Patterns of resilience among young people in a community affected by drought: Historical and contextual perspectives

Lead Research Organisation: University of Brighton
Department Name: School of Health Sciences

Abstract

Natural disasters, including those that arise from hazards such as drought, negatively impact upon the social, economic, and environmental systems that affect young people's mental health and wellbeing. The impacts of drought on young people are particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa, where recurrent drought intersects with development challenges such as inequality, exclusion, poor education and a lack of employability skills. It is important therefore to understand what enables young people to withstand, adapt to, resist or challenge these impacts (i.e. to be resilient). Resilience is about beating and changing the odds. So, equally critical are how young people can be best supported to reflect on and communicate their resilient responses, and how adults (including local and national governments) can 'change the odds' that place young people at risk.

To understand better the complex relationships between drought, social-ecological systems (e.g. family, school, government, the physical environment) and resilience, this proposal outlines an interdisciplinary study to explore the resilience of young people living in the drought-challenged Govan Mbeki municipality of Mpumalanga, South Africa. The study will adopt a social ecological approach, with a particular interest in how social and environmental systems enable and constrain the resilience of young people challenged by drought.

The study will address a series of questions. How has drought severity in the Govan Mbeki municipality changed over time? What do youth living in the municipality identify as their own health and wellbeing priorities? How do these young people define resilience in times of drought? Which characteristics of young people, and their families, communities, culture and physical environments, make them more resilient to drought-related stress? Are there gender and other socio-demographic differences in the way youth experience and adapt to drought? How can young people be best supported to reflect upon and communicate their responses to drought?

To answer these questions, we will use a blend of approaches from the sciences, arts and social sciences. First, we will use information from historical documents archived in South Africa (e.g. newspapers, colonial records), combined with rainfall data, to produce a time-line of drought severity for the study area back to the mid-19th century. Working with a community partner and local masters students, we will then encourage young people from Govan Mbeki to use arts-based activities to explore and communicate their personal, family, community, cultural, and environmental responses to times of drought. Armed with the timeline of drought severity, each young person will also be asked to talk to one adult to gather historical narratives of drought-related changes to their community and explore how the community coped with these changes.

The academic team, students, youth and community organisations will use the data generated from these activities to co-produce a strategy to support the resilience of young people to drought-related challenges. This strategy will use drama to share knowledge and develop collective approaches to environmental challenges and opportunities. The youth researchers will be supported in identifying a creative medium of their choice through which to communicate their emergent resilience strategy to relevant stakeholders. This might involve an exhibition, site-specific film and/or live performance event. The youth researchers will take centre stage in the dissemination. Together, the data generated will form an instrumental case study of the resilience of young people from Govan Mbeki, as well as that of their physical and social ecology. We intend to use the approach and findings of this study as the basis for a future large-scale investigation that will assess the relevance of our results to young people in other drought-stricken communities in South and sub-Saharan Africa.

Planned Impact

The research design is focussed on impact, and the co-designed and co-produced nature of the research activities will ensure impacts will be generated within South Africa throughout the foundation phase of the project. Impact pathways are integrated within the project's five main research activities. These pathways will be further strengthened in the main phase of the project, aiming to have long term national and international impacts on resilience in drought affected communities. The involvement of community partners in South Africa in the co-design and co-production of the project will ensure it is co-owned, so that the impacts are valued by local communities, users and beneficiaries.

Our vision is that the project activities will develop a new interdisciplinary understanding of the effect of drought on young people that will have an impact on community resilience to drought in South Africa through three pathways:

1. Facilitating structurally disadvantaged young people to make resilient moves
2. Building capacity in community partners to promote resilience
3. Engaging the provincial and national disaster planning agencies in the long-term development of a youth resilience strategy.

