Rural people in southern Africa make a living in diverse ways, often in harsh physical and economic environments. Such contexts are fast-changing requiring shifts in livelihood strategies and mixes of activities.
This article explores both the vulnerability contexts and livelihood strategies found in the three study areas examined during the SLSA research programme Zambézia province, Mozambique, Chiredzi district, Zimbabwe and South Africa’s Wild Coast. This article assesses how such livelihood strategies interact with wider institutional and governance contexts, and how such arrangements facilitate or constrain access to natural resources and the realisation of sustainable livelihoods in these areas. An examination of what people do to make a living in the case study sites demonstrates that natural resources continue to play, alongside a portfolio of other activities, a crucial part in rural people’s livelihood strategies.
The first section presents some basic information on the study areas, setting these within national contexts. The second section highlights some of the changing contexts that influence livelihood opportunities in southern Africa. Together these have resulted, we suggest, in increasing livelihood vulnerability over the last decade in all three study areas. The ways such changing contexts have affected different livelihood strategies are explored in the following section, with agriculture, off-farm diversification and migration looked at in particular. The final section turns to the central question of the research: how do institutions and policies. or more generically the governance context, affect the way people are able to construct their livelihoods? This article, then, picks up on the themes introduced in article 1, but focuses in on the particularities and details of the study areas, providing the necessary background on contexts, livelihood strategies and governance arrangements for the discussion and analysis in the subsequent articles of this Bulletin.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 34.3 (2003) Livelihood Dynamics: Rural Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe