 37 pastoral villages have stood in the area for more than 200 years and are now under threat. The company is fiercely protecting their expanding operation on their acquired land (with security guards and barbed wire, journalists are being arrested…), destroying pastures, sacred trees, cemeteries, cutting villages off from each other, blocking pathways… In a semi-arid area they are irrigating their land on a large scale, using the water from Lake Guiers, an important water reservoir that was supposed to provide drinking water for the 37 villages, a lake that already faces dangerously low water levels and pollution. The company intended to produce sweet potatos for biofuel production, but then changed their mind several times and finally decided on rice, maize and peanut production in 2016. The locals are continuing their resistance, beginning their own agribusinesses on a newly declassified land, trying to fight back to survive on their land.
Meanwhile in the region of Kaolac in Central Senegal an Italian company African National Oil Corporation grows Jetropha plants for biofuel production and have expanded their business to peanut production later. The company came into the villages in the region with false development and employment promises, misleading the villagers to sell their traditional land for a small amount of money by signing more or less blank papers. Predominately agricultural communities in the region are now left without the income from employment, and with less land (some sold all of their land) that would allow them to fully fulfill their food needs and invest in further development of their communities.