The role of food gardens in providing sustainable livelihoods in the Msunduzi Municipality.
This work examines the notion of food security, how people see and define food security, how institutions and organizational efforts seek to assist people in food security ventures, and whether such ventures can be turned into sustainable livelihoods. The study was predominantly qualitative using a Sustainable Livelihoods Framework to determine people’s capabilities and capacities to generate food through food gardens, and the role played by food gardens in providing sustainable livelihoods. Thirty-seven unstructured interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted with food garden practitioners, community leaders and development facilitators. The study was done in a rural area of Vulindlela and the peri-urban setting of Imbali Township, both situated in Pietermaritzburg. It was established that irrespective of food availability, and even if nutritious and safe food supplies were adequate and markets were functioning well, food security can still occur, and people can still go hungry if they cannot afford to buy food. The level of education of food garden practitioners was very low, and social grants were the primary source of household income. The respondents defined food security not only in terms of food access and availability, but from the broad perspective of general improvement in their well-being. This includes other factors such as poor health, illiteracy and the lack of access to social services and a state of vulnerability and powerlessness. Access to assets and resources remains a big challenge facing food garden practitioners in the Msunduzi Municipality. Government departments, the business sector and the civil society need to come together to work as a unit in order to speed up service delivery and resource redistribution to the poor in a manner that is effective, efficient and sustainable.