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The report documents the displacement of long-term residents who lived and farmed land that has been leased to commercial farmers, and the negative impact of their displacement on their health, housing, livelihoods, food and water security, and children’s education.Women described enormous struggles to sustain their families after losing access to fertile land for cultivating food crops, safe water for drinking and household use, and hunting or foraging grounds.However, flaws in the government’s regulation of commercial agriculture, and its poor efforts at protecting the rights of vulnerable people, instead of helping people climb out of the poverty mire, are actually hurting them.Families that have lived and farmed for generations on land now allocated to commercial farms are being displaced without due process or compensation. Any one commercial agriculture project, whether a massive investment by foreign investors on tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, or smaller land deals on a few hundred to a few thousand hectares, may impact individuals and households.We also interviewed officials at the district, provincial, and central levels of government, in addition to representatives of some commercial farms in the district, lawyers, analysts and other experts.Human Rights Watch examined the impact of six commercial farms on local communities in Serenje district.The district also has older farm blocks, and ample experience with how commercial farming operations can help or hurt the communities around them.

Rather, the abuses related to commercial farming and the rights of residents are rooted in much larger failures of regulation, oversight, and rights protection on the part of Zambian authorities.In many cases, any “negotiations” around compensation or resettlement were under duress, as commercial farmers threatened to bulldoze homes and crops if residents did not vacate their homes.Many women told Human Rights Watch that they did not participate in any negotiations, fearing violence.Four of these farms were fully operational, had cleared land of trees and most settlements, were in the process of clearing more land, and were cultivating.The other two commercial farms planned to start clearing fields as soon as they could get residents off the land.

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