Land conflict: Understanding reached between government and three communities in Massingir
Lusa (File photo) / Caption - Fishermen in northern Mozambique prepare their nets for fishing in this file photo from March 16, 2015. The fishing community of the village of Milamba has been living with uncertainty since it was informed that "the sea will close to them" with the installation of a natural gas processing project.
A community of 100 families in northern Mozambique, whose livelihoods depend on the sea, run the risk of having to take their boats, along with the rest of the furniture, to a new home far from the coast.
The alert launched by civil society organisations warns that Milamba is a detail which remains un-addressed in a process of relocating 1,500 people, other aspects of which have even been evaluated positively.
The resettlement of the population living in the 7,000-hectare area of the Afungi peninsula in Palma, Cabo Delgado province, that will receive offshore natural gas (LNG) has been underway since November.
Six years from now, a liquefaction plant built there will export gas worldwide in giant tankers, fruit of one of the world’s largest investments by an international consortium led by US company Anadarko.
In the midst of this rosy scenario, the Milamba situation seems “little studied,” says Fátima Mimbire, a member of Mozambique’s Public Integrity Centre (CIP).
The resettlement “is treated as part of the Quitupo community,” the majority of whose residents depend on the land, “but Milamba lives eminently from the sea and will be transferred inland, which is self-evidently violence”, she says.
There are fishermen who risk never putting to sea again, while the women will lose their only source of income – the oysters and crabs that they harvest along the coast.
“During a visit to the site, we talked to them and they repeatedly presented this concern to us,” Mimbire says, but the community’s many requests for a meeting with the local government have been ignored.
“They are not being properly treated,” she says, noting that the NGOs following the resettlement have been alerted to the urgency of the matter.
“Milamba does not have a voice that can make itself heard” among the majority of the population of Quitupo, and change is imminent, “so we have to run because it’s urgent”, she stresses.
Mimbire believes that Milamba does not necessarily have to follow the rest of the entire of and that it is possible to find land to build new homes near the coast, in Maganja, for example.
Such a procedure would be nothing new, she says.
“In Tete [a province in the western interior of Mozambique dominated by coal mines] there was a dispersed resettlement”, with those who were predominantly rural moving to a similar environment, as did those who were predominantly urban.
” We know of examples of communities throughout the world that have been resettled in areas differing from the environment to which they are accustomed, with adverse effects,” the CIP leader adds.
The United Nations also foresees that “communities will be resettled in the same environment as they are accustomed to,” she says. Failing that, the Milamba will have to face “a very painful adjustment process”.
In response to Lusa’s enquiries, oil company Anadarko says it has “interacted with community members to ensure they are involved in every step of the process, including selecting the resettlement site, and designing the houses and community spaces in the new village”.
In the particular case of Milamba, “alternative sites” for the practice of livelihood activities “are foreseen”, along with “road construction linking the resettlement village to fish conservation sites and markets, among others.”
“We are focused on delivering our programmes in a sustainable manner and with the highest respect for the rights of the people covered,” Anadarko concludes.