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The overall aim of the study was to analyse those factors influencing policy development for urban agriculture in the Durban/eThekwini Metro environment with reference to the community gardeners, the residents in adjacent areas as well as the officials associated with town planning and health regulation.  The ultimate goal was to identify the key elements required for the formulation of a policy for viable, sustainable urban agriculture practice in a dynamic urbanizing society.


The area targeted for the project comprised the agricultural areas in a region that is known as the Central Area of eThekwini Municipality. This area includes Hammersdale and Inchanga in the north, Molweni and Lindelani in the east, and Umbumbulu, Umlazi and Silverglen in the south.  The area comprises 709 kmand has a mix of basic and sophisticated infrastructure with both limited and well developed reticulated running water systems.  In both the urban and peri-urban areas water is at times supplied by means of water tank trucks whilst inhabitants close to a stream use the water that is available (Figure 2).  As a result of the population and development dynamics in the region, it was not possible to determine the exact number of people who resided in the region, although the general consensus at the time of the study was that the population figure of this region represented about 30% of the total area of the eThekwini Municipality (Figure 1).In 2009 there were about 600 registered community gardens throughout eThekwini region; some were privately owned while others were on school and church premisesas reported by a company of consulting engineers (VELA-VKE, 2009).  Vegetables of various varieties are grown in these gardens and are used to feed families, terminally ill individuals and school children.  Parents and school children Figure 2:  eThekwini Council staff and vehicle delivering water to a community garden in the Central eThekwini Agricultural Region. (Source:  Personal collection) participate in the cultivation of crops and food preparation (Personal observation: Luganda school).  In blessed seasons and after plentiful harvests, excess produce is processed and preserved for later consumption.  The limited kitchen facilities that are available at local community halls are not used for food processing; this is done in larger hall facilities where the kitchens comply with health regulation standards.  All vegetables are cultivated organically and the control of weeds and other pests and pathogens is done by hand clearing and mulching; thereafter pests and diseases are controlled by home-made organic fungicides and pesticides.  In such a trial-and-error environment where data about the soil, water and air quality are nonexistent, families and communities continue to survive on the fruits of their agricultural endeavours while the growth of crops is contested by pests of all kinds.  There is no money to buy chemical fertilizers or pest control products in an environment where invader plants and noxious weeds provide adequate habitats to rodents and insects.  Control of these antagonists can be difficult.  Survival in a subliminal hostile environment is further complicated by conflicts in many of the statutory regulations on local, provincial and national level with respect to the production of crops for sale, health, safety and use of land and water for food production (Summary of relevant legislation, Appendix 3).  In close proximity to the community gardeners, rate paying owners reside in privately owned or rented homes and sometimes in more informal dwellings such as shacks and huts. Health and town planning services are provided throughout the region.Figure 3:  Distribution of the cultivation plots of the community gardeners   sampled for interviews during the investigation. (Source:  eThekwini  Municipal Engineers, 2012) .In light of the socio-economic complexities within the population and the legislative issues that have been discussed, it was clear that the horticulturists of the eThekwini Parks, Leisure and Cemeteries Department (formally the Inner West Department of Parks and Recreation) would face many challenges when trying to implement Inner West Resolution EF312A of 22 June 1999 (Inner West Council, 1999) (Appendix 1).  A holistic approach towards the development of a policy for urban agriculture was therefore necessary.


This study was approached as an exploratory investigation in order to address the identified research problem and sub-problems. The study drew its data from a wide range of primary and secondary sources which included structured interviews with role-players as well as documentary and statutory sources.  Since the ultimate objective was to identify the key elements needed to formulate an urban agriculture policy, the integrated views of the various stakeholders related to urban agriculture were needed to structure the urban agriculture policy.  In the absence of real-time data over a broad front and by taking cognisance of the size of the Central eThekwini Agricultural Region, its infrastructure and personal security, a base line exploratory approach (Bless & Higson-Smith, 1995; Cooper & Emory, 1995; de Vos, Strydom, Fouché & Delport, 2002) was used to collect the data from the respective roleplayers in order to identify:potential relationships between the variables in an urban agricultural setting;factors that were preventing/hampering the urban agriculture process;indicators for action to alleviate the problem; and other areas that would need further investigation or research after the initial exploratory research was completed.


