Assessing the relationship between youth capabilities and food security: a case study of a rainwater harvesting project in South Africa
Rainwater harvesting presents a viable option for securing water availability in order to increase food production. The study focuses on rural youth in Luphisi and Dwaleni villages in the Mpumalanga Province and considers the relationship between youth capabilities and food security. The study uses qualitative data collected from focus group discussions and quantitative data from a baseline survey within the context of an integrated rainwater harvesting project. The indicators tapped into attributes related to trust, social cohesion, inclusion and sociability, and examined these within the context of the ‘capability approach’, to consider whether and in what ways these attributes can be linked to food security. Results show that youth have high levels of certain capabilities such as trust, social cohesion and inclusion, co-operation, self-esteem, and meaning. However, in other dimensions there are fewer opportunities, like access to networks, access to knowledge and information and sociability, which are lacking among youth and restrict opportunities for them to engage with issues around food and water security. The Chi-square test was used to investigate the relationship between youth capabilities and food security and at p<0.05 results showed that there was no relationship between youth capabilities and food security in Dwaleni. There were however three capabilities showing significant statistical relationships between youth capabilities and food security in Luphisi: collective action and co-operation, social cohesion and self-esteem. We argue that there are opportunities to build on existing capabilities and that, overall, the potential of youth for engaging in water resources management is not being tapped into.
Keywords: collective action, food security, water resources management, rainwater harvesting, self-esteem, social cohesion, trust, youth