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Deliberative or instrumental participation? : perceptions of households on the development and implementation of the One Home One Garden programme in KwaMashu Township, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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Home gardening has great potential to enhance urban food security. This has led to the mushrooming of food security interventions to reduce food insecurity. In South Africa, community gardens have been touted as significant strategies for the urban poor to augment their diets and livelihoods. Yet the degree of participation in such schemes remains opaque and the success of these projects under examined. This dissertation examines participation in a township garden project. In light of heightened claims of participation in institution-led projects, this study explores participatory processes through a critical lens. While it is widely acknowledged that observing ‘meaningful’ citizen participation enshrined in the South African Constitution is imperative, evidence suggests that interventions embrace top-down instead of bottom-up approaches to participation. This suggests that literature on home gardening interventions that exclusively focuses on structural power dynamics of participation is relatively thin. My study therefore, explores participatory processes of the One Home One Garden Programme (OHOG) in KwaMashu Township, KwaZulu-Natal. Consequently, to deepen our understanding of the gardeners’ experiences, I employ the Food Sovereignty Framework and buttress it with Cornwall’s concept of ‘invited’ and ‘invented’ spaces of participation. I conducted 25 in-depth interviews with One Home One Garden programme participants and key informants. Further, I also used participant observation to assess the progress of the gardens. Results show that there was no involvement of participants in decision-making processes. However, contrary to my initial expectations I discovered that rather than merely attributing the success or failure of the gardens to citizen participation, gardening apathy was a critical factor. The findings demonstrate that gardeners who embraced principles of food sovereignty by carving out their own participatory spaces not only managed to feed their families but stood apart from most gardeners. This is because they were empowered to govern their gardens independent of state support. Ultimately, grounding interventions with the principles of food sovereignty is fundamental to buttressing household food security.


Master of Arts in Development Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2014.


Theses--Development studies., Vegetable gardening--South Africa--Kwamashu., Private plot agriculture--South Africa--Kwamashu., Food security., Agriculture, Cooperative--South Africa--Kwamashu., One Home One Garden Programme