According to StatsSA (2020), more than two thirds of residents of the Makhanda Local Municipality are not economically active. With high unemployment rates, declining resources and food shortages, the pandemic has highlighted the precarious livelihoods of communities in this region. Poverty continues to particularly constrain young people’s ability to make a basic living, to withstand shocks, and ultimately break this cycle.
The town, however, also has a rich civil society sector and established Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). It is precisely this rich sector that the project aims to leverage, for lasting and meaningful impact in the lives of the currently marginalised youth. We clearly need alternative strategies to achieve social equity, and our research project seeks to explore the extent to which youth-focused programmes can offer multiple pathways and increased access to sustainable livelihoods for young people and their families. How can various local actors work collectively to develop ecologically and socially responsible economic agency among the youth, as a means to improve sustainable livelihoods in the locale and thereby enhance household income security?