Agrarian Reform and Sustainable Livelihoods: Experience from Selected Agrarian Reform Communities in the Philippines
Inequitable distribution and the lack of access to land are often the driving forces behind poverty and hunger, especially in rural areas. Because of this, secure access to land through agrarian reform is regarded as fundamental to ensuring the capacity of the rural poor to create sustainable livelihoods. However, the notion of sustainable livelihoods is more often than not embedded within the mainstream of land and agrarian reform literature. In the Philippines, a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP) has been widely implemented since 1988 to help alleviate the poor from poverty and improve the well-being of farmer beneficiaries. Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) have been established in areas where significant amounts of lands have been distributed to farmer beneficiaries. This research aims to assess whether agrarian reform, as applied through the CARP, can bring about sustainable livelihoods in the Philippines by using the sustainable livelihoods approach as a lens through which to examine what has been achieved on the ground. This research attempts to understand the livelihoods of the agrarian reform beneficiaries and the nature and outcomes of agrarian reform interventions on the lives of the beneficiaries and the communities of which they are part. The study employed a qualitative research approach which embodied the notion of grounded theory and employed multi-method strategies combining a literature review, case study methods, and participatory rural appraisal. Four agrarian reform communities (ARCs) that have diverse socio-economic characteristics, and which are located in different regions of the Philippines, were selected as case study sites. These include Del Rosario ARC, which is a former coconut hacienda, the remote community of San Isidro-Nasi ARC, Bicao ARC on the island of Bohol, and SaTaMaPu ARC in the central plain of Luzon. By employing qualitative methods for data collection, the study examined the different livelihood assets – natural, physical, human, social and financial – the vulnerability context, including institutions and policies affecting the conduct of beneficiaries’ livelihoods, and the livelihood strategies they adopted to achieve favourable livelihood outcomes. Evidence from the field suggests that agrarian reform and its associated development interventions have partly contributed towards bringing about sustainable livelihoods in Bicao and SaTaMaPu ARCs, which exhibit all or some of the features of sustainable livelihoods that include economic, social, institutional and environmental dimensions. On the other hand, agrarian reform has not made a significant contribution towards building sustainable livelihoods in Del Rosario and San-Isidro Nasi ARCs. Geography, topography, climate conditions, the presence or absence of appropriate and adequate support services, levels of cooperation and participation of key stakeholders, especially support from the local government, together with the values and cultural characteristics of the beneficiaries are the factors identified as inhibiting the generation of sustainable livelihoods in these ARCs. By drawing lessons from these case studies, this research argues that prospects for sustainable livelihoods can be enhanced if agrarian reform interventions are designed to build people’s resilience and cope with their vulnerabilities.
Advisor: Binns, Tony; Nel, Etienne
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Department of Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: agrarian reform; land reform; sustainable livelihoods; Philippines; livelihood assets; livelihood capitals; resilience; land access; land distribution
Research Type: Thesis