Addressing Poverty through Local Economic and Territorial Development

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Pro-poor Rural Economic and Enterprise Development
Land Access and Participatory Territorial Development

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Outputs From the Project

Background papers

Paper 1: Overcoming the impasse in redistributive land reform – towards a territorial approach [PDF-134Kb] discuses the challenges to land reform as a means of poverty reduction in land unequal countries, examines the cases of South Africa and Brazil, considers briefly the place of Territorial Development as an emerging approach to rural development, and concludes by considering the linkages between land access and territorial development.

Paper 2: Territory and rural development: concepts, methods and approaches [PDF-532Kb] explores the idea of territorial development in more depth. It examines the ideas of territory itself and of territorial development as an emerging approach and charts the evolution of territorial approaches within changing perspectives on rural development and poverty reduction, including centralised and donor driven Integrated Rural Development Programmes (IRDPs) of the 1970s and early 80s and the development of the Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) approach in the 1990s, also considering the relevance to territorial perspectives of practical experiences in Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), and, in the francophone tradition, of Gestion de Terroir. It goes on to consider briefly the importance of urban-rural linkages and change in development policy, and the development of Local Economic Development (LED) approaches which have primarily addressed the urban sector. The analysis compares and contrasts the generic features of a Rural Territorial Development (RTD) approach with earlier IRDP and SL approaches on the one hand, and with LED on the other. The paper goes on to discuss the scope and opportunities for territorial approaches to stimulate developmental responses to regional inequalities and the differential spatial impacts that globalisation has on rural areas and rural poverty.  This discussion is illustrated by The European Union’s LEADER programme’s approach to strengthening territorial competitiveness in marginalised rural regions of Europe, and the emerging place of territorial approaches in the programmes and policies of international development agencies, including FAO.

South Africa case studies

Paper 3. Land reform at scale: a case study of land distribution in Elliot District, Eastern Cape [PDF-563Kb] focuses on a former white commercial farming area in Eastern Cape where as a result of a targeted approach over 14% of commercial farming area was redistributed via the LRAD (Land Reform for Agricultural Development) programme between 2001 and 2004, the highest rate of land transfers so far achieved in the country. The study sought to develop a comprehensive understanding of how land reform functions in a particular area, to analyse how successful land reform projects are in their own right, and to establish how they affect and are conditioned by the dynamics of the local rural economy and agricultural sector. Despite evidence of an effective targeted approach to delivery of land transfers in Elliot District, this initiative was not matched by an area focussed perspective to address the contribution of land reform to the local economy or the delivery of support services to land reform beneficiaries. Moreover, the net creation of livelihoods through land reform has been too modest to make significant impact on poverty or unemployment, in context of what is perhaps the most significant economic trend in rural South Africa, the loss of farm employment. While land reform is planned and resourced at national level, agriculture is organised at provincial level but under resourced, Municipalities are responsible for integrated local development planning but have very little capacity, and the responsibilities of each of these three levels are poorly aligned. An important conclusion is that there is a need to re-examine institutional arrangements for land based economic development if a more successful territorial approach is to be adopted.

Paper 4. The area based land reform initiative in Makhado, Limpopo Province [PDF-772Kb] discusses the Area Land Reform Initiative (ALRI) a pilot project led by the NGO, Nkuzi Development Association, designed to meet the challenge of delivering land at scale to poor and landless people in a way that realizes development benefits, in a local municipality where the greater part of the rural land area is subject to land restitution claims by communities whose lands were alienated during apartheid.  The paper assesses the factors which have contributed to the successes and limitations of the ALRI approach and considers its potential wider applicability in South Africa. The researchers find that although ALRI has undoubtedly contributed much to the process of land reform within the Makhado area, and has influenced local actors to think about land reform in a more integrated and coherent manner, the process requires greater resources, a longer time frame and greater cooperation from various branches of government in order to achieve its objectives. Despite good ownership by local government, the major challenges are at the provincial and national levels. A successful decentralized approach to land reform requires a more substantial intervention in order to influence policy processes. However, that ‘area-based land reform’ has recently entered the discourse of national policy makers in South Africa and offers some hope that the lessons from Makhado might be applied at wider scale.

Brazil case studies

The main Brazilian papers were all produced in Portuguese.