A review of related literature highlighted the relevant developments that had taken place in the field of urban agriculture in other parts of the world, specifically in East-and Central Africa such as Zimbabwe (Kutiwa, Boon and Devuysr, 2010), Uganda (Cole et al., 2008), and Malawi (Mkwambisi et al.,2011).  From these authors’ observations it was possible to identify the focus areas that had to be researched in order to identify the critical elements needed to formulate an urban agriculture policy, and to determine what was practical and possible for inclusion in such a policy.  The population groups targeted for the study were community gardeners, residents living in close proximity to community gardens, town planners and environmental health practitioners. A structured questionnaire was administered to each of the selected respondent groups. The respective questionnaires are presented in Appendices 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.


The design of the structured questionnaires made provision for the integration of the views of the eThekwini based stakeholders with regard to those issues that could affect the design of the urban agriculture policy (Figure 4).  This was done by ensuring that critical questions to the community gardeners were also included in the questionnaires to the residents, environmental health practitioners and town planners (Figure 4).Since eThekwini horticulturists interact with all the stakeholders directly or indirectly, all questions were related to the scope of their job descriptions.  The design of the questionnaire for the exploratory baseline study focused on four distinct areas:
Factual Biographical Data (independent variables) (Questions 1 – 10). The baseline data characteristics of each target grouping were needed to get an appreciation of the fundamental composition of: Community gardeners who were on the receiving end of all strategies for development and upliftment ;Residents who paid rates and owned property; Environmental Health Practitioners who were the custodians of the environmental health status of the region; and
Town planners who designed and gave character to new residential developments within the constraints of the existing legislature.
Knowledge of urban agricultural issues over a broad front
The questions on knowledge of urban agricultural issues varied per questionnaire but were listed mainly in Questions 11 – 29.  The concept “urban agriculture” is often used when reference is made to a wide range of issues  concerning the cultivation of agricultural products in built-up areas.  The overview of the knowledge of urban agriculture was needed to define
the overall challenge of community gardeners with regard to legal stipulations regarding issues like land ownership, sale of produce, health and waste management and the use of water from streams, rivers and dams;
the insights of residents regarding the practice of urban agriculture in close proximity to their homesteads; the insights of environmental health practitioners operating in the Central eThekwini Region regarding the impact of the environment of their health management operations; the approaches of town planners when new developments embrace agricultural practices or application for zoning changes are submitted for approval.

Perceptions of and attitudes towards the concept of urban agriculture

 The questions exploring perceptions and attitudes varied between questionnaires but were listed mainly in Questions 35 – 45.  Since facts and knowledge about issues give rise to the perceptions and attitudes of individuals, the data on the perceptions and attitudes of the respondent groups were needed to: understand the frustrations and fears of community gardeners with regard to the scope of the services provided by the eThekwini Municipality; appreciate the stance residents as rate payers would take when an urban agricultural concept is mooted and which will be financed through the rates they pay and which can affect the value and safety of their property; understand how training and background knowledge of environmental health practitioners affect appraisals of the environmental health situation in urban agriculture; understand how training and background knowledge of town planners can affect appraisals of the legislative stipulations regarding urban agricultural developments in the eThekwini setting.

Behaviour of respondents

Questions on how respondents would behave when confronted with the concept of “urban agriculture in a built-up area” were contained in Question 46 and thereafter.The baseline exploratory approach towards the study necessitated the use of dichotomous questions in most of the question categories.  Therefore, the critical questions to the community gardeners that were also included in the questionnaires to the residents, environmental health practitioners and town planners, were also
simple dichotomous questions.  No Lickert or Semantic Differential Measurement Scales were used as would be expected in descriptive and explanatory surveys (Heise, 1970; McLeod, Pippin & Wong, 2012) when questions are asked to gauge a sense of the knowledge, perceptions, attitudes and behaviour.  In total the community gardeners were asked 67 questions, residents 56 Questions, EHPs 67 questions and the town planners 62 questions. The questionnaires administered to the study respondents are presented in Appendices 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.


Because the composition of each target group differed from that of the others, four different approaches were used to sample and administer the questionnaires.  The determination of a sample size is of paramount importance in ensuring that the sample is representative of the target population.  According to Survey Monkey (n.d.), an ideal sample should be at least 10% of the target population. In this exploratory base line study the population sizes of the different target populations were varied which, in some instances, implied that the entire population had to be sampled in order to collect a meaningful set of data.  As a consequence, the 10% sample “rule” was not applied in this study. However, given the issues associated with logistics, accessibility, topography and personal safety in the area of operation, the major determining factor in arriving at an appropriate sample size was the manageability of the sample size.  The disaggregated sample sizes of the stakeholders are shown in Table 1.

