The Grassroots Journal is a journal founded by Borderless World Volunteers that immerses its readers in the complexities of development studies, as seen through the lens of undergraduates in the field. As an open access journal, it provides an interdisciplinary forum for research and reflection on global development issues, as well as on recent innovations in development policy and practice.
The Journal publishes student academic articles, informative pieces on innovations in the field of development, and analytical pieces on development issues, controversies, and policy debates. In addition, on our website, we publish short, engaging articles that come from our team of writers each week. The subjects of these articles range from interviews with professors, BWV international trips, to unique internship spotlights. For more information, visit our website at www.thegrassrootsjournal.org.
To the Reader: Development can be a frustrating field to study, as students are constantly faced with issues that are larger than themselves and their nations. The writers who contributed to this issue of The Grassroots Journal tackle some particularly immense global issues that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always command the spotlight, ranging from gender equality in the mining industry to an Ethiopian case study of urban migration. As intimidating as these issues might be, in doing so, their work contributes to the global dialogue between bright, passionate minds The Grassroots Journal would not be where it is today without the help of Borderless World Volunteers and the team of writers. I would especially like to thank Brenda Chang, my assistant editor, who has poured hours of work into helping launch this project, as well as Nicole Zhu, whose graphic design work makes our work about more than just words! I hope you enjoy this issue of The Grassroots Journal.
Sincerely, Margot Frazier, Editor
Bringing Visibility to the Issue of Hearing Loss: An Interview with World Wide Hearing’s Executive Director, Audra Renyi By Lucy Nelson
Where are Women in the Mining Industry? A Closer Look into Women’s Participation in Extractive Industries By Maria Belen Giaquinta
Titles or Rights: The Battles for Urban Spaces in Phnom Penh By Katie Gilfillaan
American Foreign Policy: An Analysis of the Evolution of U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa in the Post-WWII Era: A Realist Perspective By Renaud Comba
The Influence of Chinese Aid and Diplomacy in Africa By Katyra Bolger
Youth Transitions and Vulnerability Amongst Rural-Urban Migrants in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia By Suzy Newing
the age of nine. Without access to antibiotics, he developed hearing loss. This personal connection to the problem is one of
Bringing Visibility to the Issue of Hearing Loss: An Interview with World Wide Hearing’s Executive Director, Audra Renyi By Lucy Nelson
Living in a country like Canada where medicine is accessible and healthcare is free, it can be easy to forget that there are many places in the world that lack these luxuries. Of course there is widespread awareness about issues like malaria and the AIDS epidemic, but with these problems in the foreground of international development projects, many other issues go unnoticed. Something such as hearing loss can seem trivial to people living in a country where a hearing aid is just a couple doctors visits away, but without this kind of support, such a problem can be extremely debilitating and limiting. This is why organizations such as World Wide Hearing (WWH) are so necessary in the fight towards equal opportunity for all people. World Wide Hearing Foundation International was founded three years ago in Montreal as a nonprofit organization. Focused more on projects in the field, World Wide Hearing is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring affordable hearing aids to children in developing countries. Nearly 180 million kids worldwide experience hearing loss, but due to lack of awareness, Audra Renyi, WWH Executive Director, describes the issue as an “invisible disability.” As humans we connect visually with our surroundings and hearing loss is a communication disability that often goes unnoticed. However, without hearing aids, this disability prevents children from learning how to speak, performing properly in school, and getting a job in the long term. For many children, “its game over before they even get going,” Renyi says of the disability, describing the profound impact lack of education and other basic services can have on a child. For Renyi, this issue is more than just a part of her career. Her father grew up in Romania and developed an ear infection at
the reasons she began working in this field. However, before she began working at WWH, Renyi worked as an investment banker on Wall Street and it was her interest in microfinance and development that led her into the world of NGOs. She began by working a volunteer microfinance position in Kenya, and then moved on to helping the One Acre Fund in Rwanda, followed by Doctors Without Borders in Chad. After spending a number of years volunteering abroad, she was interested in learning about the administrative side of NGOs, having realized that non-profits need business, financial, and technical expertise just like any other organization.
Renyi runs both the Montreal office and U.S. foundation for World Wide Hearing, but also does some work in the field. When she travels for WWH, she’s mostly in Jordan helping set up the pilot project. This project, Hearing Express, focuses on providing affordable, quality hearing aids for developing communities. In collaboration with the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, the hope is that this project will supply sustainable hearing care for children for a long period of time. While in Jordan, Renyi does much of the high-level decision-making, from hiring local project directors to general administrative work. Though she notes that every organization faces obstacles, the Young International Leader of Quebec Award she received last year proves how much her hard work and dedication is doing for WWH. Renyi described the experience as “wonderful.” As a francophone from Toronto, she has become very at home in Montreal and for her, “it meant a lot to get an award from Quebec.” Renyi’s work is far from done though; she hopes to continue to scale up WWH’s projects. Being one of the only organizations working towards solving hearing loss in developing nations, Renyi knows the organization needs to source millions more hearing aids, which is no small task. She hopes to soon be on three continents, improving the sustainability and scalability of World Wide Hearing’s projects by partnering with governments and corporations. “That’s my dream and I’m hoping it’s going to happen in the next three years,” she said while laughing. It’s a large dream for a small amount of time, but it is this determination that has probably gotten Renyi so far in her career. She is young and already successfully bettering the world, serving as inspiration to all those International Development students who hope to find themselves in her shoes sometime in the near future.
Where are Women in the Mining Industry? A closer look into women’s participation in extractive industries By Maria Belén Giaquinta Introduction For many years, the extractive industry (EI) has been subject to strong criticism from the international public and civil societies due to the socio-economic, environmental and political consequences it brings on the communities where it operates; despite being one of the most profitable industries in the world. Some issues, such as indigenous and human rights violations and environmental degradation, have received widespread attention from the media, development practitioners and international organizations, while others, like women’s rights, have been left in the shadows of this dominant industry. Hence, one cannot help but ask, where are women in the mining industry? Historically, economic activity in this industry has followed similar gender patterns to those observed in society, where men are involved in the arduous and more physically demanding jobs, while women occupy more unskilled and less qualifying positions. Overtime, this relationship has inherently created unequal working relations between men and women in the EI. Therefore, in this paper I will challenge the assumption that the EI affects men and women equally in developing countries, by answering the questions: what are the socio-cultural, environmental, political and economic consequences that the EI poses on women? And how can such gender injustices be addressed through governance strategies? In this essay, I will show how the risks and costs of the industry are unevenly distributed in society to disfavor women, outline current normative principles and laws
to address women’s situation, and lastly, provide recommendations to promote gender equity in a very genderfractioned industry. Effects of the EI on Women In the last decade, it has come to the attention of development practitioners that women account for 70% of the world’s poor as they lack incomes, access to resources, services and socioeconomic opportunities, among others (MMSD 2003). Thus, it is of no surprise that a similar pattern is observed in the EI, where there is a growing bias against women that reduces their participation to a secondary role in a strongly maledominated economic sector. As a result of this gender bias, women’s livelihoods are affected in various economic, social, environmental and political ways by the EI. Firstly, according to World Bank (WB) statistics, due to cultural expectations of gender roles, women are more politically disadvantaged in local communities, since they do not have the right to engage in decision-making processes. In turn, women’s political participation is diminished and their liberty is confined to that of the household (WB 2011). Most importantly, this situation raises serious questions as to how free prior and informed consent is given in the communities, and how representative of the broader population it actually is. Given that men dominate the spaces of social production and reproduction, they capture most of the benefits from the presence of mining industries and limit women’s ability to take advantage of EI projects.
6 According to Lahiri-Dutt (2008), the only way this bias will be overcome is when women’s productive roles in society, the economy, and the household are acknowledged and gender discrimination is removed. Moreover, some of the environmental consequences the EI brings about not only impose a series of health risks on women, such as increased rates of maternal mortality, but they also undermine women’s traditional roles (Lozeva and Marinova 2010). For example, water pollution may infringe on water collection by forcing women to walk greater distances to find safe drinking water for the household. Concerning social effects, Lahiri-Dutt (2008: 16) points out how “women tend to accept poorer working conditions: lower wages than men, no equipment or safety gear […] no toilets or living facilities [among others, which is often] associated with physical and sexual exploitation by the contractors, co-workers and other local men.” Consequently, women are not regarded as equal participants in the EI, but rather as objects of abuse and manipulation. Women can also experience reduced safety due to increased immigration and traffic through the communities, caused by the presence of EI in the area. Besides, increases in the use of drugs, alcohol and exposure to alternatives lifestyles can often lead to higher rates of domestic violence and family breakup, which make women even more vulnerable and marginalized. Furthermore, with regards to women’s economic wellbeing, the EI excludes women from the workforce as men capture most job opportunities in the industry (WB 2011). This is partly due to cultural expectations and a series of legislations that impede women from working in certain aspects of mining, such as in underground mines (MMSD 2003). Consequently, women’s financial dependence on men as the breadwinners increases, which reduces household parity and creates uneven power relations between husband and wife. Women’s livelihoods are further affected by the shift from subsistence to cash-based economies that the EI stimulates, as it encourages men to leave their jobs in the family farm to work in neighboring mines (Lozeva and Marinova 2010). This means women have to take on the husband’s job, in addition to their own, while also attend to the household and take care of the children. Additionally, because paid labor is often more valued in society than unpaid work, changing ways of subsistence to cash can also have implications for women’s land rights, social status, identity and assets, which further widens the gap between men and women. Women thus seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle of marginalization due to neglected public participation and lack of economic opportunities. Such inequality makes them more susceptible to extreme poverty; it limits their ability to build their capacities and develop new skills, and renders their struggles even more invisible in the industry (Catalan-Vazquez et al 2011). Nonetheless, this is not to say women do not benefit from mining industries at all. It has been observed women benefit
from improved medical services, better nutrition, upgraded housing and the construction of facilities such as schools and roads, among others. Such improvements also have spillover effects in human capital, for example by allowing families to send their kids to school (MSSD 2003). Furthermore, Werthmann (2009) suggests that while it is undeniable that women are by in large disadvantaged by the presence of EI, they are not a homogeneous group; thus, many decide to work in mining camps because they offer the opportunity of economic and social independence. The author also highlights how women can be empowered by working on mining sites, as it allows them to escape local marginalizing socio-cultural norms, defy traditional gender norms and access alternative lifestyles. Additionally, “a risk for women arises because of multidimensional effects that the presence of an EI project in the area has catalyzed or accelerated” (WB 2011). Therefore, it is important to reinforce and recognize how, even though companies cannot be fully absolved from sharing part of the responsibility in exacerbating women’s inequality in the communities, the EI are not the sole cause for these incidents, since there are deep-rooted, structural causes to most of these problems. Instruments of Hard and Soft Law The international rights that women have to equality, economic wellbeing, and employment are recognized in a small collection of instruments of law and normative principles. One international treaty is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes equal rights between men and women in all aspects of their socio-economic, political and cultural lives. Women’s rights are further consolidated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), which sets international legal standards for women’s rights. As a result of this convention, in some regions of the world, like South America, respect for women’s rights has been legally bounded to national jurisdiction (CEDAW 1978). Women’s rights in the labor market are recognized in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 100, where it outlines women’s rights to receive equal payment for their labor as their male counterparts, among other rights with relation to employment (ILO 1951). Other declarations, such as the 1992 Declaration of Environment and Development, the Beijing Declaration (1995), and the Millennium Declaration (2000) address the need to ensure gender equality and provide principles to guide women’s integration in EI to achieve sustainable development. However, what is disappointing about these instruments of law is that, despite the fact that most of these instruments of law have been ratified or adopted by most political parties around the world, they are still often disregarded or overlooked by the EI and local governments alike. With regards to normative principles, the International Council on Mining and Minerals briefly emphasizes the need for the EI to conduct gender analysis in the communities where they work, to better identify and address the risks born by women
