The impact of State-Of-Rivers Reporting on people’s attitudes towards river conservation : a case study of the Buffalo and Hartenbos & Klein Brak Catchments in South Africa

Strydom, Wilma Fernanda (2010-03)

Thesis (MSc (Conservation Ecology and Entomology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During 2007, two evidence-based studies were undertaken in two catchment areas in South Africa. The first study ascertained the relationships between demographic attributes and general awareness, human impacts, attitudes and water use behaviour. The second study determined whether or not State-of-River (SoR) materials developed for foundation phase learners (grades 1 to 3) improved their understanding of and influenced their attitudes towards river conservation. Surveys were conducted amongst learners (n=1178) and parents (n=1144) from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Questionnaires were available in three languages, namely English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans. The SoR reporting materials were not adequately distributed. The first study could therefore not ascertain whether increased awareness or attitudinal and behavioural changes could be ascribed to SoR reporting in the catchments. The majority of respondents (82%) indicated that there was a need for more information on rivers and 60% of the respondents indicated that they would participate in a follow-up survey. Thirty percent of respondents from the Buffalo catchment and 22% of respondents from the Hartenbos and Klein Brak catchment indicated that they use water very sparingly. Respondents from urban areas scored higher in their attitudes towards river conservation and were more aware of water issues than those from rural areas. Both attitudinal and awareness scores did not align with water use behaviour, with rural respondents using water more sparingly. Attitude and awareness improved with increased education levels. Respondents who indicated that they would rather pay more for water than change their water use behaviour showed the lowest score for attitude towards river conservation. Learners from the Buffalo rural area showed a significant increase in understanding the benefits that healthy rivers provide, and this can be ascribed to the distributed SoR activity book and poster. A survey consisting of quantitative and qualitative items, as well as participatory evaluations determined learners’ level of understanding of human impacts on rivers. The quantitative study showed learners from the Hartenbos and Klein Brak area as well as the Buffalo rural area improved the most over time. The qualitative items showed a 35% and 40% increase in the number of correctly listed items as either making a river happy (healthy) or sad (unhealthy) after exposure to SoR materials. Respondents from both catchments taking part in the participatory evaluations displayed an overall increase in their understanding of good practices, as well as the negative impact of human activities on rivers. Those learners that scored low in the participatory evaluations at time 1 showed the most improvement over time, concluding that those learners who knew the least at the start of the study, gained the most understanding of human impacts on rivers. All schools in the Hartenbos and Klein Brak catchment, with the exception of one, showed a slight increase in understanding of human impacts on rivers. Results from the schools in the Buffalo catchment were more variable. Data gathered demonstrated that the SoR materials helped learners to better understand benefits from clean rivers as well as human impact on rivers. Although the learners from urban areas had a better understanding of the concept of river conservation before contact with the SoR materials, learners from the rural areas showed the most improvement over time. There was an increase in the number of learners that showed a willingness to take responsibility for their actions that could impact on river health. Far more learners mentioned remediation types of actions than protection or preventative actions. A change in peoples’ attitudes and behaviour is needed to ensure adequate protection of South Africa’s natural water resources. Imprinting values and perceptions that would last into adulthood need intervention at an early age and throughout children’s’ formative years.