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Is a focus on social capital useful in considering food security interventions? Insights from KwaZulu-Natal


  • Alison Misselhorn


Social capital is an important collective resource people draw on in pursuit of well-being. This article explores the nexus between household social capital and food security in a small community in KwaZulu-Natal. The case study suggests some social capital-related failures are linked to food insecurity in the community, including a breakdown in two-parent families, divergences between religious groups, ambiguous leadership characterised by conflict, and changes in cultural norms. The highly variable and household-specific nature of social capital's role in food security makes it difficult to extrapolate lessons for targeting social capital in food security interventions beyond the case-study community. However, the findings point to the value of including proxies for social capital in vulnerability indices and food-insecurity mapping systems, and more broadly to the importance of understanding context-specific interactions between resources or 'capitals', institutional issues, and the human relationships and power dynamics that shape food insecurity and the outcomes of interventions to address it.

Suggested Citation

  • Alison Misselhorn, 2009. "Is a focus on social capital useful in considering food security interventions? Insights from KwaZulu-Natal," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 189-208.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:26:y:2009:i:2:p:189-208
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350902899454

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    Cited by:

    1. van Rijn, F├ędes & Bulte, Erwin & Adekunle, Adewale, 2012. "Social capital and agricultural innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 112-122.


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