A QUALITATIVE EXPLORATION ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND LIVELIHOODS IN THE PONGOLA FLOODPLAIN: AN INTEGRATIVE MULTIDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVE

 

Werner Nell, Nellie de Crom, Hendri Coetzee and Elize van Eeden

North-West University, School of Behavioral Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology

 

Abstract:

The lower Pongola River and floodplain in the KwaZulu-Natal province is the epitome of complex socio-ecological systems in South Africa. The area is high in biological diversity, boasting a number of endemic fauna and flora species, yet the communities residing in this area are plagued with poverty and unemployment, which necessitates the utilization of natural resources for subsistence purposes. This paper reports on an Integrative Multidisciplinary (IMD) project which forms part of a broader water research commission study that focuses on the importance and influence of natural resources – particularly fish species – on the community’s livelihood. Furthermore, the paper reports on human awareness, experience and interactions with the Pongola floodplain and its immediate environment. Initial qualitative results from interviews with community members revealed that the community depends heavily on natural resources and especially on the annual release of water from the Pongola Dam into the floodplain to provide moisture to grow crops to sustain themselves. However, the release of water into the floodplain often destroys their crop fields, grazing areas for farm animals, and walkways, making it impossible for people to move around and for children to attend school, and prohibits them from catching fish, an important source of protein. In addition, flooding and fishing in flooded areas can also cause illnesses amongst people. Although this preliminary qualitative study only highlights some initial research experiences to determine specific research pathways, it also demonstrates conflicts between stakeholders and community members with regards to water release from the Pongola Dam into the floodplain. The paper will mainly expose the initial research phase of qualitative data gathering as valuable experiences in a first time study within an IMD-research effort. A concise impression on the opening of pathways for continued in-depth studies in future into the biological, social, economic and governance aspects of this area will be included.

 

Presentation Topic
A QUALITATIVE EXPLORATION ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND LIVELIHOODS IN THE PONGOLA FLOODPLAIN: AN INTEGRATIVE MULTIDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVE
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