Research Study: Samantha Sithole

I am currently conducting fieldwork for PhD dissertation on the SAWC campus in order to understand how youth that work and are trained here, are involved in conservation. I am currently focused on youth within the age bracket of 18-35, as defined by the African Development Bank. My methodology is based on qualitative ethnographic methods that include interviews and participant observation. Since arriving on 29 August, I have met with the Community and Youth development Department in an effort to understand the work conducted by the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) Unit as well as the Youth Access Bridging programme and have subsequently started conducting interviews. 

The SAWC is a valuable resource for the surrounding communities and southern Africa. The access to various skills-based training provided by the College has created an institution that attracts people from diverse backgrounds in conservation. This is useful for my research because it allows me to have access to potential research participants interested in and working in conservation related fields from surrounding areas and other countries.

Further interviews and field visits have been planned with current students and alumni on campus. For example, as part of my participant observation methodology, I am assisting Cliford Nxumalo, who also works in the Applied Learning Department, with conducting vegetation surveys of the Capparis Tomentosa and Capparis Fascicularis within the SAWC campus. We surveyed 46 plants during the initial walk. This will assist me in understanding the work that Cliford does as well as his love for the environment. The photographs below are from the vegetation survey conducted within the SAWC campus.

As the weeks progress, I will continue to conduct interviews and hopefully participate in more activities as a way to assist my respondents with their work, whilst also learning from them.

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