Survival strategies of a rural community : a case study of the Redoubt area in Bizana, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Cele, Zanele Eunice.
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The research undertook an in-depth analysis of the survival strategies employed by residents of Redoubt in Bizana, Eastern Cape. This is a rural community facing high unemployment rates, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, crime and many other social ills associated with extreme marginalisation. Poverty, marginalisation, and crime continue to haunt South Africa more than 20 years into the new democracy. The government has attempted to implement policies to alleviate poverty and revitalise rural communities such as Redoubt through development project funding and the expansion of the social grants to all. However, this has failed to tackle rural poverty. This research study was motivated by a number of challenges facing the Bizana rural community. Subsistence farming is the main form of economic activity, but the land is infertile, the farming methods dated, and the yields per acre are less the subsistence levels. Owning livestock is a form of savings/wealth in Redoubt as cattle can be converted into cash for traditional ceremonies or when times are lean. Stock theft and inadequate veterinary services has over the years depleted the community herd. The lack of industrial activity and public investment projects in are leading to high unemployment in Bizana with crime, drug and alcohol abuse, especially amongst young men. There are also many females headed households in Redoubt. Previous research has shown that these households are generally incapacitated at earning the same income as households with both parents present. Many households in the Bizana area rely entirely on pension grants and government grants such as disability and social grants. Given the increasing food and transport prices, this income seems inadequate to meet the needs of households. Many deserving people do not have access to social grants for a multitude of reasons. Some parents, because they have no formal education, fail to see the value in formal education. On account of this, several children are not encouraged to further their education. The girl child is more susceptible, under these conditions where many are made to stay at home doing family chores. Given the challenges, this research sought to identify different survival strategies used by households in the Redoubt community and to assess the effectiveness of the interventions by the local municipality and by the national government in the form of social grants. The researcher used a mixed methods approach including a household survey, in-depth interviews of key informants who were selectively chosen for their recognised leadership within the area, and an analysis of policy documents of the Mbizana Local Municipality. The response rate in the study was 100%. All the people interviewed voiced a need to have other survival strategies implemented in their community. The conclusion drawn was that strategies being utilised by the community of Redoubt were not sustainable and no backup system. Many rural communities are characterised by poverty, dispossession, and destitution and are not adequately equipped to plan for sustainable livelihoods.