Community gardeners/urban agriculturists

The eThekwini community garden register listed all the registered community gardeners in the Central eThekwini Agricultural Area (VEL-VKE, 2009). One hundred and twenty two plots were registered for the central region and a 25% sample was drawn. A random number generator was used to select 33 gardens (see Annexure 8).Sampling was done as follows:The 25% selection was necessary because the community gardeners were highly mobile and the chances of not locating the registered gardener were real.  Gardens that were not cultivated were scrapped from the list and the next closest one was chosen.  One person per garden was interviewed.  The localities of 20 of the 33 plots are shown in Figure 3 in green.  The remaining thirteen were not plotted by the end of the exercise because no GPS was available for use to determine the grid references of sites.  The summarised data based on the interviews are shown in Appendix 5 and the responses to the open questions from these interviews are presented in Appendix 9.Residents. With regards to residents and their views on the concept of practicing urban agriculture in close proximity to residential settings (Table 2), it was decided to target conservancy/community groups within 2 km from the gardens in the area where they reside. The reason for this decision was that people with a passion for conservancy and their community would, as a group:have the best knowledge of the dynamics within the areas where they lived;have an appreciation of environmental legislation affecting their area ; have a vested interest in their community and in the health of the people residing in the area.Unfortunately, several people within these groups declined to participate and in two cases only one member completed the survey. A possible explanation for the decline response could be that urban agriculture, conservancies and squatter camps are synonymous with vacant land and that it was possible that they believed that their responses could be used as justification for opening conservancies for urban development.  Eventually a total of 36 residents participated.  A list of the people interviewed will be provided on request by bona fide researchers subject to noting the fact that all respondents who participated wanted their results kept confidential.  The summarised results of the interviews are presented in Appendix 6.  A summary of the responses to the open questions are listed in Appendix 9.
 Environmental Health Practitioners In 2009 eThekwini Municipality employed 71 Environmental Health Practitioners of which 14 were deployed in the Central eThekwini Agricultural Area.  It is known that Environmental Health Practitioners specialise in human health in a built-up environment.  Of the 14 EHPs selected, 12 were interviewed.  A summary of the responses to the questions are shown in Appendix 7 and the responses to the open questions are listed in Appendix 9.
Town Planners In 2010 eThekwini Municipality had only 14 town planners in its employ which meant that conclusions regarding the views of this grouping on urban agriculture would be drawn from an extremely small population.However, in the central region of eThekwini a further 16 private, who did designs of townships when contracted by the eThekwini Municipality, were traced.  A number of lecturers qualified in town planning were also located at the University of Natal.  As a consequence this approach towards town planning also had to be reflected in the survey involving town planners.  Therefore, a three-pronged approach was used to collect data on the views of town planners regarding urban agriculture:Academic input: Mike Kahn and Ms Annette von Reisen from the Department of Town Planning at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a private town planner were interviewed on land management in KwaZuluNatal (Personal Communication, 2009).  Unfortunately, when approached later the staff of the Department of Town Planning of the University declined to participate in the survey.Private Town Planning Agencies: practitioners in the eThekwini Municipality area of responsibility.
Town Planners employed by the eThekwini Municipality
Interviews were conducted during the period May 2010 to August 2010 with stakeholders in each of the target populations.  The results are shown in Appendix 8 and a summary of the responses to the open questions are listed are presented in Appendix 9.


A consent form giving the title of the project, the name and contact details of the author, the objectives of the study and the projected amount of time it would take to complete was prepared. All the participants were advised that there would be no personal benefit to their participation and that they could withdraw at any time without any penalty. It was reiterated that the information would remain completely confidential, that nobody would be personally identified within the study and that there were no known or envisaged risks.  Participants were further advised that the Ethics Committee of the University of South Africa had also given this study clearance.  Concerns or comments could be forwarded to the principal investigator and/or his supervisor. Lastly, they were asked to sign a voluntary consent form in which  they agreed to participate in the survey (Appendix 4).

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Problem statement
1.3 Sub-problems
1.4 Working Hypothesis
1.5 Assumptions
1.6 Delimitations
1.7 Conceptual Clarifications and Definitions
1.8 Outline of Chapters
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Provision of services
2.3 Care for and the welfare of the people
2.4 Reality check on legislation and regulations vi     
2.5 Summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Scope and context of the study
3.3 Methodology
3.4 Limitations
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Biographical data
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Survival practices among communities and key elements for 88 policy formulation
5.3 Impact of urban agriculture on the standard of living and the value  of the properties of the residents
5.4 Scope for establishing urban agriculture as an integral component of a metro development programme
5.5 Challenges what impacted on the availability of data for evaluation
5.6 Further research
5.7 Recommendations
5.8 Conclusion

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