The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is one of the many Regional Economic Communities1 (RECs) in Africa. SADC is composed of 14 countries, covering a total surface area of about 9.9 million km2 with a total population of about 256 million in 2007, accounting for over 32 per cent of the total population in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) (see Table 4.1). Although the countries in SADC are varied in many aspects, most of them share a common economic, political, cultural and geo-typological background. In terms of land resources, though not all the countries in the region face the same challenges, all the countries have unresolved issues around land. Unresolved land issues in the region range from the problem of distribution or ownership patterns of land, to the lack of capacity, commitment and appropriate institutions for land administration, management and effective use.2 This chapter focuses on land use and the closely related theme of ownership, both of which have a bearing on food security and poverty reduction in the region. Diverging from the dominant literature on this topic, which has largely focused

on land tenure reforms,3 the chapter looks at the size and main characteristics of the land resources in SADC, how these resources are distributed between the different types of users and how the resources are utilised. While acknowledging that tenure, institutional and legal reforms are important in the region, the chapter highlights landownership and use, linking these two themes to issues of food insecurity. It is argued here that, even after discounting the precarious climatic conditions in the region, SADC has sufficient land and human resources, which if used effectively should eliminate the perennial problem of chronic and transitory food insecurity among its population. Land resources play a central role in addressing the challenges of food security and environmental sustainability.4

Current patterns of land ownership, management, and especially land use, represent serious constraints to addressing the challenges of food security and sustainable development in the region. As population increases and as arable land becomes a limited factor, the spotlight should be on how the available land resources are being used, in view of the region’s vision of using land as an instrument for poverty reduction.5