Assessment of CRDP in empowering women at uMhlontlo Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province.
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Most rural areas of South Africa are characterised by abject poverty, low levels of literacy amongst adult women, under-utilisation of natural resources, compromised access to socio-economic infrastructure, non-availability of clean water for agricultural development and services, and a high dependency on social grants and unresolved land restitution and tenure issues as in the view by (Hart & Jacobs, 2012). A closer look at the Eastern Cape Province shows that the rural areas are characterised by gross under-development in specific areas in all respects. These areas include the former homeland areas, which are being characterised by huge infrastructure backlog, high poverty levels, food insecurity, economic and skills shortages. In 2009, the South African government undertook an initiative to resolve the challenges facing rural areas, thereby establishing a programme called the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP). Obadire, et al. (2014) postulates that the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) have introduced this programme in an attempt to fight poverty, hunger, unemployment and lack of development in rural areas. In the view of DRDAR (2013), the programme has a vision of creating vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural livelihoods. This study is premised on the pathetic status of women, which has its origins from the apartheid past. Black African women have been discriminated and disadvantaged on cultural, business and political perspectives, and the poverty levels amongst women are higher than that of male-headed households. However, even though rural women have evolved to contribute in socio-economic roles to support their families; the development processes have been seen as inadequate (Osita-Njoku and Princewill, 2015:258). StatsSA (2014) stipulates that there is an increase in female-headed households in South Africa. This brings out a compelling reason for coming up with a study of this nature. The main aim of this study was to assess the influence of the CRDP in empowering women in the development site of the Umhlontlo local municipality. To achieve this aim, the research objectives have been created: firstly, to assess how the women of the rural municipality area have been developed through literacy and empowerment programmes, and how well the transformation has impacted their lives. Secondly, to assess the influence of the remedial programmes of the government in addressing the issues of discrimination and subordination against women. Lastly, to investigate the effects of development programmes in the fight against poverty and towards the development of the local economy. This study utilised a qualitative research approach. This is because the nature of the study required deeper understanding, illuminating and examining the participant’s experiences, ideas and attitudes in an etymological form. A non-probability technique, purposive sampling, and face-to-face interview as well as the focus groups were used in this study. The findings of the study revealed that rural women within the jurisdiction of the Umhlontlo Local Municipality benefited from the CRDP, and the government should continue implementing programmes of such a nature within the rural areas. The empowerment of women has resulted in improved living standards for their dependants and the community in general. It is clear from the findings that through the CRDP, the residents of the uMhlontlo local municipality, have obtained many benefits. In order to ensure that programmes such as the CRDP succeed and supported, it is recommended that the government create a good relationship with key, local, economic development stakeholders.