An exploration of WEF-Nexus coping strategies of rural women in Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe and Limpopo Province, South Africa
This study explored the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus security and coping strategies of rural women in Chivi district, Zimbabwe and Vhembe district, South Africa. The WEF nexus is a term adopted to explore the connections linking the three resources of water, energy and food. The sectoral approach towards the achievement of WEF resource elements has not yielded much success over the years and posed a threat of trading off one resource security for another. This called for an integrated approach in dealing with water, energy and food challenges leading to the birth of the WEF nexus. The focus was on water, energy and food availability, accessibility and utilisation. The research reports on the identified similarities and differences in WEF nexus coping strategies used by women in rural households. The study acknowledges that women are the main managers of WEF nexus resources in a household context and they play a major role in ensuring availability and utilisation. Women also have views as managers of the WEF resources in the household on factors affecting access to these resources. Women make major choices especially on sources of water and energy which may either promote or reduce their WEF nexus security. Therefore, this study was guided by the WEF nexus theory, which is an integrative approach towards the achievement of sustainable use and security of WEF nexus resources. The objectives of the research were: to explore the WEF nexus security and coping strategies of rural women in Zimbabwe and South Africa to; examine the applicability of the WEF nexus theory to rural households in Southern Africa; find the current WEF nexus security status of rural households in the Chivi and Vhembe districts; and compare the coping strategies used by rural women in the case study areas. Data was collected in two phases. Firstly, a literature review was done which helped in the exploration of WEF nexus theories and application, WEF nexus security, the challenges and coping strategies thereof. Secondly, an empirical study based on qualitative approaches was used to guide the research. Focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and observations were used to gather the relevant information. The study had 100 participants, consisting of 60 women, 20 men, and 20 officials working in WEF nexus-related sectors or organisations. The data collected was analysed thematically and presented in narrative descriptions, tables, images and figures. The research findings showed that rural households in Zimbabwe and South Africa face various, but similar challenges that make them vulnerable in terms of our understanding of compromised WEF nexus security. The rural households have poor access to an even flow of WEF nexus resources. Consequently, there is evidence of increased poverty and reduced family well-being. To cope with WEF nexus challenges, women use various coping strategies to adapt and reduce the effects of WEF nexus insecurity in their rural households. In both case studies, the research found that there are similarities and differences in the manner in which women deal with challenges. The study also found that in each area resilience capacity is essentially driven by the availability of factors of production, e.g. land, labour and capital, for households to cope. In both Zimbabwe and South Africa, women play an important role in the management of the WEF nexus in their households. In many instances they have good coping strategies for household resilience.
- Humanities