From surviving to thriving : planning considerations and proposals to support sustainable livelihoods in predominantly rural areas
MetadataShow full item record
One of the most pressing and critical challenges that South Africa faces today is the impoverishment experienced by communities in predominantly rural areas, specifically the poorer and more vulnerable segments of the population. Women in particular bear the brunt of poverty in these areas (Government of National Unity, 1995). The difficulties that predominantly rural communities face are numerous and include, amongst other things, the loss of essential natural resources, food insecurity, a lack of economic opportunity, the unmet need for social services, poor education, geographic isolation and poor infrastructure (South Africa. Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, 2010). Although continuous efforts are made by various institutions and organisations to address these challenges, the deprivation suffered by these communities seems greater than ever. A baseline study released in 2011 by the North-West University (Coetzee & Du Toit, 2011a:54) asserts that in the North-West Province (a predominantly rural province), many households still do not have access to basic human necessities (e.g. they are not on the services grid), circumstances which is also prevalent in most of the other predominantly rural areas in South Africa. The purpose of this study is to offer planning considerations and proposals suited specifically to the indigenous South African context, so that the development of sustainable rural livelihoods may be supported It is predicated inter alia on the concepts of the sustainable rural development, the contribution of cultural precepts together with the spirit of community traditions to sustainable rural livelihoods, planning for sustainable rural livelihoods and the spatial dimension of rural livelihoods. The intention of these planning proposals and considerations is to foster the ability of communities in predominantly rural areas to survive and thrive in a dignified manner and to assist these communities to meet the pressures of urban growth, the deteriorating quality of life, and the homogenisation of settlement form and design in the developing world. To understand the particular deprivations that the South African rural population face and the best means to address it in sustainable rural livelihood development, it is necessary to have a conception of the local context and the diversity of livelihoods within these contexts. The significance of local context is highlighted by Chambers and Conway (1992: 21), who developed their sustainable livelihoods framework in a large part to emphasise the diversity of local context, specifically in rural areas. It is also the argument of the National Development Plan (2012:264) that the rational approach to develop rural areas requires an acceptance of the reality of rural differentiation. It is particularly necessary to understand the reality of the traditional community environment context in the predominantly rural areas of the South Africa. Integral to the development of sustainable rural livelihoods in the complex rural space of South Africa, is the requirement of community-based planning. This study asserts that the implementation of community-based planning in South Africa should continue to evolve beyond planning for a community to planning by a community for itself (an approach widely supported, as will be shown later in the study). The concept of community-based planning in South Africa has already been established through the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) process on local government level. However, the application of this approach on a micro-scale (for instance, at village level) as a sustainable rural livelihood development strategy, and utilising it to augment local municipal-level IDPs, has not yet been explored. It is the contention of this study that in using community-based planning at micro-level, it will be possible for rural communities to become the subject, not the object, of development studies. This study also endeavours to place specific emphasis on the integral part of women in developing rural livelihood approaches. Despite the pivotal role of women in survival strategies of rural communities (especially the poorest segments of the population), they still have unequal access to the resources necessary to support them in this effort. According to the Department of Human Settlements (2009:3), women form the majority of the rural population and female-headed households are particularly disadvantaged. Basic social services (i.e. food, water, shelter, energy, transport, etc.) are comparatively more expensive for the poor (especially women) and the poorest households have to contend with illiteracy, difficulty in obtaining water, fuel and other services, and limited opportunities. It is therefore of critical importance that women in the predominantly rural areas of South Africa should be the focus of empowerment initiatives in sustainable rural livelihood development.