Mabibiis a community of around 111 households, tucked into the coastal grasslands between
the northern edge of Lake Sibaya and the coastalduneforests. The community is divided
between the kwaZibi and kwaTembe Traditional Authorities and indunas for both TAs’ are
resident in the village.
It is accessible by road fromMbazwana andSodwana Bay. Mabibiresemblesvillagesoutside
the iSimangaliso WetlandParkmore closely, having access to a similar level of development
including electricity for the whole community, yard taps from a communal water scheme for
95% of households, a clinic and community hall. All households have sanitation arrangements
in the form of pit latrines and all households also practise rainwater harvesting, either by using
drums or roof harvesting into JoJo tanks. Most ofthe household yards are fenced and gardens
and fields are more prevalent and more extensive. There is no communal garden or cropping
area. A substantial number of livestock are in evidence(poultry, goats and cattle).
Touris miswell establishe d,int heMabib icampsite andtheTh ongalodge bothofwh ichhave
been in operation for long time, as well as a couple of homestay arrangements through
iSimangaliso and more recently the Wild Trust.
Fishing, coastal harvestingand use of reeds for building and craftis undertaken by around 50%
of the households. Around 80% ofhouseholds use the local forests for firewood (in addition to
having electricity) and building materials.
Unemployment, while still high is not as evident as in the northern villages inside the park.
Some community members are employed in the tourism industry, others undertake fishing for
income generation (41%), remittances from family members arealso more evident(54%)and
around 41% of the community also undertake small businesses.Sale of farm produce for
income generation is undertaken by around 22% of the community. Employment is provided
through short term contracts primarily for youth by both iSimangaliso (EPWP and internships)
and the Wildtrust (internships and youth employment programmes) and has provided some
financial support to roughly40households in the village. The ‘missing middle’ of adults
between theages of 38-60 years, who do not receive any grants makes up a significant
proportion of this village(47% of adults).
Community members feel that the rules enforced by iSimangaliso are oppressive andunhappy
with the restrictions imposed on natural resource use and farming. Participants also voiced a
need to be consulted before decisions are made that a\ect them. They have requested
improvements in road infrastructure, more employment and a library in the community.
In the baseline survey undertaken by MDF and the WIldtrust hub sta\ and interns, 22 of the 111
households in the community were interviewed betweenMarch- April2024.
There is a larger percentage of female headed households (59%) than thenational average for
2022 of 45,7% female headed households in rural KZN. (StatsSA, 2022).The average household
size for the village is 5.5, compared to the national average of 3.4, with households ranging from
between 1-13 individuals. Large households are common in the village. All the households have
more adults than children, something that is quite unusual in rural KZN settings. Only around
10% of the population in the village arepensioners.
Age group in years
StasSA %
kwaDapha %
0 -14
The population of Mabibiis roughly610individuals living in 111households. There is also a
small but significant group of individuals in the village su\ering from physical disability (around
30individuals)and mental disability (~5 individuals). Thesehouseholds live well below the
poverty line and are extremely vulnerable. Extra costs in terms of care and transport have to be
internalised by the households themselves, as a very small proportion of these households
actually receive disability grants.
AF?@@CG')"$.G8+/2$+#2"8)'%E;#Percapita incomes range from R420 – R7 300 per month.
Percapita income
R800-R1100/ month
Female headedhousehold average
R1 530
Male headed household average
R1 870
In Mabibi, unlike the more northern hub villages in the park, the average per capita income for
both female and male headed households are around or above the national poverty line with
male headed households earning around 18% higher incomes. 32% of the households in this
village earn a per capita income that is higher than the poverty line which is significantly
di\erent from the other two hub villages, where only 5% for Nkovukeni and 8% for kwaDapha fall
into this category.
In Mabibi the impact of the short term youth job creation processes on the household income is
lower due to alternative income streams for these households Only 1 of the households
interviewed relied solely on this income in addition to social grants for their livelihood. All other
households are engaged in some form of income generation (fishing, farming, small businesses,
craft and remittances).
Sources of income are the following:
Source of income in order of frequency
Source of income in order of
Child grants
Wildtrust contracts
iSimangaliso contracts
iSimangaliso contracts
Small businesses
Small businesses
Local farm produce
Wildtrust contracts
Local farm produce
Child grants
Income generation from use of natural resources such as fishing and coastal harvesting (41%) is
common in the village.Those involved in contract fishing and the tourism industry earn
significantly higher incomes than those fishing for food and ad hoc sale of surplus.Harvesting of
reeds and grass and making of craft is undertaken by around 36% of the households. In Mabibi
41% of the households also undertake a range of small businesses and local income generation
activities not related to natural resource use, unlike the two northern hub villages where
reliance on the natural resources for livelihoods is extremelyhigh.
(0I%&2",#*&)'#(%+()"+1#(.)&$+,%(#*)&#=JK#')"$.(#)*#$.%#6%+&;#Here around 14% of
households do not experience food shortages at all and no households indicated chronic food
A reasonably wide rangeofagriculturalactivitiesareundertaken,includingdrylandcropping
within the household boundaries,gardening,fruit production,some poultry and goat husbandry
and cattle.
