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South Africa: Local economic development in the Wild Coast, 1997-2007
South Africa: Local economic development in the Wild Coast, 1997-2007

The Wild Coast falls within the South Africa's Eastern Cape Province and is a relatively undeveloped coastal strip with huge eco-tourism potential. The Wild Coast Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) in this area was one of nine in South Africa set up by the government as a way to kick-start local economic development through small and micro enterprises (SMEs). 



     Location of the Wild Coast region in South Africa

In 1997, in collaboration with the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council, a CIET baseline survey measured employment, empowerment, incomes and access to services in the area.* In 1999 a second cycle of this survey tested views and perceptions around SMEs among Grade 12 learners in 28 schools in the SDI. The baseline study was repeated again in 2000 and in 2004 to measure changes in socio-economic conditions in the SDI region.
Neither the 2000 or the 2004 impact assessments found significant evidence of development in the Wild Coast SDI since 1997.  Apart from an increase in access to piped water and a reduction in unofficial payments for health services, there was little community evidence of development over this period. Residents reported decreasing knowledge of the SDI and there was no increase in numbers considering small business ownership. In the investment-intensive 'anchor' areas, as in the SDI as a whole, there was no significant increase in employment, and more households received remitted incomes from migrant workers. In an SDI for small businesses in tourism and agriculture, there was a dramatic fall-off in food production. No more households had loans in 2004 than in 1997, but more were taking loans from loan sharks. Results of these impact assessments have been published in: Mitchell, S. Andersson N, Ngxowa N, Merhi S. A community-based impact assessment of the Wild Coast spatial development initiative, 1997–2004. Development Southern Africa 2008; 25(1): 119-132. For more information go to:  http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a790526865~db=all~order=page.

After the 2004 evaluation the Wild Coast SDI was terminated and responsibility for the area’s development passed to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Newer initiatives included an EU community-based tourism initiative, a highly controversial toll road, establishment of the Pondoland National Park and a new Wild Coast Development Project. 



Percent who had heard about development
projects in their area, 2007

In 2007, CIET conducted a follow-up survey covering the previous ten years.** Its report, entitled A decade of local economic development in the Wild Coast 1997-2007: The community view, found that little had changed since 2004. It concluded that three things were necessary if the new initiatives were to learn from the non-start of the SDI: improved community consultation, a rebuilding of community trust and relationships, and improved access for communities and small enterprises to funds and resources.
Summaries of the reports on the first three cycles (Basline summary, Second cycle summaryImpact assessment summary) can be found in the Library. Also there, see one calendar for the year 2000 and a second calendar from the same year featuring Tsolo district, both presenting survey results in attractive graphic formats. A masters thesis demonstrates the use of mapping software as a tool for evidence-based planning in the Wild Coast.

See also: Mitchell S, Andersson N. Equity in development and access to health services in the Wild Coast of South Africa: the community view through four linked cross-sectional studies between 1997 and 2007. BMC Health Services Research 2011 Dec 21,11 Suppl 2:S5. Available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/11/S2/S5

*Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) provided partial funding for the 1997 baseline and 2000 follow-up surveys.
** This survey was funded by the Conflict and Governance Facility (CAGE), a partnership between the South African Government and the European Commission.