Understanding Underdevelopment Essay
The article begins with a background to the sustainable livelihoods approach (SAL) outlining its origins. Using the Dip’s framework, the article further explains why the SAL can only be seen as an approach and not as a theory. The article uses the example of South Africa during the settler Leonia period to illustrate the importance of structures and processes in the allocation of resources. Apartheid South Africa is used to illustrate how institutions can stifle development instead of promoting it, and therefore set in the conditions of underdevelopment.
In this regard, the article argues that the settler colonial regime in South Africa embarked on a deliberate and purposive exercise to underdeveloped the indigenous African populations. In the analysis, the paper shows how the various areas of the sustainable livelihoods framework contribute to achieve specific livelihoods outcomes. The article ends with a short criticism of the sustainable livelihoods approach.
Keywords: poverty; underdevelopment; sustainable livelihoods; South Africa; theory; capital assets; development; apartheid Introduction In this article, an attempt is made to explain underdevelopment in South Africa using the sustainable livelihoods approach within the framework of development thinking. It will be shown that this approach is not something new as such, but only reflects progress
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The paper uses apartheid South Africa as a point of reference with regard to the functioning or non-functioning of the forms of assets that are seen as critical in the fight against poverty. Understanding the sustainable livelihoods approach (SAL) and the framework that is applied will help us understand the capital assets (second area of the framework, Figure 1) of the communities better. The framework will show that capital assets are not merely factors in a vacuum but are themselves dependent on other factors in order to be successfully utilized.
Such factors are to be found in the first and third areas of the framework (see the framework in Figure 1). To this effect, *Email: [email protected] AC. AZ 2013 Community Development Society 1742 S. Mazurka Downloaded by [Brought to you by Unions Library] at 03:47 26 June 2013 Figure 1. Sustainable rural livelihoods framework. Source: DIF (1999, p. 1). It is important to consider for example cultural and environmental elements of the determined in the third area of the framework.
The third area of the framework is crucial because that is where the nature of livelihoods pursued is determined. The outcomes of livelihoods (the last area of the framework) are therefore a result of a number of linkages – (1) policies pursued – for example the policies are not always to the advantage of the poor, but in the absence of viable alternatives, developing countries have been compelled to adopt and implement policies much to the disadvantage of the poor in the countries concerned; (2) assets possessed; and (3) the context in which these are found.
This article is based on a critical analysis of two types of literature. The first type relates to the theoretical framework of the sustainable livelihoods approach and the second type is based on the South African socioeconomic conditions that the colonial and settler colonial regimes created. The literature on the South African socioeconomic conditions offers very good material to explain the working of the sustainable livelihoods framework.
Background to the sustainable rural livelihoods approach Although the sustainable rural livelihoods approach is credited to the British Department for International Development (DIF), it is recognized that the definition of the framework is traceable from other writers, namely Chambers and Conway (1992). The DIF has modified the definition to probably suit its needs. As shown above, the livelihoods approach cannot be called a theory because it does not explain any phenomenon, neither can it be called a model, as it does not describe anything.
As a framework, a way of looking at the world, the sustainable rural livelihoods approach only helps in considering the phenomenon and 1753 recognizing patterns. It is this recognition that may finally lead to a model or theory. The approach recognizes for example that people have many capabilities, have arioso assets and engage in numerous activities to earn their living. Because the sustainable rural livelihoods approach is strength-based rather than needs-based, it does not primarily inquire into what needs to happen but rather how things should (or must) happen.
In this case things should happen based on the assets that people possess and their understanding of their conditions. The approach is that development should begin with what people have and then develop to higher levels. Because things happen within particular contexts, the livelihoods approach coziness that for example institutions and processes should be clearly understood. Borrowing from Ken’s (1999) concept of freedoms, the approach states that people should have freedoms (or rights) to choose in order to pursue the lives they value.
According to Seen, individuals (or groups) need rights and opportunities to strengthen their capabilities. It is at this point that the sustainable rural livelihoods approach comes to the tangent with Ken’s capability approach. What capabilities do people have to pursue the kind of lives they value? The question can also be asked: What sets do people have that can help them lead fulfilling lives? Like Ken’s capability monetary income to determine poverty. The sustainable livelihoods approach takes incomes as part of the “package” and not the sole determinants of poverty as income- poverty theories do.
A fulfilling life or a valuable life may be considered as the one in which an individual (or group) considers that their well-being is being enhanced or is in fact improved. This statement also shows that the approach is normative in nature since there is no telling of what well-being entails in any particular circumstance. To this end, well-being becomes relative to prevailing conditions in any one particular society or community. People consider themselves better-off in relation to others around them.
