A BLOG DOCUMENTING THE PROJECT
So time to catch up with what has been happening in the project.
We have been working with WWF, SANBI and the Department of Environment and the National Cross Sectoral Extension Forum to design a cross-sectoral extension workshop which is scheduled for 11:00 - 1:00 on the 30th September.
The workshop which will be attended by people who work across the landscape in different capacities aims to:
Currently we are heads down assembling a draft plan and at the same time preparing a report mapping the local information ecosystem.
Summarised progress update on the different project components
Component 1: Mobilisation of national government and private sector leadership in support of the project.
Effective mobilization at national scale has been limited to date. Our original approach was to make use of the existing FAO-linked VGGT Multiparty Stakeholder Forum. However, this structure has experienced institutional challenges which have contributed to delays and difficulties in organizing regular meetings.
Given these constraints our focus is on more strategic and feasible national engagement options. Given the pressure of time to complete the plan on the local level, we have approached the Minister’s delegate in the Department with the aim or organizing a strategic meeting of critical stakeholders comprising either:
Component 2: Local level actor mobilisation and structuring
Phuhlisani has twice set about organising a broader social platform meeting of all actors involved in land and agrarian reform within the local municipality. Unfortunately, both meetings coincided with a surge in Covid cases and had to be cancelled due to restrictions on face-to-face meetings in Matzikama.
In consequence we have adapted our approach to concentrate on smaller actor clusters, meeting the different actors individually, or in closely focused smaller planning sessions bringing together officials from the Local Municipality, the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Sanitation white farmers, black farmers, NGOs and agricultural processors.
We are organizing a broader online meeting of the platform in the first week of October. However, this meeting will not be optimal as it will exclude the participation of certain non-state actors – particularly the majority of black, as well as some white farmers who lack internet access, data or bandwidth for online conferencing.
The cancellation of these broader platform meetings remains a concern, given the whole approach is to obtain commitment to the joint planning process and plan.
There is potential that the vaccine rollout and the relaxing of Covid restriction levels may create more favourable conditions for joint actor mobilization at local level in the final phase of the project.
Component 3: Status quo analysis
A detailed Status Quo report has been completed and distributed in English and Afrikaans. It has also been made available on the project blog. The report will be updated as the project proceeds to include new information obtained through the planning process.
Component 4: Planning programme – this will be the bulk of the work that will be undertaken in the project
Six planning sessions have been held involving different actors. Two were centralized sessions involved key invited actors (specific farmers, the departments and municipality, certain processors, NGOs. These looked at the irrigated area and then the extensive grazing areas. These were followed by meetings in each of Van Rhynsdorp, Rietpoort, Lutzville/Koekenhaap and Vredendal/Klawer – the proposed sub-plan areas. These meetings refined our understanding of the current need (both for land and for other resources for people already on land), explored suggested options for potential land to be acquired, looked at the criteria and joint structures for allocating land, and more.
As noted above Covid has impacted negatively on attendance of these joint face to face planning sessions. In a recent Vredendal/Klawer meeting of the 16 people that had confirmed attendance, 8 were not able to attend as a result of either them or a family member contracting Covid!
Key landowners have been engaged about the possibility of making their land available (on a leasehold or ownership basis). These landowners include the mines, Eskom and the Public Works (state). Auditors with knowledge of the local agricultural economy have been approached to help identify potential privately land which could be acquired. The farmers unions are being engaged to find out who may be interested/willing to make land available on a leasehold or other basis.
State budgets to acquire or make available access to land and provide support is going to be a critical constraint impacting on the plan, given that the state’s allocation for land purchase has been cut more than 40% for the next MTEF period. This will require creativity and further research to identify alternative ways in which land could be acquired, or made accessible at minimal cost.
Access to water further constrains production potential. While in the longer term the area is scheduled to have significantly more water, with the raising of the Clanwilliam dam wall, it is anticipated that the earliest this will only become available will be in five years’ time.
In the interim, the municipality is being consulted, together with the local Water Users Association that manages the irrigation scheme, and the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, to clarify how part of a large agricultural water allocation in the name of the municipality could be allocated to individuals or groups who currently have access to land, but lack water.
Along with water, we are also looking at the various components of infrastructure development; access to funds for new initiatives by farmers (such as the purchase of livestock); developing concepts to provide support for financial and other record keeping; strategic, commodity and marketing advice; and support to farmers when negotiating prices amongst other aspects.
Phuhlisani is also cognizant of the District Development Model that is currently being implemented through the country. In the West Coast District this has taken the form of the Joint District and Metro Agreement. Phuhlisani has engaged the district municipal Mayor and Manager in this regard, and we are working with them and the Matzikama municipality IDP manager to ensure alignment.
Mapping the information ecosystem, collaborative data management:
This focus cuts across all components - documentation, communication and shared learning.
The first phase of this process involved a survey sent to the various key actors regarding their data and information management systems. We have had responses from:
We have had valuable interviews with staff at the Provincial Department of Agriculture as well as with DALRRD officials focused on the availability of different sources of data and spatial information relevant to land reform planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning. These interviews has greatly improved our understanding of the different types and sources of data available. We hope soon to be engaging with officials within the Western Cape government tasked with strategic information management to find ways to connect the different data sets and discuss the design of shared systems for data curation, access and use.
The Western Cape Government: Department of the Premier (DotP) and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) have identified the need for a co-ordinated spatial information forum in the Western Cape. The forum focusses on Spatial Information and Spatial Data Infrastructure within the Province.
The Western Cape Spatial Information Forum (WCSIF) promotes the sharing of spatial information within the Province and between the three spheres of government through collaboration and co-operation.
We are developing a detailed mind map which collates the different sources of spatial and other data of relevance to land reform planning in the local municipality. This will form a central part of the information needed for the manuals that will be written up at the end of the project to guide further land and agrarian planning initiatives in other districts.