The experiences of individuals receiving food parcels in KwaDabeka, Durban : a hand out or hand up?
The number of people living in poverty and dealing with chronic hunger continues to sit at incredibly high levels across Sub-Saharan Africa. There are a large number of non-governmental organisations working with various groups of people in an attempt to reduce poverty. The aim of this research was to examine the lived experiences of individuals receiving food parcels as part of a non-governmental organisation’s poverty reduction programming. The organisation provides food parcels to a number of families in KwaDabeka, Durban on a monthly basis. The food parcels are meant to act as a starting point for these families to begin to move out of poverty. Drawing on available research on food security, poverty, and strategies for poverty reduction, as well as data collected through interviews with those implementing the programmes, and interviews with a number of the food parcel recipients, the impact of the food parcel programme is explored in this study. The study was qualitative in nature and deployed a constructivist approach which enabled discovering the different and lived realities of those individuals who are participating in the food parcel programme in KwaDabeka. Purposive sampling was used to identify the key individuals and recipients involved in the programme, after which semi-structured interviews were conducted. This study illustrates the ways in which those working to reduce poverty often begin the process with grand dreams or ideas of what they will achieve and more often than not, these ideas are not backed up with concrete plans. Some of the key finding suggest that the food parcels are making the lives of the recipients liveable and ‘better’ and that these parcels have restored their hope in themselves and humanity. They also claimed to have more time to do other chores and activities such socialising, registering and receiving social grants as well as tending their gardens. The findings also suggest that the in order to move people out of poverty, a desire to help or make a difference is of little use unless it is coupled with adequate plans and processes. Further, the findings speak to the literature on the subject, and show that for real and lasting development to occur, it is vital that there is participation from those involved.