“Proper and secure access to land, marine and other natural resources is important for many poor  rural and coastal communities who depend on these resources for their livelihoods”.

These were the words of Coastal Links South Africa’s national chairperson Christian Adams, during a recent workshop on Land, Fisheries and Forestry Tenure, held in Cape Town.

The workshop, that took place from 8 to 12 June, was attended by 100 delegates from these sectors, especially from groups organised by The Trust For Community Outreach and Education (TCOE).

“For many people and CLSA members, the concept of tenure is yet to be understood- we need to take what we have learned at the workshop and transfer the knowledge to other members to increase their knowledge” said Adams.

The tenure workshop was organised by Masifundise and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. The two organisations aimed to increase the use of the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible Governance of Tenure of land, forestry and fisheries (VGGT) amongst civil and grassroots organisation of South Africa.

Masifundise’s Naseegh Jaffer, who explained the objectives of the workshop expressed that tenure is an issue of access and one that has implications for all sectors represented. He stressed that although a danger exists that the guidelines could, potentially, be misused by other actors/individuals, these guidelines are to be interpreted as about access to resources for communities.

Blessing Mapfumo, the FAO’s representative based in the Pretoria office said that “although the organisation works with governments it also worked directly with communities in its efforts for food security, ending poverty and improving livelihoods”.

“We hope the guidelines would be utilised when policies are developed; especially at the community level,” he continued.

Delegates representing about 10 grassroots organisations, including CLSA, Mayibuye, Women on Farms, Itirileng (Limpompo), Surplus People’s Project, TCOE and Calusa committed to taking actions that will assist their communities with tenure arrangements and rights by using the VGGT.

The workshop ended with delegates drafting a declaration with community activities that should be undertaken to respond to issues of tenure in their respective communities.

Read the Declaration here:  http://wp.me/p29R58-qv

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