7 from the industry (ICMM 2009). The Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) also has several provisions that target women and their needs in the context of mining operations. However, the MEM requirements and monitoring are very limited, as they do not demand for any specific form of analysis on the situation of women and their enforcement mechanisms of compliance need to be solidified (WB 2011). Therefore, it is clear that there is a huge gap in hard and soft law to address women’s needs, wellbeing, and rights within the mining industry. Vis-à-vis the vast number of laws and regulations to address other social, political, and environmental dilemmas in EI, it is clear that women are also marginalized in the political and legal arena, since their rights seem to come second to other more popular, yet equally important, set of issues. Recommendations for integration Regardless of the many gaps and challenges to improve women’s wellbeing in EI, scholars agree that a difference can be made to ensure a more equitable working environment, by making external and internal structural changes to EI operations. Concerning internal changes, companies need to change their approaches to deal with gender issues, for example, they could appoint a gender team that creates gender-specific policies and supports the implementation of gender-sensitive development programs in the communities. Such policies and practices should be adapted to the local context and cultures, in consultation with local in-house specialists in community relations (WB 2011). Women also need to be more equally included in the workforce, for example, by implementing policies that ensure a minimum percentage of employment goes to women, so that their representation in mining industries is extended. Legislations for restricting women’s labor participation in mining should also be reexamined and revised based on recent technological improvements and social progress in gender equality (MSSD 2003). While these first recommendations may seem to attend the symptoms rather than the causes of women’s inequality, they might be the first steps towards equalizing gender disparities in EI. Externally, there is a pressing need to implement voluntary principles and instruments of law to closely monitor and evaluate gender performance across various stages of the mine (MSSD 2003). The EI also needs to better understand the local context for women’s environmental, social, political, and economic situation, and measure the risks and benefits the industry exposes this group
to. In order to do this, the WB (2011) suggests companies partake in equal consultation with women to understand their rights, roles and interests. Lozeva and Marinova (2011:7) further emphasize this need by claiming: “the impact of mining on women has been exacerbated by the failure to identify them as a distinct group of stakeholders in the planning and operation of mine sites, and to establish trusted means of communication.” The authors explain how consultation and communication usually occur through community leaders that are predominantly male. Consequently, women’s needs are not vocalized and tend to be subordinate to the broader goals and interests of the community, as thought of by men. This goes to show how more efforts should be put into creating channels of communication between the mine and personal and local women, and on implementing more gender-inclusive development practices with the help of local NGO’s. Local women’s groups and movements should also receive better support from companies, to create a platform where women can express their ways of life and validate their voices (WB 2011). These associations are also instrumental in “lobbying for support of women in mining, training women in environmentally sound mining methods, establishing revolving loan funds, and facilitating the marketing of members’ products” (MMSD 2003: 361). Therefore, if women’s risks from the EI are to be reduced and the benefits increased, they need to be actively incorporated into decision-making processes, negotiations and social participation in mining initiatives. However, the international community disagrees on the appropriate means to attend to women’s needs and increase equality within mining. While it is often suggested that women’s situations should be measured through separate consultation,
some scholars believe that women should not be isolated from
all other stakeholders that are affected by the EI, since this can further exacerbate the group’s exclusion and segregation (Lozeva and Marinova 2010). Despite the validity of such consideration, this approach also represents a big step forwards in acknowledging women’s situations and engaging women in decision-making and negotiation. Other approaches, though well intended, are also very problematic, such as that carried out by Compañia Minera Poderosa in Peru. This method assumes that when women in neighboring communities are satisfied with the EI presence in the area, other factors such as employment, social and economic wellbeing, equity, resettlement measures, and contamination are also optimal (WB 2011). One of the reasons why this perspective is problematic is because it assumes women have equal power and access to benefits in the community, which disregards how women can be coerced and manipulated at times of surveying. It also assumes risks and consequences of the EI are evenly distributed in the communities. However, as it has been argued in this paper, that is seldom the situation and in reality this relationship can be very complex and exploitative. Moreover, often times, due to lack of education in the communities, women are not aware of their rights and can thus be easily taken advantage of by local leaders who wish to hide these inequalities from the public. Furthermore, despite bearing part of the responsibility, the EI are not the only actors that need to contribute to bettering the situation of women in mining communities. The WB (2011) highlights the need of governments to create and implement regulatory frameworks at the national and sub-national level. It also suggests governments create policies, laws and regulations to provide clear guidance to companies on good practice, and increase their capacity to implement allencompassing development plans. For example, loose associations, cooperatives, and savings clubs could be created to give women alternative livelihoods and help them mitigate some of the economic and political risks of the industry. Essentially, “the management plan must move beyond risk management itself and take a broader approach in which the improvement of the life, health and environmental conditions of the women are the objective of public policy, through social, economic and environmental policies.” (Catalan-Vazquez et al, 2011:4) In order to increase women’s inclusivity into the EI and make long-lasting changes on their livelihoods, companies and governments need to attend the structural causes that create such situation of inequality, rather than just treat the symptoms. Conclusion To conclude, it is clear that the EI puts the burden of many socio-economic, political, and environmental consequences on women, because of high social inequality and limited participation. As a result, women cannot access all the benefits that the EI brings about in the communities and they are left in the shadows of the industry. Moreover, the scarce number of principles of hard and soft laws that try to attend to
women’s situations highlights the need of more gendersensitive policies and legal instruments that protect their situations within EI. These obstacles must be overcome to ensure that women receive equal representation in the industry and are able to obtain development benefits from mining. Bringing women to the forefront of the EI and increasing their participation is not only desirable for the industry because it increases the company’s overall sustainable development effectiveness, but also because it improves the company’s performance, reduces conflict, and creates a better and more stable operational environment
New Ground: Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (2002) Catalán-Vázquez, M., Riojas-Rodríguez, H., & Pelcastre-Villafuerte, B. E. (2012). Risk perception and social participation among women exposed to manganese in the mining district of the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Science of the Total Environment, 414, 43-52. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) International Council on Mining and Minerals (2009) International Labor Organization, Convention 100 (1951) Lahiri-Dutt, K. (2008). Digging to Survive Women's Livelihoods in South Asia's Small Mines and Quarries. South Asian Survey, 15(2), 217-244. Lozeva, S., & Marinova, D. (2010). Negotiating gender: Experience from Western Australian mining industry. Journal of Economic and Social Policy,13(2), 7. Ministry of Energy and Mines (2001) Ministry of Energy and Mines (2006) The Rio Declaration of Environment and Development (1992) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) United Nations Beijing Declaration (1995) United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000) Ward, B., Strongman, J., & World Bank. (2011). Gender-sensitive approaches for the extractive industry in Peru: Improving the impact on women in poverty and their families. Washington, D.C: World Bank. Werthmann, K. (2009). Working in a boom-town: Female perspectives on gold-mining in Burkina Faso. Resources policy, 34(1), 1823
Titles or Rights? The Battle for Urban Space in Phnom Penh By Katie Gilfillaan
Over the past few decades, the explosive growth of urban populations in developing countries has led to a crisis of unprecedented magnitude in urban shelter provision. Rapid urbanization has intensified competition for land, which has placed significant pressure on the ability of governments to provide adequate housing for their populations. As a result, the urban poor have been pushed to the peripheries – recent estimates indicate that one-third of urban inhabitants in 1 developing countries now live in informal slum settlements. Significant increases in housing informality throughout the developing world have reinvigorated debates on land tenure, land law and land reform and their impact on urban development. These debates have typically been centered around two policy approaches – one that stresses private property and land titles, and the other that advocates for
stronger protection of rights. Over the last two decades, many international donors and national governments have extensively promoted land-titling programs as a means of 3 increasing tenure security for the urban poor. Formal titles are thought to reduce disputes over land by improving the 4 efficiency and equity of land and housing markets. Cambodia, a country faced with significant struggles over land ownership throughout its tumultuous history, has recently adopted this approach in an attempt to reduce the frequency of land conflicts. However, despite the provision of land titles to the urban poor in Cambodia’s most recent land law, tenure insecurity continues to be a challenge, especially in the city of Phnom Penh. Evidence indicates that 40% of informal settlement communities continue to face the threat of eviction 2
United Nations Human Settlements Program, “Chapter 1: Development Context and the Millennium Agenda - Revised and Updated,” in The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, 2010, http://www.unhabitat.org/downloads/docs/GRHS_2003_Chapter_0 1_Revised_2010.pdf.
Willem Assies, “Land Tenure, Land Law and Development: Some Thoughts on Recent Debates,” Journal of Peasant Studies 36, no. 3 (2009): 573–589. 3 Geoffrey Payne, Alain Durand-Lasserve, and Carole Rakodi, “Social and Economic Impacts of Land Titling Programs in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas: A Review of the Literature” (presented at the World Bank Urban Research Symposium, Washington, D.C., 2007). 4 Geoffrey Payne, “Urban Land Tenure Policy Options: Titles or Rights?,” Habitat International 25, no. 3 (September 2001): 415– 429.
and 28% are threatened by future development plans. This perpetuating insecurity thus poses the question – are formal land titles enough for the urban poor to secure their land tenure? Critics of the titles-based discourse argue that while land titling can potentially contribute to increased tenure security, it is not the only option nor is it always the most appropriate option, given the specific context. This paper will argue that the complex social and political dimensions of land ownership in developing countries limit the effectiveness of land titles as a solution to tenure insecurity for the urban poor. Building on the work of Payne, Bromley and Fernandes, it will present an alternative policy option – increasing the rights of slum 6 inhabitants, rather than changing their formal tenure status. The case of Cambodia will show that despite provisions in the country’s legislative framework that are designed to reform land ownership and improve land titling, the urban poor continue to face the challenges of insecure tenure. In analyzing the Borei Keila slum community of Phnom Penh, this paper will conclude that security will always remain incomplete without rights. If tenure security continues to be equated solely with land titles, the residents of informal settlements will lose the battle for urban space in Phnom Penh, and other developing cities around the world. Theoretical Discourse
The effects of urban tenure status were not prominently featured in development discourse until the late 1980s, as explosive urban growth in developing areas resulted in a host of new development challenges. Prior to the 1980s, many developing country governments saw land law as an area too complex, too sensitive and too political to involve foreign 7 experts; thus land reform was largely handled domestically. Most tenure systems during this time were based on degrees of national land ownership, varying from complete state control of all land to a narrower range of responsibility over specific 8 land uses. In the 1990s, the pressures of neo-liberal driven development forced many countries to open not only their economies, but also their policy-making institutions, to international influences. As a result, tenure policy shifted from public ownership to private ownership, reflecting the dominance of market-driven policy approaches supported by major international institutions, such as the World Bank.
ACHR, “Negotiating the Right to Stay in the City,” Environment and Urbanization 16, no. 1 (April, 2004): 9–26. 6 Payne, “Urban Land Tenure Policy Options.” 7 Jan Michiel Otto, “Rule of Law Promotion, Land Tenure and Poverty Alleviation: Questioning the Assumptions of Hernando de Soto,” Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 1, no. 1 (March 2009): 173–194. 8 Payne, “Urban Land Tenure Policy Options.”
The work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto was, and continues to be, particularly influential in the context of urban land tenure. In 2000, as the international community became increasingly involved in land policy in developing countries, Hernando de Soto reinvigorated property rights theory with his book entitled The Mystery of Capital. De Soto emphasized the economic dimensions of land tenure by advocating that the provision of full legal titles to inhabitants of urban informal settlements would enable their participation in the formal 9 economy. He argued that implementing formal title systems would improve the functioning of land and property markets and provide social benefits, by reducing the level of social 10 poverty in urban areas. Through property ownership, de Soto claims that the urban poor are given the leverage needed to escape the extra-legal sphere, become more productive, and 11 thus eradicate poverty. His titles-based ideology has had a significant impact on international and institutional approaches to land reform and has led an increasing number of countries to introduce titling programs. However de Soto’s ideas were far from uncontroversial and quickly received criticism from the international community. Most critics argued that de Soto promises simplified solutions to the complex problems of land tenure; de Soto concludes that formal property rights are the 12 key to eradicating urban poverty, but makes little reference to the evidence of significant inefficiencies and inequalities that 13 arise from government allocation of titles to the urban poor. Alternative ideologies have sought to balance the de Soto’s theories on the economic nature of land tenure with social and political considerations, recognizing that it is essential to establish policies that incorporate well-defined rights to protect 14 the urban poor as legitimate urban citizens. This rights-based approach views access to land and security of tenure as a 15 human right, rather than an economic asset. Tenure security is conceived of not in terms of formal property ownership, but as “the right of all individuals and groups to effective protection 16 by the state against forced eviction”. Proponents of this approach argue that although tenure security raises important technical and legal questions, it is ultimately a political issue, since rights over land cannot be isolated from packages of 17 rights in general. To ensure tenure security, these rights must 9
Jean-Louis Van Gelder, “What Tenure Security? The Case for a Tripartite View,” Land Use Policy 27, no. 2 (2010): 449–456. 10 Alan Gilbert, “On the Mystery of Capital and the Myths of Hernando de Soto: What Difference Does Legal Title Make?,” International Development Planning Review 24, no. 1 (March 2002): 1–19. 11 Otto, “Rule of Law Promotion, Land Tenure and Poverty Alleviation.” 12 Sjaastad and Cousins, “Formalisation of Land Rights in the South.” 13 Daley and Hobley, “Land.” 14 Van Gelder, “What Tenure Security?”. 15 Assies, “Land Tenure, Land Law and Development.” 16 UN-Habitat 2004. Urban Land for all. Nairobi: UN-Habitat. 17 Payne, “Urban Land Tenure Policy Options.”
