PhD student (in Sociology and the CSSR) Gabby Kelly was quoted in an article by Rebecca Davis, published in the online Daily Maverick, debunking reports that some South African women drink whilst pregnant in order to harm their children. Sky News published a sensationalist report claiming that women are so desparate to access the more generous care dependency grant rather than the more modest child support grant.that they drink whilst pregnant in order to ensure that their children are born with foetal alcohol syndrome, a disability which may render them eligible for the care dependency grant. But the consensus among academic researchers is that there is no evidence for this.
The CSSR has received funding for a project on the uses of new technology in cash transfer programmes. Across Africa, governments, donors and NGOs are promoting cash transfer programs as effective means of poverty alleviation. These forms of social protection are viewed as promising ways to meet human development goals and, in some cases, political or human rights in themselves. Indeed, social protection programs represent one of the more significant forms of public service delivery in Africa today, though the political ramifications of their implementation are only starting to receive sustained attention. This new research will specifically address the ways in which beneficiaries are being personally identified.
Fidelis Hove, Nicoli Nattrass, Tafara Ngwaru & Eduard Grebe. Photo by Janneke van Rooyen.
On 14 December, three CSSR students, all supervised by Prof Nicoli Nattrass, were awarded PhDs in Economics. The three students were supported financially by the CSSR and worked on various aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. Fidelis Hove's thesis examined the use of HIV prevalence estimates in regression models (including evidence from Zimbabwe and on the relationship between armed conflict and HIV). Tafara Ngwaru investigated the impact of socio-economic status and other structural drivers on HIV in Southern Africa, while Eduard Grebe's thesis focused on 'civil society leadership' on AIDS in South Africa and Uganda. Eduard will rejoin the CSSR as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2013.
Mike Morris - former CSSR director, and professor in UCT's School of Economics - has a new book, coauthored with Dave Kaplan (of UCT's School of Economics) and Raphael Kaplinsky (from the Open University in the UK). One Thing Leads to Another: Promoting Industrialisation by Making the Most of the Commodity Boom in Sub-Saharan Africa examines how Africa can build on high commodity prices to industrialise. The book is based on research conducted through the research unit PRISM, which was part of the CSSR, and is now wholely located in the School of Economics at UCT. The book was launched at the Cape Town summit of the "Capturing the Gains" research programme. It can be bought from online booktores, or downloaded for free through PRISM..
The CSSR has long been active in researching the experiences of, and the challenges and opportunities facing, young people in South Africa. Jeremy Seekings, Bob Mattes, Elena Moore, Ariane De Lannoy and Pedro Wolf conducted research for the Centre for Development and Enterprise, which recently published a summary report which in turn has received some publicity in the press. Jeremy's work focused on experiences in the labour market, and especially the ways in which inequalities are reproduced between generations. Bob's research focused on young people's attitudes towards democratic citizenship. Elena considered transitions in family life, Pedro considered health-compromising behaviours, and Ariane examined schooling and education.
The CSSR has just published seven Working Papers written by students in the CSSR. Amy Thom has co-authored two papers on her research into food boxes and food security. Beth Vale's three papers draw on her research into community health workers. Sam Telzak's paper examines social mobility, while Zoe Gauld's examines the possibility of replacing a purely race-targeted system with a points-based system for admissions into medical schools.
CSSR researchers continue to conduct and publish research on social, economic and political aspects of HIV-AIDS and related illnesses, and to edit and contribute to online media. Publications in 2012 included one book (Nicoli Nattrass' The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back), seven articles in peer-reviewed journals, six CSSR Working Papers, and six students' theses and dissertations, as well as many shorter publications. A full list is attached.
Nicoli Nattrass recently gave a Potter Talk on the topic "The Unemployment Challenge in South Africa". The video is now online and can be watched below. The Potter Talks are a series of exciting and thought provoking short lectures given by prominent academics, thought leaders, innovators and students on issues affecting civil society in South Africa, organised by the David and Elaine Potter Foundation. The goal of the talks is to inspire, educate and engage.
