African Press Association

Zambian rural dwellers threatened with eviction

From ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – HUNDREDS of families in Zambia are devastated by forced eviction by corporates that have turned the rural dwellers’ land into commercial farmers.
The commercial farmers have defied an order by President Edgar Lungu compensate the families evicted in the Serenje district in the fertile Central Province.
A broad range of investors have bought the farming land, with plots ranging in size from 150 to more than 5 000 hectares.
Research by human rights groups has established several thousands more households were at risk of eviction without compensation.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said  the evictions were particularly hard on women, who described their enormous struggles to sustain their families after losing fertile land for growing food, providing drinking water and to use for hunting or foraging.
Some have complained about poor diet because they could no longer grow enough food, let alone put together meals that were nutritious.
Mothers described stretching out single meals to last the whole day, or going hungry so their children could eat.
Many have to trek long distances to find water.
HRW’s concerns came ahead of a conference on land policy in Africa takes place in Ethiopia.
“Zambian government officials will be there, and it’s imperative that delegates discuss how to protect rural communities from being evicted by commercial farming,” said Juliana Nnoko-Mewanu, HRW women’s rights advocate.
– CAJ News