Forced migration, children and land grabbing

Over the past decade, the practice of expelling households from agricultural land that they have subsisted on, often for long periods, has increased, also due to recent food and financial crises and the on-going boom in agro-fuels. This trend highlights how globalization forces are penetrating those sectors, which have been traditionally within the purview of national economic structures, causing local communities to face social and economic adjustments. From a macroeconomic perspective, the economy of the country or region may benefit because of enhanced productivity and growth in agricultural production due to improved use of the land. Export levels may also rise.

Yet, it is questionable whether the resulting increases in wealth are transferred − even partially − to the households that have previously worked and depended on the land. Unclear property rights may leave these (often already disadvantaged) farming households with few protections. Moreover, the consequence of this recent ‘land-grabbing’ is that many households may be forced to leave their homes, placing families, and especially children, in a very vulnerable position. To this end, IRC will undertake a study, which reviews current knowledge about the impact of forced migration due to ‘land-grabbing’ focusing on poor households with children (and youth) in particular. This literature review will then propose an agenda for future research to inform policies that better protect this at-risk group.

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