Large-scale Agricultural Land Acquisitions in West Africa

As agriculture becomes more strategically important in the world, large-scale land acquisition - or "land grabbing" - is a growing concern for West Africa.

Recent increases in commodity prices have led some governments and private investors to purchase or lease large tracts of land in foreign countries for producing their own food and biofuel. While these investments can bring benefits to local communities - jobs, higher incomes, increased productivity, and improved technology - they also pose threats to land rights, the environment, and food security.

In response, some countries have introduced policies and legislation that give them greater control over their arable land. In sub-Saharan Africa, however - where most of these transactions are occurring and where local populations are particularly vulnerable - governments have yet to develop strategies, policies, or legislation to protect their national interests.

This project will examine large-scale agricultural land acquisitions in nine West African countries -Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Benin, Mali, Togo, Senegal, Niger, and Côte d'Ivoire. It aims to understand better the extent of these transactions in the region and their impact on food security and livelihoods. It will also engage affected communities in developing a better framework to guide future land purchases.

Teams of investigators will identify land sales in each country, map them, and conduct impact studies in three to four countries. They will use the results to increase public awareness and knowledge about the consequences of large-scale land acquisitions. They will also contribute to debates on voluntary guidelines for responsible management of land and natural resources.

Following the study, the project will establish community monitoring committees and equip them to monitor land transactions, share and disseminate information, and articulate actions and strategies to better defend the rights of communities.

Results will be shared with civil society organizations, academia, and the affected communities. Researchers will publish the study results and participate in national and international workshops. Publications, audiovisual materials, seminars, and workshops will be produced to inform and educate the public.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Sunday, April 1, 2012

End Date

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


34 months

IDRC Officer

Mougeot, Luc

Total funding

CA$ 356,000


North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Benin, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Togo


Foundations for Innovation

Project Leader

Eric Chaurette


Inter Pares

Institution Country


Institution Website