It is probably very true that an individual who has lived all his or her life alone on an island cannot speak of another life because he or she has not experienced anything else. Until such time that these individuals meet or see other lives different from theirs, they then can begin to speak of a bad or good life. It is never an easy task to make clear-cut statements about the origins of any ideas. Ideas evolve over time and in many instances they overlap with other existing ideas and understandings.
Theories also go through the same patterns. Ellis and Biggs (2001, p. 437) indicate that the ideas about rural development can be traced from the evolution of the concept of development itself in the asses. Until the asses, modernization dominated development thinking, the asses state intervention dominated, the asses market liberalizing – the Washington Consensus – dominated and the asses participation and empowerment. The current decade is dominated by the idea of sustainable (rural) livelihoods approach.
However, the authors point out that the ideas of this approach are present in all the other ideas, particularly those ideas that dominated the asses and the asses. While all the other ideas on rural development focused on agriculture as a priority to rural development, the sustainable rural livelihoods approach does not. The sustainable livelihoods approach recognizes the fact that people engage in a variety of activities for their livelihoods. None of these activities can be regarded as superior to others.
People receive income from activities that differ from agriculture and in fact remittances and ranchers have come to play major roles in the lives of 1764 many so that in sub-Sahara Africa between 30% and 50% of rural households derive their incomes from sources other than agriculture (Ellis, 1998, p. 53; Ellis & Biggs, 2001, p. 445). The modernization theory advocated that the poor should adopt and follow in the footsteps of the developed world in terms of economic growth to eradicate poverty.
With the realization that “copy-casting” the West was not being helpful, governments in the developing world felt that they should take an active part came to the fore. Third World countries struggled to break free from economic cline and stagnation, and failed to honor their commitments to financial lending institutions. As a result the World Bank and the MIFF intervened with the structural adjustment programmer (SAPS) in the asses. The SAPS advocated free trade and called upon the poor countries to follow the route of liberalizing. While there were some indications of economic growth, these never filtered down to the rural poor.
Poverty and unemployment continued to grow unabated. The situation led to realization that the poor lacked empowerment and in fact they were not participating in their own “liberation”. Thus participation and empowerment became buzz words in the asses through to the asses. In the course of time, it became evident that agriculture alone was not going to solve the problems of poverty. The non-farm sector equally needed attention. These areas included infrastructure, markets and market information, ethnic conflicts, the HIVE/AIDS pandemic and other diseases and adverse effects of globalization (Mamba, 2001, p. 6).
Realization therefore grew that the rural people in fact engaged in various activities to earn their living. It was at the same time that people realized that there were obstacles that prevented them from achieving this well-being. It thus became clear that people needed to lead sustainable lives which in turn depended on many other factors as explained in the vulnerability context above. A sustainable livelihood as an outcome is a result of a number of factors such as rights and freedom, transforming social structures and access to assets. Without these, wellbeing and leading a meaningful life is not possible.
Referring to previous attempts at development, Chambers (1999, p. 1) has this to say: Many of the hopes of earlier decades have faded and many beliefs have been challenged and changed. The visions of the asses and asses for a better world with full employment, decent incomes, universal primary education, health for all, safe drinking water, a demographic transition to stable populations and fair terms of trade between the rich and poor countries, have in no case been realized. In this regard, the livelihoods approach represents a particular paradigm shift as ideas about development evolve.
In this case, Chambers (1999, p. 9-12) and Chambers and Conway 1992, p. 35-36) point to five key words that have become critical in development thinking, namely: (1) well-being (experience of good quality of fife); (2) livelihood security (adequate flow of food and cash, assets to off-set risks, shocks and meet contingencies); (3) capability (what people are capable doing and being); (4) equity (income distribution, opportunities and including human rights and gender equity); and (5) sustainability (ability to recover from stresses and shocks and applying long term perspectives to policies and actions).
According to Chambers and Conway (1992), sustainable livelihoods together with capabilities are means to well- being, while equity and sustainability are mainly principles. In summary, to achieve ell-being, one needs a livelihood, security, Community Development 177 5 capability, equity, and sustainability. These five concepts are often used in the livelihoods approach. Borrowing from Chambers (1999, p. 210), the livelihoods approach attempts to put the poor first. It enquires into regarding what they lack.
Above all, the livelihoods approach recognizes the fact that the poor are not blank slates waiting for the developer to write on for the first time. The five capital assets referred to in the livelihoods approach are also reflected in Ken’s (1999: 5) assertion that freedom is central to development. Seen states that people’s achievements are influenced by their having economic opportunities, political liberties, social powers and the enabling conditions of good health. In short, achievement is a function of assets possessed including the functioning of institutions.
