Community gardening as a poverty alleviation strategy in rural areas : Ngcolosi community, Emahlabathini area.
Mkhize, Mbekezeli Comfort.
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The study seeks to assess the impact of community gardening in alleviating poverty in a rural area, namely, KwaNgcolosi, Mahlabathini. The community gardening in this study is used as a coping or defence mechanism which is used to eliminate poverty. Further, the study aimed to answer some research questions. These were: what is the significance of community gardening? Are community gardens effective in alleviating poverty in a rural area? What are economic and social benefits? In achieving this goal, the study relied solely on using a quantitative research method – namely, a questionnaire. For convenience purposes, selfadministered questionnaires were used where the researcher filled in the questionnaires for respondents because a majority of respondents could not read and write, and semi-structured focus group interviews along with individual interviews to investigate this from the members of community gardens and other members of the community who do not participate in gardening activities. The existing literature shows that ‘gardening’, regardless of whether it is home or community, has various benefits that often accrue to the farmers. These include, amongst other things, social, economic, and environmental benefits, respectively. Interestingly, the literature has been underpinned and strengthened by the key findings of the research. Indeed, key findings have pinpointed social and economic benefits as the reliable end products of gardening. Not surprisingly, the key findings also identified several weaknesses of community gardening that ultimately dissuade people from entering. Lack of resources, and support from relevant structures were amongst the key weaknesses identified. More strikingly, the lack of cooperation between local councillor and farmers was also key challenge. Similarly, the study applied the sustainable livelihoods theory because it provides a comprehensive understanding of the situations under which poor people live. The sustainable livelihoods theory places strong emphasis on poor rural people and what they often do in order to survive. Furthermore, there are policies in place that have sought to measure access to food. Food security has been used to further determine what it means to be poor. Despite the existing policies such as food security, people continue to be subjected to poverty particularly in rural areas. The study, therefore, aims to show the significance of community gardening in fighting poverty.