Social and Environmental Impacts of Agricultural LargeScale Land Acquisitions in Africa—With a Focus on West and Central Africa



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This brief attempts to go beyond databases on the extent and trends of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions (LSLAs) to review the evidence on the social and environmental impacts of LSLAs in Africa, with a particular focus on West and Central Africa (WCA). The objective of a longer paper, from which this briefing is drawn (Richards, 2012), was to document impacts. Most reports in the LSLA databases, such as that of the International Land Coalition (ILC), focus on the expected or predicted social, governance and environmental impacts, but relatively few report on what has actually happened, who has been affected and how. This is because most of the reports are prepared before the implementation stage has been reached, and often before a deal has been reached. This review of eighteen agricultural LSLAs case studies draws entirely on secondary data sources, which were purposively selected from the relatively few cases reporting actual as opposed to predicted impacts. Most of these are from the recent ‘African land rush’. That only eighteen cases could be found with a minimum of impact data reflects both the newness of attention to the problem and the fact that many LSLAs have not yet been implemented.