Gains For Women From Farmland Redistribution in South Africa and Sustainable Pathways Out of Poverty

    1. Study Information


      This entry discusses the 2016 article by Shirin Motala, Stewart Ngandu, and Aubrey Mpungose, “Gains For Women From Farmland Redistribution in South Africa and Sustainable Pathways Out of Poverty: Insights From Recent Evidence”1.

      The evidence in the paper is drawn from a study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as part of a broader investigation into the role of agrarian reform in poverty reduction in South Africa. The study focused on beneficiaries of three farmland transfer mechanisms implemented in SA since 1994, namely redistribution, restitution and security of tenure. The study assessed the livelihood and poverty outcomes of these beneficiaries in relation to their access to Government-funded Agricultural Development Support (ADS) programmes, namely the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and Recapitalisation and Development Programme (RECAP).

      The study used a mixed-methods approach that combined a purpose-built household questionnaire and focus groups with two groups of land reform beneficiaries, those with and without programmed ADS, as well as key informant interviews. The household was used as the unit of analysis as it was considered an appropriate level for comparing how beneficiaries of agrarian reform may or may not have benefitted from land redistribution and agrarian support interventions.

      The study was conducted in three provinces and within two districts in each of these provinces: KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), North West (NW), and Western Cape (WC). Study participants were selected on the basis of a four-stage stratified sampling design, which included selection by province, district, type of land transfer mechanism and finally, by land reform beneficiaries who had or had not accessed Government-funded ADS.

    2. Questions posed
      • Under what conditions does (or could) farmland redistribution coupled with provisioning of agricultural development support (ADS) contribute to reducing hunger and food insecurity?
      • Do men and women benefit in the same way from these interventions, and if not, what are the design features which enhance the gendered livelihood outcomes of land reform beneficiaries?
    3. Description of intervention

      Post-1994 Farm Land Redistribution and agricultural development support to assist in rural poverty reduction.

    4. Context of findings

      In South Africa, approximately 2.9 million households (20%) are engaged in agriculture. The largest percentage of these households are located in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) (25%), Eastern Cape (EC) (21%) and Limpopo (LP) (16%), and the lowest percentages in Western Cape (WC) (3%) and Northern Cape (NC) (2%). Agricultural households in the rural provinces of KZN, EC and LP are primarily involved in subsistence farming, while most of the agricultural households in the WC are engaged in commercial agriculture. The heads of a majority of agricultural households are within the 45 to 54 year age group. A significant percentage have low levels of education, with approximately a quarter of these household heads having no schooling (KZN 27% and North West [NW] 22%). The racial profile of agricultural heads of households in KZN and NW is overwhelmingly black African. KZN had the highest number of female-headed households compared to NW and WC. Although evidence points to a decrease in the share of rural poverty, particularly among black Africans, a very large proportion of these household heads have no income.

    5. Key findings

      Just over half (54%) of all land reform beneficiaries were men followed by joint ownership at 29% and females exclusively owning land at 17%.

      Women have not benefited equally or equitably through land transfer mechanisms implemented by the state. A very small number of women benefited from land transfers, despite a strong legislative and policy environment, which has actively sought to redress women’s rights. However, the current land reform process has increased women’s access to and control over land through joint ownership of land.

      The provisioning of ADS is not properly targeted to ensure that farmers have access to this support. This is reflected in the low numbers of women who have accessed ADS. There was also a lack of nuanced delivery mechanisms that failed to provide relevant and appropriate services to female land owners.

      Where women have been recipients of both land transfers and agrarian development support, a positive relationship is demonstrated with increased household food expenditure and therefore increased food consumption by that household. Access to land without concomitant access to ADS is not likely to enhance livelihood outcomes, particularly female-headed households. The main reason for households engaging in agricultural production was largely to fulfill household consumption needs and not as a means of generating household income.

      The majority of transferred land is not used or underutilised, although female-headed households were likely to utilise more than their male counterparts, especially if they had received ADS.

    1. Shirin Motala, Stewart Ngandu & Aubrey Mpungose (2016) Gains for women from farmland redistribution in South Africa and sustainable pathways out of poverty – insights from recent evidence, Agenda, 30:4, 85-98