In October 2012, UNAC, the largest peasant movement in Mozambique, came forth with a declaration that outlined its concerns with ProSAVANAi, a large-scale agricultural development program in the Nacala Corridor in the north of Mozambique. We, as members of civil society from the three countries involved (Mozambique, Brazil, and Japan), have since been actively engaged in seeking change in the program in a direction that respects the rights and sovereignty of local peasants.ii
In May 2013, an open letter was submitted by UNAC and twenty-three local civil organizations to the governments of the three countries. The open letter requested an immediate suspension of the program, the disclosure of pertinent information, and a fundamental reconsideration of the program that would allow for the independent and active participation of peasants.iii In response, the governments promised to carry out a “careful dialogue” with peasant and civil society organizations.iv
However, information concerning the program continues to be withheld, and since 2013, there have been continued threats and human rights violations against individuals and leaders of peasant unions that have raised reservations or are in opposition to the program. “Public hearings” were held in the 19 districts where the program would be implemented between April and June of 2015. However, over 80 civil society organizations around the world, including UNAC, have condemned the “hearings” as rigged, staged, and flawed, and denounced the process and the outcome as invalid. v
Following such developments, civil society in the three countries has repeatedly requested 1) respect for human rights, 2) improved transparency and accountability, and 3) valid and “Meaningful Dialogue” based on FPIC (free, prior, and informed consent). Despite verbal promises, the situation has only continued to deteriorate.
In October 2015, JICA initiated a “stakeholder engagement project,”vi “in order to respond to criticism directed at the public hearings, especially of UNAC.”vii However, the said projects were rolled out without informing civil society in the three countries, and have had negative repercussions, notably on Mozambican civil society. In February of this year, UNAC and nine local civil organizations issued a statement on ProSAVANA “denouncing the unfairness of the dialogue process.”viii
In May of this year, 46 documents related to the ProSAVANA “civil society participation project” were leaked.ix Over one hundred public documents were obtained additionally under the Japanese Administrative Information Disclosure Law.
This statement strongly condemns the findings in these documents and demands that the following concerns be addressed and questions answered immediately by the three governments.
What the Documents Reveal
The evidence from these documents, findings through field research at the program site,x and a careful assessment of explanations given by the government in various meetings,xi indicate the following:
1) In December of 2012, immediately following the denunciation of the ProSAVANA program by UNAC in October, the governments of the three countries agreed to adopt a “Communications Strategy.”xii Various countermeasures against civil society organizations and movements raising reservations or in opposition of the ProSAVANA program were planned and implemented. The scheme was financed by JICAxiii as an “Intervention Proposal and Action Plan.”xiv
2) A “Network of Collaborators” including district administrators, traditional authority figures, and cooperative individuals was formedxv in order to diminish the influence of peasant and civil organizations in the local communities of 19 districts targeted by the program and to undermine their claims.xvi
3) In order to create division among civil society groups and to undermine the credibility of, and trust in international civil society organizations (especially those from Brazil and Japan), various measures were taken involving local government authorities and media.xvii
4) In October 2015, JICA initiated the “Stakeholder Engagement Project,” and through a contract with local consultants,xviii implemented a strategy to “achieve buy-in from civil society.”xix Specifically, they identified potential conflicts of interest between local civil society groups or internally within groups and made strategic interventions;xx “promoted the development of alliances”xxi in support of the ProSAVANA program; pushed for the “cultivation” of certain groups;xxii and aimed to create a “a (singular) dialogue platform”/“ProSAVANA advisory [working] committee.”xxiii Only “those who demonstrate willingness” and approved by JICA and ProSAVANA-HQ were invited to the preparatory meetings.xxiv The “No to ProSAVANA Campaign,” including UNAC and its provincial unions were also excluded and “disregarded in terms of negotiations.”xxv The creation of the platform moved forward, as they expected to create a circumstance in which groups would have no choice but to participate for fear of being left behind and isolated.xxvi
A thorough analysis of these documents, which this statement is based on, was published on August 22, 2016, by Japanese civil society.xxvii The details can be found in that paper, but this statement concludes that it is clear that the ProSAVANA program, far from responding to the urgent concerns and demands of local peasants unions and civil society organizations that support them in the three countries, has actively strategized and sought to weaken, create division, and isolate, those raising valid concerns against the program.
Resistance, Demands, and Open Questions
We strongly condemn this intervention and manipulation of civil society by the government as part of an international cooperation program.
Land grabbing remains a pressing concern in the Nacala Corridor. The “Nacala Corridor Economic Development” program, which is the greater scheme that the ProSAVANA program falls under, continues to promote investment without effectively addressing this issue.xxviii International cooperation and aid programs should support the empowerment and solidarity of peasants and civil society facing these challenges. However, the ProSAVANA program does the opposite, intentionally weakening and creating division among peasants. Meanwhile, there is an increased risk of even more peasants losing their land.
