Assessment of food security-related projects of the Student Rag Community Service Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University
Food security is a global concern, experienced at a household level in South Africa (SA). The country experiences income inequality with a high unemployment rate. Many that are employed live under the international poverty line. The Potchefstroom area in the North-West Province of SA has a high unemployment rate. The Student Rag Community Service (SRCS) is a student driven non-profit organisation (NPO) of the North-West University (NWU) that is actively involved in socio-economic development of communities within this area. Some community programmes attempt to address food security, but it was uncertain which SRCS projects address such programmes. Unsustainable programmes may lead to greater food insecurity. Much funding has been used for SRCS projects and if unsustainable, funds were not optimally utilised. Archived documentation of implemented SRCS projects were not stored in a system that supported easy reference. Programmes were not assessed against clear sustainability indicators (SI), thus the sustainability thereof was uncertain. Thus, the research question was: Which of the SRCS projects addressed food security through their activities and programmes and were these projects sustainable? The study aimed to assess the food security-related SRCS community projects to promote sustainable development. A case study was done to assess this in its real-life content. The mixed methods strategy was used through the three data collection phases. Further, a non-probability sampling method and the triangulation design were used to compare data. Firstly, the available archived documentation (September 2007 until August 2011) was compiled in an electronic database. Data from the most recent term were scrutinised (September 2010 until August 2011) and food security-related projects (21/48) were identified and those with feeding schemes (5/21). These projects mostly address the themes: food and nutrition, hygiene and infrastructure. Secondly, these projects were visited and community project members were interviewed to assess their experiences with the SRCS’s project involvement and their opinions towards sustainability. Lastly, the SRCS project leaders’ (n=20), of the previous term (September 2012 until August 2013), knowledge and understanding of project sustainability were assessed through a group administered questionnaire. Qualitative data were thematically analysed and quantitative data were statistically analysed. Results indicated positive and negative expectations of community project members. Students indicated that community project members always or often participate and have sufficient skills and competences, but this was not indicated by community project members. Exposure or awareness was believed to increase project capacity. Available funds influenced the ownership and participation of community project members. Statistical analysis indicated a relationship between capacity building, empowerment and production of own food sources. Although some community project members and SRCS project leaders were able to define sustainability and agreed upon SI, these were not implemented or measured at projects. Within the study, SI based on the livelihood assets from literature, were used to assess projects. Some activities created dependence without focusing on the development of assets. Study limitations included a language barrier between the SRCS and the community, and the accessibility of project leaders after the ending of the annual SRCS term. The study might improve current and innovative SRCS projects to overcome poverty and promote food security.
- Health Sciences