On the 7th of December the movie Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas - that is shortlisted by the European Film Academy for the Best Documentary 2017 Award - was screened at the Top Kino in Vienna. The movie explores the issue of big scale agricultural investments, land grabbing and the impact on people's lives, as foreign investors lease millions of hectares of farmland in Ethiopia. The producers met investors, people engaged in development aid, evicted farmers, persecuted journalists and environmentalists.
After the movie, Kalkidan Negash Obse (Rector of Dilla University / Ethiopia and former APPEAR scholarship holder) and Elshaday Kifle Woldeyesus (PhD student and scholarhsip holder of the University of Graz and Addis Ababa / Ethiopia) discussed about profits with land rights and land grabbing in Ethiopia. Both are team members of the AAPLHRE project, which stands for ‘Advanced Academic Partnership for Legal and Human Rights Education between the University of Graz (KFUG-IILIR), Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU-IFLS) and Addis Ababa University (AAU-CHR).
This event is part of the annual film days that are organised by APPEAR and the KEF, this year in in the course of the International Human Rights Film Festival ‘this human world’.
The discussion after the film screening focused among others on the status of the population group that was influenced by the land acquisition by a big agricultural investment group. The Ethiopean government leases arable land to big-scale agricultural investors. As a consequense indigenous population groups have to be relocated and they are offered another peace of land and basic services in exchange as well as the possibility to work as day labourers for these big enterprises.
The speakers were asked to comment on the legal background that enables investments in Ethiopia and that might subsequently affect entire villages. Furthermore, the role of development cooperation came up, leading to the question whether development cooperation is a key actor and influencer on both, land investments and the resulting consequences afterwards, but also whether development cooperation should be a means to guarantee that the human rights based approach is an integral part in all activities that claim to be aligned to a country’s development. According to the speakers one could rethink the definition of development, i.e. if it is primarily associated to economic development or not. Also, they stressed that financial and technical support by international development cooperation is a major contributor to Ethiopia’s development and that a lot has been already achieved even though the “goal” has not been reached yet. Nevertheless, they stressed that the power and the intentions of key players are crucial, therefore the human rights based approach should be the pillar of all interventions. A participatory approach that takes the affected population groups into account is a prerequisite to contribute to a holistic development beyond economic terms.
A fully booked cinema with around 100 participants proofed that the topic of land investments, human rights and development in the Global South as well as the Global North’s role in this, is a topic of high interest.