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Large-scale land acquisitions aggravate the feminization of poverty: findings from a case study in Mozambique

Authors
  • Porsani, Juliana1
  • Caretta, Martina Angela2
  • Lehtilä, Kari1
  • 1 Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden , Huddinge (Sweden)
  • 2 West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA , Morgantown (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
GeoJournal
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Feb 14, 2018
Volume
84
Issue
1
Pages
215–236
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10708-017-9836-1
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

The local implications of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs), commonly referred to as land grabs, are at the center of an exponential production of scientific literature that only seldom focuses on gender. Our case study aims to contribute to filling this analytical gap. Based on structured interviews and focus groups, we investigate local experiences in the lower Limpopo valley in Mozambique, where a Chinese investor was granted 20,000 hectares in 2012. Our findings show that land access in the affected area varied prior to land seizure due to historical land use differences and after land seizure mainly due to non-universal compensation. Furthermore, we show that as farming conditions deteriorate, a trend toward both the feminization of smallholder farming and the feminization of poverty is consolidated. Succinctly, as available land becomes increasingly constricted, labor is allocated differently to alternative activities. This process is by no means random or uniform among households, particularly in a context in which women prevail in farm activities and men prevail in off-farm work. As men disengage further from smallholder farming, women remain directly dependent on fields that are smaller and of worse quality or reliant on precarious day labor in the remaining farms. We contend that the categories female-headed and male-headed households, although not inviolable, are useful in explaining the different implications of LSLAs in areas in which gender strongly substantiates individuals’ livelihood alternatives.

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