Madison, WI, March 2, 20033 ---This month, the Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is helping organize conferences that examine critical land issues in two very different areas of the world: the Caribbean and southern Africa.

Because many Caribbean nations are small islands, the region has unique challenges with land administration and management. State ownership of land remains prevalent in the Caribbean, yet private market forces are creating opportunities for increased productivity and investment while also causing conflict. Tourism has become a vital source of revenue, yet this use of land can be at odds with more traditional uses of coastal land. Opening property markets to foreign investors has caused land prices to grow beyond the reach of most locals, many of whom are migrating to the United States and elsewhere. Land policies in the region must attempt to balance the sometimes competing objectives of fostering a vibrant land market, reducing poverty through equitable and broad access to land and its resources, and conserving the natural environment.

The “Workshop on Land Policy, Administration and Management in the English-speaking Caribbean” will be held 19-21 March in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Land managers, development agencies, and civil society and government representatives from throughout the region will work together to develop effective land policies and investment programs and discuss ways in which broadly agreed upon principles of land policy can be translated into feasible national policies and programs. The workshop will help create a “Caribbean perspective” on land administration and management in order to ensure that future policies reflect the realities of the region.

Like many countries in southern Africa, Zimbabwe is struggling to redistribute land to previously disenfranchised black farmers. Many factors have caused the effort to move slowly. Much attention has been paid to the government’s controversial efforts to resettle black farmers from overcrowded areas onto white-owned, large-scale farms. Yet, the private land market is performing poorly in transferring land to the majority population. From 1996-2000, an average of just 1.4% of agricultural land was transacted annually.

“Delivering Land and Securing Rural livelihoods: Post-Independence Land Reform and Resettlement in Zimbabwe” will be held 26-28 March in Nyanga, Zimbabwe. Presentations and discussion will focus on such key issues as analyzing the land resettlement that has occurred and examining the role of private land markets in redistributing land. Despite Zimbabwe’s troubles with hyperinflation and political anxiety, the conference is on schedule and has attracted the interest of the US Ambassador there.

The Caribbean workshop is hosted by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and funded by the United States Agency of International Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the United Kingdom’s Department of International development.

The Zimbabwe symposium is jointly organized by the Land Tenure Center and the Centre for Applied Social Sciences, University of Zimbabwe. Funding support comes from the United States Agency for International Development.

Caribbean Project Director, J. David Stanfieldd
(608) 263-5461; dstanfi@facstaff.wisc.eduu

Zimbabwe Project Director, Michael Rothh
(608) 262-9492; mjroth@facstaff.wisc.eduu