Founded in 1980 | Thousand Currents Partner since 2012

Surplus People Project

Agrarian transformation for land, food and climate justice

The Surplus People Project (SPP) was established in 1980, initially as a national research project focusing on the apartheid government’s program of forced removals. Published in 1983, the seminal research consisted of five volumes, titled Forced Removals in South Africa: The SPP Reports. The research formed the basis for SPP’s early work and saw the organization continue to position itself against the apartheid state in supporting and publicizing community struggles against forced removals.

In the early years of the post-apartheid era, SPP’s work focused on advancing the country’s new land reform program by supporting communities to access land and gain tenure security. During this time, SPP played a leading role in influencing land reform policies with a pro-poor agenda. In 2003, SPP made the strategic shift to focus on people’s collective power for advancing agrarian transformation. Their mission is to be in solidarity with activists and social movements towards achieving land, food and climate justice.

Currently, SPP is structured around 3 interrelated programs: 1) Agroecology & Food Sovereignty; 2) Land Tenure; and 3) Farmworker Rights. SPP’s work is concentrated in the Northern and Western Cape Provinces of South Africa, with a national reach as part of the Tshintsha Amakhaya initiative, a collaboration between 20 civil society partners, movements and community formations (in all of South Africa’s provinces) aimed at addressing land and agrarian reform.