Livelihoods after land reform resettlement programme : a critical appraisal of the Nyahukwe resettled farmers, Rusape, Zimbabwe
Across the globe, land reform has become a key strategy for improving people’s livelihoods aimed at reducing poverty and increasing food security for resilient livelihoods. In sub-Saharan Africa, redistributive land reform has been implemented since the post-colonial period as a developmental approach. Since independence, Zimbabwe implemented two forms of land reform programmes which are the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme (LRRP) (1980-1997) and the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) (2000). The LRRP was based on the willing buyer willing seller approach with the state buying land for redistribution, while the FTLRP emerged from the chaotic and sporadic invasion of white owned commercial farms led by liberation war veterans and other politically affiliated people. In this thesis, I will focus on the LRRP which provided small farming land to many beneficiaries to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Land is an important livelihood source for the people of Zimbabwe, but on its own it cannot sustain the living standards of resettled farmers. Contemporary literature shows the catastrophic failure of land reform in Zimbabwe. Despite all the problems, land still remains the spring board of livelihoods in Zimbabwe. There is, however, less empirical research undertaken to assess how the LRRP has benefited and enhanced livelihoods of resettled farmers. This research will assess how the LRRP improved the livelihoods of Nyahukwe resettled farmers in Rusape, Zimbabwe. The study’s investigation will focus and add literature on how LRRP has been successful in empowering resettled farmers to enhance their livelihoods, to be more food secure as well as to improve their well-being. Using qualitative research methods, the research aimed to assess the livelihoods of farmers since they resettled. In particular, assessing the assets and capital available and how the farmers have been able to cope, strategies implemented to diversify their livelihoods and the outcomes achieved. The Sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA) was used as a theoretical framework to assess the new livelihoods patterns established after resettlement. Purposive non-random sampling was employed to interview 3 Nyahukwe government officials such as the extension managers, Environmental health officer and Veterinary officer. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 30 participants from Village F. A focus group 10 - 15 purposefully selected farmers was conducted. Data analysis was performed on the narrative and information from interviews, focus groups and questionnaires conducted during data collection. The findings show that land reform has enhanced the livelihoods of farmers since they were resettled as they reckon food selfsufficiency and better well-being. The research findings also illustrate that land remain the livelihood base of Nyahukwe farmers although they have adopted coping strategies to expand income generation. Coping strategies are farm and off farm activities that have diversified the farmers’ livelihoods through the interaction of assets. Land as a natural asset has been used with human, physical, financial and social capital to sustain the farmers. The findings revealed positive livelihood outcomes by assessing the assets before and after resettlement and outcomes achieved after adopting strategies as all farmers have increased income, self-sufficiency and improved well-being.