Daily Video

February 29, 2012

Ethiopian Villagers Fight for Natural Resources

In Ethiopia, the villagers who have farmed the same land for centuries are at odds with a government that wants to lease fertile farmland to foreign companies wanting to set up large-scale farming operations.

Even though the villagers who were forced to move were told they would find better farming conditions in their new home, they say that hasn’t been the case. Over the next two years, 1.5 million people in four regions of Ethiopia will be relocated. The government insists that the relocation is voluntary.

But Human Rights Watch says Anuak are being forced to move so that the government can lease the land to investors. The rights group recently documented cases of violence and arbitrary arrest.

Most of the foreign farmers who lease the land are growing rice on it, which takes a huge amount of water to grow. Although the farmers say the food production will be good for the Ethiopian people, providing jobs and economic opportunity, many environmentalists say rice farming will be too much of a drain on the country’s natural resources.


“When I see my village, very small in the face of this big population coming in, I see a big threat. We need to fight for the future of our children.” – Okok Ojulo, Anuak leader

“Our objective is to put Ethiopia in the rice map of the world. We would like to export about one million tons of rice. We expect about $1 billion of income for the country.” – Haile Assegide, Saudi Star Agricultural Development

Warm Up Questions

1. What continent is Ethiopia on? What do you know about life there?

2. What is a natural resource? Give some examples.

3. Why is land valuable?

Discussion Questions

1. Do you agree with developers that it’s better for Ethiopia’s future to have large-scale farm operations there? Why or why not?

2. Why could it be a problem that so much water is required to grow rice in Ethiopia? Where does rice grow natively, and why would it be easier to grow it in those places than in Ethiopia?

3. Why do you think foreign investors are going to Africa to lease land and grow crops?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

Food for Nine Billion Project

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