Introduction Our research looks at the land reform programme in South Africa particularly the land restitution component. According to the land restitution legislation, the government has an option to award the successful claimants either alternative land or cash compensation in a case where it is not possible to award them their ancestral land.
We contemplate that land restitution can potentially result in more access to natural resources and increase average household income. This is done by using survey data collected from 200 Khomani San households in the Kgalagadi area. Two-stage least squares models are estimated to investigate the impact of use of restituted land on “access to nature”, “per capita income” and “poverty status”.
Literature Review Reasons countries embark on land reform range from augmenting productivity and lessening poverty to preventing social turmoil and allaying political pressure from peasants (Deininger and Binswanger, 1999). Empirical studies in different countries have identified a positive link between access to land and income (Jayne, et al., 2002; Carter and May, 1999; Bouis and Haddad, 1990).
Justifications for land reform programmes are based on the assumption that land has a strong welfare-generating potential for beneficiaries (López and Valdés, 2000a). Most known successful cases used the land reform as part of a much wider economic change (Lahiff, 2007). In Africa, some land reform has been driven by political considerations and based on untested assumptions about the positive correlation between land reform and poverty reduction (Chimhowu, 2006).
Indeed, greater access to land in South Africa has the potential to increase household resources. As a result, it has the potential to contribute directly and indirectly towards poverty alleviation efforts and addressing South Africa’s heavily skewed distribution of income. In a poor rural economy like the Kgalagadi, this implies improving the terms on which the poor have access to land.
Methodology We reckon that the effect of the Khomani San land restitution on welfare can crudely be measured by comparing the welfare status between those who use restituted land and those who do not. Thus, we reason that use of restituted land affects welfare but, in turn, welfare affects whether or not one uses restituted land. Therefore, the estimation method that we prefer is two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression.
The basic empirical model is: yi=β0+β1Ti+x'iy+ ɛ i (1) The main objective of this study is to provide empirical evidence of the effects of land restitution on the welfare of those who use restituted land. Since a household’s decision to “use restituted land” is likely endogenous, we use proximity of the household’s dwelling to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as an instrument.
Given that the Khomani San are in the same political or economic zone with low population density, proximity to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is not expected to have large effects on welfare measures other than through use of restituted land.
Data Khomani San - with Access to Land Mean Std Dev Khomani San – No Access to Land Mean Std Dev Household size4.85 (2.42)4.03 (1.64) Age of household head52.26 (15.32)51.28 (15.15) Years of education of household head3.84 (4.04)4.48 (4.81) Social Grants (Rands/Per Month) (609.61) ( ) Monthly Total Household Income (Rands) ( ) ( ) Monthly Food expenditure (Rands) (416.98) (517) Households with livestock (%)56 (0.50)11 (0.31) Households that collect firewood (%)90 (0.30)47.47 (0.50) Households that collect wild fruits/ food (%) 33 (0.47)10.10 (0.30) Households that hunt (%)23 (0.42)8 (0.27) Distance to park75 (2.97)271 (0.22) Number of poor people % – (Poverty line R515 per capita per month) 67 (47.26)36 (48.24)
Results Dependent Variable: Model 1:Access to Nature (1=Access) Model 2:Per-Capita Income (in logs) Model 3:Poverty Status (1=Poor) Use of restituted land0.368*** (3.91)-0.324* (-2.11)0.351*** (3.65) Age of household head0.001 (0.40)0.012** ( 2.32)-0.008***(-3.36) Male-headed household (-0.31)0.226 (1.58)-0.201***(-2.60) Household head married (-0.11) (-1.45)0.209***(2.73) Household size0.022* (1.80)-0.149***(-4.48)0.065*** (4.38) Years of education of household head (-0.25)0.038** (2.21) (-1.35) Access to portable water (-0.13) (-0.73)0.081 (1.06) Household engages in livestock 0.145** (2.17)0.407*** (2.87) (-1.52) Access to electricity (1=Yes) ** (-2.35)0.526***(3.80)-0.127* (-1.73) Household owns durable goods (1=Yes) ** (-2.33)0.452***(2.71)-0.273***(-3.36) Cons0.517***(2.94)5.671***(14.93)0.742***(3.97) Sample size198 Pseudo R
Conclusion First, the paper only makes use of monetary income to determine poverty status. There is a possibility that a broader definition of welfare which takes environmental or subsistence income into account could reach a different verdict about the impact of use of restituted land. Second, land is only a potential source rather than a definite source of income.
The expectation by the poor for land to pull them out of poverty is the primary reason why they clamor to access it. Unfortunately, in some cases as in this study, the expected benefits might never materialize. Yet people would have been locked into unprofitable land restitution arrangements. Ex post, other interventions would be required to increase the value of land for the beneficiaries.
Our results suggest that the Khomani San beneficiaries have gotten more access to natural resources but that use of restituted land has neither increased per capita income nor reduced poverty. Therefore, land restitution should become part of a broader, carefully crafted rural developmental strategy for it to be effective in reducing poverty. Otherwise, land restitution risks enabling indigenous communities to continue with their “traditional” way of life and, in fact, thereby keep them poor.