Author: Llewellyn Leonard

Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Governance: A Sub-Saharan African Perspective

Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Governance: A Sub-Saharan African Perspective

(1st Edition 2022)

By Eromose Ebhuoma, Llewellyn Leonard |

Sustainable Development Goal Series

The impact of climate change has adversely compromised the livelihoods of African communities who are overwhelmingly dependent on the natural environment for food security. Indigenous Knowledge Systems is a way for African people to adapt to climate change and secure their livelihoods by uniquely applying their ancient knowledge systems. The book provides critical discussions on the linkages between indigenous knowledge, climate change, and governance. Using primarily political and participatory methods, the book explores cases within the region in order to enhance our understanding about the importance of indigenous knowledge systems to combat climate change and the factors that undermine indigenous knowledge from featuring predominately in climate change mitigation and governance.

There are numerous types of land-related conflicts ranging from ownership, access, use and management. The chapters in this volume capture the strategies put in place by Indigenous peoples in different geographical regions across Southern Africa to adapt and build their resilience to climatic risks, including how collaborations with scientific knowledge have cascaded into building people’s resilience to climatic risks. This volume critically tackles the underlying issues of governance, power and epistemic injustice that influence the exclusion of Indigenous peoples in climate change decision-making at local and national levels.

The geographic spread of this book is wide and covers cases from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho as well as regional cases from West, Central, East and Southern Africa. Key insights from this book illuminate issues that could contribute meaningfully towards the actualisation of the 13th Sustainable Development Goal (climate action) in sub-Saharan Africa. This is primarily because Indigenous peoples and climate action are inextricably linked due to their overwhelming dependence on the natural environment for their livelihood.

Industrial scientific expertise and civil society engagement

Industrial scientific expertise and civil society engagement

Although the significance of scientific expertise is often proposed and empirically illustrated in academic literature, it is still unclear how environmental expertise becomes authoritative, and how its legitimacy can be challenged. In order to understand the interplay between scientific expertise and civil society engagement, this paper examines how industrial scientific expertise has worked with surrounding communities and civil society to inform scientific decisions, and for the co-creation of scientific knowledge formations. A particular case is analysed, that of the South Durban Industrial Basin in KwaZulu-Natal. This area comprises a mixed use of residential areas juxtaposed with heavy industries. Scientific expertise, especially within the industrial sectors, is therefore important in the prevention, alleviation and management of risks to residents, society and the environment. The study finds that there is poor engagement between scientific expertise with communities and civil society, not least when it comes to environmental issues. A reason for this is poor governance, enforcement and leadership with an overriding objective of industrial expansion for economic development by both government and industry. Another reason is that, with a few exceptions, the communities have mainly been concerned about socio-economic issues. This has resulted in a double bind, where scientific expertise and government have not shared environmental information with civil society at the same as the civil society, has not on the whole requested it.

When Race and Social Equity Matters in Nature Conservation in Post-apartheid South Africa

When Race and Social Equity Matters in Nature Conservation in Post-apartheid South Africa

Current academic literature examining race and nature conservation in South Africa has relied mainly on secondary data analysis while neglecting the voices of local communities. This article draws on empirical experience to assess the extent of the impact of race and social equity in conservation, with the aim of promoting sustainable and more inclusive conservation practices in South Africa. Empirical results are drawn from different cases to examine racial equity in conservation. The findings suggest that conservation practices in post-apartheid South Africa are still exclusionary for the majority black population. Promoting more inclusive conservation is complex and requires a broader conservation agenda for more inclusivity and to genuinely tackle issues of poverty. There is a need for conservation groups to also include the previously marginalised in leadership structures and to incorporate indigenous knowledge systems. This will assist in changing the perception of marginalised people that particular persons dominate conservation. The paper further makes specific recommendations on how conservation can become more inclusive across social and race lines.

Read Here

Communities, mining corporations and corruption in South Africa

Communities, mining corporations and corruption in South Africa

During the apartheid era in South Africa, the mining industry operated without restraint and had undue influence over government decision-making. This created an environment where companies maximised profits at the expense of people and the environment.

To establish whether this is still the case I did research in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga and St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal. Dullstroom has a strong agri-tourism sector and is well known for its natural environment, particularly flyfishing. These attributes are now under threat from coal mining license applications. St Lucia is located near South Africa’s coastal border with Mozambique. It’s near the Great St Lucia Wetland Park, a world heritage site.

My research shows that some mining corporations still have influence over mining development in post-apartheid South Africa, although to a lesser degree. The study found that mining corporations, national and local government had a close relationship. Mining companies were strong arming government on how mining developments in the sector should happen.

Mining houses and development

The research found that corruption, poor governance and lax compliance were rife in Dullstroom. Generally, mining corporations often employed government officials to get mining licenses approved. Political connections enabled corruption between mining companies and government.

