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Wageningen Universiteit (2002)

Household livelihood security in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Mtshali, S.M.

Titre : Household livelihood security in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Auteur : Mtshali, S.M. 

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 2002

Résumé partiel
The majority of the poor South Africans are to be found in rural areas. Their location is characterised by combinations of difficult situations that contribute to their vulnerability and poverty. Some of the common problems are hilly topography, poor soils, low and erratic rainfall, poor infrastructure to name a few. Often the rural poor lack financial and physical assets and resources to generate their livelihoods. Vulnerability and poverty among households is endemic in rural KwaZulu-Natal. Therefore the livelihood approach was used to provide an explicit focus on what matters to rural households. Research was conducted into the significance of the household in rural livelihood security. The livelihood approach was appropriate for generating knowledge and practical recommendations to enhance the design and implementation of programmes and projects that support rural livelihood security.

Since the establishment of the democratic government in 1994, the national agricultural and rural development policies for addressing the problems of poverty and vulnerability have been put in place. However, their implementation is problematic mainly due to lack of adequate assets and resources. In addition the context of historical deprivation mainly caused by the apartheid regime and now the epidemic of HIV/AIDS aggravates the situation of rural people. Theoretically, socio-economic policies and extension should focus on reducing vulnerability and eradicating poverty in order to maintain rural livelihood security. But this does not happen because the extension delivery services still use traditional top-down and gender-bias methods of technology transfer of agricultural and rural development knowledge. Consequently, extension services fail to reach the majority of the rural households with relevant information to enhance rural livelihoods.

Out of nine South African provinces, KwaZulu-Natal is one of the three with the lowest human development index. Rural households in KwaZulu-Natal have been reported as very poor, particularly the female-headed households. The main problems in rural areas of this province are illiteracy, unemployment, poor infrastructure, lack of resources of agricultural production, such as land, capital, credit, appropriate technology, inputs, training, extension and markets. As a result, food insecurity is one of the major problems because households do not produce enough food to last until the next harvest. They also lack adequate cash income to buy food to enhance nutritional security. In rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal, very few dwellers produce agricultural commodities for sale. Generally, women are involved in food production for subsistence and sale of excess produce because they lack appropriate storage facilities and skills to preserve food. Because of difficulties associated with farming, households often pursue more than one different non-agricultural activities to earn cash income. Sources of income often include agriculture, rural migrant remittances, wage employment, informal trading, state old age pension and welfare grants.

Mots clés : households / rural areas / farm families / women / gender relations / food supply / food production / indigenous knowledge / rural development / south africa / gender

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