Municipal commonage and ecological knowledge in the Nama Karoo


Atkinson, D (2007), “Municipal commonage and ecological knowledge in the Nama Karoo”, Development Southern Africa, vol. 24, no. 5, December 2007.



This paper examines the problem of managing municipal commonage land in the Nama Karoo, which is increasingly being used by black or coloured emergent farmers. Many of these live in the towns and have very little agricultural experience or knowledge, and some are unemployed farmworkers. The paper presents findings from a survey of emergent farmers who use municipal commonage in Philippolis in the southern Free State. It uses the sustainable livelihoods approach to suggest that environmental knowledge is a key asset for small farmers, and that suitable approaches to agricultural extension need to be adopted to promote ecological knowledge. It suggests that ecological knowledge needs to play a more prominent role in people-centred, participatory developmental approaches so as to strengthen municipal commonage management and prevent the rapid desertification of commonage land.

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