A BLOG DOCUMENTING THE PROJECT
Today a well attended initial Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting brought together a range of institutional actors who will provide oversight and advice for the duration of the project.
The PSC is chaired by Najwah Edries - Head of the Jobs Fund.
The committee comprises:
Prof Ben Cousins, team leader during the first phase of the project provided an overview of key findings and recommendations of the first phase research which was conducted in four local municipalities and which combined a range of thematic and commodity studies. All the the research outputs from Phase 1 can be found on the CBPEP website.
David Mayson from Phuhlisani NPC who is heading up Phase 2 of the initiative to develop an applied methodology for collaborative local area land reform planning, provided an overview of the pilot. He provided insights into the methodology, phasing and principal deliverables. He emphasised that the effectiveness of the planning process will depend heavily on ensuring active and collaborative support from the relevant government departments and the Matzikama local municipality. At the same time, it is essential that smallholder producers are directly engaged and involved, together with civil society organisations which support them, as well as larger scale commercial farmers and agribusinesses in the local municipality.
Overall the process has to recognise that each individual, department and organisation has their own priorities, assumptions and understandings of land reform and what must be done to develop an effective plan. The process presents 'wicked' information and data management challenges. Currently each department collects data, as does the private sector, so it will be important for us to map the data ecosystem in Matzikama, examining who collects what and who has access to which information, assessing the extent to which data is open or restricted. This will also entail thinking through how information systems might work better to share essential information to better plan and monitor programmes and assess their impact.
In addition to the PSC, the project will engage with an existing national platform of stakeholders focused on land and land reform and a local platform will be established within the Matzikama municipality. The meeting noted that with municipal elections scheduled for October there was a likelihood that this space could become a vehicle for local political struggles, as control of the municipality was closely contested.
While these structures and their optimal alignment are important, the core of the work will have a much lower level of visibility as we engage directly with producers on the ground, and make the linkages between diverse actors. Overall, the months ahead will provides important insights into what it will take to put in place conditions leading to meaningful collaboration and which results in traction at the levels of policy and practice. This may involve critically examining current processes of accountability which remain largely vertical, to see whether there is scope for alternative horizontal systems which promote lateral accountability for mutual benefit.
In the work to be carried out before the project closes out in February 2022, Phuhlisani has opted for a learning process approach, placing a premium on effective communication. The PSC endorsed the compilation of a project blog. Members of the PSC requested that blog updates be emailed to them directly as there was quite a significant interval between each PSC meeting.
A full record of the meeting proceedings will be available shortly.