The Oakland Institute, a policy-focused NGO, recently issued its South Sudan report on investment deals in the country. Based on research conducted between June and October 2011, it found that from the beginning of 2007 until the end of 2010, private interests sought or secured 5.15 million hectares of land in the agriculture, biofuels, forestry, carbon credit, and ecotourism sectors. This constitutes more than 8 percent of South Sudan’s total land area and, it argues, threatens to undermine the land rights of rural communities, increase food insecurity, entrench poverty, and skew development patterns in South Sudan. It looks at four case studies involving investment from the United States, Finland, UAE, and Egypt.
The report concludes that most of the land deals fail to give due weight to the land rights of community land owners. Opportunistic companies are taking advantage of unclear procedures for land allocation to secure favorable deals with power brokers at the local level. Large-scale land investments that are currently underway are not complying with domestic law. International financial institutions and donor countries may be compromising the sustainability of peace building efforts by encouraging the government of South Sudan to make land available to foreign companies for industrial agriculture. The report urges the government of South Sudan to place limits on land-based investment until it can put in place an appropriate regulatory framework.