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Caledonia Centre for Social Development

Summary of the Centre's Activities in 2002

January 2003


bullet Co-Govern Project: An Africa - Europe Exchange on Common Property Rights
bulletCo-Govern Study Tour
bullet Commonweal Papers - Common Property Rights in Scotland Project
bulletWeb Publishing
bulletWho Owns Scotland Project
bulletLand Rights Programme


The Caledonia Centre for Social Development is a small NGO based in Scotland. Membership is drawn from those actively working in the field of social development and the activities of the Centre are focussed on a limited number of programmes and projects agreed by the Board of directors. The Centre has no paid staff and its activities are all carried out voluntarily or as part of the self-employed business of its members.

Co-Govern Project: An Africa - Europe Exchange on Common Property Rights

During 2002 Caledonia participated in Co-Govern, a 3-year European Union-funded concerted action project in partnership with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and five other organisations (3 African and 2 European). The project has three main objectives:

bulletto examine the changing status and availability of common property resources (CPR) in three regions of Africa - East, West and Southern.
bulletto engage with decision-makers to discuss policy options for the use and management of common property resources in the light of current processes of legislative and policy change.
bulletto communicate ideas on common property resources management though networking, exchange, dialogue and analysis.

Caledonia was asked to assume responsibility for organising an exchange visit in Scotland during 2002. Participants from Africa and Europe will visit examples of initiatives in which community organisations and/or other social groups have achieved their objectives. Either by negotiating new rights or taking advantage of existing ones and/or have played an active part in the process of consultation on the draft land reform legislation published by the Scottish Executive. The visit is intended to give participants the opportunity to gather new information and reflect on others' experience. It is hoped that the examples considered prove relevant and contribute to a review of thinking on common property resources, on policy options and on possible new legislation to protect these rights and access to resources for disadvantaged and less powerful groups in their own countries.

Co-Govern Study Tour

As outlined in the previous section the principal activity of the Co-Govern project during 2002 was the organisation of a study tour between 24 and 28 September looking at common land in Scotland. During this visit, participants from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Norway and Scotland examined a range of different situations in Scotland. They considered the following technical issues:

bulletthe status and availability of common property rights (CPRs) in Scotland
bulletalternative institutional and legal approaches to protecting community management and rights over CPRs and,
bulletthe role and strategies of different groups in active lobbying for more support for these management systems in a European context.

In generic terms, the visit looked at the following contexts:

bulletCommunity forestry
bulletCommon grazing management
bulletCommunity management of ancient commons

A full report of the tour was prepared and published.

Commonweal Papers - Common Property Rights in Scotland Project

In early 2002 the Centre launched its Commonweal of Scotland project. This initiative seeks to document and publish a series of working papers on aspects of common property rights and their management in Scotland. In recent years the topic has received little attention from researchers, civil society and policy makers. During the year the Centre commissioned 2 pieces of research:

bulletThe History of Common Lands in Scotland; and
bulletCrofters (Smallholders) Common Grazings

The papers are ready for publication and will be posted on the Centre's social land web site (see ). The Centre is currently discussing the next stage of this work.

Web Publishing

The Centre runs 2 of the largest UK-based land reform web sites. One of the sites is devoted to: land reform, land tenure and land use issues -  - while the other site -  - features articles, ideas and case studies relating to the growth and development of social land ownership - non-profit distributing property associations. The two web sites were launched in June 1999 and continues to receive a modest but steady stream of visits.

Both sites are focused on gathering and publishing grey and popular literature on land reform and social ownership. During the course of the year some 5 articles were published on the land reform site while 2 articles were published on the socialland site.

In addition the Centre enhanced the usefulness to the public of its land reform site by adding to it an updating newsfeed. This newsfeed is focused on gathering land reform press articles and making these readily accessible to readers. The service provides a global selection of breaking and on-going news coverage about land activities and issues.

The Centre on its sister website -  - carries features articles and material on: the co-operative and social economy, popular participation, new localism and countervailing power. Last year 4 key articles were published on rural social movements from the South. All the articles were from the l980s and provide insights into how rural social movements become established and sustain themselves over time.

bulletPida and its Vision of Development
bulletOrganisation of the Poor
bulletSelf-reliance and the role of sensitised agents
bulletCommunity organising

All 4 articles -three from Sri Lanka and the other from the Philippines - are classic pieces of grey literature and have significant relevance to current land and rural change struggles in Africa and elsewhere.

Who Owns Scotland Project

During the year, the Centre agreed to become a partner in a major project to document the ownership of land in Scotland. The website is being developed by one of the Caledonia Directors, Andy Wightman, and is attracting widespread interest from across the world. A section on social (not-for-profit) land owning sector has been recently added to the site. As of 31 December 2002, the website was attracting an average of 2,000 visitors per week. A total of over 2,4 million hectares of land (36 percent of all privately owned land) is now documented.

Land Rights Programme

Preliminary preparations were made to launch a Land Rights Programme in 2003. The focus of this campaign is to promote the new land rights being conferred on rural communities by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. In addition, the Programme will assist communities in building local landownership maps, will monitor the uptake of the legislation, and assess the need for changes in the law to improve its effectiveness.


Preliminary discussions were had with Mercy Corps International on a joint project to improve the awareness and uptake of land rights in Tajikistan and in Scotland.


One of the Centre's directors is currently living in Tanzania. During the last year he was engaged by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation as the lead technical consultant in devising and establishing a multi-donor Foundation for Civil Society with an annual budget of $3.5 million US dollars. The Foundation has been incorporated as a non-profit distributing company.

Its mission is to deliver a range of intermediary support services to a wide range of Tanzanian civil society organisations - NGOs, CBOs, trade unions, co-operatives, professional associations and the media - involved in that country's poverty reduction efforts. In particular it provides the following services: capacity building training in advocacy, policy engagement, policy popularisation and governance issues; networking, coalition building and the sponsoring of public debates on topical public policy issues. A range of grant funding supports these activities and services.

Another director of the Centre is providing technical assistance to an innovative social justice NGO - Hakikazi Catalyst. They work to popularise and disseminate Tanzania's national poverty reduction strategy. This is cutting edge policy popularisation work with national coverage. (see ).

Aspects of this work were shared with the Co-Govern participants who attended the Scottish Touring workshop in September 2002. There are many aspects and elements of this work that have relevance to institutions and organisations seeking to popularise and disseminate information on the new land laws which have been enacted across much of Southern and Eastern Africa in the last 10 years. Following the September workshop IIED invited the Centre's lead facilitator to write a summarised version of this work for publication in the Institute's Haramata magazine.

The Hakikazi Catalyst team has recently been contracted to develop an illustrated, plain language version of the Millennium Development Goals for global distribution through UNDP. The working title is No more broken promises?.



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