Elite Land Grabbing in Namibian Communal Areas and its Impact on Subsistence Farmers' Livelihoods

"Large scale land acquisitions by foreign investors in Africa for agricultural purposes continue to capture attention worldwide. In recent years Namibia has received some proposals from multi-national agricultural corporations to develop large scale irrigation projects, mainly in Namibia’s water rich north-eastern regions However, to date none of these proposed large scale projects have materialised. But while foreign investors might not have been making headway in acquiring land in Namibia’s communal areas, another form of ‘land grabbing’, driven by politically well-connected locals, is taking place. The occupiers of all the exclusive farms are typically wealthy people with significant local status. Many are civil servants, political figures or self-made businessmen who derive most of their income from non-farming activities. They seldom live on their farms and few have received any training in agriculture. In short, these are new farms owned by a new generation of entrepreneurs pursuing business enterprises new to communal land. This brief examines some emerging trends and dynamics in changing power relations in rural Namibian communities due to emerging new elites and the threats to subsistence farmers’ access to communal land and natural resources."