During the foundation phase the main beneficiaries will be:

i. 50 young women and men recruited in Govan Mbeki, a drought challenged municipality in South Africa, to act as co-researchers. They will be integral to the project's research activities and will acquire research skills and knowledge designed to enhance their resilience and contribute to resilience in their local communities.

ii. Three young staff from Boingboing, a UK Community Interest Company that works with disadvantaged young people. They will work with the young co-researchers to develop arts-based outputs that will expand their own research and organisational skills that they can utilise in their work for Boingboing.

iii. Ten Masters students from University of Pretoria involved in working with the co-researchers on the arts based activities. This will contribute to their personal career development by strengthening their community engagement, research and dissemination skills.

iv. Khulisa Social Solutions, the project's core community partner, whose mission involves developing impactful interventions, building resilience to natural hazards and multi stakeholder engagement. Their role in co-designing and co-producing all the project activities and playing a leadership role in generating local impacts will ensure they enhance their multiple skills and experience for working with local communities, provincial and national government.

v. The business sector, provincial and national government organisations in South Africa, including the Govan Mbeki municipality, the national Water Research Council, the National Department of Rural Education and business sector groups with rural agriculture adaptive systems interest including Mertech and Russelstone. These organisations will be involved in designing and disseminating the youth resilience strategy, a key output of the foundation phase that will be further developed in the main phase of the project. This involvement will aim to enhance these organisations' understanding of community responses to drought and strategies for enhancing drought resilience.

The delivery of impact will be co-designed and regularly refined throughout the 9-month project period with milestones for impact assessment linked to each of the five project activities. Khulisa Social Solutions will play a leading role in the development of impact pathways to ensure they are valued in South Africa. The partners have long established websites, media tools and Twitter feeds with high followership (e.g. Boingboing and Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University). These will be used to direct internet traffic to the project website to ensure engagement of a wide range of users and beneficiaries during the foundation phase.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title United We Stand: Youth Perspectives on Developing Resilience to Drought in South Africa [Motion picture] 
Description A film was made to accompany the 'United We Stand' policy booklet. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The film has only recently been completed and so this section will be updated next year. 
URL https://www.brighton.ac.uk/resilience-for-social-justice/what-we-do/research-projects/drought.aspx
 
Description Summary of findings: What is the problem? These issues have been identified as central to this project:
- The general failure to implement existing drought policy in South Africa
- The absence of youth in developing and implementing policy
- The worsening e?ects of climate change and drought
- Weak government and community responses to droughand drought
What has been done?
Through the 'Patterns of Resilience' project, a number of young people in Leandra have been engaged as co-researchers by an interdisciplinary research team from South Africa and the United Kingdom, supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council. A young co-researcher is a youth who volunteered to work with our team and were involved as equal partners being trained up to work alongside the other researchers and receiving payment for this.
After a series of workshops facilitated by postgraduate students from Pretoria and community facilitators from the UK, a group of young people in Leandra have developed their own ideas and gathered information from older people in the community. This has been used to generate important responses to drought, and they have co-produced a video and a policy document.
What are the main issues for young people?
- Drought is going to be a recurrent problem in the future
- Everyone needs to save water at every opportunity
- Schools are sometimes closed due to a lack of water which makes education di?cult and impacts on later job opportunities
- Businesses have a role to play, and jobs are at risk because of water shortages
- Young people are concerned and want to contribute in some way
What are the recommendations for organisations at local, provincial, national and international levels? Gert Sibande District Municipality
- Education is our future. Schools need to have water so youths can learn, so prioritise that if water is very scarce
- Young people aspire to have taps in their homes so take this seriously in policymaking
- Meaningfully involve young people in drought response plans, and engage young people when drawing up educational programme materials about saving water
- Support young people in spreading key messages about drought
- Make opportunities for positive distractions like sport, dancing and reading Mpumalanga Province
- Instruct district municipalities to support young peoples' initiatives in saving water
- Ensure better planning and infrastructure for water supply to local municipalities
- Involve young people in the Provincial Water Sector Plan South African government
- Young people should be engaged by the Department of Water A?airs and Forestry as part of the National Water Resource Strategy International organisations
- Young people should be supported to be more involved in policy decision-making in South Africa as they are very innovative
Exploitation Route Our findings can be used by people interested in understanding and applying youth perspectives to the problem of drought in South Africa and can be used comparatively in other settings. People who want to learn more about co-productive research projects involving multi-generational research teams can use the findings. Policy makers can use the findings to inform future drought policy. Research leaders in the academy and in the community can use our work to inform their own interdisciplinary research projects related to drought and other environmental challenges. Our historical archival work can be used by other historians for comparative purposes.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.brighton.ac.uk/leandra
 
