Food, water driving 21st-century African land grab

We turned off the main road to Awassa, talked our way past security guards and drove a mile across empty land before we found what will soon be Ethiopia’s largest greenhouse. Nestling below an escarpment of the Rift Valley, the development is far from finished, but the plastic and steel structure already stretches over 20 hectares — the size of 20 football pitches.

The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1 000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 320km to Addis Ababa and flown 1 600km to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East. Continue reading

‘Urban Ecological Security’: A New Urban Paradigm?

The term ‘ecological security’ is usually used in relation to attempts to safeguard flows of ecological resources, infrastructure and services at the national scale. But increasing concerns over ‘urban ecological security’ (UES) are now giving rise to strategies to reconfigure cities and their infrastructures in ways that help to secure their ecological and material reproduction. Yet cities have differing capacities and capabilities for developing strategic responses to the opportunities and constraints of key UES concerns. Continue reading


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