More than 100 delegates from the land, fisheries and forestry sectors are attending a Tenure training workshop this week.

The workshop hosted by Masifundise with the support of the Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) of the United Nations aims to increase the use of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for the governance of tenure of land, forestry and fisheries (VGGT) amongst civil and grassroots organisations of South Africa.

“The guidelines are there for the communities to know what are their and how to access their tenure rights” said Sofia Monslaves from FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) during her presentation.

“The guidelines are not necessary law, but they are international standards of how tenure should be governed” she continued.

A presentation from TCOE’s Mercia Andrews highlighted the different aspects and complexities of land tenure in South Africa.

“Land reform is a difficult concept and government should think about reconceptualising the concept of land redistribution” Mercia stated.

“Poverty and hunger has increased in the rural areas. Governments should come up with programmes that will support people to create and sustain their livelihoods” she continued.

The first two days of the workshop were centred around understanding the VGGT guidelines and how South African laws and policies impact on tenure arrangements.

Delegates also shared their stories related to tenure arrangements in their specific communities. The stories ranged from gender discrimination, customary laws, loss of livelihoods and evictions.

Magdeline a member of Women on Farms from Ceres in the Western Cape told of how she was evicted from a farm after the death of her husband.

“I was pregnant at the time, but I was simply put on a tractor and transferred to another farm” she told the group, “I now live with my mother, and not on a farm, but I continue to fight for the land and farm evictions aimed at women through the Women on Farms Programme as farmers continue to evict women on their farms” she continued.

This is one of the many stories that delegates at the conference had shared. The issue of secure tenure; the access to land, marine and other natural resources is an important issue facing many South Africans.

The workshop continues until Friday 12 June at the Fountains Hotel in Cape Town.