Description Policy makers in relation to water use and drought have used the findings to inform their opinions on the perspectives of young people in relation to drought in South Africa and the methods have been drawn on by policy makers and NGOs. Co-researchers from the local community in Leandra where the study took place have improved their own research skills and knowledge of drought and ways to deal with it. They have used the findings to inform local people, schools and community groups of ways in which they can be resilient to drought.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Arts activist approach Resilience Forum blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog talks about a Resilience Forum held in Brighton - Selogadi Mampane travelled all the way from Pretoria to give the Resilience Forum a live preview of her arts activist approach for young people, which is being used as part of the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project taking place in South Africa. The blog details the various activities that were undertaken at this forum. It was a powerful session and some of the attendees reported a change in their views as a result of looking at things differently and using image theatre to explore relationsihps and emotions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/category/drought-project/page/2/
 
Description British Science Festival (public facing seminar session) Redefining Resilience 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 50 people attended this public facing session of the British Science Festival on the theme of redefining resilience. The intended purpose was to share and generate discussion about findings from our resilience research activities. There was full participation in discussions and contacts exchanged.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.britishscienceassociation.org/british-science-festival
 
Description Co-produced Film Premier in Leandra and RYSE Project in Secunda blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog was written by a young co-researcher from the social enterprise Boingboing. Co-researchers from Boingboing are working on the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project alongside academics from the University of Brighton and other partner organisations from the UK, Canada and South Africa. The blog talks about the premier of the co-produced film that was made as part of the project. The wider community in Leandra have taken on-board the messages from the film and the co-researchers self-esteem and film development skills have been improved.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/returning-leandra-final-project-visit-blog/
 
Description Co-researcher's reflections on research activities blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This co-produced blog was based on the reflections of University of Pretoria and Boingboing co-researchers who met with young people from Leandra, a small township in South Africa, to explore community resilience to drought (as part of the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project). Requests for further information about this project have been received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/co-researchers-reflections-research-activities-blog/
 
Description Co-researching drought in South Africa blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog talks about the first visit to South Africa for the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. The blog covers the various different arts-based methods that were used in Leandra by co-researchers from England and South Africa. Collectively we are working on arts-based approaches to understanding and combating drought in Leandra - the idea is that we co-train the students and then they will facilitate the local young co-researchers in Leandra to come up with collective perspectives on drought. After that they will work with community elders to deepen understandings of resilience to drought. During this session there were questions about how to facilitate the arts-based approaches and the blog led to requests for further information about the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/co-researching-drought-south-africa-blog/
 
Description Coding our research data in Leandra blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog was written by a young co-researcher from the social enterprise Boingboing about the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. The blog details the process followed by co-researchers in England and South Africa to code the data from the youth in Leandra, regarding what helps them to be resilient in the face of drought-related stress. The co-researchers developed new skills and the blog highlighted working collaboratively with colleagues overseas. Requests for further information about the project have been received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/coding-research-data-leandra-blog/
 
Description Collaborative arts workshop in Leandra blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog talks about the collaborative arts workshop held in Leandra as part of the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. Requests for further information about the project have been received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/collaborative-arts-workshop-leandra-blog/
 
Description Collective perspectives on co-production from Leandran co-researchers blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog is a collective effort - Leandran co-researchers are giving their perspectives on the co-productive approach we used to research drought in South Africa for the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. Requests for further information about this project have been received along with invitations to present on this project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/collective-perspectives-co-production-leandran-co-researchers-blog/
 
