Building integrated cities : mapping assets of the urban poor in Atteridgeville, Tshwane Metropolitan Council
Semono, Katlego Lengaletsa
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The discourse on sustainable livelihoods began attracting global attention in the early 1960s. Substantial literature developed by various writers looked at the different ways in which people can guarantee access to sustainable livelihoods. Initially, the focus was given to economic ways of livelihood generation. Focus on the economic dimension of livelihoods was largely influenced by the discourse, which sought to address high poverty levels that dominated the world at the time. One of the responses by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank was to introduce programmes such as the Structural Adjustment Program, which was a poverty relief intervention in countries that were severely affected by poverty. During this period, most if not all poverty relief interventions were done at broader regional and provincial levels. The interventions aimed for bigger and widespread impacts. In the years that followed, the discourse on livelihoods began to take a significant shift following the realisation that regional or country level interventions did not responsively address the issue of poverty. In terms of food security for example, many countries were reported to have enough quantities of food available at national level. However, this did not translate to access to food for all people at individual and household levels. While countries continued to indicate acceptable availability of food at national levels, the number of people without access to food continued to increase. Such trends began to shift to focus at micro levels. Literature on livelihoods began to look at different ways in which people and particularly the poor make their living. Substantial literature was generated from countries of the developing world, which were at the time largely affected by high levels of poverty and unemployment. During that time, complexities and nuances of the concept of livelihood were widely studied, and new lessons were learned regarding the importance of the informal sector to the economy. The literature also began to look at dimensions of poverty other than the economic dimension. These were social and political dimensions of poverty that also play a crucial role in deepening and maintaining poverty levels. Considerable studies and reports indicated that most of the people in countries of the developing world are involved in the informal sector for purposes of earning a living. More importantly, people in the informal economy are involved in a number of activities for purposes of generating income to stabilise their livelihoods. This is what Francis Owusu calls ‘multiple livelihood strategies’ which people employ to sustain their lives. The concept of multiple livelihood strategies is crucial in this study because it provides the premise through which to understand dynamics of informal waste recycling and ways in which the City of Tshwane can support and improve working conditions of the informal waste recyclers.