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Understanding rural livelihoods in the West Coast District, South Africa


  • Peter Jacobs
  • Ephias Makaudze


This article applies the sustainable rural livelihoods approach to purposefully collect and analyse data on how the rural poor live and work in South Africa's West Coast District. The findings offer insights into the livelihoods and needs of rural households and offer vital lessons for pro-poor agrarian reform and rural development policies. Agricultural and non-farm rural households rely on a mix of livelihood sources such as wage employment, agricultural activities and social grants. Livelihood assets are unequally distributed among farmers, farm workers and non-farm rural households. Whereas some land reform beneficiary farmers appear to be accumulating wealth (land, livestock and some financial capital), workers dependent on local agricultural labour markets are trapped in asset poverty. Effective agrarian policies should be grounded in a solid understanding of the land-based livelihood strategies and aspirations of the rural poor.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Jacobs & Ephias Makaudze, 2012. "Understanding rural livelihoods in the West Coast District, South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 574-587, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:29:y:2012:i:4:p:574-587
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2012.715443

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    Cited by:

    1. Solomon Zena Walelign, 2016. "Livelihood strategies, environmental dependency and rural poverty: the case of two villages in rural Mozambique," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 593-613, April.

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