Description Cultural awareness training blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog talks about the cultural awareness session which was held as part of the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. Through this session, colleagues reported a change in their views.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/cultural-awareness-training-blog/
 
Description Final 'Resilience to drought' project visit to South Africa blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The blog was written to update people about the final visit to South Africa as part of the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. The blog talks about the 2-day think tank event in Pretoria which was attended by young co-researchers, academics and community partners. The blog details the key messages that we all wanted the policy booklet and film to get across. The work undertaken at the think tank, led to a further re-writing together of the policy booklet and film. The final versions are available from here: www.brighton.ac.uk/leandra
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/final-resilience-drought-project-visit-south-africa-blog/
 
Description Global Challenges Research Fund and Collaborative Research event blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog talks about the research events attended as part of the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. A Boingboing co-researcher reports from the Global Challenges Research Fund & Collaborative Research event in Norwich, and the Arts & Humanities Research Council summit in London. Requests for further information about the project were received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/global-challenges-research-fund-collaborative-research-event-blog/
 
Description Image film-making workshop in Leandra blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This blog talks about the image theatre film making workshop in Leandra for the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project. The blog goes through how the co-researchers were facilitated to create active images which convey the different types of social change that would enable them to be more resilient in the face of drought. Requests for further information were received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/image-film-making-workshop-leandra-blog/
 
Description Invited discussant: Development of International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics, 9 May. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Angie Hart was invited to be a discussant at this round table strategy development meeting, looking at the development of the International Inequalities Institute. The potential for working together on projects was discussed and as a result of this event, Professor Angie Hart and colleagues were invited to give a keynote at the International Inequalities Institute 2017 Conference - Challenging Inequalities: developing a global response in London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/International-Inequalities/Videos-Podcasts/III-Annual-Conference-2017
 
Description Invited presentation: 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought', AHRC and CEH seminar at Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, 5 Feb 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Angie Hart and Professor David Nash (University of Brighton) were invited to present on the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and to talk about how arts and humanities can contribute to environment-focused multidisciplinary research. The presentation generated a number of questions and there was interest from other attendees in developing future working relationships. Professor Hart also received follow up email enquiries asking for more information about the project and advice on working co-productively.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited seminar: Co-producing resilience research to address inequalities at the '6th Dialogue and Ideas Lab Series on Resilience Research, Part III: Methodological issues in resilience research in challenged contexts', University of Pretoria, 26 June 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The seminar involved sharing our co-produced resilience research work with South African colleagues. Other academics said they would deepen their co-productive practices and practitioners said that they would use our co-produced resilience tools and games in their practice work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.up.ac.za/af/centre-of-the-study-of-resilience/article/2518594/preview
 
Description Invited workshop: 'Co-productive research approaches' at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, 3 April 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A workshop on 'Co-productive research approaches' was delivered by Professor Angie Hart and colleagues Simon Duncan and Lisa Buttery from Boingboing social enterprise to postgraduate students and academics from the University of Pretoria. The workshop looked at how using visual arts to develop resilience research using participatory, social justice and activist approaches could be used on the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project and it also sought to help people to become aware of, and to overcome, some of the challenges of doing participatory /co-productive /activist resilience research. The students took on board the messages from the presentation and embedded the co-productive research approaches in the 'Patterns of Resilience to Drought' project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.boingboing.org.uk/co-researching-drought-south-africa-blog/
 
Description Presentation of 'How schools can champion resilience in times of drought: Learning from Leandra youth. Paper presented at 2018 Education Association of South Africa, Durban, South Africa. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An abstract was submitted for a presentation at national conference was hosted by the Education Association of South Africa (EASA).After the presentation there was engagement between the presenter and the co authors and the audience. This presentation formed a platform for networking with audiences that are interested in similar projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Resilience and Drought conference - 27th June sharing ideas with AID and Overseas charity workers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Disseminated Boingboing's work to a wider audience of over 10 people including a representative from the Department for Education about Boingboing's work on Patterns of Resilience in young people to drought related stress. This further publicised the Boingboing ethos and our website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017