Who? Lisa Nooij, Tropical Forestry
What? Research internship on local knowledge about sustainable land use
Where? PRESENCE Learning Village, South Africa
Why? It is a place where you can learn together with other students and have time for discussions and football
My research was about the Kromme river. This was once a major wetland area, but through human intervention and the introduction of certain tree species, it was seriously damaged. Because the river is an important source of drinking water for the surrounding towns, the government is trying to restore it. But without involving the local farmers.
My task was to make a Social Network Analysis. I identified the stakeholders and researched what knowledge local farmers have and whether they are prepared to apply it. To do this I talked to a lot of farmers. They told me that the climate is all topsy-turvy these days: winter has turned into summer and vice versa. I noticed it myself: it was raining a lot during my stay, even though it was the dry season. In between the rain showers and thunderstorms there was a clear blue sky though.
In the multicultural village where I was staying you didn't notice many of the cultural differences between the Netherlands and South Africa. But as soon as you went to town you quickly noticed, sadly, that it still makes a big difference whether you are black or white. Some black people don't even dare to look you in the eye. In the shopping malls it is the whites who are doing the buying and the blacks who are hanging around. The heavy labour on the land or on the roads is done by blacks and supervised by whites.