Dr Beatrice Conradie, director of the Sustainable Societies Unit, will present the first seminar of the CSSR's seminar series for the second semester. Her seminar is titled "Is lethal control of predators an effective strategy against livestock losses?: Ceres hunting club, 1979 to 1987". The seminar's abstract is given below:
Farmers the world over get emotional about predators. In South Africa an absolute war erupted around Cape Nature’s recent restriction of the lethal control options available to farmers. Farmers’ position is that they cannot afford to stop hunting predators, while Cape Nature has indicated that indiscriminate killing must be stopped for predator populations to have any chance of stabilising. In the face of these widely diverging opinions we have surprisingly little hard evidence of the effect of predator hunting on subsequent livestock losses in South Africa. This paper uses a 152-farm nine-year panel of predator hunting and livestock loss data to explore whether lethal control is effective in reducing farm-level livestock losses. Results show a positive relationship between lethal control and subsequent livestock losses which provides some support for the Cape Nature position.
Seminars start promptly at 12:45 on Thursdays in the CSSR Seminar Room (4.29, Leslie Social Science Building). Lunch will be served.
The UCT Children's Institute hold monthly seminars in the CSSR. On Monday 6th August, Sonja Giese from the Children's Institute will be presenting research on government funding for early childhoold development in South Africa. Seminars are at 12:45 for 1 pm. Please RSVP with Bee Williams via e-mail email@example.com for catering purposes, or for further information about CI seminars.
CSSR researchers have conducted considerable cross-national research on spending on HIV and AIDS, including Matthew MacDevette's CSSR Working Papers numbers 294 and 297 (both 2011) and Nicoli Nattrass's letter (written with Greg Gonsalves) in Science (in 2010). Sarah Harper's new study of "The Fungibility of Aid Earmarked for HIV/AIDS Control Programs", published online in World Development, shows that donor funding on HIV and AIDS is generally not fungible, i.e. increased donor funding for HIV-AIDS programmes has generally not led to domestic governments in Africa and elsewhere switching their own funds to other programmes.
The GroundUp initiative, a community journalism project in which the CSSR is a founding partner, is starting to get noticed. Its focus is on stories from South African townships, especially stories related to social justice and that are underreported in the mainstream media. It has already published a range of important stories on health, immigrants' rights (including a scoop exposing corruption at the Maitland Refugee Reception Centre) and public transport. Its recent Focus on Transport series chronicles the experiences of commuters in Cape Town and details weaknesses in Cape Town's public transport system, but also celebrates the fledgling MyCiTi service and includes an editorial on getting Cape Town's transport right. The CSSR supports GroundUp by assisting with training and mentorship of community journalists by CSSR graduate students.
Rebecca Davis writes about Groundup in The Daily Maverick:
The programme began in February, when 24 candidates took part in an intensive two-week training course. Of that group, the five most promising individuals were selected to make up the GroundUp team. They receive ongoing on-the-job training and support from UCT students from the Centre for Social Science Research, who also help out as subeditors. In April, GroundUp began to publish stories on their website.
“Our primary focus is news relating to social justice in the townships,” says Geffen. He points out that, though South Africa’s tabloids and community newspapers carry a great deal of township-based stories, they often lack focus on issues like health, gender and government performance.
Read GroundUp's stories at groundup.org.za.
PhD student Fritz Schoon - whose PhD (in Sociology) is on the developmental state - has been invited to spend the Spring 2013 semester at Brown University in Providence in the USA. Fritz will participate in Brown's Graduate Program in Development (see http://gpd.
The CSSR is running a 3-day course on "Doing Research for researchers" at the South African Parliament. The course, from 25-27 June, has been designed to help parliamentary researchers to reflect critically on the design, practice and presentation of research. We live in a world where information is abundant: the challenge facing researchers is often not so much “how do we collect new information?” as “how do we make good use of the information that is already available?” We have to avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of information, distinguish between reliable and unreliable information, and present our findings effectively and honestly. The course examines how we collect the information that we need, how we make sure that we have good information, how we can use quantitative data sensibly and critically, how we organize our analyses, and how we communicate our analysis to our audiences.