Paper 5 Land access and territorial development in Médio São Francisco, Bahia is a summary in English of the detailed results of a substantial study financed and facilitated by the project and led by Prof Guiomar Germani of the GeografAR (Geography of Rural Settlements) research centre at the Geo-Sciences Institute of UFBA (Federal University of Bahia). The study is a detailed empirical assessment of the of different forms of land tenure and land occupation of the diverse range of social groups who together constitute the vast proportion of the rural population of Médio Sao Francisco, a river valley region and a historic focus of settlement in North eastern Brazil’s semi-arid Sertão. As one of the pilot territories in Bahia for the Brazilian Government’s Territorial Development Programme, the study analyses the territoriality of the different social groups, a number of important social movements, and of state interventions in rural development so as to assess the contribution they can make to the territorial development project, the constraints encountered, and the implications for policy. The work was undertaken by a substantial group of researchers from UFBA and other local universities, alongside PhD, Masters and undergraduate students who gained important training and experience from the work. The full report comprises 264pp in Portuguese in six chapters, focussing on specific groups and aspects of policy. Discussions are underway with the Territorial Development Secretariat of Brazil’s Ministry of Agrarian Development to support publication as a book in Brazil.

Summary in English [PDF-625Kb]
Full version in Portuguese [PDF-7.6Mb]

Paper 6   (in Portuguese) Acesso a terra e desenvolvimento territorial – discutindo a definição de território conforme o MDA: três assentamentos em foco nos Sertões de Canindé [PDF-513Kb]; Annex [PDF-876Kb] (Land access and territorial development: discussing MDA’s definition of territory: three land reform settlements in the Sertão de Canindé).
This paper was produced by an inter-disciplinary group of Brazilian researchers from Federal University of Ceará. As in Bahia, the study involved practical training and field exposure of masters and undergraduate students to rural development and land reform issues. The study focuses in depth on the situation of three specific land reform settlements in territorial context.  It discusses the unfolding territorial development programme promoted by the Agrarian Development Ministry and its significance from the land reform settlers’ point of view, examining what sort of interventions are required to integrate the needs of this section of the rural poor with a rural development programme that is meaningful to them, particularly in the areas of rural credit, health, popular education and capacity building at the community level. The report identifies weaknesses in coordination amongst state agencies to support effective planning and poor integration of land reform settlements into the territorial process, despite the contribution they make to the local economy, and some real advances in establishing a cohesive territorial identity involving the broad range of rural social organisations.  In addition to the main report a detailed annex produced in January 2005 provides a wide range of secondary data on the focus territories of Sertão Central / Sertão de Canindé

Paper 7 Land access and territorial development Sertão de Pajeú, Pernambuco [PDF-639Kb]
Background work on the status and position of land reform communities  in the context of a broader participatory approach to rural territorial development in an area now dominated by small scale family farming based on a review of secondary data and a participatory survey of land reform settlers. The study found that despite constituting a significant population share and a relatively long history, the land reform settlements (mostly located in peripheral areas) remain disadvantaged on a range of indicators, and that a special focus is required to ensure that economic development in Pajeú is fully inclusive across the territory. The initial diagnostic work facilitated the establishment of a Territorial Commission of Land Reform Settlers, and the intention was to hold a subsequent series of workshops aimed at building capacity in agricultural marketing for the coordinating across the various community associations involved and develop a strategic plan to be integrated into the Territorial Development planning process for Pajeú. As a result of changes in personnel in the partner agency (ASSOCENE a Pernambuco based rural development and cooperative network NGO), and difficulties in engaging a local university partner this last stage of work has not yet taken place and as a result this paper is only available in draft form.

The completed Brazilian material has been published in the form of an interactive CD Rom by Projeto GeografAR at UFBA (

Synthesis and policy papers

Paper 8. Challenges in the transformation of land unequal local economies: from land reform to territorial development in Brazil and South Africa [PDF-645Kb] provides the most complete compilation and discussion of the project’s findings. This paper discusses the salient features of Brazil’s rural territorial development approach, and its implications for land reform, and discusses theoretical and practical approaches in South Africa, including issues of localism and the impacts of globalisation on the post-apartheid reorganisation of space, the integrated development planning (IDP) framework, Local Economic Development approaches in South Africa and emerging territorial, or “area based” perspectives on land reform.  The paper summarises the main findings of the case studies in each country and sets out overall conclusions and policy implications for the construction of territories and territorial identity and the implementation of land reform at territorial scale, and discusses the challenges of institutional transformation involved in achieving socially inclusive rural territorial development.

