Land grabbers get ready to drive their diggers across Africa. Photo: Oxfam
Land grabbers get ready to drive their diggers across Africa. Photo: Oxfam

Taking land grabs campaigning to the heart of the World Bank

11 October, 2012 | GROW

This week we’re manically busy and absolutely loving it as we continue to make some noise about our new land grabs campaign. 

It's the World Bank Annuals in Tokyo; not normally an event to get the pulse racing. However, even though it sounds a bit grey, it's majorly exciting to us GROW campaigners. We’re taking our campaign to stop land grabs right to the heart of the World Bank. Bank staff, Directors and their new President Jim Kim are here to talk about their priorities in helping the world's poorest people. And as you might have seen in our brilliant Thunderclap earlier this week we're asking the World Bank to make a crucial step in sorting hunger and food prices.

With the support of thousands of people around the world we’re calling on the World Bank to freeze their investments in big land deals for six months while they make sure that they work for the world's poorest people. Currently, rich land investors are buying up large tracts of land across Africa and beyond - an area the size of a soccer pitch is bought every second. Too many of these deals are tearing communities apart as people are thrown off the land that they rely on to grow food. Without proper oversight of these deals, we can expect more horrific examples like this land grab in Guatemala. That's where the Bank, as a major lender to investors and an international standards setter, plays a key part.

So yesterday we decided to give these shady land investors a face at the World Bank meetings and hosted a stunt where Oxfam Japan volunteers dressed up in suits, jumped on toy diggers, and drove wildly around a huge floor map of Africa, which was made of food. They dug into the food, and ran riot over the continent.

The stunt was a great way of engaging with Oxfam Japan's young volunteers, who were keen to ask questions about all the other great campaigning on land happening around the world - they couldn’t believe we'd driven huge bulldozers round London last week!. As their Advocacy Manager Takumo Yamada noted, "I think today we witnessed the birth of six new young campaign addicts in a country where social activism has been forgotten for decades". That feels great!

It’s exciting times as we urge the Bank to agree a land freeze and to do what it takes to reduce hunger and human rights abuses. if you'd like to get involved then join the campaign

Permalink: http://oxf.am/3ow