This brief presents some key concepts of social-ecological resilience and then briefly discusses them in relation to three cases from Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In each of the cases, levels of resilience, poverty and food security are determined by the interaction between human vision, political power, and ecosystem regulatory functions such as climate, water cycles and disease.

The brief argues that a resilience-based approach to food security and alleviating poverty requires a paradigm shift in how people relate with the land. This is especially so at the policy level, where decisions that affect land are taken by people who have no direct connection to it.

In the under-developed south where extractive colonial and post-colonial governments have degraded or continue to degrade land and people, restoration based on an understanding of resilience in complex adaptive systems is also one of the most urgently required measures for dealing with climate change.

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