Land Grabs

Big land grabs are forcing hardworking families from their homes, jobs and food.



Time out on the global land rush

Globally, an area more than double the size of British Columbia has been sold off in the rush for land. Land that could feed nearly 900 million people—the number of people who go to bed hungry every night.

In developing countries, too often, land deals involve mass evictions of poor families, sometimes violently, without consultation or compensation.

Oxfam's research shows that land sold as 'unused' or 'undeveloped' is often being used by women to grow food, raise livestock and collect water and firewood for their families. But because women have very limited ownership of land to begin with, it is even easier for companies to take this land away from them.


Mwajuma Mbonde, Tanzania, harvests rice on the farm where she lives with her husband and seven children. Image: Oxfam


What is a land grab? 

When profits are being pocketed while poor women lose their livelihoods, rights and access to much needed resources, land acquisitions become land grabs. Land grabs:

  • violate human rights;
  • fail to consult affected people;
  • don't get proper consent; and
  • happen in secret



Get the facts

  • 2/3 of foreign land deals take place in developing countries with serious hunger problems
  • Countries with most foreign land deals are those with the poorest protection of people's land rights
  • 60% of land deals over the past decade have grown crops to produce biofuels rather than food

Land grabs: the real story from Guatemala 

Live ammunition and tear gas were used to evict the people of 14 Mayan Q’eqchi villages in Guatemala’s Polochic River Valley beginning in the dead of the night of March 15, 2011. 

Residents were given an hour to leave. Hundreds of homes were burned down and crops destroyed. About 800 families were left with no shelter or food, many are now camping on the sides of the road. This violence was to clear the way for a large sugarcane plantation to produce biofuel. 

"The men fled to the mountains, the women had to find a way to live.
People lost everything; they became nothing but cheap labour."  

People around the world are resisting land grabs and want change.