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Crafting a livelihood: local-level trade in mats and baskets in Pondoland, South Africa


  • Zwoitwa Makhado
  • Thembela Kepe


The contribution of natural resources to the livelihoods of the rural poor is widely acknowledged, yet not much is known about trade in these resources. This article investigates local-level trade in plant-based mats and baskets in Khanyayo Village, Pondoland, Eastern Cape, focusing on the social aspects of harvesting, resource tenure and trade in Cyperus textilis and products made from it. It explores the way the mat and basket trade contributes to the livelihoods of the rural poor and argues that crafting is mainly the domain of very poor or widowed women, who use it to supplement their diverse and multiple livelihood strategies. Although its cash contribution to the total household income is minimal, crafting is seen by local people as extremely important. However, mat and basket traders face a number of internal and external struggles, which must be understood by policy makers if crafting is to contribute to the fight against poverty in rural areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Zwoitwa Makhado & Thembela Kepe, 2006. "Crafting a livelihood: local-level trade in mats and baskets in Pondoland, South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 497-509.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:23:y:2006:i:4:p:497-509 DOI: 10.1080/03768350600927250

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
    2. Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2004. "The impact of parental death on school enrollment and achievement: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 097, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    3. Case, Anne & Lin, I-Fen & McLanahan, Sara, 2000. "How Hungry Is the Selfish Gene?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 781-804, October.
    4. Frances Lund, 2002. "'Crowding in' care, security and micro-enterprise formation: revisiting the role of the state in poverty reduction and in development," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(6), pages 681-694.
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