The final paper was developed in several stages, gradually incorporating empirical findings as they became available from the case studies. An early draft Land access and territorial approaches to livelihoods development was prepared for a conference on Land, Poverty, Social Justice and Development at ISS, in the Netherlands in January 2006. This drew on material from Working Paper 1 and focused on potential ways forward in overcoming the contemporary impasse in redistributive land reform. A later version was submitted for a conference At the frontier of land issues: social embeddedness of rights and public policy to be held on 17 – 19 May 2006, in Montpelier, France and concentrated on findings from Médio São Francisco in Bahia, Northeast Brazil, and Elliot District in Eastern Cape, South Africa to assess the potential and constraints of territorial and area- based approaches to land reform.

Paper 9.  (in Portuguese) Acesso a terra e desenvolvimento territorial no nordeste do Brasil: Apresentação e síntese dos resultados de pesquisa 2004-2007 [PDF-154Kb] (Land access and territorial development in Northeast Brazil: Presentation and Synthesis of research results 2004 -2007)  is a synthesis of the Brazilian papers and summary presentation of project findings and policy issues for Brazil, written in Portuguese for circulation in Brazil and Lusophone countries inclusion in the CD Rom and on the Brazilian website provided by UFBA.

Paper 10 Rural Development from a territorial perspective: lessons and potential in sub-Saharan Africa [PDF-236Kb] was written at the end of 2006 as a background paper for the World Bank’s World Development Report commissioned by RIMISP, the Latin American Institute for Rural Development, with IDRC funding. The paper draws on project findings in South Africa alongside those of the NRI sister project on Rural Enterprise and Economic Development, (financed by DFID under the same arrangements as this project and led by Dr Junior Davis) and assessment of grey literature on territorial approaches in Mozambique, Benin and Ghana to assess the lessons and potential poverty impacts of socially inclusive, decentralized and spatially accented approaches to rural (and rural-urban) economic development, and the transferability of LED / RTD approaches across the Sub-Saharan African region.  The paper concludes that rural economic development in SSA requires a decentralized, spatially accented but holistic approach within which a key ingredient is building capacity of local government and rural social organisations to operate in partnership together and with private sector actors. Together these actors should focus on distinctive problems, and potentials of specific areas; locating agricultural development within a territorial context; while governments and international agencies should aim to link sectoral policy and investment to locally specific measures; integrate local initiatives within wider regional economic networks; and promote the deepening and broadening participation by building durable social capital.

Paper 11.  Land reform and the potential for decentralized territorial approaches in South Africa (not yet available) is a policy brief aimed primarily at a South African audience and based on the findings of South African case studies and the broader research results, to be published shortly by PLAAS South Africa.

Workshop reports

A variety of workshops were held to discuss project findings and policy issues in the case study areas and for each country, to present case study findings to a wider academic and practitioner audience including civil society organisations and policy makers. Where available, case study workshop reports are included as annexes to the case studies themselves.

South Africa workshop report [PDF-235Kb]on Area-based and Territorial Approaches to Land Reform, held on 3-4 May 2006 at Integrated Development Trust, Pretoria, South Africa.

Power point presentations made by the researchers, others engaged in similar case studies, and practitioners from government were circulated to the audience following the workshop. A number of these are available on the project website.

Brazil workshop report [PDF-100Kb]on Land Access and territorial development in Northeastern Brazil, held on 18th August 2006 at the Geosciences Institute, UFBA, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

A number of the power point presentations made have been included in the Brazilian CD Rom and made available on the project website in PDF format.

Powerpoint presentations

Land inequality and territory (given at IDS, June 2005) [PDF-68Kb]

Land reform at scale: Elliot district, Eastern Cape (given at the South Africa project workshop, Pretoria  May 2006) [PDF-784Kb]

The area land reform initiative in Makhado, Limpopo province (given at the International Conference of Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, Porto Alegre, Brazil, March 2006) [PDF-346Kb]

Challenges in the transformation of land-unequal rural economies: findings from Brazil and South Africa (given at a conference on land rights and land relations in Montpellier, May 2006) [PDF-1.1Mb]

Area based and territorial approaches to land reform: findings from South Africa and Brazil (given at given at the South Africa project workshop, Pretoria  May 2006) [PPS-124Kb]


Contact Information
For further information on the project contact:
Julian Quan (Livelihoods and Institutions Group)
Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue,
Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1634 883053 Fax: +44 (0) 1634 883386
Email: Internet: