Within Benishangul-Gumuz regional state, a substantial amount of land has been transferred to domestic and foreign investors by both regional and federal governments over the last few years. The land transfer process underway in the region based neither on the mapping of existing land uses nor on genuine participation of local communities and authorities has been resulting simultaneously not only in the dispossession and displacement of communities from their villages and cultivated lands, but also the destruction of the natural environment that sustained ecological services and local livelihoods. Particularly, Gumuz ethnic groups who depend on customary forms of land access and control as well as whose livelihoods based heavily on access to natural resources are being differentially affected. Despite the claims that the land investments bring social, economic, and environmental benefits to local communities, these anticipated benefits have hardly occurred so far and are unlikely to happen at least in the short run. What appears certain is that apparent threats have been posed to their economic, cultural, and ecological survival. The threats are resulting from the exercise of hegemonic power by federal and regional governments over the allocation of land in the interest of commercial investments at the expense of local land-based social relations and practices. Emphasizing the power relations between local communities, local, regional and federal governments (and investors), this study examines the contradictions of the land investment process and its impacts on local communities through a case study in three administrative districts in Benishangul-Gumuz region.The paper places particular concern on contests over land and authority and how this is played out in a federal context in which authority can be redefined over some key areas as observed in recent land deals.
Moreda, T. LDPI Working Paper 13. Implications of Land Acquisitions for Indigenous Local Communities in Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia. The Land Deal Politics Initiative, (2013) 52 pp.