UKZN Academic Chairs Virtual Inception Meeting for COVID-19 Research in Rural Areas
Scientists, including four from UKZN, have held a virtual inception meeting with local partners to design the implementation strategy for a new study it is hoped will provide insights into understanding the COVID-19 pandemic from a variety of perspectives with the focus on rural livelihoods.
The research targets two levels of analysis, households and municipalities.
UKZN’s Chair of the South African Research Chairs Initiative on Sustainable Local (Rural) Livelihoods Professor Betty Mubangizi, who is the project’s Principal Investigator, chaired the meeting. Mubangizi was accompanied by co-principal investigators from UKZN, Dr Okem Andrew Emmanuel of the School of Life Sciences, Dr Londeka Ngubane of the School of Applied Human Sciences and Dr Sokfa Francis of the School of Governance, IT and Management.
International collaborators included Dr Ibrahima Barry of the National Agro-Food School of Nantes in France and Mr Niyi Adekanla of AIDLINE Research Ventures in Nigeria.
The two-year project being undertaken by the team of researchers who were awarded the COVID-19 Africa Grant to help fund their investigations, is titled: Understanding the Interplay Among Vulnerabilities, Livelihoods, and Institutional Dynamics in the Context of COVID-19: A Case Study of Selected Rural Communities in South Africa.
Funding is being provided through the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is hoped the study will provide insights into understanding the COVID-19 pandemic from a variety of perspectives, focusing on rural livelihoods.
The inception meeting, which brought the researchers and local partners together to design the implementation strategy, was also attended by the Municipal Manager of Matatiele, Mr Matiwane Lizo, and his counterpart in Bizana, Mr Luvuyo Mahlaka; and the Community Liaison Officer of Bizana, Ms Nyameka Ngejane.
The project is expected to attract local stakeholders as part of the co-creation of knowledge and local capacity building, an approach which is in keeping with Goal 3 of UKZN’s Strategic Plan, which seeks ‘to promote high-impact societal and stakeholder community engagement’.
Both municipal managers expressed support for the project, offering to help ensure the involvement of the local stakeholders needed for the project’s success.
Mubangizi thanked the project partners and expressed confidence that the programme would be successfully completed and have real benefits for hard pressed rural communities battered by negative factors such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.