Why do people need to be consulted about big project in their back yard?

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!!Description

This month we had a conversation with Gutu Olana Wayessa a University Lecturer in Development Studies at University of Helsinki. He is a member of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) and the Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ). His scholarly work has looked at resettlement and displacement, and livelihood implications of government sponsored movement from place to place. More recently he has been interested in social movements and scholarly activism.

His recent research examines large-scale land leasing in Oromo Region, Ethiopia. Land has been one of the few questions that has shaped the political economy of the country for the last fifty years. In Ethiopia the land belongs to the state and the people, but in practice the people using the land can be nominal in the face of large-scale land leasing. The lands are often characterized as “under-utilized” on paper, but often they are in alternative or customary uses. These are usually long-term, large scale, international companies that are participating in these land deals, and the people using the land are not able to effectively assert their rights to the land. Often these foreign investors are trying to develop industrial agricultural projects on the land that are ill-suited to the land and the land ends up degraded and unusable for the alternative and customary use. Gutu walks us through the case studies from one of his recent articles, which are a living example of the impacts and effects of agricultural extractivism happening on these leased lands.

Shortly after the recording of this conversation, Oromo activist and pop singer Hachalu Hundessa, whose songs were anthems of anti-government protests, was assassinated. This sparked off waves of protests in which at least 166 people have been killed. It is angering and upsetting to learn that such an important figure to Ethiopian and Oromo culture, freedom, and politics was killed, and of the ongoing violence by the state against the people protesting this injustice. www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53238206

If you would like to learn more about these topics, Gutu invites anyone who is interested to send him an e-mail (gutuolana (at) gmail .com) or through his University of Helsinki e-mail (firstname.lastname@helsinki.fi). Please find his profile through the University of Helsinki portal researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/gutu-wayessa

 

!!Subject

Land governance and environmental justice

Period29 jun 2020

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