Put together with Chamber’s five key words in development, it is clear that a similar approach is followed as in the livelihoods approach. To this end, the livelihoods approach can be seen as evolving from particular paradigms, as Chambers (1999, p. 9) puts it: At any time there have coexisted a range of vocabulary, incepts, and values, some considered old-fashioned, some current, and some avian- grade. So it is to be expected that the frontier words of the mid-asses, such as accountability, ownership, stakeholder and transparency will be followed and perhaps superseded by others.
Explaining the development of new paradigms, Chambers (1993, p. 2-11) points to three areas that can be seen as determinants or drivers of paradigms, namely; . Changing reality. In contrast to physical sciences, reality in social sciences changes all the time and at a more rapid rate. For example, changes in population growth lead to hangers in how people derive their livelihoods as well as in their social relations.. New ideas derived from experiences. Changes are informed by reality, action and experience.
The poor have many different ways of earning a livelihood – doing different things at different times of the year. Therefore, diversity and complexity characterize the lives of the poor more than those of the rich. These factors represent drivers for change among the poor and in the field of development as compared to anomalies, measurements and reductionism in physical sciences.. Tolerance of competing ideas. Development requires tolerance of competing ideas. It needs to be recognized that the indigenous technical knowledge is more valid and useful than the technical knowledge of the outsiders.
The new paradigm represents a reversal of thinking in development that the poor come before the rich, women before men, children before adults and experts become learners. Chambers (1993, p. 2-11) shows that the livelihoods of the rural poor are better understood by the poor themselves. Outsiders can only learn in those situations and provide whatever assistance they can, but they can never be masters of these situations. How to maximize their well-being is best understood by the poor, given their assets, including the opportunity to do things their own way. In this regard, the new paradigm recognizes the multi-dimensional nature of poverty.
Furthermore, whenever changes occur, the affected will be the ones to first notice the changes in 1786 their environment. Capital assets are also subject to be affected, for example by climate change. To this end, Flora and Flora (2008, p. 47) observe that: Global climate change will have major impacts on natural capital as changes in water regimes and humidity increase pests. It will affect human capital through health threats brought about by changes in food production, access to freshwater, exposure to vectoring water-borne diseases, sea-level rise and coastal flooding, and extreme weather events.
Such extreme weather events as longer and more severe drought and more intense rain and snow have implications for soil erosion and water quality … Theoretical framework The sustainable livelihoods approach is essentially not defined as a theory. It is rather an “approach” for doing things in a particular way. As an approach, it does not lay down procedures to be followed but instead it provides a cope and guidelines which can be implemented. The framework does not say what a sustainable livelihood is, but only indicates parameters along which such a state could be visualized.
The framework nevertheless does become explicit in describing what makes a livelihood sustainable when it refers to specific capital assets that households should have. The key advantage of the approach is that without defining poverty, it states the aim as achievement of lasting improvements ‘ on livelihoods using the indicators and resources that people have. De Stage (2002, p. 2) refers to he framework as a world view – how some people see the world. There are many world views.
Since the appearance of the Dibs framework which is used in this paper, many other similar frameworks modeled along the lines of that of the DIF have since emerged. De Stage (2002, p. 4-15) describes the CARE framework which uses Chamber’s and Convoy’s definition, the Indus framework, which like the Dip’s framework focuses on strengths, the Learning about Livelihoods (ALA) framework which analyses both the micro and macro environments, the Sofas framework also using Chambers and ‘ Convoy’s definition. The last framework mentioned by De Stage is the Policy Guidelines for Integrating Environmental Planning into Land Reform (PIES).
This framework was developed by the South African Department of Land Affairs in conjunction with the Danish funding agency DANCED and it relates to South Africans land reform programmer. The sustainable livelihoods approach also provides basic principles along which poverty-focused initiatives should be understood. These principles are (Allison & Horseman, 2006, p. 758; Khan-acidic, 2009): . People-centeredness. Attempts at poverty alleviation should focus on what people have – their strategies, environments and abilities to adapt.. Participatory and responsive.
Beneficiaries should be the main actors in identifying and proportioning their needs.. Dynamic. Support provided to the poor should take into account the fact that livelihoods are not static but determined and influenced by many other factors.. Multi-level. Understand that poverty is multi-layered and cannot be addressed only at one level. Institutions and processes need to be considered. Strategies should be able to link the micro and macro levels.. Holistic. Because of the humanism of poverty, strategies should be holistic and not only be confined to a few particular areas of living. Community Development 179 7 .
Sustainability. Attempts at development should aim at ensuring sustainable environments including economic environment, natural environment, institutional environment and social environment. Maybe true to its principles, the livelihoods approach moves away from what Chambers (1997, p. 42) calls reductionism – reducing the complex and varied to the simple and standard. Reductionism as a method is problematic in development because the conditions are averse, dynamic and uncontrollable, which is not the case in physical sciences. The situation calls for looking at the bigger picture instead of seeing parts of the whole picture.
