Livelihood enhancement in the new South Africa : public expectation, environmental dynamics and 'muddling through'
Recent large-scale environmental assessments have identified Limpopo Province as one
of the most 'degraded' regions in South Africa, with Sekhukhune District generally
perceived to be one of the worst affected areas. However, while a narrative of
'degradation' IS prominent, land users' knowledge has been neglected and little
empirical research has been conducted to verify these claims. Furthermore, land use and
management practices are poorly understood and the contribution of these activities to
rural livelihoods remains uncertain and much debated, despite the fact that such
knowledge is crucial for the design of effective policy to support 'sustainable'
livelihood strategies. This research uses a hybrid multi-methodological approach within
a modified livelihood framework to critically evaluate narratives of development and
land degradation in South Africa, examine the dimensions and dynamics of
contemporary livelihoods in the study area, and analyse the justification for and efficacy
of interventions grounded in dominant environment-development narratives in reducing
poverty and changing environmental processes. In so doing, it seeks to locate a more
refined understanding of environment-livelihood dynamics and of the opportunities for
enhancing livelihoods in Sekhukhune.