Groups claim World Bank aids land grabs

Groups claim World Bank aids land grabs

The World Bank is accused of helping foreign companies to purchase productive land in Africa and Asia. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/planeteavendre/5505956967/in/photostream/">Planète à Vendre (Flickr)</a>
The World Bank is accused of helping foreign companies to purchase productive land in Africa and Asia. Photo: Planète à Vendre (Flickr)

Development aid is meant to support marginalized populations. But sometimes that aid can hurt the very people it was intended to help.

The Guardian's Poverty Matters Blog reported last Monday that the World Bank is accused of promoting agricultural policies that rob communities of their land. Environmental and farm advocacy groups have charged the Bank with supporting what are known as "land grabs," in which investors are purchasing tens of millions of hectares of fertile farmland in Africa and Asia to develop plantation style commercial farming.

The World Bank sees foreign investment in agriculture as an opportunity to spur rural development. In theory, the investments are supposed to bring jobs, infrastructure and improved productivity.

But the groups, which include Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) and La Campesina, accuse it of promoting "corporate-oriented rather than people-centred" policies and laws.

"The result has often been … people forced off land they have traditionally farmed for generations,” said FOEI in a separate report.

Land grabs have serious consequences for local communities. The World Bank should invest in developing their capacity, not corporate interests.

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