As part of the LCSV’s ‘valuing development’ theme, two technical reports have been published analysing how the residents of Clairwood in South Durban value the proposed multi-billion rand Dig-Out Port infrastructural development project proposed by Transnet, eThekwini Municipality and the Government of the Republic of South Africa.
Research for the reports, designed and led by LCSV Research Director Sarah Bracking was conducted from July 2013 to February 2015 using specially trained enumerators at the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), coordinated by Goldman environmental prize award winner Desmond D’ Sa and Priya Pillay. In total, 1,000 household surveys on community values, both qualitative and quantitative, were conducted in Clairwood between 4th November and 26th November 2013. The first report summarises the qualitative data, while the second report summarises the quantitative data. Both reports can be found on the DST/NRF SARChI Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment website.
The port dig-out project is framed as serving the economy and society by producing jobs and growth, but the official development and social impact technologies commissioned and used from 2009 to 2013 emphasized modernist assumptions of employment and growth extrapolated from macroeconomic models (UrbanEcon, 2011; Graham Muller Associates, 2009), with relatively little in-depth or micro-level qualitative research. The ‘Status Quo Economic Impact Analysis’ does not compare the status quo to analysis of the future for the actual project affected persons, while the ‘opportunity cost’ of “the displacement of other non-port related activities” is deemed beyond the scope of the report (Graham Muller Associates, 2009b). The Clairwood survey summarised in these reports begins to rectifies this research gap, while also calling into the question the tendency to pathologise the community as broken and ‘not worth saving’ in the face of predicted national gains to gross domestic product and the minerals-energy complex.
The publication of these reports completes a process of community engagement with the Principal Investigator, Professor Sarah Bracking. This engagement included facilitating debate at the Durban Chamber of Commerce on 24th July 2013, the Poor Flat Dwellers Education Workshop on 24th August 2013, and at Toti Conservancy on 16th September 2013, the latter in debate with Mr Des D’Sa of SDCEA, and Mr. Marc Descoins, Transnet Programme Director of the Durban Dig-out Port project.
Preliminary research findings were also presented at a Clairwood Community Engagement meeting on 20 November 2014 in order to verify the findings of the report. The community were happy for the researchers to go ahead and publish the two technical reports.
(Photo: “Community engagement in Clairwood, Durban”; credit: S. Bracking)