Contents - Next

This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at


This volume contains a selection of papers presented at a workshop on land policy and agricultural production in eastern and southern African countries, held in Gaborone, Botswana, 14-19 February 1982. The workshop was funded by the United Nations University (UNU).

One of the principal activities of the UNU in its early years was its Natural Resources Programme. In its Resource Policy and Management Subprogramme, the UNU undertook a project on land tenure, policy, and management in Africa, with particular reference to anglophone countries in the eastern and southern parts of the continent and to arid and semi-arid areas. As part of this project, a summary report was prepared by H. West (an edited version appears in this volume!; a country-by-country set of working abstracts was produced by A.T. Grove; and an annotated bibliography was compiled by N.D. Mutizwa. The 1982 Gaborone workshop may be seen as a logical follow up to these publications, at which ideas and experiences on land policy, tenure, management, and production issues could be exchanged by civil servants and academics from the countries covered by the UNU project.

After an initial visit to Botswana by a UNU representative, Professor R. Odingo, a local organizing committee was set up to prepare for the workshop. The National Institute of Development Research and Documentation, part of the University of Botswana, agreed to host the workshop in conjunction with the UNU. Arrangements were made for the meeting to be held at the National Museum, Gaborone. The Botswana Ministry of Local Government and Lands gave its active support, as exemplified by the opening of the proceedings by the Vice-President and Minister of Local Government and Lands, the late L.M. Seretse.

One civil servant and one academic were invited from each country in the region. Participants came from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Botswana. Unfortunately, representatives of Angola and Mozambique were not able to attend. There were additional participants and observers from Botswana. In total, there were 34 participants and 49 observers. Participants are listed at the end of the volume.

The five-day workshop dealt with many aspects of land policy, including administrative and institutional considerations and social, economic, and environmental implications, both as they determine and as they are influenced by land policy. The last day was used for group discussion on several themes: access to land and its distribution; food production implications of land-tenure systems; financial institutions and credit facilities; and environmental implications of land policy. Recommendations prepared by these groups were then discussed at a final plenary session, at which it was agreed that the local organizing committee should select from its members a sub-committee mandated to produce an edited version of the workshop proceedings.

In implementing this mandate, the three-member editorial committee reviewed all the papers presented at the workshop and, in some cases, proposed revisions for submission to the authors. In most cases, these revisions were subsequently incorporated by the authors. In selecting and further editing papers for this volume, the editorial committee had several concerns, including the overall length of the volume and the need to avoid duplication of materials, particularly with the Botswana papers. Editorial alterations have been intended to achieve brevity without influencing the arguments advanced by the authors.

The committee came to the conclusion that, while the day of discussion and resolutions at the end of the conference, and the discussions during the presentation of papers, were of great assistance to the participants actually present at the workshop, they would be of less value to readers of this volume some years after the event. These discussions and resolutions have, therefore, not been included.

Many persons and institutions contributed to the organization of the workshop. The meeting was funded by the UNU, whose representative, Professor R.S. Odingo, assisted with the preparations. The UNU has also made this publication of the proceedings possible. The local organizing committee consisted of J.W. Arntzen, F. Inganji, B. Machacha, M. Marquardt, L.D. Ngcongco, O. Mohlund, J.B. Opschoor, R. Silitshena, and S.D. Turner, During the workshop, a number of rapporteurs from ministries of the Government of Botswana and from the University of Botswana provided valuable assistance. The National Institute of Development Research and Documentation hosted the workshop, and its typing and printing sections made a major contribution in the preparation of papers. The National Museum kindly made available a conference room, and the University of Botswana and the Botswana Society provided public address equipment. Mr. A. Campbell quided the participants on a field trip through one of eastern Botswana's typical communal areas. The maps in this publication were drawn by the Department of Surveys and Lands, Gaborone. Final typing has been capably done to increasingly urgent deadlines by Ms. M. Hardy.

A number of delays have been experienced in the process of preparing the workshop proceedings for publication. Communication with authors scattered through the African continent and beyond has sometimes been slow, and postal difficulties also meant that the review process carried out by the UNU from Tokyo took almost a year. Further delays have also been caused by the gradual dispersal of the editorial team into three different countries. Despite these delays, we believe that many of the issues discussed remain topical. We hope, therefore, that the proceedings of the 1982 workshop will still be relevant and useful to policymakers, administrators, and students in the field of rural African land tenure and administration.

J.W. Arntzen
Free University, Amsterdam

L.D. Ngcongco
University of Botswana

S.D. Turner
National University of Lesotho February 1985

Contents - Next