The current situation, as discussed above, not only goes against the principles of “international solidarity” and “international cooperation” as promoted by the governments of Brazil and Japan and their respective agencies, but also violates fundamental constitutional rights of the peoples. We strongly condemn the three governments for withholding and concealing information, in breach of relevant guidelines and laws in each of the countries, and for continuing to deliberately and institutionally implement measures as outlined above. We also stress that these counter-activities taken against civil society are taking place in the context of deteriorating peace, democracy, governance, and human rights in Mozambique.xxix
We, as citizens of the three countries, demand the following measures be taken immediately:
Stop the ProSAVANA program and all related activities
Disclose all remaining government documents related to ProSAVANA in order that the three governments fulfill their responsibility and accountability
We also request that the three governments provide clear responses to the following questions:
A response to the claims this statement makes on the “Communication Strategy”
A response to the claims this statement makes on the “Stakeholder Engagement Project”
Lastly, we manifest our strong concern with the following development:
According to the leaked documents, the “counterpart fund” from food (agriculture) aid (KR/KRII) provided by Japan will be the source of funding for future “dialogue” activities.xxx The non-transparent nature of this “counterpart fund,” in which the beneficiary country pools funds outside of its own treasury, has been an outstanding concern. This only adds to the continued lack of transparency in the ProSAVANA program.
Since civil society organizations that have decided to participate in the dialogue mechanism are unaware of most of the information discussed above, we request that these organizations carefully examine the primary sourcesxxxi and the analysis paperxxxii for this information, and to then reconsider their future engagement with the ProSAVANA program.
We, the citizens of the three countries, declare our resolve to continue working with Mozambican peasants to protect their rights, dignity, sovereignty and land.
i The abbreviation for “Program for agricultural development in the African tropical savannah through triangular cooperation from Japan, Brazil, and Mozambique (September 2009 agreement).
ii “No to ProSavana! Launch of national campaign” (June 2, 2014). http://www.farmlandgrab.org/23577 The advocacy activities on ProSAVANA began with the first statement of UNAC released on October 11, 2012. (http://www.farmlandgrab.org/21211）It followed a position paper released by JA! on January 2013. https://issuu.com/justicaambiental/docs/ja_position_paper_on_the_prosavana_ Since then, many statements have been released by Mozambican, Brazilian, Japanese and international organizations. These are at the following site: http://www.farmlandgrab.org/cat/show/827
iii “Open Letter from Mozambican civil society organizations and movements to the presidents of Mozambique and Brazil and the Prime Minister of Japan (calling for the immediate suspension of ProSAVANA)“ (May 28, 2013). http://www.farmlandgrab.org/22150
iv House of Councilors Settlement Committee (May 12, 2014). After JICA chairman Tanaka Akihiko and Minister Kishida Fumio promised “careful activities(process)” and “careful dialogue,” on April 20, 2015
vi Explained after its creation by JICA at the fifteenth dialogue meeting (February 19, 2016). The sequence of events is collected in the following document. “Voice of Japanese Civil Society: Declaration of Resistance to the ProSAVANA ‘Stakeholder Engagement Project’ and Demand for a Drastic Reevaluation” (March 18, 2016). http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/17kai_shiryo/ref3.pdf
vii The sixteenth dialogue meeting (March 9, 2016).
viii “No to ProSavana Campaign denounces irregularities in ProSavana dialogue” (February 17, 2016). http://www.farmlandgrab.org/25797 “Summary of the No to ProSavana Campaign’s meeting for convergence and resistance” (May 7, 2016). http://www.farmlandgrab.org/26181
x Since July of 2013, Japanese NGOs, along with peasant unions and civil society organizations in Mozambique, have conducted 8 joint field research. The results are as follows. “ProSAVANA Civil Society Report 2013: Findings and Recommendations” (April 2014).
http://www.dlmarket.jp/products/detail/263029 “Observations on ProSAVANA: Outline and Changes, and Recommendations from NGOs” (October 28, 2014). http://www.ngo-jvc.net/jp/projects/advocacy-statement/data/proposal%20final.pdf Also see the following report from a dialogue meeting: http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/14kai_shiryo/ref3.pdf
xi Since January of 2013, there have been seventeen “dialogue meeting on the ProSAVANA program” between Japanese NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JICA. The summaries a materials from the meetings are available at the following: http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/
xii The meeting record from coordination meeting of the three countries is available here: https://www.grain.org/article/entries/4703-leaked-prosavana-master-plan-confirms-worst-fears
xiii In order to formulate a communication strategy JICA signed a contract with a local (Portuguese) consulting agency, CV&A, and gave this as the purpose in the project aims (ToR [Terms of Reference], page 4). http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/docs/102.pdf For the primary sources related to the “Communication Strategy” see http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/index_docs.html
xiv ToR, page 4. In the “Monthly Report (Relatório de actividade ProSAVANA)” by CV&A, it became clear that CV&A had moved to enact the strategy they formulated. Only the monthly reports for July, August, and October of 2014 were disclosed by JICA.
