Food Security Explored in the Context of Local Governance
“In their pursuit to improve food security, policy makers have looked to such interventions as land reform, introduction of high-yielding varieties and mechanised agriculture – to mention but a few.
Despite the advances in technology and the promises of the green revolution, however, food scarcity remains a disturbing challenge in many parts of the world and South Africa is no exception.
There is a need to look beyond science and technology to administration and governance as factors in food production, distribution and access.’’
This is the project proposal Professor Betty Mubangizi of the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance put forward for the Research Grant she received from the National Research Foundation earlier this year.
The grant, which will run for three years, will, in part, fund two PhD students and at least three masters students from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance.
One of the projects under Mubangizi’s multi-faceted research will focus on Folweni Township – a peri-urban township on the outskirts of eThekwini Municipality. The project will be the basis of Ms Sindi Ngwenya’s masters research work.
Mubangizi, Ngwenya and another student, Ms Zanele Nxumalo, visited Folweni last month to get a feel of the area. Their contact person was the Director of Folweni Community Resource Centre Ms Rose Dlamini – fondly known as Ma Rosie by the people of Folweni.
‘It is not difficult to see why Ma Rosie is loved and held in such high regard by the community,’ said Mubangizi. ‘On visiting the Centre, we found so many people who had come to access the Centre’s service. The main objective of this Centre is to contribute towards the improvement of quality of life of the Folweni community and the surrounding areas by engaging community members in socio-economic initiatives such as help them integrate into the mainstream of the society’.
‘To fulfil this objective the Folweni Community Resource Centre runs feeding schemes, paralegal services, and training on HIV and AIDS, STDs and TB as well as facilitation of income-generating projects. With a postgraduate diploma in Community Development and a Masters in Community Development, Dlamini is able to handle these multi-faceted activities with ease,’ said Mubangizi.
Mubangizi’s research project is proceeding on the basis that to understand and enhance food security, it is necessary to understand the main factors affecting inclusion in and/or exclusion from the food production and distribution processes and in this regard, it is imperative to understand the administrative discretion, competency and motivation of institutions involved in service delivery for food security in general and for food production and distribution, in particular.
‘Further, with decentralisation, it is critical that we understand how local government influences (or fails to influence) these processes by creating the right incentives and supportive environment for individual household, community based organisations and private entrepreneurs,’ said Mubangizi. ‘Equally, it is critical to understand the circumstances under which households and communities exist and what challenges they face within the ambit of local government and governance in their pursuit for food security. Fundamental to this is an understanding of the importance of the skills in communities, their organisational capacities, and resource endowments as well as how these could be leveraged by local government to promote food security.’
Mubangizi said since food security was an important aspect of Dlamini’s Community Resource Centre, working with and through the Centre would greatly contribute to her (Mubangizi’s) general research objectives as well as Ngwenya’s masters research project specifically.
‘Moreover, the project also provides an opportunity for community engagement in the context of UKZN’s Framework for Recognition of Responsible Community Engagement (RCE) which requires that ‘RCE should be embedded into research and be research led whereby the knowledge and understanding generated are applied to improve the livelihoods of people in our province and nation’.
‘In this regard, Ngwenya, a trained AIDS Peer Educator, will during the course of her research, share her knowledge with the staff of the Folweni Community Resource Centre,’ added Mubangizi.UKZNDabaOnline