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«Social support networks of South African farm dwellers in the context of household food and livelihood security A mixed methods approach from a ...»

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Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Zentrum für Internationale Entwicklungs- und Umweltforschung

Sektion 2: Ernährungssicherung

Social support networks of South African farm dwellers in the

context of household food and livelihood security

A mixed methods approach from a gender perspective

Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades (Dr. oec. troph.) des

Fachbereiches Agrarwissenschaften, Ökotrophologie und Umweltmanagement der

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

eingereicht von:

Dipl. troph. Nicole Heumann aus Blankenburg (Harz) Gießen, im Juni 2010


I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who supported and motivated me during the development of this dissertation in South Africa and Germany. Without their assistance this dissertation would not have been accomplished.

First, I would like to thank the participants in this study, for having the privilege to talk to them. Without their cooperation this research would not have been possible. Thank you for welcoming me and giving me the chance to be part of your lives. It definitely changed my life and the perspective on how I look at things. Further, thanks to the farm owners who gave us their permission to enter the farms and for always being cooperative and supportive.

To Prof. Dr. Ingrid-Ute Leonhäuser from the Institute of Nutrition Science at JustusLiebig-University Giessen, I want to express my gratitude for her supervision as well as scientific and financial support. She warmly welcomed me into her team and assisted and motivated me throughout the process, providing technical knowledge and help in organisational procedures.

Prof. Dr. Michael Schmitz from the Institute of Agricultural Policy and Market Research at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen is acknowledged for his expert supervision and cooperation regarding the organisational matters.

Special thanks to the project leader Dr. Stefanie Lemke from the Centre for Gender and Nutrition at the University of Hohenheim for giving me the unique chance of being part of her research project. She always supported and motivated me in every possible way. She has not only been a mentor, giving me lots of scientific knowledge but also became a good friend, accompanying me in my personal ups and downs during this period. Thank you for all the thoughts and contributions which have framed this dissertation, and for your inspiration at a professional and private level.

Further, thanks to Dr. Fanie Jansen van Rensburg for his endless support and motivation during my stay in South Africa. He provided valuable knowledge regarding sociological and anthropological research as well as extensive background on South African history, cultures and traditions. Thank you for all the intensive talks we had and your humour that always filled me with pleasure.

My gratitude goes to Lemogang Sebeco for being my field assistant. She enormously helped to establish good relationships to the interviewees, and supported me in every imaginable way during and after field work. Our talks and discussions immensely broadened my understanding of the lives of farm dwellers. Thank you for all the support, enthusiasm and motivation. Without you it would not have been possible to gain the depth of information collected in this dissertation. It has been an absolute pleasure working with you.

I thank all members of the research team in South Africa: James Kekeletso Mothosola, Mantombi Mfumba, Ingrid Zali, Sophie Sithole, Sarah Matenge, Dikeledi Letsi, Lucert Nkuna, Godwin Moumakoe, Karin Schinagl, Christine Göbel, Christine Batel, Franziska Ollendorf, Anna Neff, Lineo Mathule, Lyna Mukoroverwa, Olivia Muza and Anna Tallant. It was a privilege for me being part of such a great team! Dear Anna Tallant, thank you very much for the final language check of this thesis.

I would also like to thank the Department of Nutrition at North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, for the warm reception, for all the help during my stay, for providing me a study environment as well as providing financial support at the beginning of this study. My gratitude, especially to Prof. Dr. Este (HH) Vorster and Prof.

Dr. Annamarie Kruger.

Further thanks to Prof. Dr. Michael Schnegg of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Hamburg, for providing extensive technical knowledge in the field of network analysis.

Dr. Johannes Herrmann, from the computer centre (Hochschulrechenzentrum) at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, is acknowledged for his consultation on statistical matters.

I also would like to thank the colleagues of the Professorship of Nutrition Education and Consumer Behaviour at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, especially Carina Walter, Juliane Schmidt, Mareike Banka, Lisa Jansen and Jaqueline Köhler, for their assistance during my stay in Giessen and ongoing motivation to accomplish my goals.

Cordial thanks to the colleagues of the Centre for International Development and Environmental Research at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, for always assisting with every arising need. Thanks to Dr. Matthias Höher, Sabine Viehmann, Petra SpamerTrapp, Kerstin Kötschau, Martin Günther and Nino Chkoidze.

Furthermore, this study would not have been possible without the financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Post-Graduate Scholarschip of the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen. The financial support is greatly acknowledged.

Further thanks to Dr. Peter Glasauer from the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization. Thank you for all the interesting discussions and the technical knowledge I have gained during my stay in Rome, and for your ongoing motivational support.

During my stay in South Africa, I have made new friends who gave me a lot of emotional and motivational support, and who showed me the South African way of life.

Thanks to Annabelle De Jager and Chris Boshoff, Inge Stegemann, Natalie Willemse, Peter Ongare Okeno, Mzamo Qoshekile, Trod Lehong, Leon Kohrs, Maria Castan and Deon Zulu. It was indeed wonderful to have this possibility of meeting all of you.

Thanks, especially to Zandile Ntuli, Kgomotso Ikgpoleng and Lemogang Sebeco for becoming such dear friends, always being there for me and for sharing many joyful moments. Your friendship means so much to me, that it is not describable in words.

I warmly thank Sannie Claasen for welcoming me into her family and giving me so much emotional support. I appreciate every single moment we spent together. Your strength, faith, love and humour will always be an inspiration for me. Further thanks to Quinn Claasen, Tony and Daphne Sechel and their children for being my South African family. Thank you, Zainneth Claasen for all the valuable experiences and for your assistance with the proofreading.

