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TitleImproving rural livelihoods with rainwater harvesting and conservation on communal croplands in South Africa: opportunities and obstacles : paper presented at the 2nd International Seminar on Land Resources and Land Use Options, 14-16 July 2009, Goettinge
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBackeberg, GR
Pagination13 p. : 2 tab.
Date Published2009-01-01
PublisherWater Research Commission, WRC
Place PublishedPretoria, South Africa
Keywordsrainwater harvesting, rural areas, sdiafr, sdiwat, south africa, sustainable livelihoods, water conservation

It is estimated that 19 million people in South Africa are rural survivalists with traditional agrarian lifestyles. At least 15 million individuals of these are living below the poverty level. In contrast farming contributes only 10% of material income for rural livelihoods. Technology and practice of in-field rainwater harvesting (IRWH) and conservation have been developed over fifteen years of on-station and on-farm research. In some villages in the Eastern Cape and Free State province, levels of food security have increased by means of maize and vegetable production in homestead backyard gardens. This paper states that through technology exchange the application of IRWH expanded to more than 1 000 households in 42 rural villages around Thaba Nchu. The current state of land use at Thaba Nchu is the result of a history of conflicts over legitimate rights and economic means to earn livelihoods. After consultations a participatory process has started to formulate rules that explicitly define the land holding and ensure exclusive use of the land for cultivation. Farmers, who are mostly women, receive skills training and have aspirations to improve livelihoods through more productive farming activities.

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