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31 May 2017

Newsletter n° 73 [ENG]


While AIZ promoters are about to set up new investment zones in other regions, an evaluation of the first series in the Vakinankaratra region bring to light several very serious problems that show the need for full transparency by promoters and respect for local communities’ rights.

In their communiqué of 25 July 2016, RSCDA-IO and the TANY Collective already expressed concern about hundreds of peasants being expelled while they worked and nurtured these lands which they have occupied for decades. Following the establishment of AIZs in the Vakinankaratra region, they are being deprived or at risk of being deprived of their livelihoods.

Land rights of hundreds of peasants are being violated

A workshop to evaluate the first AIZs in Vakinankaratra was held in February 2017. It appears that no alternative was proposed to victims of the expulsions. Local and regional authorities still shift the blame on each other about finding solutions, in spite of the existing regulation about forced evictions which makes it an obligation.

In the AIZ of Ibity municipality, where there have been many evictions, the Mayor stressed that the Municipality does not have alternative lands to offer to evicted villagers. So it is up to the Region and/or investors to fulfil this obligation. The situation is all the more scandalous as evicted peasants are prohibited from accessing land for subsistance farming, while the investor to whom the land was allocated is still not using it.

Moreover, the AIZ occupants in Andravola were evicted to make way for an association of farmers coming from another region to grow soybeans. This step taken by AIZ promoters is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is not only unfair but also creates conflict between peasants, since access to land is crucial to people’s survival.

The regulatory framework governing AIZ investments is inadequate.

During the evaluation workshop, investors themselves demanded that performance indicators be clearly established, taking into account the gaps which were identified in the AIZ regulations.

Generally speaking, 9 out of 23 projects approved for implementation in the AIZ were abandoned. It appears that the monitoring and control of projects in the AIZ leave much to be desired. Since the zone was set up, only one investor was expelled for disrespecting the terms of the investment contract. Yet there are particularly disturbing flaws in how land is managed, which is very opaque and subject to other anomalies.

It was stressed that poor peasants, who were allocated lots of 5 ha by some municipalities within the AIZ, had to pay rent as if they were investors, even though these lands were supposed to be assigned to them free of charge because it’s their right and because have no access to financial assets.

Furthermore, some investors complained that they had to pay several times for the lands they were allocated, without getting guarantees of their rights by the Region. This raises the issue of the real terms of the contract between the two parties : are the investors demanding ownership rights or use rights ? It should be noted that this question went unanswered during the workshop.

Peasant organisations demand that the implementation of AIZs in the Vakinankaratra region stop

Given the tragic situation of small farmers who have been expelled or are at risk of be expelled in the next phase of AIZs, representatives of peasant organisations who took part in the workshop, demanded that land allocations to investors at the expense of small farmers who do family farming in the Vakinankaratra be stopped, and that reallocation by the Region of the remaining ‘unoccupied’ lands should benefit small farmers.

In addition, peasants demand that AIZ promoters stop allocating lands that they occupy to investors and that only unused lands be allocate, lands which are not in use either by farmers or by herders, since investors have more capacities to clear them.

RSCDA-IO and the TANY Collective once more remind AIZ promoters, whether technicians or decision makers, that taking account of farmers’ viewpoints is a necessary condition for the success of any initiative that impacts their livelihoods and land rights. Access to land and natural resources, as well as control by farming families over their agricultural activities, are basic rights which must be respected, at the risk of forcing legitimate rights holders to express disagreement in various ways and to wreck investors enthusiasm.

21 April 2017

For the Research and Support for Development Alternatives – Indian Ocean (RSCDA-IO)
Randriamaro Zo, Coordinator ; ;

For the Collective for the defense of Malagasy lands – TANY
Rakotondrainibe Mamy, chairwoman ; ;


[1At the workshop that evaluated the results of the first series of AIZs, organized in Antsirabe Lovasoa Center by the Ministry in charge of Land and the Ministry of Agriculture.