Sincere thanks to my German friends for keeping up the friendship, supporting me and keeping me grounded all the time while I was away. Thank you, Franziska Balster, Anke and Norman Günther, Peggy Stier and Michaela Kauschka. Special thanks to Berit Wetzel for being a dear friend and assisting me with proofreading and formatting the dissertation.

At last, I would like to express very special thanks to my parents Martina and Klaus Heumann, my sister Nadine Heumann and my grandparents Helmuth and Helma Schmidt for their never ending support. Also, I would like to thank my late grandparents Franz and Hildegard Heumann. Even though being thousands of kilometres away, I always carried a piece of home with me knowing that you will always be there for me when I need you. I especially thank my parents for all their support and for continuously motivating me to reach my goals and to fulfil my dreams. Without you, this dissertation would not have been accomplished.



List of Figures

List of tables

List of boxes

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Glossary of terms


1.1 Motivation for this research

1.2 Contents of the dissertation


2.1 Concepts of food and nutrition security

2.1.1 Defining food and nutrition security

2.1.2 The four dimensions of food and nutrition security

2.1.3 Causes of hunger and malnutrition

2.2 Household livelihood security

2.2.1 Defining sustainable livelihoods and household livelihood security............. 11 2.2.2 Conceptual framework of sustainable livelihoods

2.3 Social capital and social network theory

2.3.1 Conceptualising social capital and social networks

2.3.2 The two network approaches: Complete and ego-centric networks............. 15 2.3.3 The links between social networks, social support and personal relationships

2.3.4 Bonds and bridges: The role of strong and weak ties



–  –  –

3.1.1 A brief outline of South Africa’s history

3.1.2 Geography, demographic and socio-economic profile of South Africa and the North West Province

3.1.3 Health and nutrition situation of the South African society

3.1.4 South African household and family structures

3.1.5 The position of women in society

3.2 South Africa’s agriculture and the situation of farm dwellers............... 47 3.2.1 The role of agriculture in South Africa and in the North West Province....... 47 3.2.2 Historical background of farm labour in South Africa

3.2.3 Current state of farm workers in South Africa

3.2.4 South Africa’s land reform and its implications for farm dwellers................. 57 4 RESEARCH AIMS AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

4.1 Overall research objective and conceptual framework

4.2 Specific research questions and indicators


5.1 Role of study in the larger research project

5.1.1 Objectives and conceptual framework of the larger research project........... 67 5.1.2 Setting of this study within the larger research project

5.2 Research design: A qualitative network research

5.3 Gaining access to the farms and building relationships with farm dwellers

5.3.1 Gaining access to the farms

5.3.2 Building relationships with farm dwellers

5.4 Selection of participants: Sampling methods and sample size............. 76

5.5 Methods of data collection

–  –  –

5.5.2 Focus group discussions with farm dwellers: Gaining an interactive understanding

5.5.3 Key-informant interviews: Gathering peripheral perspectives

5.5.4 Observations: Getting a holistic view

5.6 Data analysis: From bits and pieces towards a comprehensive understanding

5.6.1 Organisation and preparation of data

5.6.2 Analysis of qualitative data

5.6.3 Quantitative analysis of network data

5.6.4 Merging, interrelating and interpreting the results of all data

5.7 The role of the researcher: Overcoming social and cultural gaps...... 101

5.8 Ethical considerations

5.9 Trustworthiness: Validation of qualitative research

5.10 Limitations of the study


6.1 Implications of land reform in the farm area: Structural changes over time

6.2 Description of research setting and infrastructural characteristics... 114

6.3 Photo documentation


7.1 Socio-demographic and household characteristics of interviewed farm dwellers

7.1.1 Socio-demographic profile of interviewed farm dwellers

7.1.2 Household characteristics and categories

7.2 Livelihood security

7.2.1 Employment and income sources available within and outside the farm area

–  –  –

7.2.3 Financial stock: Property, savings and investments

7.2.4 Past experiences and reasons for coming to the farm area

7.2.5 Farm dwellers’ perceptions regarding their working and living conditions.. 148 7.2.6 Role of farm owner in the life of farm workers

7.3 Livelihood constraints and shocks

7.3.1 General livelihood constraints faced by farm dwellers

7.3.2 Acute livelihood shocks: loss of job, crime, conflicts, sickness and death. 159 7.3.3 Alcohol abuse among farm dwellers

7.3.4 Social implications of HIV/AIDS on farm dwellers’ lives

7.3.5 Perceptions regarding the land restitution process

7.4 Household food security

7.4.1 Availability of food: commercial supply, food provisions, own production, collecting, hunting and food sharing

7.4.2 Household food diversity

7.4.3 Worries about food, experiences of food shortage and hunger.................. 180 7.4.4 State and categories of household food security

7.5 Intra-household dynamics and gender relations

7.5.1 Duration of relationships and perceptions regarding the marital status...... 188 7.5.2 Resource allocation between partners

7.5.3 Decision-making power in the household

7.5.4 Emotional and caring support between partners

7.5.5 Impact of gender relations on household food and livelihood security....... 196

7.6 The role of social support networks in the household food and livelihood security system of farm dwellers

7.6.1 Network size of interviewees

7.6.2 Characteristics of alters: Gender, age, economic status, relationship role and emotional bond

–  –  –

7.6.4 A qualitative view of farm dwellers’ social support networks: Different support roles between kin and non-kin

7.6.5 Actual social support: Networks in the everyday life of farm dwellers........ 211 7.6.6 Potential social support: Coping networks in times of food and livelihood insecurity

7.6.7 Multiplexity of network ties

7.6.8 Farm dwellers’ characteristics influencing network size and formation...... 226 7.6.9 Structural insights into complete networks within the farm communities.... 227

7.7 Other social capital sources

7.7.1 The role of churches within the farm area

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