News & events


17 November 2023

Data collection on agrarian livelihoods progressing well

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

HSRC fieldworkers are visiting districts across South Africa to conduct research on how people earn a living through farming, specifically to understand the challenges experienced by marginalised farming communities. The 2023 Agrarian Rural Household Economy study was commissioned by Tshintsha Amakhaya, an activist collective that advocates for people’s rights to land and agrarian livelihoods.

In October and November 2023, the fieldworkers collected data from small farmers, farm workers and other farm dwellers in Bojanala (North West), Amajuba (KwaZulu-Natal), Namakwa (Northern Cape), Ehlanzeni (Mpumalanga), Amathole (Eastern Cape), and the Cape Winelands (Western Cape).

At the outset, the team leading this new survey realised that it is not easy to coordinate data collection in the 12 districts, spread across all provinces. The survey sites are predominantly rural, remote, sparsely populated and with untarred roads. These sites pose tough logistical and linguistic obstacles. Moreover, safety concerns demand extraordinary efforts in negotiating entry into these localities and convincing individuals and communities to partake in the survey.

Emerging scholars in the HSRC’s Equitable Education and Economies (EEE) division have been leading the data collection activities, which started on 23 October. As representatives of the HSRC in the field, they must uphold the ethical standards of social science research during their interviews with study participants. They are also guiding fieldworkers from Tshintsha Amakhaya to help them acquire survey enumerator skills through learning-by-doing.

Teams conducting the survey in the designated districts enjoy the assistance of administrators and a data quality controller. The steady progress and quality of data streaming into the REDCAP online platform show that the brief but intensive training for enumerators is bearing fruit. Parallel to the survey, key informant interviews with state and non-state actors in the land and agrarian sector are beginning to fill knowledge gaps about the broader context, including the effects of Covid-19 and climate change in these settings.

Read more about the training of enumerators here.

For more information about this study, click here.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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