After a spout of optimism surrounding Myanmar’s so-called democratic transition in the post-2010 period, more recent work by CSOs and academics have emphasized the rampant and violent processes of land and ocean grabbing that this transition is facilitating. Drawing on a case from Northern Tanintharyi in the Southeast of the country, this article attempts to historicize contemporary accounts of these grabbing processes.
Shifting cultivation is a form of agro-forestry in which the cultivation of annual agricultural crops is combined with fallowing long enough for trees to grow before the plot is cultivated again. Why is shifting cultivation so controversial, and why do different stakeholders hold such divergent views - for some a valuable and honourable tradition but for others virtually a criminal activity?
There are serious concerns that government reforms will further exacerbate land tenure and food insecurity for the majority of the population in Myanmar who rely on their farm fields and forests for their livelihoods.
Climate change mitigation/adaptation and land grabbing are not necessarily isolated or separate phenomena. In many parts of the world such initiatives are hitting the ground in the same spaces and at the same time, often alongside environmental conservation programs as well. When they overlap and intersect, the results can be socially and politically explosive. In the transitional settings of Cambodia and Myanmar, old conflicts are being enflamed and new conflicts are being ignited, while customary ways of life and production systems are being branded as destructive or inefficient (or both) and ordinary villagers are being squeezed out.
Using collaborative action research the MOSAIC project is working to strengthen understanding of these dynamics and build capacity for more effective state policies and grassroots action and interaction, for socially and environmentally just outcomes in the case study areas and beyond.
Top-down conservation projects, (Eco-)tourism, large-scale aquaculture and the expansion of industrial infrastructure are transforming Myanmar. Myanmar's coastal and inland aquatic resources are vast, but these evolving processes and dynamics raise important questions about who benefits from using these resources, who gets to access them and where control lies.
Amidst the many challenges Myanmar now faces, the threats to the environment are urgent – and they are growing more extreme. The situation is especially serious in the case of mega dams and hydropower where a host of projects are being promoted, without appropriate planning or public consultation, that are likely to cause irreversible harm to communities and natural ecosystems around the country. Not only are many of the projects located in nationality areas that are conflict zones, but the bulk of the energy produced will also be exported to neighbouring countries.
What is the role of land in establishing lasting future peace in Myanmar? The country is at a crossroads, and facing rapid land polarization. However, the inauguration of a new government chosen by a landslide in historic elections offers an unprecedented opportunity to change course in a positive direction. An approach that prioritizes poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups especially ethnic nationalities, women, and youth, could lay a foundation for peace.
The Irrawaddy - Several of Burma’s civil society organizations (CSOs) and ethnic community leaders have called for the government to develop a national land restitution policy for communities displaced by conflict.
The recent political and economic liberalization in Burma/Myanmar, while indicative of some positive steps toward democratisation, has increased foreign and domestic investments and geared the economy toward industrialisation and large-scale agriculture. Land governance procedures and implementation tend to favour the more powerful and well-connected, with little protection mechanism for the majority smallholding farmers in the country.
Jennifer Franco, Hannah Twomey, Khu Khu Ju, Pietje Vervest, Tom Kramer
28 Enero 2016
“Land is like our vein; it is vital for our living. After our land was confiscated, we don’t know what to do for our livelihood,” says a farmer from Kachin State in Myanmar. Today many inhabitants of rural communities in Myanmar live under threat of losing their lands in a battle for resources spurred by ethnic conflict, exploitative land laws, and powerful economic actors. The existence of a legal right to the land does not translate into that right being respected in practice, and people across the country are now working to protect their right to the land.
Alberto Alonso-Fradejas (PhD in Development Studies/Political Ecology, ISS-EUR) is a researcher at the Agrarian and Environmental Justice Program of the Transnational Institute (TNI), a post-doc researcher at the ISS and a research fellow of the Guatemalan Institute of Agrarian and Rural Studies (IDEAR). He is Reviews Section Co-editor of the Journal of Peasant Studies. He has been working for...