Rural development in practice? The experience of the ‡Khomani bushmen in the Northern Cape, South Africa
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This thesis analyses the dynamics, complexities and numerous obstacles that serve to constrain rural development within the ‡Khomani Community of the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Following the end of Apartheid, given the disparity in wealth evident among the country’s population, in 1994, the South African Government embarked on a process to address inequality. In regard to the rural poor, who constitute the majority of the country’s poor, the Government envisioned that a more equitable distribution of land would result in economic development and poverty alleviation for land reform beneficiaries. Consequently, a Land Reform Policy was introduced, which was used by the ‡Khomani Bushmen to reclaim ancestral land in South Africa’s rural Northern Cape in 1999. More than ten years on, however, the living conditions of the ‡Khomani have not improved, and the Community continues to live in poverty. Despite the award of land and financial input from government and development agencies, the ‡Khomani have no basic services and are unable to significantly diversify or increase livelihood strategies. Multiple factors including a lack of Community cohesion and capacity, limited opportunities due to remote rural location, and the inability of government and development actors to successfully apply effective interventions, serve to constrain development, and maintain ‡Khomani disempowerment. The thesis argues that governments, development institutions and actors must recognise the need for a multidimensional approach to development to alleviate poverty, while recognising the limits of external actors and the role of communities in this regard. Essentially, sustainable rural development will only ensue when communities are able to make effective decisions based on meaningful choices.