emphasize both the social and economic incorporation of informal settlements into the formal city, while guaranteeing 18 access to housing. Attempts at land reform must therefore have broader policy objectives than simply title formalization if they are to effectively improve tenure security for the urban poor. For example, Daley and Hobley argue that in order to “build the voices of those who have few land rights and are excluded from land-related decision-making,” proposed changes to land policy must address the broader context of 19 urban poverty. Securing tenure is thus not merely a question of the formal legal nature of ownership, but rather the ability of land systems to provide supporting rights to the urban poor. Rising disputes over urban land tenure in Phnom Penh, Cambodia will be used as a case study to further illuminate the empirical basis of the rights-based perspective. A historical overview and analysis of the country’s legislative framework will set the context for understanding the existing land conflicts. Examining the Cambodian government’s attitude towards the urban poor and their land rights will help to explain why titling programs have generally failed. Lastly, a specific example of attempted land reform in an informal settlement will prove that tenure security is not possible without enhanced rights. History of Phnom Penh: The Legacy of Civil Conflict The struggle of the urban poor to gain access to land in Phnom Penh reflects a long history of colonialism and political conflict, in which land rights have been characterized by uncertainty. There have been at least five different property rights regimes in Cambodia between the colonial period and the present day, 20 which has led to significant ambiguities in land tenure. In particular, the abolition of private land ownership during the Khmer Rouge period had a devastating effect on the country’s land administration systems. The lasting impact of this regime has limited the effectiveness of any subsequent attempts at land reform. Identifying key historical moments in the development of land rights in Cambodia will help to illuminate the challenges that the modern day urban poor face in securing their land tenure. The modern concept of land holding did not exist in Cambodia 21 until the arrival of the French in 1863. Prior to the colonial period, urban land distribution was highly regulated and 22 possession was subject to the approval of the king. Land rights were not incorporated into formal systems, but rather 18
Van Gelder, “What Tenure Security?”. Ibid. 20 Kouland Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia: Empirical Analysis” (Ph.D., University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 2012). 21 Ibid. 22 Paul Ewoud Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens? Slum Dwellers, Developers, Land Sharing and Power in Phnom Penh, Cambodia” (D.P.D.S., University of Southern California, 2009). 19
were based on traditional customs. Local acceptance was proof of possession, and the king was responsible for 23 mediating land conflicts if they occurred. The royal monopoly on property ownership was quickly abolished during the French colonial administration in favor of a formal system of private property rights. The imposition of property laws in 1884 gave the French better control over the Cambodian population, a stable collection of taxes, and the ability to sell unoccupied lands, which created opportunities for French businessmen to 24 establish large plantations. However resistance from both the Cambodian elite and peasant populations challenged the effectiveness of the new land system. Individual property rights disrupted traditional arrangements of labor exploitation, which angered the elites; and the new tax system provided few, if any, public benefits for the rural peasants, who were forced to 25 pay about 30% of their annual crop sales in taxes. Despite this initial resistance, the implementation of land registration continued with the adoption of the civil code in 1920. The civil code recognized two types of land rights – ownership and possession. Possession rights were based on fixed asset registration, whereas ownership rights were based 26 on formal land titles. However research suggests that given the lingering impact of traditional customs, the distinction between the two was not always clear; many Cambodian at the time believed that as long as land was in their possession, they had ownership of it, regardless of what legal documents 27 they held. The coexistence of modern and traditional forms of th land holding continued throughout much of the 20 century and stimulated a series of ongoing land conflicts between the powerful elites and vulnerable peasant groups. Cambodia achieved independence from France in 1953, but the new Cambodian government did little to halt rising inequality and 28 land concentration. Weak land governing institutions meant that local elites, with their political connections and resources, were able to reap the benefits of the dual land holding system by issuing themselves titles for undocumented land held by 29 peasants. Escalating tensions over land ownership culminated in a peasant revolt in 1967, which was violently put 30 down by the army. Deep political divisions began to emerge within Cambodian society, which led to instability and eventually civil war. In 1975, the communist Khmer Rouge Force, led by Pol Pot, took full control of Cambodia. Inspired by the ideas of Mao in China, Pol Pot desired to build a collectivized, agriculturally 23
Sokbunthoeun So, “Political Economy of Land Registration in Cambodia” (Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, 2009). 24 Ibid. 25 Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia.” 26 So, “Political Economy of Land Registration in Cambodia.” 27 Ibid. 28 Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia.” 29 Ibid. 30 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”.
based economy. Records of land ownership were completely destroyed, as the regime eliminated all forms of private property and assumed full control of the country’s land. The city of Phnom Penh, which had until that point served as the center of economic, social, and political life in Cambodia, was completely evacuated. The city’s two million inhabitants were sent to live in communes in the countryside and were put to 32 work on large agricultural collectives. This extreme social experiment designed to “turn the clock in Cambodia back to year zero” led to the deaths of at least 1.7 million people from 33 starvation, overwork, or execution. Phnom Penh remained depopulated for the next five years and given the regime’s ideological rejection of urbanism, much of the city’s infrastructure was left to crumble and an estimated 32,000 34 buildings were destroyed. In 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, ending the rule of the Khmer Rouge regime. The Vietnamese established a new communist government, which relied heavily on support from the Soviet 35 bloc and the Vietnamese military for survival. The first migration back to the city began in 1979, as hundreds of thousands of people attempted to make their way to Phnom Penh. The new regime initially attempted to control the administration of land, but the population pressure quickly became overwhelming. The government thus declared all land throughout the country to be state property, and authorized that housing could be claimed on a first-come, first-served 36 basis. This, however, became the beginnings of the battle for urban living space in the city. Destruction and neglect during the civil war severely limited the available housing stock in Phnom Penh, and by the end of the 1980s, all permanent 37 residences had been occupied. Overcrowding became the norm – Vietnamese and Cambodian elites took over the larger houses, while the majority of Cambodians clustered together in 38 smaller dwellings, with multiple families to a house. Newcomers to the city began to subdivide vacant land and build makeshift shelters in an attempt to secure land rights 39 through occupation. The late 1980s brought significant political changes to Phnom Penh. With the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Bloc rescinded their support of the Vietnamese-supported government. The regime was thus forced to initiate a series of reforms designed to liberalize the 31
Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia.” Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 33 Ibid.; Kheang Un and Sokbunthoeun So, “Land Rights in Cambodia: How Neopatrimonial Politics Restricts Land Policy Reform,” Pacific Affairs 84, no. 2 (June 2011): 289–308,216. 34 Curtis Lee Puncher, “Forced Evictions, Neoliberalism and Phnom Penh’s Redevelopment” (M.A., University of Toronto (Canada), 2007). 35 So, “Political Economy of Land Registration in Cambodia.” 36 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 37 Achr, “Negotiating the Right to Stay in the City.” 38 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 39 Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia.” 32
country and promote a free-market based self-sufficient 40 economy. Private property was reintroduced in 1989, ending 15 years of a nationalized land market. Cambodians regained the right to possess, use, transfer and inherit land, and all occupations of land and buildings from January 1979 onwards 41 were formally recognized. However, due to capacity issues, most of the land distributed after the reforms of 1989 was not 42 properly documented, which has had a lasting negative impact on tenure systems in Phnom Penh. Complicated procedures and costly bribes made the land registration system out of reach for most Cambodians, and thus only a small percentage of households actually received a title for 43 their lands. Most property rights were instead established based on informal boundaries and agreements between 44 owners. Land disputes soon began to emerge as high population growth, urban expansion, and increasing land values put pressure on both the formal and informal land systems. When the Vietnamese withdrew from Cambodia in 1991, they left behind a poorly equipped and under-staffed land administration, which struggled to keep up with rising demand. This opened up opportunities for local officials and elites to coopt the land distribution process and allocate the best land for themselves. In urban areas, especially in areas of high value, many poor and powerless families were left out from the distribution and were subsequently kicked out of their 45 residential land. Phnom Penh’s first shantytowns began to emerge, as dispossessed families were forced to settle on whatever land they could find; by the early 1990s, an estimated 187 squatter settlements had already been 46 established. Rural migrants were also arriving daily in response to significant economic growth in the city, which put further strain on Phnom Penh’s limited land resources. Despite attempted reforms to land administration with the 1992 Land Law, land-related conflicts continued to escalate throughout the 1990s. Between 1990 and 1996, 29 forced evictions were 47 recorded in Phnom Penh, affecting at least 4,016 families. Since achieving full independence in 1993, efforts have been made to overcome historical ramifications and strengthen Cambodia’s weak land system. However pervasive corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies, two problems that have plagued Cambodia for decades, have challenged the effectiveness of most reforms. Since 2001, the Cambodian government, with help from international donors, has 40
Puncher, “Forced Evictions, Neoliberalism and Phnom Penh’s Redevelopment.” 41 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 42 Un and So, “Land Rights in Cambodia.” 43 Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia.” 44 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 45 So, “Political Economy of Land Registration in Cambodia.” 46 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 47 Ibid.
13 attempted wide-scale changes to the country’s legislative framework to address ongoing land disputes - the two most important initiatives being the 2001 Land Law and the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP). It is with these two initiatives that the Cambodian government embraced the titles-based approach to solving the country’s unstable land tenure system. The Slums and the State: How Law and Politics Impact the Urban Poor Given the enduring impact of political and social upheaval over the past forty years, land policies in Cambodia currently rest on tenuous legal foundations. The rapid transition between property regimes – from private property, to collectivization, to state property, back to private property – has resulted in discrepancies between what government laws and regulations formally say, and what happens informally at the local level. Following the destruction of all records during the Khmer Rouge regime, successive governments have had to rebuild the country’s legislative framework from the bottom up. However the inability of the government to impose regulations after the regime’s collapse created a “legal vacuum” for land distribution, in which an informal system of tenure 48 arrangements began to develop alongside the formal system. Pre-1975, 90% of land in Cambodia was held under possession rights, and the registration and transfer of these 49 rights was conducted as the commune level. In the postKhmer Rouge regime, most locals reverted to these localized land processes, especially during the chaotic repopulation of Phnom Penh in 1979. Throughout the 1980s, attempts by the government to distribute and administer land were often undermined by informal land exchanges. In 1992, the first post-civil war national land law was adopted in an attempt to formalize market-based land transactions and fully reinstate private property as the basis of future land policies in 50 Cambodia. The law recognized the legal right of all Cambodians to own and transfer land and established a registration system for people to formalize their ownership. However, in many ways, this law contributed to the growing problem of land tenure, rather than being part of the solution. The law allowed for conversion of possession rights into 51 ownership through a written application; this gave powerful individuals with necessary resources the chance to quickly register land, which in many cases, was already possessed by other people. The 1992 Land Law thus “set the stage for land grabbing and power abuses,” which resulted in large-scale evictions of the
So, “Political Economy of Land Registration in Cambodia.” Un and So, “Land Rights in Cambodia.” 50 Ibid. 51 Ibid. 49
urban poor in Phnom Penh. In 1993, after the first national election, the Municipality of Phnom Penh and local authorities embarked on a violent forced eviction campaign throughout many of the city’s informal settlements. At the time, evictions were justified on the claim that city “squatters” or slum inhabitants were illegal, and labeled by the government as “anarchists” because they were allegedly occupying public and 53 private land that other people already held the titles to. However, these claims were dubious, given that at the time only a small percentage of households had actually completed the complex and inefficient land registration process, which 54 had been established with the 1992 Land Law. The Municipality announced that it would move all evicted slum inhabitants to rural districts surrounding the city and build new housing settlements for them. However in almost all cases these houses never materialized, and families were relocated 55 to empty fields lacking even the most basic infrastructure. Slum evictions continued in this fashion through much of the 1990s. By the early 2000s, the contestation for urban space had become a critical issue on the national agenda, as escalating land conflicts threatened political stability in Phnom Penh. In 2001, the Cambodian government adopted a new Land Law in an effort to establish a stronger legal framework for land rights. The new law sought to clarify the terms of private property, improve land administration, and expand land 56 registration through a wide-scale provision of formal titles. At the time, this new law was considered quite progressive and a landmark endeavor towards reducing the frequency of land 57 disputes and land concentration. To help overcome historical confusion in relation to private property, people who had peaceful, uncontested possession of a given property for more than five years could become legal owners and request a 58 definitive title of ownership. In order for possession to be valid, it had to meet five basic conditions: it had to be “unambiguous, non-violent, notorious to the public, continuous, 59 and in good faith.” Unlike the 1992 Land Law, which required a written application, confirmation of possession rights under the new law was automatic, as long as the five criteria had
Supreme National Economic Council, The Report of Land and Human Development in Cambodia (New York, N.Y.: United Nations, 2007), http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/cambodia/land.pdf . 53 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 54 Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia.” 55 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 56 Suzanne Chinnery, “Access to Justice? Forced Evictions in Cambodia,” Australian Journal of Asian Law (Federation Press Pty Limited) 11, no. 2 (September 2009): 167–189. 57 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 58 Chinnery, “Access to Justice?”. 59 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”.