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Gedurende 2007, twee bewysgebaseerde ondersoeke is in twee wateropvangsgebiede in Suid Afrika gedoen. Die eerste studie was gerig op die bepaling van die verband tussen demografiese kenmerke, algemene bewustheid, menslike impak, houdings en waterverbruik. Die tweede studie het bepaal of die Stand-van-Rivier (SvR) inligtingsmateriaal wat vir grondslagfase leerlinge (graad 1 tot 3) ontwikkel is, bygedra het tot hulle begrip van en houding jeens die bewaring van riviere. Steekproeftrekkings het leerlinge (n=1178) en ouers (n=1144) vanuit verskillende kultuur- en sosioekonomiese agtergronde betrek. Vraelyste was in drie landstale naamlik Engels, Xhosa en Afrikaans beskikbaar. Die SvR kommunikasie material is nie toereikend versprei nie. Die eerste studie kon derhalwe nie bepaal of groter bewustheid of veranderings in houding en gedrag in hierdie opvangsgebiede aan die SvR verslaggewing toegeskryf kon word nie. Die meerderheid respondente (82%) het aangedui dat daar ‘n tekort and rivierinligting is en 60% van die respondente het hulself bereidwillig verklaar om aan ’n opvolgstudie deel te neem. Dertig persent van die respondente uit die Buffels- en 22% uit die Hartenbos- en Klein Brak-opvangsgebiede het aangedui dat hulle water spaarsamig gebruik. Respondente afkomstig van stedelike gebiede het beter rivierbewaringshoudings getoon en was meer bewus van wateraangeleenthede as die van landelike gebiede. Houdings en bewustheids-vlakke het nie ooreengestem met waterverbruik nie – landelike respondente gebruik water meer spaarsamig. Beide houdings en algemene bewustheid het toegeneem met hoër onderwysvlakke. Respondente wat aangedui het dat hulle eerder meer vir water sal betaal as om hulle verbruik te verminder, het die swakste houding jeens die bewaring van riviere getoon. Leerlinge uit die landelike gebiede van die Buffels opvangsgebied het groter begrip getoon vir die voordele wat gesonde riviere inhou, en dit kan toegeskryf word aan die aktiwiteitsboek en SvR plakkaat wat onder hulle versprei is. ‘n Steekproef bestaande uit kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe items, sowel as deelnemende evaluasies is gebruik om leerlinge se vlak van begrip van menslike impak op riviere te bepaal. Die kwantitatiewe studie het aangedui dat die begrip van leerlinge van die Hartenbos en Klein Brak sowel as die van die landelike Buffelsrivieropvangsgebiede oor tyd die meeste toegeneem het. Op die vraag wat riviere gelukkig (gesond) of hartseer (ongesond) maak, het die kwalitatiewe items, na blootstelling van die leerders aan die SvR materiaal, ‘n toename van 35% en 40% in korrekte antwoorde getoon. In die deelnemende evaluasie het respondente van beide opvangsgebiede ‘n toename in begrip van goeie praktyke sowel as die negatiewe impak van menslike aktiwiteite op riviere getoon. Leerlinge wat swak gevaar het in die deelnemende evaluasie gedurende die eerste rondte het die meeste vordering getoon. Die gevolgtrekking is dus dat leerlinge wat die minste geweet het aan die begin van die studie, die meeste geleer het oor menslike impak op riviere. Op een na, het alle skole in die Hartenbos- en Klein Brakrivieropvangsgebied ‘n geringe verhoging in begrip van menslike impak op riviere getoon. Resultate van skole uit die Buffelsopvangsgebied het meer gevarieer. Data versamel het gedemonstreer dat die gebruik van die aktiwiteitsboek en plakkate gelei het tot ’n beter begrip by leerders van die voordele van skoon riviere asook van menslike impak op riviere. Alhoewel die leerlinge van stedelike gebiede beter begrip getoon het oor rivierbewaring voor kontak met die SvR material, het die landelike leerlinge die grootste toename in begrip oor die verloop van die studie getoon. Daar was ook ‘n toename in die aantal leerlinge wat bereid was om verantwoordelikheid vir hulle aktiwiteite wat ‘n impak op riviergesondheid kon hê, te aanvaar. Veel meer leerlinge het tydens die tweede fase verwys na herstel eerder as beskermings of voorkomende gedrag. ’n Verandering in mense se houdings en gedrag is noodsaaklik om genoegsame bewaring van Suid Afrika se natuurlike waterhulpbronne te verseker. Waarde sisteme en persepsies wat met volwassewording steeds geldig sal wees, word reeds teen ’n vroeë ouderdom, gedurende kinders se vormingsjare, vasgelê.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4509
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