xv “ProSAVANA Communication Strategy (Estratégia de Comunicação: ProSAVANA)” (September 2013), pages 10-12, 23-26, 46. http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/docs/104.pdf
xvi “By having direct contact with these communities, it will devalue these associations representing the communities or farmers. In order to minimize the strength of these organizations are as follows:…. By taking importance away from the Mozambican civil society organizations, it will take strength away from the foreign NGOs to operate in Mozambique." (ProSAVANA Communication Strategy) (September 2013, pages 34-35.) http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/docs/104.pdf Original in Portuguese. This “strategy,” as a public document for the ProSAVANA program, was agreed upon by the three countries and JICA, authored and released by ProSAVANA.
xvii The original uses the word “devaluing.” And see the following description: “Additionally, following this communication strategy and doing away with the connection between the Nacala Corridor and the Brazilian Cerrado will help devaluate some of the principal argument points of these international NGOs” (“ProSAVANA Communication Strategy, pages 30-35. “The international media does not tend to take such offers, but ProSAVANA must always offer to support expenses” (34). These proposals are not solely from CV&A, as it is clear by the same appearing in the appended documents to its contract with JICA (ToR, “Communication Strategy in the Framework of ProSAVANA.” The latter is available here: http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/docs/103.pdf
xviii JICA’s ToR to MAJOL. http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/docs/122.pdf
xixMade clear in MAJOL’s “Inception Report” (page 5) disclosed by JICA. http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/docs/123.pdf
xx The original gives “identification of …potential conflicts or conflicts of interest between the project and particular groups or between the groups themselves.”
xxi MAJOL’s “Inception Report” disclosed by JICA“ (page 18).
xxiiThe leaked “semi-final draft” of the “ProSAVANA, Stakeholder Mapping” by MAJOL (page 20). http://www.farmlandgrab.org/uploads/attachment/Map.2.pdf
xxiii “A dialogue platform” in JICA’s ToR (October 2015) was transformed to a “ProSAVANA advisory committee” in MAJOL’s inception report (November 2015). MAJOL suggested JICA to modify “advisory” to “working,” and remained that way until January 2016 (MAJOL’s invitation letter).
xxiv Clearly written in JICA’s ToR (pages 2-3). http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/docs/122.pdf
xxv “Stakeholder mapping” (page 33) http://www.farmlandgrab.org/uploads/attachment/Map.3.pdf
xxvi See page 33 of the leaked “Stakeholder Mapping.” The original gives “is small enough to be essentially disregarded in terms of negotiation…” http://www.farmlandgrab.org/uploads/attachment/Map.3.pdf Disclosure from JICA has been denied.
xxviii The internationally-known researcher on Mozambique, Joseph Hanlon, in his article “Comment on ProSAVANA: What does a successful campaign do after it wins?” (June 26, 2016), praised the campaign as “the most successful campaign in Mozambique.” Yet he criticizes organizations for continuing to focus on campaign against land grabs in Northern Mozambique, arguing that land grabs are no longer a major threat in the area. He writes, “There appear to have been no new large agricultural land grabs in the past five years. And existing projects are not doing well.” This is not how we view the situation. The dangers of land grabbing in the area are not decreasing. For example, Hanlon dismisses a proposed 240,000 ha project along the Rio Luirió (Lurio Valley Development Project) that could displace 500,000 families as not being serious. A recent article, based in part on information from the Panama Papers database, shows however that the project remains under examination by the Mozambique government and DUATs (land title) have been applied for. There is also the involvement of a company belonging to a holding company of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, indicating that funding is a real possibility. (http://farmlandgrab.org/26386). If we follow Hanlon’s claim, the peasant and civil society organizations will not be able to engage in this kind of landgrabbing “plans” and in rolling back activities for already grabbed land. Further, the area along the current Nacala corridor is also experiencing land grabbing from not only agribusiness but also afforestation plantations and infrastructure (railroads) as written in the “Nacala Corridor Economic Development.”
xxix See “State of Military, Government, and Society in Mozambique: Focus on the Nacala Corridor and ProSAVANA” (March 3, 2016). http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/ProSAVANA/oda/2015301.pdf