been met. This, at least in theory, made ownership rights more accessible to the urban poor who had lived peacefully and continuously in informal settlements for many years. To address the issue of evictions, Article 44 of the new law states, “no person shall be deprived of ownership unless it is in the public interest and ownership deprivation shall be carried out…after the payment of fair and just compensation in 61 advance.” Land clearing and temporary occupation are also prohibited, and the law stipulates that ownership of land will not be given to anyone who cleared and occupied land after the law was enacted. At first, the 2001 law was considered an important milestone for the tenure status of the urban poor, as it secured their rights to the land they occupied. However as the law was implemented around the country, a number of emerging issues seemed to have disproportionately negative effects on vulnerable urban populations. Firstly, Article 30 of the land law provided individuals with the right to request a title, but not the 62 right to necessarily receive a title. This has significantly challenged the ability of inhabitants of informal settlements to access the formal titling process, as they seek to translate their possession rights into ownership. Corrupt public officials are able to use the flexibility of this article against those with actual legal rights, in favor of powerful elite with the ability to pay significant bribes. In addition, there is a lack of supporting legislation and guidelines to effectively safeguard the urban poor as the supposed beneficiaries of the new law. For example, no definition is provided for the “public interest,” which is referred to in Article 44 as the only legal justification 63 for eviction. This ambiguity can be manipulated by government officials and private land developers to justify building and infrastructure projects as “in the public interest,” in an effort to gain access to land that is legally owned by the urban poor under the possession rights of the 2001 law. There is also no indication of what constitutes “fair and just compensation,” which has resulted in private companies and wealthy landlords coercing the urban poor into giving up their 64 land for prices significantly below actual market value. Thus, despite initial hope that the 2001 Land Law would help to improve both the efficiency and equity of Phnom Penh’s land markets, persistent challenges continue to threaten the tenure security of the urban poor. A major initiative that accompanied the 2001 Land Law was the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), a multi-donor supported effort to implement key parts of the law. Development partners, including the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency, pledged an estimated US $38.43 million in technical and financial 60
Ibid. Chinnery, “Access to Justice?”. 62 Ibid. 63 Ibid. 64 So, “Political Economy of Land Registration in Cambodia.” 61
assistance to support the project. LMAP’s stated goals are to “reduce poverty, promote social stability, and stimulate economic development through improved land tenure security 66 and promoting the development of efficient land markets.” In order to achieve these goals, a national land-titling program was designed to incorporate land holdings into a formal registration system. Compulsory systematic land registration (SLR) was introduced to create a central registry covering all 67 land within designated divisions. The SLR was designed to provide opportunities for the poor to secure formalized ownership that would be recognized and protected by the 68 state. To date, the majority of LMAP’s success has been in non-contentious rural regions; since 2002, over 1,000,000 titles 69 have been provided to poor farming families. However, much like the 2001 Land Law, the implementation of LMAP failed to protect the land rights of the urban poor. Tens of thousands of households have been effectively excluded from titling given that LMAP does not target areas “likely to be disputed” and areas of “unclear status,” neither of which have 70 been defined in the LMAP design. As a result, many of the most vulnerable communities, especially those in the path of development projects or wealthy business investors, have been denied access to land titles in spite of having possession rights. A dispute resolution mechanism, known as the Cadastral Commission (CC), was developed as part of the LMAP to oversee such cases of land conflict. Yet according to Grimsditch and Henderson, “communities involved in disputes with powerful and well connected individuals often find their complaints to the CC unresolved, rejected, or simply ignored.” 71 In the absence of a formal mechanism, many communities have been forced to turn to more direct forms of advocacy, including protests and demonstrations, which have typically garnered aggressive government responses and contributed to 72 rising tensions. For the urban poor living on less vulnerable land, the challenges of accessing the LMAP’s titling program are still plentiful. Complicated procedures and high fees, both formal and informal, discourage households from formally registering their land with the SLR. In addition, due to limited administrative capacity and resources, the full registration process is estimated to take as long as two years. This time frame is generally not feasible for the urban poor, who do not have sufficient resources to keep up with the necessary 65
Mark Grimsditch and Nick Henderson, Untitled: Tenure Insecurity and Inequality in the Cambodian Land Sector, Phnom Penh: Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Jesuit Refugee Service, 2009. 66 Ibid. 67 Thin, “Essays on Land Property Rights in Cambodia.” 68 So, “Political Economy of Land Registration in Cambodia.” 69 Mark Grimsditch and Nick Henderson, Untitled: Tenure Insecurity and Inequality in the Cambodian Land Sector. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid. 72 Ibid.
15 bureaucratic steps in the face of land conflicts or eviction threats. As a result of inadequate protections for the rights of the urban poor, both the 2001 Land Law and LMAP have failed to increase tenure security. Legal ambiguities, rampant corruption, and power inequalities have created insurmountable obstacles preventing the poor from benefiting from systems of land administration. Titling programs initiated by the Cambodian government have generally failed to mitigate rising conflicts over urban space in Phnom Penh. Vulnerable communities will continue to be threatened by current trends of economic growth, rural to urban migration, and increasing land values, which have put further pressure on the city’s weak and inefficient land system. The case of the Borei Keila community demonstrates that without enhanced rights to mitigate the challenges of poverty and power, the urban poor will be excluded from access to secure tenure in Phnom Penh. Innovative but Insufficient: Case Study of Borei Keila Borei Keila is a slum settlement of 1,776 families located in the heart of Phnom Penh and surrounded by some of the city’s most valuable land. The original complex of buildings on the site was a former athletes’ village, constructed in 1966 for the Games of the New Economic Forces, which were held in 73 Phnom Penh that year. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the complex was taken over by the Ministry of the Interior, and later transferred to the Ministry of Education, 74 Youth, and Sports (MoEYS). Since the 1980s, waves of rural migrants, refugees from the Thai border, and military officers have taken up residence in the complex and set up makeshift housing around the original apartment blocks. By the 1990s, Borei Keila had become a crowded slum of informal housing, characterized by extremely poor living conditions. Given the prime location of the Borei Keila site, the Cambodian government made four initial attempts of eviction in 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2000, in an effort to reclaim the land for private 75 development. However, community leaders were able to resist relocation by organizing protests and demonstrations, and collaborating with NGOs. Tensions reached a peak in 1998, when the Prime Minister publicly offered each household 76 in the community $4,000 to vacate the land.
discourse and announce its commitment to upgrading the informal settlements of Phnom Penh. The Prime Minister declared that throughout the coming year, 100 settlements would be upgraded and would receive titles to secure their land 77 tenure. Four settlements, including Borei Keila, were chosen for a pilot land-sharing project that aimed to reconcile the interests of private developers with those of the urban poor on some of the city’s most valuable land. The project would provide free land and housing to slum dwellers, to be financed by cross-subsidies from private developers who would be granted exclusive rights to develop part of the area for 78 commercial purposes. The residents of Borei Keila were to receive 4.6 hectares of land, totaling 30% of the area of the site, and the remaining land was reverted to government ownership. The government selected Phanimex Construction Company as the private partner for the project; the company planned to divide the 4.6 sections into two parts – community buildings for the residents of Borei Keila, and commercial 79 development. The final contract obliged the company to build ten apartment buildings for the community’s 1,776 families that would be significant upgrades to the existing living conditions. Construction began in 2004, and by February 2007, three of the ten buildings had been completed. A lottery was held by the Municipality of Phnom Penh to select the first group of residents and 394 families moved into the three new buildings. In an attempt to ensure that the apartments remained in the possession of the intended beneficiaries, the Municipality prohibited the sale or transfer of units in the first five years. However, this regulation could not be upheld against the strong market forces of rising land values and speculation; by the end of 2007, over 50% of the initial inhabitants had already 80 sold their apartments. Community members who had not been granted apartments in the first three buildings continued to reside in the Borei Keila site as they awaited the completion of the remaining buildings. A total of eight buildings had been completed by April 2010, when Phanimex requested permission from the government to “forgo construction of the two remaining buildings, claiming a lack of funds to build them, and requested that it be granted the land earmarked for these 81 two buildings.” This left 300 Borei Keila families without their promised housing and tenure security. Some were relocated to 77
The dispute remained in a stalemate until 2003, when growing political instability led the government to change its official 73
Paul E. Rabé, “Land Sharing in Phnom Penh: An Innovative but Insufficient Instrument of Secure Tenure for the Poor,” in Expert Group Meeting on Secure Land Tenure: New Legal Frameworks and Tools (presented at the UN-ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand, 2005). 74 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 75 Ibid. 76 Ibid.
Rabé, “Land Sharing in Phnom Penh: An Innovative but Insufficient Instrument of Secure Tenure for the Poor”. 78 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 79 Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, “Civil Society Groups Condemn Violent Eviction of Borei Keila Residents,” January 3, 2012, http://licadhocambodia.org/pressrelease.php?perm=267. 80 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 81 Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “Case Study Series: The Continuing Borei Keila Tragedy,” May 2012, http://www.cchrcambodia.org/admin/media/factsheet/factsheet/engl ish/2012_05_25_CCHR_Case_Study_Fact_Sheet_The_Continuing _Borei_Keila_Tragedy_ENG.pdf.
remote settlements sites outside of the city, where they lived in makeshift tents without access to electricity or drinking water; as of yet, these evictees have not received any 82 compensation. However many of the families chose to remain in their homes, until they were forcibly evicted on rd January 3 , 2012 by a combined force of over 100 police and military officials, company employees, and security guards. Bulldozers demolished more than 200 homes and violent clashes between the community residents and police officials escalated quickly. According to Amnesty International, several 83 people were injured and at least 8 were arrested. Similar to the 2001 land law reforms and the LMAP, the land-sharing project has not delivered on its formal commitment to improve the lives of the urban poor through land rights and tenure security. The Borei Keila settlement has become the site of one of the most grand scale land grabs in the city of Phnom Penh. Interviews conducted by Paul Rabé with community residents have revealed a number of important details explaining why the land-sharing project failed, starting from the early stages of the planning process. From the selection of the private partner to the design of the apartment buildings, community residents were minimally involved. Phanimex, a company that prior to the project had only ever constructed bus stations, was chosen directly by the government. A meeting held with 500 residents to discuss the choice of a private developer was more of a formality than actual consultation, given that the government had formally selected Phanimex two days prior to the meeting. A committee of ten community representatives was created by the Municipality to provide ongoing input into the planning process on behalf of the residents of Borei Keila. However, NGOs in the region criticized the committee for its lack of transparency, as evidence emerged that many had received personal benefits from both Phanimex and the government to “short-circuit” consultation procedures with the community. When Phanimex reneged on their legally binding construction contract, rather than intervene on behalf of the urban poor, the government helped to facilitate their eviction. The company was also granted ownership of the land on which it was supposed to build the remaining two apartment complexes, despite the fact that according to the initial contract, this land 84 belonged to the community. With minimal bargaining power and no one to advocate for their rights, the poor residents of the Borei Keila settlement were unable to secure their tenure through the pilot landsharing project. As with previous attempts at land reform in Phnom Penh, the benefits of the project were coopted by
political and business elites, with the resources to be able to manipulate titling programs. The government’s commitment to enhancing the land ownership rights of the urban poor once again proved to be fraudulent. In addition to being denied access to the land and titles they had been promised, more than 300 families suffered significant human rights violations at the hands of police officers, Phanimex employees, and their bulldozers. The case of Borei Keila demonstrates that attempts to secure the tenure status of the urban poor will fail unless their rights to housing are recognized, supported and consistently protected. Conclusion: Going Beyond Land Titles The urban poor residents of informal settlements are losing the battle for space in Phnom Penh. The long history of inconsistent and ambiguous property rights in the city has resulted in an extremely weak tenure system that is not only highly unequal, but also fails in many cases to recognize the legitimacy of the urban poor as land holders. Economic liberalization and the turn to free markets in the early 2000s have meant that recent efforts to strengthen Cambodia’s failing tenure system have focused on title provision. In keeping with Hernando de Soto’s titles-based ideology, the Cambodian government has attempted to roll-out large scale titling programs designed to reduce the frequency of land conflicts, which have plagued the city for decades. A number of complex inter-related factors have distorted the impact of land reform efforts thus far, including pervasive networks of corruption, limited administrative capacity, tenuous legal foundations, and the ramification’s of the country’s war-torn past. Titling programs have generally ignored the complexity of these issues, and have thus failed to incorporate safeguards to protect the city’s most vulnerable communities, who already face the most significant obstacles to securing their land tenure. Critics of the titles-based approach have argued that security always remains partial, and therefore incomplete, 85 without rights. In Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community, this proved to be especially true – a project initially designed to improve tenure security instead led to mass violations of both land and basic human rights. The cities of the developing world are expanding at an extremely fast pace, and Phnom Penh is no exception. Ongoing processes of urbanization will continue to place considerable burden on the ability of land systems to provide tenure security for growing urban populations. If land administration is conducted based on law and title provision, rather than equity and the protection of rights, tenure insecurity will be a persistent threat for the marginalized urban poor.
Ibid. Amnesty International, “Cambodia: Victims of Forced Eviction Detained,” January 11, 2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA23/002/2012/en/bed6 6c9c-963d-4a56-83b1-0fc9178c61b4/asa230022012en.html. 84 Rabé, “From ‘Squatters’ to Citizens?”. 83
Van Gelder, “What Tenure Security?”.
