Beneficiary dependence on the South African Working for Water Programme : a multi-site case study of four projects in the Western Cape

Hough, Jan Anton (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South Africa’s natural environment is internationally recognised for its biodiversity, and therefore deep concern exists regarding the significant impact of invasive alien species (IAS) on that biodiversity. To combat the spread of IAS in South Africa, the national Working for Water (WfW) Programme was established in 1995. In addition to the clearing of IAS, the programme has also been designed to provide employment and empowerment to the marginalised sectors of South African society. With regard to the latter, WfW forms part of South Africa’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), and can be defined as a workfare programme, since it provides paid employment, rather than welfare payment. Following a contractor development approach, it also intends to create independent entrepreneurial contractors who, ideally, should ‘exit’ WfW, by being absorbed in the broader labour market. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that, since the establishment of WfW, many of its intended beneficiaries have become highly dependent on such employment, and therefore do not wish to “exit” the programme. Also, mounting concern regarding beneficiary dependence on Public Works Programmes in general, has spurred numerous academic debates on welfare dependence, as well as attempts to explain variability in dependence on government support. This thesis reports on a multi-site case study of beneficiary dependence on four WfW projects, which was undertaken in four CapeNature reserves in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Five broad research questions were formulated, which relate to the extent of beneficiaries’ dependence on the projects concerned, as well the sociological factors that may contribute to such a phenomenon. The data collected for this study were analysed with reference to various theories of state dependence. The beneficiaries were found to have become highly dependent, mostly in a financial sense, on the WfW projects studied, but also in regard to expectations of remaining in the WfW Programme in future. Such dependence is largely due to WfW having become engrained in beneficiaries’ social structure to such an extent, that it affects both their choices and their actions. Fearing a return to the conditions of farm labour, or the inability to escape the culture of poverty and/or marginalisation they experienced before joining WfW, seems to have resulted in the “unanticipated consequence” of workers being reluctant to exit from the programme, on which they have become dependent for their income and social standing. In the light of these findings, the thesis also briefly reflects upon South Africa’s EPWPs, with the conclusion of the case study offering at least a partial solution to improving the WfW Programme as an EPWP.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suid-Afrika se natuurlike omgewing word internasionaal erken vir sy biodiversiteit, en om hierdie rede bestaan daar goot bekommernis oor die beduidende uitwerking van uitheemse indringerspesies (UIS) op hierdie biodiversiteit. Om die verspreiding van UIS in Suid-Afrika te bekamp, is die Nasionale Werk vir Water (WfW) Program in 1995 gestig. Benewens die verwydering van UIS, is die program ook ingestel op werkverskaffing en bemagtiging van die gemarginaliseerde sektore van die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing. Met betrekking tot laasgenoemde vorm WfW deel van die Suid-Afrikaanse Uitgebreide Openbare Werke Program (UOWP), en kan gedefineër word as ‘n werkswelsynsprogram, met die klem op die verskaffing van werk teen betaling, eerder as bloot net ’n welsynsbetaling. WfW volg ‘n kontrakteur-ontwikkelingsbenadering, waarvolgens kontrakteurs ontwikkel word, wat, ideaal gesien, die program as entrepreneurs kan verlaat en as sodanig in die breër arbeidsmark geabsorbeer kan word. Nietemin, in die praktyk wil dit tans egter voorkom asof die veronderstelde begunstigdes van WfW eerder hoogs afhanklik geraak het van die werk en dit derhalwe nooit wil verlaat nie. Die stygende kommer rakende begunstigde afhanklikheid van Openbare Werke Programme oor die algemeen, het reeds oorsprong verleen aan menige akademiese debatte oor welsynsafhanklikheid, sowel as pogings om verskille in omvang van afhanklikheid van regeringsondersteuning te verduidelik. Die tesis rapporteer oor ’n veelligging gevallestudie oor begunstigde afhanklikheid van vier WfW-projekte, wat geleë is in vier CapeNature reservate in die Wes-Kaapprovinsie van Suid-Afrika. Vyf breë navorsingsvrae is ontwerp, wat verband hou met die omvang van afhanklikheid van hierdie spesifieke projekte, sowel as die sosiologiese faktore wat tot die ontwikkeling van hierdie verskynsel sou kon bydra. Data is ontleed met verwysing na verskeie teorieë van staatsafhanklikheid. Daar is bevind dat begunstigdes hoogs afhanklik geraak het, hoofsaaklik in ‘n finansiële sin, van die bestudeerde WfW-projekte, maar ook verwagtinge het om in die toekoms deel te bly van die WfW-Program. Hierdie afhanklikheid spruit voort daaruit dat die begunstigdes se sosiale struktuur tot so ‘n mate met WfW verweef geword het, dat dit ’n uitwerking het op die werkers se keuses, asook hul optrede. ’n Vrees om terug te keer na die omstandighede van plaaswerk, of die onvermoë om te ontvlug van die kultuur van armoede en/of marginalisering wat hulle ervaar het voor deelname aan WfW, het skynbaar die “onbedoelde gevolg” gehad dat werkers onwillig is om te tree uit die program waarvan hulle afhanklik geraak het vir hul inkomste en sosiale stand. In die lig van hierdie bevindinge reflekteer hierdie tesis ook kortliks oor Suid-Afrika se UOWP, met die gevolgtrekking van die gevallestudie wat ten minste ‘n gedeeltelike oplossing bied ter verbetering van die WfWProgram, as ’n UOWP.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5428
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