Narratives to justify displacing farmers and herders
“’Unused land’ and unfulfilled promises: justifications for displacing communities in East Africa” is a paper that was presented at a 2012 conference at Cornell University on Global Land Grabbing. It examines the policy narratives used by commercial investors to justify large-scale land acquisition in Ethiopia and Kenya. The pattern of discourse is based on the ideas that the land is underused, cheap and available and the premise that modern agricultural technology applied on a large scale will be more productive than small-scale cropping and herding. Promises to build a well, school, clinic or the like – even if fulfilled – fall woefully short of addressing the real scope of community needs or of compensating for land and other resources taken. The author recalls the words of Machiavelli: “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present”.