SARChI Attends National Conference on Global Change
The South African Research Chair on Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment (SARChI) team from UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) recently attended the 2nd National Conference on Global Change at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
The theme of the Conference was: “Global Change research in South Africa: Towards Integration Across Disciplines, Sectors and Scales”.
The main purpose of the Conference was to bring together the diverse global change research community in South Africa and to share recent research progress and outcomes across the broad scope of the NRF’s Global Change Grand Challenge (GCGC) programme.
The Conference was attended by post-graduate research students, emerging researchers and researchers and professors from South Africa and internationally.
Team SARChI presented papers that were based on research done in conjunction with the Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value (based at the University of Manchester) and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA). The study’s analysis and the conference trip were sponsored by the South African Research Chairs initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation of South Africa.
Development Studies Master student, Miss Ayanda Tshabalala, presented a paper titled: “Notions of Sustainability and Development: With a Particular Reference to the Clairwood, Durban Port Expansion. Is it Geared Towards Poverty Reduction?”
Her paper interrogated whether the proposed Durban port expansion will have any valuable development advantages for the local community of Clairwood. ‘The proposed port expansion will focus on providing formal employment at a time when the South African economy has been plagued by jobless growth. The question remains how this infrastructure will fit within the current realities of residents in Clairwood which remain a mix of both formal enterprises and informal businesses activities,’ she said.
Research by another Master’s student, Mr Tawonga Rushambwa, focused on sustainable development, economic development, prosperity, social inclusion and good governance using the Clairwood community in Durban as a case study.
Post-doctoral Researcher, Dr Sithembiso Myeni’s paper investigated Government-subsidised housing as a tool to reduce poverty and the power relations involved in this process within KwaZulu-Natal. ‘Poverty reduction is not always a necessary criterion which influences either the mapping or the profiling of housing beneficiaries. There was also a problem of competing and contradictory decision making processes between the stakeholders,’ said Myeni.
The team’s Research Manager, Ms Kathleen Diga, presented a paper titled: “Climate Change Adaptation and Poverty Reduction Co-Benefits: A Case Study of eThekwini Municipality”.
Her work investigated how human development or socio-economic factors were being considered within an externally funded climate financed project. She examined an exploratory desktop case study of the Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Programme based in the eThekwini metropolitan municipality.
Another interesting paper, assessing the recent upsurge of subsistence farming activities in the urban areas of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, was presented by Development Studies PhD student, Mr Danford Chibvongodze. His paper interrogated the processes that have led to this phenomenon, called Rurbanisation, or the ‘process of practicing rural subsistence activities in an urban-style landscape’ (Trefon, 2002:490). It also looked at the perceptions of this new phenomenon by Bulawayo residents.
An interactive student debate on the topic: “Environmental Concerns are Playing too Much of a Role in Shaping South Africa's Future Energy System”, resulted in Ms Mandy Lombo, Masters student in Development Studies, participating as part of the team called The Voice.
Debate participants included students from UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus, Ms Nasiphi Ntshanga, and Mr Sibu Majozi as well as students from the University of Witwatersrand and the University of the Western Cape. The audience was able to participate in the debate via Twitter.
‘The Conference was a learning experience, and it was also a chance to meet students and researchers from other universities in the hope of future collaborations and projects. The Conference also changed the way one perceives the world and environmental concerns,’ said Lombo.
Melissa Mungroo and Mandy Lombo