Practices like this have undermined laws that were passed after 1994 to control the negative effects of mining. For example, the National Environmental Management Act stipulates that development shouldn’t be allowed if it will lead to irreversible environmental degradation. And the South African Constitution makes provision for two rights potentially affected by mining. These are the right to a healthy environment and the right to having the environment protected.

The introduction of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution also enshrines the right of communities to express their dissatisfaction and challenge mining laws and regulations.

A number of communities have used these rights to take action against government and corporate malpractice.

One example is a civil society coalition’s successful defence of a protected area in Mabola in the north of the country.

But in other instances mining companies have found ways to circumvent community resistance. One route has been to get licenses approved by bypassing proper consultation processes with residents by influencing community leaders. For example, a community campaign against Indian mining giant Jindal, to prospect for iron ore in northern KwaZulu-Natal saw traditional leaders intimidating community members who were opposed to the development. Community members accused traditional leaders of giving Jindal permission to prospect on their land without consulting them.

Mining companies have also used the fact that people living in communities earmarked for mining are poor, and most don’t have jobs. In the Sakhelwe township in Dullstroom, the offer of jobs was to create divisions within the area. Similarly in St Lucia the local mining company promised local residents jobs and bursaries for tertiary education to get community members on their side.

Why civil society matters

The influence of companies has placed a strain on South Africa’s participatory model of democracy. This should involve the government, residents and the civic community. Local communities are often not consulted meaningfully during mining development processed.

For now it seems that the strategies being used by civil society organisations may be the best prospect for ensuring mining companies, and the government, are forced to apply the law.

There have already been some notable successes. In Xolebeni in the Eastern Cape the community has forced the mining company to stop a proposed development. The court judgment called for thorough consultation with the community prior to any granting of mining rights.

Groups such as these are gaining political momentum and support. For now, they provide the best potential for an enabling political settlement and for deliberative democracy.

It remains to be seen if these victories will have a wider impact on the future of mining in the country. A big question mark still hangs over whether the government, and the leadership of the African National Congress, will continue to be dictated to by corporations.

The signs aren’t good. The mining industry has welcomed the election of new leaders to run the ANC, signalling that it offers a new dawn for collaboration.

It also remains to be seen how civil society and local communities are able to organise and respond to any risks over mining development. This includes how local leaders will engage with their constituencies over future mining developments.



Why there’s resistance to coal mining at a world heritage site in South Africa

Why there’s resistance to coal mining at a world heritage site in South Africa

There are fears that new mining operations in the north east of South Africa could threaten communities, tourism and the environment.

Plans to resume coal mining operations at the Mapungubwe Unesco World Heritage Site in Limpopo have been halted and it’s uncertain when mining operations will resume. What’s known is that the government is currently considering approving new mining applications in the province, with some possibly approved already. A rich coal seam runs from Zimbabwe to South Africa through the area.
Read Article

Examining civil society social capital relations against mining development for local sustainability

South Africa presents a unique case for mining development and impacts on sustainability because the lines between the mining industry and the state are unclear and due to the increasing inequality between citizens. This questions the potential for citizens to hold mining industries (and government) accountable for environmental abuse. This paper examines the ability of civil society actors to take action against (coal) mining development by way of social capital collective actions in the natural tourist destination in Dullstroom. Semistructured interviews were conducted with various social actors and are reported in this paper. The paper highlights that local responses to engage in social capital against mining development for local sustainability are best understood in relation to the socio‐economic and political positioning of individuals and ethnic groups. Overall, class and race differences, a tough farming environment, and perceptions and priorities of mining versus tourism jobs undermined capacity for social capital to act against mining risks. There is a need for social capital bridging and linking ties to protect the environment for tourism growth and long‐term human‐environment sustainability

Read Here

Converging political ecology and environmental justice disciplines for more effective civil society actions against macro-economic risks

Converging political ecology and environmental justice disciplines for more effective civil society actions against macro-economic risks

This paper explores the potential to converge the theory of political ecology with the environmental justice discipline as means to promote more effective civil society actions against macro-economic risks, whilst analysing the case of South Africa. Such a convergence could result in mutual benefit for both arenas that already share a commitment towards justice. Whilst political ecology has focused on theoretical perspectives, which are mostly applied in rural areas, and examined justice in a larger macro-economic framework, environmental justice has been confined to an empirical focus at a local urban level, which is unable to link local struggles to larger political economic frameworks. Additionally, both arenas generally view civil society as coherent entities that act against the state and industry. Both disciplines should re-evaluate geographic scales and reconfigure romanticised understandings of civil society actions in order to attain justice.
Towards a Broader Conceptualisation of Environmental Justice

Towards a Broader Conceptualisation of Environmental Justice

In contemporary South Africa, environmental justice is a critical question for geographers. It is argued in this chapter that whilst new civil society leadership has emerged to address environmental justice concerns in the post-apartheid period, these have not been effective in formulating an emerging ‘environmental justice framework’ by way of a coherent ideology to collectively address social and environmental risks for more effective civil society actions against macroeconomic risks. This chapter explores selected case studies to examine how leadership in social and environmental struggles has unfolded, and for joint actions. Results indicate that leadership for an emerging environmental justice framework is restricted by individualised and self-interested leaderships, undermining engagement for collective actions both within and across the social and environmental arenas. It is observed that leadership will be vital in advancing local struggles, and also ensuring expansion and connection of struggles beyond localities, but will require negotiation between leaderships on convergence.


