Seeds of Resistance: Civil Society Organisations, Land Rights and Food Sovereignty in Madagascar. A Participatory Research with VOIALA-Madagascar on Communities’ Resistance to Large Scale Land Acquisition Deals in Haute Matsiatra, Madagascar

Thesis by Castagnetti, Francesca

In Madagascar, as in a large number of other countries, vast areas of community land are being leased or sold to foreign investors, often with the support of the state at a regional level. Large-scale land acquisition deals (LLAD) constitute a multifaceted phenomenon severely impacting land tenure and food systems. These land deals represent a significant challenge for indigenous and local communities when it comes to securing local land sovereignty and sustaining local livelihoods over time. Justified by the international narratives of scarcity (of food and fuel sources), supported by the World Bank and neoliberal globalist policies, LLADs are typically undertaken by foreign investors and multinational corporations to secure control over means of capital accumulation and create development. Communities often lack bargaining power and means to demonstrate and secure land property. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can play a determining role in supporting communities’ claims and responses to LLADs in their territories. CSOs can facilitate topographic and legal support, training and media coverage. They can produce research and information on LLADs which is both relevant and accessible to the communities. They can mediate the communities’ relations with investors and state institutions. They can improve communication among the stakeholders. Lastly, they can fuel and support the emergence of local social movements for food sovereignty and counter-enclosure. This thesis sheds light on how local CSOs in the region of Haute Matsiatra, Madagascar, can support communities in facing and preventing LLADs. Through interviews and participant observation this research investigated what kind of CSOs’ support is already present and what is needed. This thesis is based on community-based research conducted with the local CSO VOIALA-Madagascar.

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