Provincial Department of Agriculture extension services and the needs of women's clubs in relation to departmental policies and practices in Hlanganani district, KwaZulu-Natal.
The purpose of this study was to compare the needs of women's clubs to the services offered by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (KZNDAEA) at Hlanganani district. This study forms part of extension programme planning for the districts and it should feed into the management and policy making systems of the KZNDAEA to enable appropriate extension service provision that will help improve the operation of women's clubs. The surveys were conducted between May 1999 and August 2000. Four hundred and eighty five (485) women from thirty seven (37) women's clubs in the Hlanganani district, South East region, KwaZulu-Natal were included in the study. Questionnaires, small group discussions and observations were used to collect data from the women's clubs. To assess the services offered by the KZNDAEA, documents and reports of service provision from six districts in two agricultural regions, ie. South East and South West, were studied. Departmental policies of the National Department of Agriculture (NDA) and KZNDAEA were also reviewed to give insight into the services that the KZNDAEA should provide. The services provided were compared to the needs identified by the women's clubs of Hlanganani district. There were differences in the interpretation of policies by different KZNDAEA regions. The main activity in the districts served by KZNDAEA was generally community gardens. KZNDAEA tries to reach too many women's clubs with very limited resources, resulting in few KZNDAEA visits per club. The study revealed that while the main problem facing the women's clubs was lack of empowerment, the clubs themselves perceived lack of equipment to be the main problem. Women identified their training needs as being sewing, cookery and baking courses, motivated by the desire to increase incomes. KZNDAEA service provision did not meet women's clubs expressed needs for training, organisation and empowerment. It is recommended that districts should concentrate on effectively serving fewer women's clubs. KZNDAEA needs to review its current service delivery, perhaps pilot changed service delivery on a smaller number of clubs to focus on efficient and appropriate services to meet the needs of women. This research was on the needs of women as groups in women's clubs. Further research should focus on the needs of rural women as individuals rather than groups which are the main clients of the KZNDAEA if this Department is to deliver appropriate services. Forums or workshops involving different agricultural regions should be held where departmental policies are reviewed, communicated and interpreted in order to ensure uniformity in their interpretation and implementation. It is also recommended that KZNDAEA should look at ways of providing women's clubs with equipment and materials at least on a once off basis instead of providing physical structures only.
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