Dependence on Environmental Resources and Implications for Household Welfare: Evidence from the Kalahari Drylands, South Africa
This paper examines dependence on environmental resources and impacts on household welfare among the indigenous San and Mier rural communities neighbouring Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the arid Kalahari region, South Africa. Data on the various household income types, including environmental income, were collected through a structured survey of 200 households. Environmental income constituted 20% of total income, indicating a substantial dependence on environmental resources. The poorest income quintile had the highest environmental income share (31%), though absolute income from environmental resources increased with total income. Analysis of household income with and without environmental income shows that environmental resources shield households, especially the low-income ones, from poverty. Further, Gini-coefficient analyses revealed an important income inequality reduction potential of environmental resources among households. Given the current proposal to grant local communities access to environmental resources inside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, our results predict household welfare improvements from such a proposal. However, the findings underscore the need to sustainably manage environmental resources (access and extraction) inside and outside the park to balance ecological and socio-economic needs.
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