Internship in The Wild Coast (South-Africa)

Alien invasive plant species are threatening community livelihoods of large groups of people in rural South Africa. Around Mthuli Village (Butterworth, Eastern Cape) Lantana is a rapid growing alien invasive plant, causing amongst others water shortages, and speeding up wild fires. These environmental problems threaten community livelihoods of the Mthuli village. In order to gain more insight in these problems, their interrelations and consequences, Living Lands initiated the PRESENCE in the Wild Coast program. For this program we are looking for a MSc student interested in the interrelation between social and environmental dynamics.

The first objectives of the project are getting feeling with the project area through executing a social-environmental assessment. In this phase we plan to collect data as part of an effort to better understand the social, economic dynamics in relation to adapting to alien invasive plants and related environmental consequences in and around Mthulu Village. However,
students can chose their own focus within the broader objectives of the project in order to fulfil the requirements of doing a MSc thesis or internship at your university.

What we expect

The applicant needs to be able to work independently and has the ability to adjust in a rural area. The applicant should have a background in social Sciences, preferably in relation to environmental sciences.

Role in the project

The student will be responsible for collecting data, identifying, developing and recommending potential adaptation methods that may help the Mthulu community. Such activities include conducting dialogue interviews with the local community and supporting the wider project team as well as the Chief of the Village with research and information. Based on the research results, the students are expected to work towards interventions that will bring added value to the local community.environment.

Practical information

He/she will be based at the PRESENCE Learning Village in Patensie (Living Lands Office) and will spent various longer field visits in the Mthulu Village. The Mthulu Village is a rural area located in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Area Introduction

The Mthulu Village is located in Butterworth which is found in the Eastern Cape (EC). It falls under the rural areas of the EC and has a tranquil naturally beautiful scenery. Mthulu Village is also home to a diverse agricultural community.

Mthulu village is situated in the former Transkei, now called the WildCoast. This area used to be one of the 'Tuilande', areas which the Apartheid government appointed as regions for black communities.

Although this policy was abounded after 1994, the area still faces various social and environmental consequences of the policy. For instance, the unemployment rate is higher than in other parts of South Africa, infrastructure is still far behind, and population density if high.

However, the area is also renowned for its beautiful coastline and sceneries, and community life is strong. The area has various towns and villages and small industries but mixed farming is still one of the important sources of income.

Project background

The project is initiated by Working for Water (WFW), Gamtoos Irrigation Board, Living Lands, PRESENCE and the local community of Mthulu village. Within the project PRESENCE is the research coordinating organisation, brining researchers, students, practitioners and communities together. Besides PRESENCE in the Wildcoast, Living Lands coordinates various other projects in South Africa as well.

PRESENCE is a network which serves as a solid platform to support and mainstream restoration of ‘living landscapes’ (ecosystem services as well as natural and social capital) in South Africa. It is active in forming mutually beneficial and synergistic partnerships between universities, government, local stakeholders, and other institutions. Living Lands is secretariat to the learning network.