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American Foreign Policy: Analysis of the Evolution of U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa in the Post-WWII Era: A Realist Perspective By Renaud Comba Introduction In today’s world, the African continent is very often viewed as a continent that has a tremendous potential for growth. With its very large reserves of raw resources, Africa is a continent in the rise that will be able, in a few decades, to develop itself in a sustainable way. The African continent is even believed to become a major power in the international community. The United State of America (U.S.A.), like many other developed countries, are paying growing attention to this continent as they know that “[African] countries are just too poor to afford American goods at the present time, but many of them have tremendous potential contrary to some Western prophets of doom” (Kimaru, 16). These beliefs about the African continent are completely different than they were 20 years ago. Africa was seen as a very poor and hopeless continent ravaged by conflicts and civil wars. African people were often categorized as primitive human beings without the ability to create their own governments and protect their interests. Most developed countries assumed that African nations would never be able to fully integrate into the international system based on free trade and profit-making. For centuries, Western countries have intervened in the domestic affairs of African countries. Colonization has traumatized these states, leaving them with no knowledge on how to govern themselves. Civil wars have erupted all around
Africa due to harsh and unfitting decolonization policies. Even with the end of the Western domination in Africa, some governments are still deeply involved in African affairs, which often turn into violent conflicts between ethnic groups. Due to its strategic localization and its amount of important raw resources, Africa has been torn apart by countries who wanted to become more powerful than their neighbors. The U.S.A. and Africa have a complicated history. Raymond. W. Copson rightly reminds us that the “slaves brought by force from Africa, and their descendants who continued to live in slavery until the American Civil War (1961-65), were central to the economic development of the American south and the country as a whole” (Copson, 3). In that sense, the African continent is partly responsible for making America the most powerful country in the world. So why does the American government keep making selfish, unfair, and unsuited foreign policies towards Sub-Saharan Africa? While this paper does not a direct answer to this question, it is important to understand what drives the making of such foreign policies. Many scholars argue that the U.S. foreign policy towards SubSaharan Africa is deeply based on a realist ideology, which I will discuss in the section below.. While a concern with fairness might seem misplaced in a paper about foreign policy, it is vital for policymakers not to lose “sight of the importance for the United States [to be] regarded as a fair and just actor on the international stage” (Copson, 3). If not, policymakers will most likely not be able to
protect U.S. security interests in Africa or elsewhere, which goes against one of the fundamental ideas of realist theory. Since first coined by Morgenthau during the Second World War, various scholars have enriched this realist ideology through the years. According to Jack Donnelly, realism is based on 4 core ideas: the international system is anarchic, states are the most important actors, all states within the system are rational actors, and the primary concern of all states is survival (150). States tend to pursue self-interest by accumulating resources and building-up military power in order to be more powerful than their neighbors. This paper aims to show that, while there has been a significant evolution in the U.S. foreign policy towards SubSaharan Africa since the post-WWII era, most foreign policies taken by the American government in the past century have been dictated by harsh realist ideology. This paper identifies different periods of U.S. foreign policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 80 years. Even though several U.S. presidents were more inclined to make friendly policies towards African countries, pressures from their own political institutions influenced their final decisions in order to take a more realist approach. This paper is organized in four parts, representing four very distinct periods of American foreign diplomacy towards Africa since the post-WWII era. The period from 1945 to 1963, which includes the Kennedy presidential mandate, represents the realization of Africa’s value for America. Johnson, Nixon, and Carter’s presidential mandates symbolize the containment initiated by the U.S.A. towards most of Africa in order to stop the Communist expansion in the developing world. The dissolution of the USSR in 1991 initiate, with the Clinton and Bush administration, a new controversial set of American policies towards Sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, the period of 2009 to 2013, with the election of the first black president of the U.S.A., creates new hopes for the African continent 1945 – 1963: The discovery of Africa’s value for America The end of World War II initiated a major turn in Africa’s history. The weakened European colonial powers could not resist against the growing pressures of their colonies for selfgovernance and self-determination. As such, in 1944 the process of decolonization of African nations started. While the bulk of decolonization occurred between 1956 and 1962, the U.S.A. started to have an interest in the African continent only in 1960, when John F. Kennedy (JFK) became president. Before 1960, Eisenhower decided to “allow its European allies to take the lead in determining Western toward the continent” (Muehlenbeck, 3). JFK’s fight in the 1950s against colonialism and his support for African nationalist movements made of him a famous political figure in all of Africa (Muehlenbeck, 34). For the first time in the history of America, Africa figured as a central issue in the 1960 presidential campaign.
Because of JFK’s special interest in the African continent, he made drastic changes to U.S. - African relations. Part of his mandate as president was to create institutions that would fortify the Western influence in the developing world. His main objective towards Africa was to empower African leaders through several policies aiming at more African nationalism. In the 1960s, these policies were seen as a breakthrough. Kennedy made a public statement in 1961, which showed to the rest of the world that African nations couldn’t be ruled by colonial powers anymore: “We can no longer afford policies which refuse to accept the inevitable triumph of nationalism in Africa – the inevitable end of colonialism [...] Africa for the African” (Muehlenbeck, 44-45). As such, in 1960 he created the Peace Corps in order for young Americans to go work overseas in impoverished nations. He also created the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in order to develop humanitarian projects and distribute ODA to nations in need. JFK’s foreign policies towards Africa are often seen as a genuine gesture for Africa to gain stability and to prosper in the international community. However, it is important to put these policies back into the geopolitical situation of the time. In 1960, the expansion of the USSR’s influence in the Third World was overwhelmingly present. Because of Africa’s geopolitical situation, its ties with European powers, and its numerous reserves of resources, JFK had to react quickly in order to counter the USSR’s expansion. Thus, JFK’s new foreign policies towards Africa were not so genuine. It was a realist approach that pressured Kennedy to take drastic policies in order for Western values to be re-implemented in Africa. In February 1961, Kennedy signed the “National Security Action Memorandum 16, which provided flexibility for the U.S. to supplement Western support to newly-independent areas [...]” (Muehlenbeck, 45). Thus, it seems reasonable to say that JFK’s policies towards Africa were taken for the sole goal of keeping the progress of the Soviet’s expansion in these countries in check, by giving them financial support and implementing American values where necessary. In an anarchic society, rational actors are only striving to be more powerful and extend their influence on other countries. Freshly decolonized by European powers, Africa was the perfect place to accumulate resources in order to develop important military power. This realist ideology adopted by JFK and his administration can be witnessed in the first CIA engagement in Africa. In the early 1960s, a covert mission led by the CIA in Congo gave order to kill the very first democratically elected Prime Minister, Mr. Patrice Lumumba. Mr. Lumumba's involvement with the Soviets was too much of a risk for the U.S.A. as Congo is one of the richest countries in raw resources of the continent. As of today, it is still not clear if Eisenhower or JFK gave the order. However, it shows that the U.S. was still really involved in African nations’ domestic issues in order to protect their own national interests.
While the realist ideology played a major role in JFK’s reformulation of U.S. foreign policies towards Sub-Saharan Africa, it is important to note that Kennedy really understood the intricacies of African domestic affairs (Muehlenbeck, 225). “Kennedy had successfully changed our foreign policy alignment from an east-west rivalry to a north-south struggle for mutual understanding and cooperation” (Muehlenbeck, 225). Until the election of Barack Obama in 2009, Kennedy was often seen as the only U.S. President to have put in place fair foreign policies for Africa (Muehlenbeck, 236). Raymond W. Copson describes ‘fair foreign policies’ as having three core values: “Do no harm,” “the protection of the poor, the neglected, and women and children is the hallmark of any ethical system worthy of respect,” and “Support for civil liberties, and freedom of expression” (5). At Kennedy’s death, a number of African leaders sent their condolences to his family and various memorial services all around Africa were organized (Muehlenbeck, 226). 1964 – 1981: Policies of Containment With the death of John F. Kennedy, the U.S. – African relations changed completely. While the efforts of JFK to make Africa a better place were primarily achieved in America’s own interests, Johnson did not pay much attention to Africa. Johnson adopted what John Gaddis calls a symmetrical approach to containment (Dickson, 167). This approach was raised in Nitze’s policy paper, NSC-68. It is said that a symmetrical approach to containment would allow the U.S.A. to be present all around the world in order to intervene rapidly in case of Soviet expansion (Gaddis, 2). The Johnson administration got involved in two major conflicts in Africa in order to push back Communist growth in the developing world. Nixon and Carter’s administration chose to follow a selective approach to containment. In the case of Africa, the selective approach meant that both of these two president’s administrations would dedicate more financial and military resources in few key countries in Africa in order to counter the Soviets’ expansion. Congo, Angola, Somalia, South-West Africa, and Chad were among these countries. The foreign policy of the U.S.A. towards Africa during Johnson, Nixon, and Ford’s mandate was nothing out of the ordinary in the policy of containment. The flow of ODA initiated by JFK were still distributed each year to countries in need of financial support in order to counter the threat of spreading Soviet influence. Carter’s administration, on the other hand, represents a noticeable change in U.S. – African relations. For the first time in the history of the U.S.A., Carter went on a state visit in Nigeria and Liberia. The presence of a U.S. President in Africa gave great insights into the geopolitical situation of the continent at this point in time. The Soviets’ influence was growing at a worrisome speed in eastern and central Africa. In 1977, the Carter administration decided to put some of
Kissinger’s policies, drafted a year before, in action. These policies were taken specifically to counter the Soviet’s influence in Congo. “Our policy is not just a majority rule, but a commitment to move as rapidly as possible, to achieve a transfer to majority rule without violence, or with a minimum of violence [...] in order to keep the resources that we require from Africa coming to us uninterrupted” (Price, 3). Kissinger’s policies were achieved in Angola; “Kissinger channeled aid to rebel groups in Angola [...] to counter Soviet and later Cuban support for the government” (Copson, 6). This statement made by Carter’s administration shows that, once again, the American foreign policies towards Africa are deeply influenced by the realist ideology. Symmetrical and selective approach of containment shows that the U.S.A. were only interested in Africa because of its geopolitical positions and its resources. Like Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford saw the potential of Africa as a leverage against its adversary, the USSR, during the Cold War. In the realist ideology, the main concern of each state is to survive. As such, they have to make sure that no other power will accumulate as many resources as them. By expanding their communist influence, the Soviets tried to gain more power in specific countries of Africa. The Carter’s administration realized that letting the USSR gain more power in this region of the world might be the end of the capitalist world. As such, for America’s interests and for the Western world’s interests, Carter’s administration decided to put in place policies, sometimes violent, that would open the way to more resources delivered from Africa. Kissinger’s policies were created with the sole goal of containing the USSR’s expansion and not in the aim of helping a continent that has already suffered too much. It is very important to underline the fact that these policies, very often, failed at accomplishing their goals. To an extent, they even initiated several civil wars in Africa, which killed thousands of people (Ethio-Somali War (6000 deaths), Congo Crisis (100,000 deaths), Angola Civil War (510,000 deaths)...). Some scholars believe that these policies failed because of a lack of understanding of the African culture and because of a “one-size fits all” belief when talking about Africa. “[A] serious deficiency of U.S. Africa policy has been its indifference to indigenous African political factors [...] Sound policy must be grounded in a knowledge of local conditions” (Dickson, 172). “[The] failure to recognize what is happening within individual African states [and] an inability to predict the probable impact of policy steps on interstate relations among African states” (Dickson, 173). 1993 – 2009: The Post Cold-War Era After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the U.S. foreign policy towards Africa changed radically. Because of the failure of the Communist ideology, Africa lost its international importance as the “battleground between two ideologies” (Clough, 5). “With the end of the Cold War, the United States
was free at last to develop a new relationship with Africa” (Clough, 2). This new relationship with the African continent was shaped during Clinton’s mandate from 1993 to 2001. With its new geopolitical situation, American policies towards Africa did not concern military or security issues anymore. Their focus was at the economic level. As such, the Clinton’s administration emphasized important new policy paradigms on the “global market integration through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and investment in security through the Africa Crisis Response Initiative (AGRI)” (Morrison, 1). Furthermore, President Clinton decided to strengthen U.S. – African relations by visiting eight African states and their presidents in order to put in place strategic arrangements between their nations. While these visits could be explained by Clinton’s genuine interest in Africa and its culture, they were http://www.rcinet.ca/english/illustration/chronicle/G1ZS42_3051691.jpg
mostly for economic and security purposes. The incompetence and inaction of the American government during the Rwandan genocide in 1994 shows that the U.S.A., like all other developed countries, intervened only if they could fulfill their own interests. “For three months, throughout one of the th greatest slaughters of the 20 century, the Clinton administration never once held a meeting of its top foreign policy advisors to discuss the case of Rwanda” (French, 127). In 2001, Bush’s administration also helped reshape the U.S. foreign policy towards tropical Africa. While always keeping a keen interest in African resources, the Bush administration was inspired by Clinton’s policies, and put dramatic developments in place. After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in
2001, Bush developed a particular interest in fighting terrorism overseas. As such, he initiated the “Global War on Terror [...] and the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI)”, which both aimed at stopping the expansion of religious extremists in North Africa and in the Sahel (Copson, 8). The other development taken during Bush’s years in office concerned the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide, stopping the HIV/AID pandemic, increasing the number of U.S – African partnerships in terms of energy and resources. Not threatened by the USSR’s expansion anymore, Africa became the battleground of every developed nation in order to accumulate raw resources. It is crucial to realize that “African minerals are a vital resource to the U.S. economy” (Kimaru, 13). With its fuel and nonfuel natural resources, Africa is central to the enrichment of the developed world. Today, the African continent provides more than 90% of U.S.’s total imports in copper, gold, diamonds, bauxite and other resources. It also provides a large amount of U.S.’s total imports in oil (around 20%). This period of U.S. – African relations is important, as the American government witnessed the emergence of idealist movements all across America. Because of the development of new technologies such as the Internet, information flowed rapidly and regularly between continents. In 1994, the Rwandan genocide and its 800,000 deaths made the headlines all over the developed world. For the first time, citizens around the world could see the impact of their governments’ policies on Africa. These “idealistic forces coming from outside the realist consensus have intervened to send African policy in unexpected directions” (Copson, 8). “Representatives of advocacy and non-government organizations, think-tank experts, members of Congress – as well as their personal and committee staff, personnel from executive branch agencies, and lobbyists of various sorts engaged in a continuous round of discussions and debates that affect Africa policy” (Copson, 9). However, because of international and domestic pressures, the U.S. government’s policies toward Africa always fall short of its needs (Copson, 9). Even though the world is recognizing that the African continent is more than just a continent full of
