Survival or Growth? Temporal Dimensions of Rural Livelihoods in Risky Environments

B.H. Kinsey

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademic


In 1980, Zimbabwe initiated a land reform programme intended to improve the welfare of the poor and the landless. Beneficiaries overwhelmingly came from the overcrowded communal areas, where successive rounds of discriminatory legislation had pushed them. Additionally, for more than a decade, resettlement planning 'models' called for them to utilise the land resource made available to earn their livelihoods exclusively from farming. The paper examines the ways in which the livelihoods of resettled households have evolved in response to the opportunities created by access to additional productive land. The analysis looks both at livelihood trajectories and outcomes in the resettlement areas and at selected contrasts between the communities of origin and the new communities. Recurring drought appears to lead to predictable patterns in the ebb and flow of certain rural economic activities. Policy shifts since 1990 - principally those under structural adjustment and an alteration to the regulation requiring households heads to reside locally - have, in contrast, had mixed outcomes in the relatively land-abundant resettlement areas in Zimbabwe. While men have largely retained a commitment to small-scale commercial farming, there has been a striking proliferation of non-farm income-earning activities, a very large proportion of which are carried out by women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-629
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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