Chambers (1997, p. 45), like Seen (1999, p. 93-95), points out that deprivation and poverty cannot be explained only in terms of lack of income or wealth. These factors manifest themselves also in social inferiority, physical weakness, disability and sickness, vulnerability and physical and social isolation, which when taken together, represent the poverty trap. The livelihoods approach captures this understanding as it refers to various forms of capital that are required to enable people to lead meaningful lives, or as Seen (1999, p. 293) puts it “to lead lives they have reason to value and to enhance the real choices they have”.
Carney (1998, p. 4) and Scones (1998, p. 5) define a sustainable livelihood as follows: A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base. The livelihoods approach moves from the point that the poor have (or should have) specific assets or capitals that they can use to escape poverty. This differs from for example the needs-based approach which looks at what people need.
The following five forms of capital, also called assets, are seen as essentials if poverty is to be addressed, but as pointed out above, the sustainable livelihoods approach is more about people than assets (Carney, 1998, p. 3 and 7; Flora & Flora, 2008, p. 50; 84, 1 17, 175, and 206; Scones, 1998, p. -8): . Financial capital consists of incomes, access to credit and any other financial means. Financial capital is a very versatile form of capital. Having money for example means that a household can afford to do many other things such as going to a doctor, buying enough food and, sending children to school.
Financial capital should not be limited to monetary capital, but it should be seen as referring to that which can be converted to liquidity. A household that has access to financial capital is therefore better placed to achieve its well-being than otherwise.. Human capital consists of education, skills, knowledge, health, values, leadership capacity, interpersonal skills, and labor. Changes in human capital are likely to have tremendous effects on all other factors that account for as assets.
Poor education for example can have long-lasting effects to individuals, families and nations as it happens with the results of Bantu education in South Africa. Leadership as a whole. At a household level, human capital is most likely to differ since household sizes are never the same or equal. The size 1808 S. Mazurka of a household is one of the determining factors that livelihood trainees pursue.. Natural capital consists of land, water, biological diversity. Lack of access to productive land for example may greatly compromise the livelihoods of some families; as is the case with natural resources.
Due to their conditions of poverty, the poor households may find themselves misusing the natural environment in such a way that even the soil nutrients are completely depleted. A admonishment of natural capital is much easier in the areas where the poor live. Poverty forces them to deplete resources due to poor farming methods when steep marginal soils are putatively ploughed, or a lack of fuel forcing them to “destroy’ natural forests.. Physical or built capitals are livestock, machinery, communications, infrastructure and housing. Without proper road infrastructure for example, people struggle to reach markets.
Poor housing and lack of a safe water-supply could mean that people spend most of their time collecting water from afar, either for building their homes or for other domestic uses. Such situations remove people from engaging in productive activities. Improved physical capital therefore has a huge supportive role especially n rural development.. Social capital refers to the ability to socialize with other people, for example in local organizations, having access to information and any form of social support either from family or friends.
Social capital is also related to a large extent to social groups or class. It manifests itself in reciprocity and mutual trust. Here, networks are created and for the poor, these also provide a way of escaping shocks such as funeral costs. Friends, family, and or club members will always be at hand to help. Social capital also goes to the level of politics which has a big role in society. Important as they are, assets also exist within a particular context of vulnerability. The framework refers to trends, shocks, and cultural practices as influencing livelihoods.
Trends refer for example to stocks of resources, population density, technology, politics, and economics. Shocks could be in the form of Job losses, conflicts, and climate changes, while cultural trends are concerned with the effects culture has on how people manage and choose their livelihoods (Carney, 1998, p. 11). Understood within the vulnerability context, the way in which assets are used is the unction of societal structures as represented by levels of government, the private sector, as well as processes in the form of policies and institutions.
These structures and processes in turn determine the kind of livelihood strategies people adopt, for example, livelihoods that are natural resource-based, non-natural resource-based and migration. While structures set and implement laws and policies which have effects on service delivery and trade, processes embrace laws, policies, and norms received, the well-being of individuals, improved food security and less vulnerability. Diagrammatically, this explanation can be presented as in Figure 1.
People’s livelihoods and availability of assets are fundamentally affected by critical trends and events, shocks and seasonality over which they have no control at times. The capability to pursue whatever livelihood strategy depends on the assets that people have. We may choose to look at people’s strengths as in their culture or land; or concentrate on their financial means to earn their living. The framework helps us to understand how best for example a particular economic activity can be 181 9 aligned with existing livelihood strategies.