22 resources, the realist ideology is still predominant in U.S. foreign policy. Morgenthau in 1944 stated that “a realist theory of international politics will guard against two popular fallacies: the concern with motives and the concern with ideological preferences”. As such, idealistic forces coming from different U.S. domestic institutions and organizations are often shut down in order to pursue America’s best interests. The Clinton and Bush administrations, like their predecessors, are pushed to increase their resources and develop new technologies to become more powerful than the rest of the world. For example, the U.S. political institutions surrounding President Clinton forced him to only pursue relationships with African states that would benefit U.S. interests. As such, in 1994, America had no interest in pursuing military action in Rwanda. However, in 2003, Bush’s administration intervened in North Africa and the Middle East because of the oil reserves that it could gain access to. This sad reality is still present nowadays in Obama’s foreign policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa. 2009 – Today: New Hopes for Africa The election of the first black American president in the United States of America gavenew momentum to the U.S. – African relations. As Barack Obama became an international political figure, he gave new hopes to the African continent. He also gave hope to the 36 million African-Americans residing in the U.S.A.; In fact, most Africans settle in America. Not even a year after being elected, Obama went to Accra, the capital of Ghana, to give a speech that justified his future foreign policy towards tropical Africa. Obama’s strategy was to give African leaders the tools to develop sustainable African institutions and governments. Breaking the traditional top-down approach of all the previous U.S. presidents, Obama decided to take a new approach to U.S. foreign policies towards Africa: a bottom-up approach. He believes that “Africa's future is up to Africans”, “that partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect”, and that “Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions” (Obama, 3). As such, Obama’s administration has “a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don't.” This commitment would enable African states to develop on their own without outside Western interventions. However, the reality of these promises is very different from the initial theory exposed in Accra. Obama’s administration worries about the recent and overwhelming presence of China in African affairs. While China is becoming one of the largest powers in the world, the U.S. needs to keep tight relationships with African nations in order to receive the raw resources that are indispensable to America’s development. Furthermore, due to the 2008 international financial crisis, the amount of ODA given to African states has diminished, often leading fragile nations into debt-trap and humanitarian cris (Republic of Congo, Central African Republic). Finally, the fear of a repeat of September 11, 2001 and the defeat of the Iraq war under Bush’s administration pushed the American Congress and the
White House to neglect African issues and emergencies. The difference between the reality of Obama’s actions and his ideology shows that his decisions are always confined into a very strict realist approach. Obama has to engage in strict economic relations with Africa in order to preserve America’s leadership position in the world, sometimes at the expense of Africans themselves. While Obama could tremendously help the development of this continent by adopting ‘Fair Trade,’ his administration decided not to do so because it could reduce the U.S.’ domestic economy. “The Doha Development Round was in part frustrated by the refusal of the developed countries led by the United States [...] to liberalize world agricultural markets and terminate their own agricultural subsidies” (Zeleza, 233). Beside these obstacles, Barack Obama’s years as president could have positive impacts on the U.S. – African relations. By being elected president, he empowered the African diaspora and allowed it to express itself within the American political arenas through, for example, the awakening of ideological institutions or organization such as the Debt, AIDS, Trade and Africa (DATA), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Center for Global Development (CGD), and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA). Obama’s administration can also push U.S. foreign policy towards Africa to be more beneficial for the African nations. Opportunities in the sector of urban development (i.e. energy, transport infrastructures,...) are wide open for private and public investors (Kansteiner, 4). “The Obama presidency in itself might free the relations between the continent and the United States from their predictable historical shackle” (Zeleza, 233). “Unburdened by the white guilt of his predecessors, President Obama can speak more truthfully to his African counterparts” and understand the intricacies of intra-African’s states relations (Zeleza, 234) Barack Obama is now in a position of power, in which he will decide whether his foreign policy should be more adapted to an African continent in development or if, on the contrary, American foreign diplomacy should stay impeded in the realist realm of international relations. “If [Obama] continues America’s historic bullying of the weaker and smaller countries, [Africans] racial pride will quickly evaporate: after all they are used to being ruled and misruled by black leaders in their own countries” (Zeleza, 235). Conclusion The above analysis shows that, since the end of the Second World War in 1945, four different periods can be emphasized in the evolution of U.S. foreign policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa. The first period, dominated by John F. Kennedy and his particular interest for Africa, initiated new types of relationships with this continent. While trying to find the most beneficial policies for both Africa and the United States, JFK did not
hesitate to put the interest of his country first, creating, in some occasions, deep-rooted conflicts in several African nations like in the Congo. America’s primary goal during this period was to continue its quest for power through accumulating raw resources and more pro-Western allegiances from African nations. The second period covering the years 1964 to 1981 represented a linear and apathetic foreign policy of containment. The only American interest in Africa was to counter the expansion of the Soviet’s influence in these countries. Due to Africa’s numerous reserves of raw resources and its relations to European powers, America saw the opportunity for a battlefield to fight the USSR empire without too many internal casualties on both sides in the African continent. During this period, Africa’s perspective of peace and stability was forgotten, as it was submerged by a bipolar world where decisions were only made in the superpowers’ own best interests. The dissolution of the USSR in 1991 initiated a new phase in U.S. – African relations. The Clinton and Bush’s administrations changed their views on Africa partly due to the emergence of idealist ideologies throughout American society, which challenged the deep-rooted realist approach taken by the previous U.S. administrations. In order to stay the sole superpower in the world, the U.S.A. decided to approach the African continent on an economic level, taking raw resources away from them while sometimes even placing corrupted prowestern politicians in power. Most of these two administrations’ foreign policies towards tropical Africa failed because of a lack of understanding of African’s internal dynamics and because of a rudimentary belief of “one solutions fits all.” The election of the first black American president gave new prospects of hope to the African diaspora in the U.S.A and to Africa in general. While Obama can be seen as a more liberal politician compared to his predecessors when thinking about U.S. – African relations, the reality of his actions demonstrates that his foreign policy is dictated by the harsh realist forces that the American institutions convey. Even though benefits for both sides could be achieved from fair, balanced, and appropriate foreign policies towards Africa, no leader will have the courage to stand up for the greater good of a whole continent as it will never entirely fulfill the United States’ unquenchable thirst for more power.
Works Cited Clough, Michael. Free at Last?: U.S. Policy toward Africa and the End of the Cold War. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1992. Print. Copson, Raymond W. The United States in Africa: Bush Policy and beyond. London: Zed, 2007. Print. Dickson, David A. United States Foreign Policy towards SubSaharan Africa. Lanham, MD: University of America, 1985. Print. Dietz, Ton, Kjell J. Havnevik, and Mayke Kaag. African Engagements: Africa Negotiating an Emerging Multipolar World. Leiden [u.a.: Brill, 2011. Print. Emerson, Rupert. Africa and United States Policy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967. Print. America's Role in World Affairs Ser. French, Howard W. A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. Print. Kansteiner, Walter H., and J. Stephen. Morrison. Rising U.S. Stakes in Africa: Seven Proposals to Strengthen U.S.Africa Policy. Washington, D.C.: CSIS, 2004. Print. Kimaru, Christopher M. International Charity for Self Interest: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Tropical Africa in the 1980's. Commack, NY: Nova Science, 1996. Print. Morrison, J. Stephen., and Jennifer G. Cooke. Africa Policy in the Clinton Years: Critical Choices for the Bush Administration. Washington, D.C.: CSIS, 2001. Print. Muehlenbeck, Philip E. Betting on the Africans: John F. Kennedy's Courting of African Nationalist Leaders. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Print. Price, Robert M. U.S. Foreign Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa: National Interest and Global Strategy. Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1978. Print. Schraeder, Peter J. United States Foreign Policy toward Africa: Incrementalism, Crisis, and Change. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. Print. Zeleza, Tiyambe. Barack Obama and African Diasporas: Dialogues and Dissensions. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2009. Print.
companies begun to establish construction contracts in Africa, leading to a movement of stateowned companies following suit. By the mid-1980s, China’s aid efforts resulted in diplomatic relationships with 44 African countries in total. Currently, China funds projects in all but four African nations, which sustain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, including Burkina Faso, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principle, and Swaziland. China’s investment in Africa increased from 210 million US dollars to 3.17 billion dollars in 2011, a statistic that speaks volumes of its steadfast commitment to African aid. In its contemporary state, Chinese aid is primarily concerned with providing infrastructure to Africa. According to a study from Peking By Katrya Bolger University, China covers over 30% of the total value of infrastructure projects in Africa, ranking higher than the vast majority of other Western donors in this sector. Chinese aid operates on the principle that while Africa boasts an abundance of natural resources and market potential, China can provide the investment to stimulate such potential and produce economic benefits by building infrastructure. Absent from the Chinese aid agenda, however, are attention to women, food aid and education – areas of development that Western aid tends to concern itself with. In addition to this ideological tension between Chinese and Western aid, Chinese donors do not abide by the same specifically defined forms of aid as Western donors, wedging a gap between these distinct practices of development.
The Influence of Chinese Aid and Diplomacy in Africa
The adoption of foreign aid into China’s political mandate has shifted the influence of Western donors in Africa. In the past decade, China has devoted 75 billion dollars of aid to development efforts in Africa, provoking the suspicion of critics who deem the effort an act of monetary self-interest masked as altruism. Critics claim that China’s involvement in Africa stems from its interest in fortifying political and economic influence in the continent with its abundance of highly desirable natural resources. China’s foray into Africa has thus been regarded as a showcase of public diplomacy in an effort to earn international support for its economic objectives. However, such criticism demands the question of to what degree this discourse of suspicion is reasonable or rather, if it simply reflects a Western anxiety about China, once the recipient of foreign aid, adopting the practice of development generally lead by Western governments and NGOs. For its recent attention in the West, the origin of Chinese aid in Africa can be traced back to the 1950s when it was used as a dipolomatic device of solidarity with fellow socialist governments in the continent. In the Cultural Revolution (19491976), China’s diplomatic efforts accelerated under the influence of a radical Maoist ideology, urging China to issue foreign aid to Africa in spite of its own domestic socioeconomic downfalls. Between 1963 and 1964, Chinese President Zhou Enlai visited ten African countries where he spread word of the “Eight Principles of Foreign Economic and Technological Assistance”, intended to challenge both the imperialist American approach and the revisionist Soviet approach to African development. In the late 1970s, Chinese
Aid, or official development assistance, is defined in Western standards by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as concessional funding granted to developing countries and to multilateral institutions in order to promote social welfare and economic development in the recipient country. Instead, Chinese aid exercises a mix between development finance and aid, confusing Western sensibilities of what constitutes aid in the Chinese context. More specifically, the Chinese government urges its commercial agents to pursue a mix between foreign aid, direct investment, export, service contracts, labor cooperation and foreign trade with the final objective of satisfying diplomatic ends. While dealing with such a complex, multi-dimensional definition, it is hard for the public to discern which percentage of Chinese investment can be adequately categorized as financing or aid. Some theorists posit that the Chinese government pays the difference between the interest rates of concessional loans for Africa and comparable commercial
25 loans, in which case Chinese aid comprises the small and seemingly insubstantial in gap in interest rates. The structure of China’s economy, which includes several private firms that are fully or partly state-owned, further confuses the fine distinction between investment and aid. Given the ambiguous intentions and statistics concerning Chinese aid, critical speculation categorizes the outpouring of aid in Africa as a contemporary form of colonialism. Some Western critics are urging African nations to return to the more “reliable” embrace of Western donors, claiming that the focus on commerce and infrastructure fails to address vital issues of good governance and political transparency in Africa, and thus, serves to sustain its’ state of indebtedness. Such voices further insist that political considerations should be the most important criteria where it concerns decision-making in aid – particularly given the authoritarianism, poor governance and corruption that reigns throughout parts of Africa. Further incidents of intercultural clash have fueled voices of dissent, such as when Chinese managers shot at coal miners in Zambia following a labour argument, inciting outrage across the country. Similarly, Lesotho has been host to protests and shows of resentment for Chinese migrant workers. Finally, tensions between China and Ghana recently erupted over allegations about illegal mining, leading the Ghanaian government to deport over 4,500 Chinese gold miners in a firm rejection of Chinese assistance. A host of counter-criticisms have risen to such claims that assert that Chinese aid is not a “bad” form of aid but simply, one that operates in a different mode than that of Western donors’. In “China in Africa: What can Western Donors Learn”, Deborah Brautigam insists that the Chinese model offers more benefits for Africa than that of the Western model due to its non-interventionist policy, accompanied by its investment in infrastructure. Brautigam states that Chinese aid fills Africa’s funding gap in infrastructure, estimated by the World Bank to amount to 48 million US dollars out of a total of 93 billion spent per year. She further points out the futility of imposing a colonial comparison, insisting that competitive advantages exist in any given context. In this case, Africa has minerals, China has manufactured goods and the advantages combine to meet mutually beneficial ends. Thus, the presence of Chinese manufactured goods in Africa offers an opportunity for African manufacturers to effectively compete and flourish in an economic market and not merely “get by”. While the West are said to perceive Africa as the world’s biggest charity, China perceives the continent as a site ripe with unexploited potential, which it has followed up with by emphasizing capacity building instead of giving. Leading critics also often fail to cite that China extends its aids to countries which also lack natural resources. In this way, China’s comprehensive, multi-dimensional agenda of aid to Africa defies any simplistic categorization as “bad” or ineffective, as critics have been swift to declare.
