We have reached the halfway point of the three-year Pathways Project, and achieved amazing milestones in this short period. In the first half of the project the project team successfully completed a detailed research survey with 850 farm dweller households in the uMgungundlovu District, which has provided a rich and detailed picture of the current realities of farm dwellers. There has been continuous stakeholder engagement throughout the project, which includes government officials, farm dwellers, community based organisations, land owners and commercial farmers. In keeping with the AFRA principle of inclusivity, and the approach of being led by farm dwellers themselves, six visioning workshops were planned to be held with local municipalities in the project area during November and December 2017. The visioning workshops are designed to bring together local stakeholders in the form of a focus group, in order for them to discuss the current situation on farms, and brainstorm possible models that would unlock new possibilities for the future. The methodology used by AFRA in facilitation of these focus groups is one that affords participants an opportunity to illustrate their experiences and proposals visually using pictures and icons.
We have already successfully conducted three of the six planned workshops in uMngeni, Impendle and Richmond municipalities. It has been an awakening and exciting experience to participate in these workshops. The content that emerged from local people who have a good understanding of the conditions on farms is invaluable. It has been impressive to observe people living on farms, particularly youth, discuss, debate and explore pathways to sustainable livelihoods. The majority of participants during these workshops submitted that the solution is not to replace the current owners of land with the current occupiers of land, but rather to find a way to coexist. This is evident in many of the visual illustrations where icons representing land owners and those representing occupiers are plotted on the same farm as depicted in the image below:
We look forward to the three upcoming visioning workshops. Once we have conducted, analysed and reported on all six workshops we will be in a position to map out the results at a district level. We will then return to all six local municipalities to meet again with the participants to present the models that emerged from the process as a whole, and identify the overall synergies and patterns that emerge.