Women and decision-making in sustainable land use and natural resource management in rural KwaZulu-Natal : case studies of Ekuthuleni and Platt Estate.
Mayeza, Seraphina Banjani.
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Many rural communities suffer from the poor management of natural resources they depend on. Natural resources such as land, water and forests are the source of their daily needs. It is well known that the sustainable use of natural resources is important, however, in the process of natural resource management some people are excluded from the decision-making process, especially rural women. This study examines the efficiency and equity consequences of natural resources and land management institutional practices in land reform projects in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in relation to gender issues. Case studies of two land reform projects in KZN, Platt Estate (restitution) and Ekuthuleni (redistribution) are used. Both quantitative (questionnaire surveys) and qualitative (focus group discussions, venn diagrams, mental mapping and ranking exercises) methods were used. The study examines the main links between women's needs and concerns as well as their participation in decision-making over land use and management of resources. Another noteworthy aspect that is examined is the way in which changing and differentiated patterns of control, access and use of land resources at household and community levels affect the ways in which resources are exploited and managed, especially in relation to women. Generally, the research findings illustrate that sustainable land use and natural resource management at the community and household levels in rural areas cannot be neglected or ignored in areas where high levels of poverty persist and where the re-invention and re-assertion of tradition is prevalent, especially traditional governance structures and patriarchy. In all two communities, structures pertaining to land management exist but the functionality, sustainability and viability of these structures and their ability to address development and environmental needs that impact on the social, economic, political and environmental quality of life are major concerns. Furthermore, women's participation in these structures is limited and several problems are experienced.