By withholding influence from domestic politics and policy making, China assumes a hands-off, non-interference approach to aid and development that is unlike what some cite as the “imposing” political ideology of Western donors. Some argue that the policy of non-interference enables Africans to initiate their own ideas and problem solving to the development table, offering an alternative to the Western approach that tends to presume the African countries’ incapacity for establishing and abiding by its own stable policies. In contrast, the success of Chinese aid lies in not the donors’ policies but in how Africa chooses to engage with the aid, offering African countries a greater chance to exercise their own will and autonomy. A further argument in favor of Chinese aid insists that because Chinese itself has witnessed development on its own grounds, it has observed and reformed the shortcomings of Western aid interventions, adjusting these lessons to the African context. One could argue this gives Chinese aid more credibility, as it was once situated at the receiving end of aid by Western donors. The practice of Chinese aid poses a threat to the hegemony that the West has long enjoyed in development aid. China has created suspicion around its aid giving by resisting disclosing precise, transparent data on their efforts, as well as avoiding abiding by international aid standards, fuelling well founded speculation as to what the donors are doing and why. However, whether by motivated by self-interest or not, it will undoubtedly be interesting to observe how development changes shape with previously underdeveloped donors joining into the practice. At the very least, Chinese aid has opened up a discourse about the oppression of ideology that development tends to threaten in its execution, working towards a more fair, democratic practice of giving aid. Sources http://www.theguardian.com/globaldevelopment/interactive/2013/apr/29/china-commits-billionsaid-africa-interactive http://acetforafrica.org/chinese-aid-vs-western-aid-whatshould-africa-make-of-it/02-2012/ http://www.worldfinancialreview.com/?p=197
Youth Transitions and Vulnerability Amongst Rural-Urban Migrants in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia By Suzy Newing
Rural-urban migration has occurred throughout the developing world for decades, intensifying with increased urbanization and sustained rural poverty. This process is particularly prevalent within Ethiopia, due to both its largely rural population and its history of internal migration as a response to conflict or famine. While rural-urban migration in Ethiopia is part of a larger global trend of internal and external migration, understanding its scale and implications for development requires grounding an analysis of this process in the particular economic, political, and cultural context of the country. This paper will explore this context specifically in relation to rural-urban migration in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital. Principally, it will address why migration occurs amongst rural youth, who are the primary agents of internal migration, the conditions of arrival, the dynamics of youth and rural-urban transitions, as well as the gaps in literature on youth migration. Primarily, the diversity of motivations that impel youth to migrate into Addis Ababa differs markedly based on sex, and is conditioned by gender norms. Moreover, these motivations are not exclusively economic in nature, but extend beyond searching for employment or educational opportunities to encompass locally specific cultural dimensions, which provide a moral impetus for migration for both young men and women. Moreover, these gender and cultural norms also strongly determine the conditions of arrival for youth migrants, in dictating the occupations that young men and women can access as well as their capacity to integrate into urban society. Furthermore, the structural barriers to urban
residency in Addis Ababa typically situate young male and female migrants in a cycle of poverty and informal work which then inhibits their capacity to transition both from rural to urban, and from childhood to adulthood. Moreover, the context of poverty and vulnerability that defines the lives of many migrant youth blurs the boundaries between childhood, youth, and adulthood forcing a consideration of a non-biological understanding of these life phases. Finally, the literature on young rural-urban migrants in Ethiopia tends to portray these youth as ‘victims’ incapable of breaking the cycle of poverty, and largely obscures the potential that these youth can have to become ‘vanguards’ of change in their own lives. In essence, rural-urban migration in Ethiopia occurs not simply because of economic depravity in rural areas, but rather encompasses larger cultural and gender norms of Ethiopian society, often propelling youth into a vulnerable liminal phase in between childhood and adulthood, and rural and urban. The Rural-Urban Dichotomy in Ethiopia Currently, Ethiopia’s population is almost 92 million, making it the second most populous country in Africa. Of that, 82.7% are rural inhabitants while only 17.3% live in urban centres (World Bank Data Bank). Because of the overwhelming rural majority, the main source of livelihood in Ethiopia is agriculture. This has led to the implementation of Agricultural Development Led Industrialization Policy (ADLIP) since the current government took over in 1991 (Dorosh and Schmidt 36). However, while the government is spending more in rural areas, there remains a significant gap in terms of the type, quality, and accessibility
27 of infrastructure and social services between rural and urban areas. Most social services, such as respectable hospitals and educational institutions are centralized in urban areas, as well as roads and transportation networks. The limited access to transportation consequently constrains rural access to market information, and makes the cost of transportation high, “inhibit[ing] the flow of goods, people, and information” (41). Further, livelihood diversification and access to non-farm jobs in rural areas is limited, which contributes to sustained rural poverty. Thus, even while the government is spending more on rural production, rural poverty remains extremely high with the 86 most recent figure at 39%. This rate has, however, decreased over recent years while urban poverty is on the rise, increasing from 33% to 35% from 1995 to 2005, with 70% of the urban population characterized as slum dwellers (35). As a response to the rising number of rural-urban migrants and urban poverty, in 2006 the government shifted towards focusing on developing urban areas, reducing urban poverty, and slowing the rate of internal migration (35). The vast majority of rural-urban migrants have and continue to move towards Addis Ababa in search of employment or educational opportunities. The city’s population is currently just over 3 million, approximately 10 times larger than the second largest city Dire Dawa (World Bank Data Bank). Because it was historically intended as a military camp, the city is organized into sefers, or neighbourhoods, which favour urban sprawl and are not conducive to urban planning (Heinonen 24). The city has expanded significantly both in terms of population, as a result of high levels of in-migration and a high birth rate, and territory since the 1970’s (Djamba et al 73). This steadily increasing population has placed considerable pressure on already scarce social services and housing, resulting in approximately 60% of residents estimated to be living below 87 the poverty line (Dorosh and Schmidt 35). Significantly, 47% of the city’s population are rural-urban migrants, illustrating the 88 city’s primacy as a destination for migrants (Heinonen 29). Migration: Who migrates, and why? Ethiopia has an extensive history of internal migration, which has been significantly influenced by its political environment. The country saw increased levels of migration under the 89 Derg, who responded to a severe famine from 1983-85 with forced resettlement schemes. These schemes brought individuals from drought prone areas in the North to 1. 2010 estimate, ruralpoverty.org 2. 2001 estimate
agriculturally prosperous regions in the South. As well, rural inhabitants were migrating voluntarily throughout the Derg’s regime so as to escape starvation and conflict with Eritrea (Ezra, 2003; Berhanu and White, 2000). After the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) seized power in 1991, the country saw a political shift towards the establishment of federal provinces based on ethnic grouping. The ethnic basis of provinces “prohibits interregional rural-rural migration flows” and intra-cultural integration in these regions (Ezra 67). Federal non-ethnic city-states, such as Addis Ababa, are the only remaining alternatives for rural migrants, and continue to experience high rates of migrant flows. The dynamics of rural-urban migration in contemporary Ethiopia incorporate an elaborate array of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors that motivate rural residents to migrate towards urban centres, Addis Ababa in particular. In effect, rural-urban migration now occurs not only as a response to significant destabilizing events such as drought, famine, or war but also in reaction to a diversity of continuing rural and urban characteristics that make urban life appear more economically and socially attractive. It is important to note that migration occurs as a result of the influence of both ‘push,’ being the features of rural life that compel its inhabitants to leave, and ‘pull’ factors, being those features that attract rural inhabitants to Addis Ababa. The various ‘pull’ factors of Addis Ababa include perceived economic and employment opportunities, the appeal of urbanization and modernization, as well as the multi-ethnic makeup of the city. As a growing urban centre, Addis Ababa has become tantamount to images of opportunity and prosperity for many rural migrants (Elrukar 367). As such, many studies on internal migration in Ethiopia cite educational or employment opportunities as the primary ‘pull’ factor of the 90 city. Furthermore, Addis Ababa has also become synonymous with modernity and progression, which appears attractive to rural youth living in particularly conservative settings (Van Blerk 249). This appeal most often affects young women, who are attracted by their ‘modern’ relatives or friends on visits to the village. Finally, the multi-ethnic composition of Addis Ababa makes it appealing for many rural inhabitants who are seeking to migrate but are prohibited from doing so between rural, ethnic-based regions (Ezra 67). Here, Addis Ababa becomes synonymous with equal opportunity for all ethnicities, creating a strong pull factor for ethnic migrants (Benti, 2007). In essence, these various ‘pull’ factors collectively describe Addis Ababa as the space of opportunity, prosperity, equality, and modernity. The pull factors of Addis Ababa alone, however, do not provide sufficient motivation for migrants to leave their rural homes. Push factors include the rural-urban dichotomy and the
3. 2007 estimate 4. A communist military junta that governed the country from the 1970’s to 1990’s.
5. Djamba et al 2006, Djamba 2003, Ezra 2003, Elrukar 2006, Heinonen 2011, Van Blerk 2008
subsequent lack of livelihood diversification and access to quality social services, which regularly compel rural residents to seek out non-farm employment opportunities in Addis Ababa or access to improved education. Furthermore, environmental degradation and a lack of arable land in the Northern regions of the country propel rural individuals to escape vulnerability and food insecurity through migration (Ezra 64). As well, the prevalence of harmful traditional practices (HTPs) such as early marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM) amongst some rural regions impels young women in particular to escape the rural world (Van Blerk 248, Elrukar 368). Thus, the combination of the appeal of social and economic life in Addis Ababa and the opposing view of rural life provide a powerful motivation for rural inhabitants to seek a better life in the city. Many studies of rural-urban migration into Addis Ababa have found that the demographic category most likely to migrate is 91 youth, primarily young women. ‘Youth’ in the Ethiopian context refers to the age category of 15-29 (National Youth Policy). Generally, like other migrants, rural youth migrate in search of better opportunities and a promising future (Djamba et al 71). There is a tendency in the literature on migration, however, to understand this process in economic terms as youth seek to escape poverty or access non-farm employment 92 opportunities. These youth, however, also have unique motivations for migration, which are conditioned by both gender and cultural norms. On the one hand, young men move in search of educational or employment opportunities in the city (Djamba, 2003; Elrukar, 2006). Young women, on the other hand, migrate primarily for ‘other reasons’ that are sociocultural in character (Van Blerk, 2008; Elrukar, 2006). The majority of female youth migrants leave their rural homes in order to escape from a range of traditional practices such as early marriage or FGM. Most of these girls come from the Amhara region, where approximately 50% of girls are married before the age of 15 (Elrukar 372). Significantly, young girls living in these regions are often forced to see education and marriage as a choice between either one or the other, as early marriage precludes the possibility of education. Thus, like young men, young women also migrate in search of educational opportunities in Addis Ababa but often do so to escape HTPs. These educational and occupational motivations for female youth migrants challenge the typical understanding in migration studies that women migrate “in connection with marriage and family, primarily as followers of men” (Djamba 93). Here, we see that young women are not passive agents of rural-urban migration. Rather, they actively make the decision to migrate, and frequently do so alone (Elrukar 368). Moreover, the varying motivations for male and female rural youth to 6. Djamba et al 2006, Djamba 2003, Elrukar 2006, Berhanu and White 2000 7. Ezra 2003, Dorosh and Schmidt 2010
migrate are indicative of the significant role that gender norms play in the process of internal migration. Youth migration also occurs in tandem with the cultural phenomenon of yilunta. Yilunta, a term unique to Ethiopia, refers to being hyper aware or worried about what others think about what one says or does in public or in private. This concept is strongly linked to family honour and shame, and plays out differently for men and women. In her study of youth gangs and street children in Addis Ababa, Heinonen (2011) asserts that for women, yilunta means being subservient, respectable, and tied to the domestic sphere. For men, yilunta means being aggressive, ambitious, honourable, and the leader of the household (Heinonen 32). In the context of migration, yilunta can act both as a push and pull factor. For men, yilunta implies that young boys only truly become ‘men’ when they can support a family and are economically independent (33). Thus, there is a moral obligation for young men to migrate to support their rural family through remittances or to seek out higher-level employment so as to transition into manhood. Yilunta, then, pulls young men to Addis Ababa in order to achieve a higher economic (read: honourable) status both for them and their families. Conversely, for women yilunta is tied to the concept of shame. If young women engage in shameful behaviour, such as having sex outside of marriage, being raped (which is often considered the fault of the woman, 93 rather than the man) , or becoming pregnant, they will leave the rural area so as to not bring shame to their family (Van Blerk 249; Heinonen 143). Furthermore, in some instances parents will send their young daughters to urban areas to escape the social pressure of arranging marriage for them at a young age (Elrukar 369). For young women, then, yilunta and the fear of undermining their family’s honour through shameful behaviour pushes them to migrate into urban centres. This cultural dimension of migration reveals that youth migration is not simply connected to individual interests, but is often dictated by the wider socio-cultural understandings of honour, shame, and family. Significantly, yilunta in the context of migration is also bound to gender norms, where honour is associated with young men and shame with young women. Thus, examining the various push and pull factors in internal migration and how they play out differently for young women and men reveals that rural youth’s migration is not only determined by economic motivations, but is also inextricably bound to cultural and gender norms. Arrival Most studies of rural-urban migration to Addis Ababa assert that the majority of youth migrants do not ultimately access the educational or employment opportunities they were seeking 8. As Heinonen explains in her study of female youth gang members who left their homes out of shame of having been raped or forcibly impregnated. (2011)
upon arrival in the city. For the majority of these migrants, their “first point of entry is urban slums” (Elrukar 362). The transition to urban residency is made particularly difficult because of structural barriers that migrants have to confront. In Addis 94 Ababa, the Kebele housing policy states that migrants cannot obtain a resident identification card until they have lived at a registered address for at least 6 months. Oftentimes, these registered addresses are hard to come by particularly for those who lack existing social ties in the city. Thus, many young rural-urban migrants either rent out single rooms in informal arrangements, or become subject to homelessness (Dorosh and Schmidt 33). Urban identification, however, is required for migrants to access various public services, as well as formal education and employment. Hence, the majority of rural-urban migrants are deprived of formal public services and engagement during the crucial first 6 months of their integration into the city. This structural barrier then forces migrants into the informal sector often starting at arrival, and entrenches a cycle of poverty and vulnerable housing and working arrangements. Formally and structurally, therefore, rural migrants are frequently inhibited from becoming urban citizens. Furthermore, the gender and cultural norms that played a significant role in youth migration also inform the types of occupations young men and women can engage in upon arrival in the city. Yilunta, and the implication of female subservience that it carries, prevents young women from engaging in certain street/informal economic activities that are deemed ‘masculine.’ For instance, in Heinonen’s study of street children, Mimi, a young girl from a migrant family, was prevented from changing coins for mini bus drivers because this activity is considered aggressive, often requiring physical competition with other coin changers, and therefore masculine. She was discouraged from engaging in this kind of work not because it is dangerous or informal, but rather because it represented a transgression of culturally ascribed gender roles (Heinonen 65). It is acceptable for young migrant men, therefore, to engage in shoe shining, petty trade, and mini bus work while young women most often engage in domestic work, street vending, or servile positions. Furthermore, because women are prevented from engaging in certain street economic activities, they are frequently influenced to engage in commercial sex work in order to survive. As well, both female and male youth migrants can become involved in youth gangs or subject to homelessness, but in these arrangements the men dominate and typically subject women to sexual exploitation and abuse (Heinonen 138). Moreover, migrant females who have left their rural homes to escape early marriage are also particularly vulnerable as they lack any form of social ties in both rural and urban areas (Elrukar 370). In essence, while young male migrants are inevitably subject to
