April 3, 2015

On Monday I was joined by Josaphat from our team in Tanzania and Adriano Campolina, ActionAid International’s CEO, to deliver a petition from nearly 6,000 ActionAid supporters calling for an end to the New Alliance.

We met with Gayle Smith, who advises the President on global development issues, to discuss our concerns about the negative impacts of the New Alliance on the land rights of smallholder farming communities – especially the farmers from the Bagamoyo District in Tanzania, who are facing eviction because of a New Alliance project by a Swedish-owned company called EcoEnergy.

She listened to our summary of how the land grab is impacting the communities, and promised to get in contact with the Tanzanian government about the case.

However, she expressed the view that the land tenure issues emerging in Tanzania were not typical impacts of New Alliance policies and projects supported by the US government.

While we could not agree on the risks of New Alliance land policies favoring large-scale investors, we did find common ground on the need to for governments to invest in smallholder farmers through alternative programs like the Global Fund for Agriculture (GAFSP).

Ms. Smith also expressed interest in hearing new ideas from ActionAid such as Brazil’s initiative to support small-scale producers through procurement of locally produced food for school lunches.

ActionAid’s report has brought the realities of the Bagamoyo project to the attention of the project funders as well as the company, and provided much-needed support to the local communities fighting eviction from their land. We will continue to push for the rights of people living in Bagamoyo to have access to all information, and to make decisions, on whether or how the project goes forward.

We will also continue to bring to light the negative land tenure impacts of the New Alliance policies not only in Tanzania, but in other countries where we work, until the initiative is scrapped. Stayed tuned for more on this campaign.