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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Forward planning in Maputaland: identification of key issues

Posted By: Mark Jury, Yogani Govender, B.Z. Mathenjwa (South Africa)
Date: Thursday, 2 March 2000, at 12:33 a.m.

In Response To: Planning for development / Maputaland-South Africa. (Yogani Govender, Mark Jury and Antonio Hoguane.)

Maputaland is one of the most rural areas in South Africa with the lowest literacy rates, highest unemployment rates, limited infrastructure and few community facilities. There are relatively few tourism development projects. Following a baseline survey of physical, biological and demographic characteristics of the area in1999, some of the potential wise practices for coastal zone management that were previously identified can now be elaborated.

1. Environmental education and framework for organisation: the on-going work needs to address local communitiesí needs to understand coastal management and its role to protect the long-term sustainability of the environment. Villagers need to manage their resources effectively. Educational efforts should be directed toward government representatives, conservation bodies and local communities. Key individuals from all sectors should be drawn in so that there is little resistance to implementation. Coastal zone management must align within a legal framework of national, provincial, tribal, and local legislation, to reduce the potential for conflict in the decision making process.

2. Development and planning: developments in the area should be planned within the context of a coastal management policy involving land-use zoning for housing, community infrastructure, tourism, etc. This can prevent degradation of the environment by eliminating practices leading to erosion, loss of visual appeal and pollution. The coastal management policy will have to be applied flexibly depending on individual circumstances. Wise practice involves forward planning based on scientific data to determine a sustainable carrying capacity for development.

3. Effective communication and cultural attributes: it is important that key stakeholders participate in the decision making process. Local communities in the area have low literacy and therefore special care must be taken to ensure that communication between local communities and other stakeholders is effective. The local community in Maputaland represents an interesting cultural mix, which is diverse from those of visiting tourists. A wise practice would be to ensure this cultural aspect is identified and promoted within a coastal development framework so as to engender a sense of belonging. This will encourage cultural tourism and job opportunities based on indigenous knowledge. Development projects often exclude women from decision making, although women in rural communities play a vital role. It is therefore wise to ensure their involvement in all phases of the coastal management program.

4. Infrastructure loading: Apart from the development of a commercial road route through Maputaland, further plans for infrastructure development are limited. A wise practice would be to include water, electricity and telecommunication infrastructure, to uplift a previously neglected region. To get this type of infrastructure into the area could be costly and may lead to environmental degradation, particularly in conservation areas. A wise practice would be to research small-scale, self-sufficient developments that will require small infrastructure support in order to remain sustainable. A wise practice will be to gather scientific information to underpin development so that a coastal management program can integrate them to assist economic diversification and suitably exploit the coastal zone.

5. Strategies for employment: developments in Maputaland should strive to be labour intensive, rather than capital intensive. The implementation of technological measures should address community ideals, and underpin the need for further employment amongst local communities. It will be wise to tap into local resources for employment of tour guides in the area, builders of camps, cultural hosts etc. Development should occur around the resources of the locals so they can benefit as an integral part of the system. Training and institutional outreach programs should enable empowerment and economic mobility.

6. Monitoring baseline and development nodes: since Maputaland has very little development, it would be wise to choose specific areas to test the practicalities of a coastal management policy. Considerable bio-physical data needs to be collected to enable an accurate evaluation. With the increase of development, there will be an increased demand for fresh produce. Poor farming practices carried out by local communities can result in a loss of biodiversity, the salinisation of water resources, an increase in extraction and a change in natural ecosystems with human encroachment. An increase in land, air and water pollution is to be expected. It would be wise to include in a coastal management program a dimension on agricultural upliftment and waste recycling.

7. Environmental health: it would be a wise practice to inform local communities during the initial stages of any coastal development, the consequences of refuse, sewage, pollution, etc. so as to enable appropriate decisions to be made. Maputalandís health infrastructure is limited and potential developers would need to cater for certain in-house services and be made aware of disease incidence.

The benefits derived from development of the coastal zone can be guided by a well-informed management program underpinned by scientifically sound interpretations based on the collection of long-term data sets. Local communities, developers and government departments can pull together to ensure that ecological and economic benefits are sustainable in the long-term.

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