9. The smallest administrative unit of an urban centre.
vulnerability in their informal occupations, young women experience a particularly acute form of vulnerability as they are frequently subject to physical and sexual abuse in the occupations that they typically engage in. The cultural and gender norms of yilunta also entrench the social alienation of rural-urban migrants in the informal sector. As a group, these youth are considered to be outside of the morals of Ethiopian culture, particularly those who engage in vagrant behaviour such as commercial sex work, youth gang membership, or theft. Street children and youth are generally perceived to be a threat to social stability, particularly male migrants (Heinonen 2011 ). As well, young women engaged in commercial sex work are particularly alienated as they become associated with immorality, disease, and impurity for transgressing the gendered norms of female propriety and sexual restraint (Tekola 41). As such, the cycle of poverty and vulnerability often initiated through rural-urban migration is extremely difficult for youth to escape because of wider cultural and gender norms that associate youth migrants with instability and disease. Therefore, the conditions of arrival for migrant youth are not only influenced by economic deprivation, but they are also heavily determined by gender and cultural norms. Transitions: From childhood to adulthood, from rural to urban Young rural-urban migrants in Ethiopia typically experience a particular form of vulnerability as they make the simultaneous and difficult transitions from the rural to urban world, and from childhood to adulthood. In effect, the structural barriers in place in Addis Ababa that undermine young migrants’ ability to obtain urban residency, and therefore access to formal employment, education, and housing, often inhibit rural-urban migrants from becoming fully urban citizens. These youth are physically and economically in an urban space, yet barred from the rights typically endowed to urban citizens. These migrants, then, are put into a state of flux where they are neither fully rural nor fully urban. In essence, the particular context of urban poverty and housing shortages that young rural-urban migrants enter into in Addis Ababa prevents them from transitioning from one socio-economic world to the next. This liminal phase between rural and urban, and the consequent cycle of poverty and informal work, also constrains youth migrants’ capacity to transition from childhood to adulthood; understanding adulthood as cultural and economic independence and a capacity to plan for the future. Because yilunta associates manhood with economic status, the masculinity and adulthood of male youth migrants involved in informal work is undermined. In this context, the low wages that these men receive are more conducive to survival and remittances sent back to their rural families rather than to their future planning and economic stability. Furthermore, female youth migrants engaged in domestic work also earn significantly low incomes and their capacity to access
education is very limited. These young women are then pushed into a cycle of dependency with their host families, where they rely on them not only for income, but also for housing and food. In a way, they take part in a relationship of dependency with their host families, which is somewhat akin to a child-parent relationship, yet they do not enjoy the sense of care and guidance. Thus, because domestic work offers wages that are not always sufficient for education or independence, young women in these positions also exist perpetually in a liminal phase between childhood and adulthood. In her study of commercial sex work in Addis Ababa and other urban centres, Van Blerk argues that this industry can become a means for young female migrants to transition successfully to adulthood. For her, commercial sex work, an industry dominated by female migrants, allows young women to earn a steady income, thus achieving ‘economic independence,’ and in some cases even start a family and find a partner (251). In this study, however, Van Blerk treats adulthood in purely economic terms without considering the very real dependency that female commercial sex workers have on their managers and customers. Their ‘stable income’ is balanced precariously on their appeal to customers, the manager and customers’ willingness to pay, and their ability to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS (251). In effect, men that control women’s bodies in this industry condition their survival. Moreover, even if these women do earn an income that affords them a certain level of economic independence, they remain socially ostracized. This alienation is a result of yilunta, which implies that for girls to become women, they must be respectable, reserved, mothers who consciously undertake the task of inculcating moral values to their children (Heinonen 2011). For many young female migrants who engage in sex work, their respectability, chastity, and capacity to be a responsible mother is undermined in the eyes of others around them (Tekola 41). Therefore, while some rural-urban migrant commercial sex workers do transition into economic independence, in a certain sense, they are still perpetually in a state of flux between childhood and adulthood as they remain dependent on their male managers and customers, and socially alienated from the morals of adulthood and womanhood. In essence, the necessity of survival that informs the occupations of many young migrants living in poverty and informal work limits the extent to which they can successfully transition into adulthood. Therefore, young migrants in Addis Ababa exist in a liminal phase between rural and urban, and childhood and adulthood. I argue that rural-urban migration amongst youth, as well as the conditions of poverty that they migrate into blurs the boundaries between childhood, adulthood, and youth. Some authors, such as John Abbink, have suggested that youth is “in part a social construct,” that cannot be defined on a strictly biological basis (Abbink 5). Indeed, in highly impoverished countries such as Ethiopia, it is common to find individuals who
are biologically children or adults, yet culturally the opposite (Mains 660). Amongst rural-urban migrant youth, it is typical to see youth or children becoming the primary source of support for their rural families, adopting a role that one would typically associate with adulthood. This also happens in an urban setting, where migrant children who have moved with their families might hold the responsibility for supporting their family living in urban poverty. In this context, street children are treated as adults on the street, yet expected to act as children at home (Heinonen 42). Furthermore, as alluded to by Van Blerk, young female commercial sex workers may be forced into the role of motherhood and responsible adulthood at very young ages. As well, in youth gangs, which typically comprise large numbers of migrant youth, it is common for dominant male members to assign ‘wives’ to other male members. The taking of a wife is behaviour that one would typically associate with adulthood, yet here it becomes a social reality of youth homelessness and sexual exploitation (138). As well, ruralurban migration can also distort the traditional parent-child relationship where the parents are responsible for socializing their children. In the context of migrant families, children or youth are more likely to be the first to work on the streets. In so doing, these youth and children “learn the intricacies of begging and trading in the street with an alacrity that belies their tender age,” and learn the Amharic language that is spoken in Addis Ababa (44). These children and youth will then socialize their parents, teach them Amharic, and essentially prepare them for urban survival. Here, then, the roles of parents and children are reversed as children “parent their parents” (44). Therefore, not only does rural-urban migration inhibit the transition to adulthood for many migrant youth, but it also leads them to a constant state of flux between these multiple life stages as children and youth adopt more adult roles under the context of poverty, urban integration, and street life. In essence, young migrants regularly become part of a floating population that does not clearly belong to a particular life stage or socio-economic environment, and is generally constricted to the peripheries of Ethiopian economic, cultural, and social society. Youth as Victims or Vanguards in the Literature on Migration Throughout much of the literature on youth rural-urban migration in Addis Ababa and Ethiopia more generally, authors tend to situate these youth within a discourse of youth as ‘victims’ of the larger negative forces acting upon their society. These authors participate in one of the prominent discourses about youth in Africa that emerged during the 1980’s; that of 95 youth as victims, vandals, or vanguards (Honwana and de 11. Youth ‘as victims’ implies they are in need of saving, ‘as vandals’ implies that the youth bulge in Africa will naturally constitute a threat to society, and ‘as vanguards’ highlights the capacity of youth to bring about social change. (Honwana and de Boeck, 2005)
31 Boeck 2005). For instance, Heinonen describes street children and youth gangs in Addis Ababa as “victims of an abusive or indifferent adult world” (Heinonen 156). This statement implies that change can never come from these children or youth themselves, and that the reason for their vulnerability is the indifference of adults around them. Further studies, such as Dorosh and Schmidt’s analysis of rural-urban transformation, argue that solutions lie in governmental policies limiting the flow of rural-urban migration and developing rural and urban markets simultaneously rather than separately. While this could be an effective way to address the issue, it also treats migration as a process divorced from the actual people who engage within it, and defines migrants as victims of bad governmental policies and a larger context of poverty and over-population. While these studies do point to a number of real issues that young migrants face upon arrival in Addis Ababa, they fail to highlight the ways in which youth can successfully transition both from rural to urban, and from childhood to adulthood. In effect, the discourse that these analyses could benefit from is that of youth as ‘vanguards’ who are capable of harnessing their future through accessing opportunities or programs that would enable them to do so. To identify these youth as simply victims, presupposes that they must be saved either by the ‘indifferent and abusive’ adult world or national level governmental policies, rather than becoming the principle agent of this change. In essence, to view Ethiopian society in a strict dichotomy of adult and youth worlds, where the adult is the agent and the youth is the victim, eclipses much of the positive potential that youth can have in breaking this cycle of poverty and destitution. Furthermore, this dichotomy is not rooted in the social reality of youth migrants, as the boundaries between the worlds of adulthood, childhood, and youth are much more fluid in their particular context. Conclusion Rural-urban migration to Addis Ababa occurs due to a number of complex economic, environmental, social, and cultural features of Ethiopia’s rural and urban worlds. The major demographic group that engages in internal migration is youth, predominantly women, who leave in search of a better life and future, either through seeking out opportunities or escaping traditional practices. In both the decision to move and the dynamics of arrival, gender and cultural norms play a significant role in defining both their reasons for migration and the kinds of opportunities young men and women can access in Addis Ababa, as well as the extent to which they can integrate into urban society. Upon arrival, young migrants regularly confront structural barriers relating to urban residency that pushes them into positions of vulnerability and informal work, situating them in a liminal position between rural and urban, and childhood and adulthood. As well, this context of poverty and vulnerability breaks down the barriers between childhood, adulthood, and youth as migrants adopt more adult
roles while remaining biologically children or youth. Ultimately, the literature on youth migration in Ethiopia, while recognizing their uniquely vulnerable position between these life spaces and phases, tends to portray young migrants as victims of the negative forces acting upon them in society, suggesting that they are incapable of harnessing change in their own lives, and must be saved either by adults or governmental policies. The literature on youth migration in Ethiopia could benefit from incorporating a discussion of youth as vanguards in their potential to actively find solutions to the many challenges they face in migration. Works Cited Benti, Getahun. Addis Ababa: Migration and the Making of a Multi-Ethnic Metropolis 1941 1974. Trenton: The Red Sea Press Inc, 2007. Berhanu, Betermariam and Michael White. “War, Famine, and Female Migration in Ethiopia, 1960-1989.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 49.1 (2000): 91-113. Data Bank. World Bank. http://www.databank.worldbank.org/data. Djamba, Yanyi K. “Gender differences in motivations and intentions to move: Ethiopia and South Africa compared.” Genus 59.2 (June 2003): 93-111. --. And Sidney and Alice Goldstein. “Gender differences in occupational mobility in Ethiopia: the effects of migration and political change.” Genus 62.2 (June 2006): 65-88. Dorosh, Paul and Emily Schmidt. The Rural Urban Transformation in Ethiopia. International Food Policy Research Institute, 2010. Erulkar, Annabelle S et al. “Migration and Vulnerability among Adolescents in Slum Areas of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.” Journal of Youth Studies 9.3 (2006): 361-374. Ethiopia
Statistics. Rural Poverty Portal. http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/country/statistics/tags/ethiopia
Ezra, Markos. “Environmental Vulnerability, Rural Poverty, and Migration in Ethiopia: a contextual analysis.” Genus 59.2 (June 2003): 63-91. Heinonen, Paula. Youth Gangs & Street Children: Culture, Nurture and Masculinity in Ethiopia. Vol. 7 of Social Identities. ed. Shirley Ardener, Tamara Dragadze and Jonathan Webber. New York: Berghahn Books, 2011. Honwana, Alcinda and Filip de Boeck. “Children and Youth in Africa: Agency, Identity and Place.” Makers and Breakers: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa, 2005. 1-18. Mains, Daniel. “Neoliberal times: Progress, boredom, and shame among young men in urban Ethiopia.” American Ethnologist 34.4 (2007): 659-673. National Youth Policy. Ministry of Youth, Sports, & Culture of Ethiopia. http://www.mysc.gov.et/youth.html, 2005. Tekola, Bethlehem. Poverty and the Social Context of Sex Work in Addis Ababa: An Anthropological Perspective. Addis Ababa: The Author and Forum for Social Studies, 2005. Van Blerk, Lorraine. “Poverty, migration and sex work: youth transitions in Ethiopia.” Area 40.2 (2008): 245-253.