Environmental justice, Civil society, Leadership, Neoliberalism, Social movements 

Exploring the Impacts of Mining on Tourism Growth and Local Sustainability: The Case of Mapungubwe Heritage Site, Limpopo, South Africa

Mining licenses in post‐apartheid South Africa are being granted by the ruling government in sensitive areas that are important tourism hubs and employment generators. Limited research has been conducted to understand mining impacts on protected environments and tourism sites. This paper will focus on the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site as a tourist attraction in Limpopo to shed light on how mining is impacting on the area and on tourism development and local sustainability. This paper examines the difficulties that have been encountered by the tourism destination and surrounding communities due to the mining licences granted. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with key informants (communities, an employee at the heritage site and a government official) and are reported in this paper. We conclude that mining should not be allowed, with the need to rather safeguard the environment for cultural and environmental purposes. Stakeholder participation needs to be taken seriously by both the mining company and the government.
Read Article

Managing Hospital Waste: A guide for Southern African Health Care Institutions

(1st Edition 2004)

By Llewellyn Leonard |
City Print

Executive Summary

Health Care Waste is a mounting problem in South Africa as in many other countries. Health Care Waste problems in South Africa have reached uncontrollable proportions. Desktop studies show almost half of health care waste generated in KwaZulu-Natal alone cannot be accounted for, suggesting that it is being illegally dumped, buried or burnt somewhere, thus affecting the health of people and the environment. Some other common problems connected with health care waste include inadequate waste management, lack of education about the health hazards, insufficient financial and human resources and poor control of waste management.

Wastes from health care facilities can pose a risk to health care workers, patients and local communities. While there is much concern about the possible spread of disease (especially from contact with “sharps” such as needles), the treatment of those wastes, through incineration, can release an array of hazardous pollutants into the air and water.

However, it is obvious that the problem of health care waste will not disappear overnight. It is imperative that all stakeholders involved take ownership and responsibility. These include medical practitioners, healthcare administrators, hospital waste collectors, municipalities, waste collection companies, regulatory bodies, government as well as civil society. Just as a chain is strong as the weakest link in it, so all personnel need to be involved. But the prime responsibility lies with the generator of the waste. It was with this idea in mind that groundWork has published this manual, so as to tackle the root of our health care waste problems being experienced.

It is also important to stress that health care waste at our hospitals is a management problem as opposed to a technological one. Technology, however, is not to be totally dismissed but must be viewed as part of a much larger solution. Training for segregation for all hospital personnel encompassing elimination, reduction, reuse and recycling of materials is the way forward if the problem of health care waste is to be accomplished.

Once segregation has occurred and a hospital has its proper waste minimization plan in place, can an environmentally friendly alternative technology be considered. However, the continued use of incinerators in many hospitals is attributed by misleading information on this outdated technology. With markets dying in the north for incinerators, industries are therefore pushing their attention to the south. Health care facilities need to adopt more sensible practices if improvements are to be made.

This manual presents an adequate coverage of the health care waste management and commonly acceptable practices to meet the requirements of existing laws and regulations. A step-by-step process of developing a health care waste environmental management plan is discussed in the manual. Waste prevention and minimization techniques are also presented in an effort to improve healthcare waste handling systems within the healthcare facilities.

Hospitals and other healthcare establishment have the responsibility of certifying that there are no adverse health and environmental consequences of their handling, treatment and disposal of healthcare waste. Through this manual, healthcare institutions will be able to install a more appropriate waste management system that could provide benefits such as an improved regulatory compliance; protection of human health by reducing the exposure of employees to hazardous waste in the work environment; enhance community relations by demonstrating a commitment to environmental protection; economic benefits resulting from pollution prevention products that reduce and recycle waste; avoidance of long-term liability. Healthcare establishments are the ones responsible for proper management and disposal of the waste they generate and this will increase employee morale resulting from a healthier and safer work environment.

It is hoped that this manual will help many health care institutions in South Africa towards establishing improved health care waste management practices, which will ultimately contribute towards sustainable development for future generation. The target groups of this manual are individuals and groups responsible for overseeing the health care waste stream. This manual must however not be seen as an end in itself since each hospitals waste management plan will not be identical to another hospitals plan and will need to be implemented accordingly. It is hoped that the experience is rewarding.

(2004) Managing hospital waste: A guide for Southern African health care institutions, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Arrow Print, 83 pages.