Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Settlement and Implementation Support (SIS) Strategy for land and agrarian Reform in South Africa
September 2007
Department of Land Affairs (DLA)

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges the Department of Land Affairs website as the source of this report. The full report and background documentation can be downloaded at:

Background to SDC’s terms of reference and approach to developing an evidence-based strategy


The Sustainable Development Consortium was required to develop a strategy built on a robust base of evidence. To achieve this, the SDC team embarked on an exhaustive evidence-gathering process, which set out to identify the key factors that would need to be addressed to enable the design and delivery of effective settlement and implementation support (SIS).

The process involved:
  • preparing an initial status quo review of settlement support provision within the Restitution programme;

  • reviewing the legal underpinnings which require equitable access to land and support to land reform beneficiaries, enable the determination and management of land rights and oblige service delivery;

  • preparing a suite of diagnostic and thematic case studies;

  • studying and examining practical interventions in selected projects;

  • running investigative field-based learning programmes involving more than 1 000 person-days of learning by 150 officials and beneficiaries from 12 selected Restitution, LRAD and Commonage projects;

  • consulting with over 300 officials from different departments and municipalities within specially convened provincial forums; and

  • assessing existing information management, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems and reviewing current communications strategy.
The detailed results of this process are drawn together in the base document, which details both evidence and strategy. This is accompanied by a website on CD-ROM which brings together the base document, this synthesis document and a number of linked background documents.

The purpose of this synthesis document is to summarise the evidence and provide an accessible overview of the key elements of the proposed Settlement and Implementation support (SIS) Strategy for Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa. Our point of departure has been that the strategy needs to be both inspirational and practical and capable of speaking to a wide audience. Although the evidence indicates that there are many deep-rooted problems currently undermining the effectiveness of the land reform programme, the Strategy helps establish where we are and identifies what needs to be done differently to enable land reform to secure rights, strengthen livelihoods and stimulate social and economic development.

The evidence clearly indicates what land reform practitioners already know – that land reform is a complex and multifaceted process which involves much more than the simple transfer of land for its success. The SIS Strategy marks the transition from an approach to land reform which is currently narrowly defined by quantitative measures of success (the number of hectares transferred and claims settled) and the associated imperative to speed up delivery, to a proposed emphasis on more qualitative and developmental measures that enable us to assess how well government money is being spent and how land reform contributes to poverty reduction, household livelihood security, local economic development and the AgriBEE Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Framework for Agriculture (NDA 2004), while ensuring sustainable use of natural resources.

At the same time, we recognise that for the Strategy to be effective it must be accompanied by a shared sense of purpose and responsibility that can be internalised by all the actors – both public and private. This must be backed up by intergovernmental relations and institutional and performance management arrangements which rest on clear and enforceable legal obligations.

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