Case study of collective action of women in response to water and food insecurity in the Ehlanzeni district municipality, Mpumalanga province
The historical patterns of access to water and other areas of public service delivery in South Africa predominantly favoured the white minority. There was inadequate distribution of water where townships and rural areas bore the brunt of the apartheid administration. Women are disadvantaged within the household and carry the burden of providing water for their families. This is particularly true in a water stressed environment, such as the Ehlanzeni District Municipality in Mpumalanga. This study considered the practical application of the Capability Approach and its key idea of human well-being. In particular, the idea of the Capability Approach that social arrangements should aim to expand people‟s capabilities and their freedom to promote or achieve what they value doing or being was considered. Sen‟s ideas were assessed and the study considered how these ideas help understand collective action and strategies adopted by women to cope in the face of water stress and poverty. The thesis examined how community involvement, in particular women‟s involvement in a group called Vukani, impacts on water related issues and helps them to cope with external stressors. The study also considered the links between group belonging and capabilities. The findings suggest that group belonging cultivates a unique set of capabilities such as hope and empowerment. Due to group belonging and the capabilities attained through collective action, Vukani was able to develop adaptive strategies through innovation, partnerships and knowledge sharing.