% of HH
Crops include mainly cassava, peanuts and sweet
potatoes, and gourds/pumpkins, as well as maize and
Crops include green peppers, onions, tomatoes, spinach,
beetroot and lettuce.
1-4 trees per
Treesinclude mangoes,lemons, avocados, oranges,
guavasand some indigenous fruit including indigenous
fruit trees.
7 chickenson ave
Some households have a few traditional chickens, but
other have reasonably large flocks of between 20-40
chickens, including a few layers and broilers.
4 goats
Goats roam freely, some homesteads have kraals but not
5 cattle
Cattle roam freely. Herders are employed. It is likely that
cattle ownership is in fact a lot higher than reported. It was
also mentioned that people from outside the village bring
their livestock to the area to graze, bolstering numbers
Generally, more traditional, low external input farming practices are employed in the village.
Burning and ploughing are still undertaken, although at household level small patches of land
are cleared by hand to plant crops. Householders use small amounts of manure (cattle, goat
and chicken) to fertilize their soils. They irrigate by hand from available household water, and/or
individual boreholes, which tend to be quite salty.
Figure 1: Above clockwise. Two examples of homestead production layout, with self-constructed fences, patches of
crops such as green peppers and onions and fruit and indigenous trees dotted around. Also visible in the 1stpicture
are some poles for building resting against a tree, harvested locally as well as 200l drums for watering crops. The
picture above right shows also mangoes and orange trees- the latter showing signs of drought and lack of nutrients.
Destruction of crops and fruit harvests by wildlife is not common in this village. Constraints in
production are from lack of water, heat and extremely infertile soils.
The table below summarises infrastructural considerations in Mabibivillage.
% HH
Fencing for household boundaries common in the village and those who
did not report fencing, did in fact have makeshift arrangements, but not
‘proper’ fencing.This is typical of rural communities with high numbers
of livestock.
Brick and
Usually between 1 and 3 times 2-4 room structures per homestead
Usually 1-3 times 1-2 room structures per homestead. Some
homesteads only have reed dwellings(24%). Poorer households are
more likely to have the reed structures.
All households have Eskom electricity.
Solar, gas
There is very little evidence of solar, gas or use of candles in this village.
Collected from forest patches nearest to each homestead. There are no
restrictions imposed by the community.Households still predominantly
use firewood for cooking, even with electricity supplied to their homes.
Pit latrines
All households have pit latrines, some constructed by the households
themselves but most supplied through their local municipality.
Households generally have 200l drums and basins for RWH, - some
rooves are thatched and not easily conducive to rainwater harvesting
RWH 2400l
Many households have at least on JoJo tank. 36% of households have
between 2-3 JoJo tanks.
Peoplewith accesstothecommunalsystemhavetapsin theiryards,
with unrestricted access to water.
Interviewees did not report having own boreholes, but it is expected that
at least a few households in the village have these.
There are unpaved access roads, through neighbouring villages from
Mabibi has seen a much higher level of infrastructure and services support from the local
government structures than the 2 other hub-site villages inside iSimangaliso WetlandPark,
evidenced through 100% coverage in terms of electricity, sanitation and household water
provision, as well as in the presence of a clinic, primary school, community hall and a number
of local shops/spazas in the village. Villagers are still concerned about the condition of their
access road, which is a very sandy track and not suitable for all vehicles.
Housing consists of both brick and reed dwellings, with the latter dominating in the poorer
homesteads. For these dwellings provision of gutters for rainwater harvesting would require
structural support.
There is a local church group which provides a social safety net support to its members to which
around 16% of the community belongs and a local funeral insurance group (38%). A few
individuals have funeral policies with more formal institutions in Manguzi. A number of
individauls have also received training from a range of institutions in the past including
conservation and fisheries management, agricultural training and small business training.
Due to the larger population in the area and reasonably high level of use of land-based natural
resources, environmental degradation in the area isevident. All households use firewood from
their local forest patches extensively. There is some erosion of pathways due to heavy livestock
tra\ic. A further assessment of stocking rates and livestock management would need to be
undertaken. The habit of burning to clear land is still common but can be managed through
information sharing and discussions. The marine and lake resources are however overused,
through extensive fishing by the community, commercial fishing concerns and the tourist
industry. Community members are aware of the reduction in fish stock as well as the reduction
in size of fish being caught.
Community members have an understanding of their impact on the environment. 64% of
respondentshowever, felt that their use of resources had no negative impact on their
environment. Despite this, 78% of respondents felt that nature needs to be protected to be able
to continue to provide resources and services for themselves and their children. This clearly
indicates an innate understanding of resources conservation and protection among the
community.They have felt the impact of climate change in the form of increased heat, more
heatwaves and weather variability, with more frequent and intense storms. Rainfall has been
similar, but more variable.
Relationships with the iSimangaliso MPA are strained. A recurring comment from community
members was that the rules imposed are restrictive and abusive and that control has been
heavy handed in the past. Throughout, a call for discussion with the iSimangaliso authorities
and better information provision from them was heard. Community members on the one hand
appreciate the protection of the natural environment, and on the other feel that nature is seen
as more important than people and that they are unable to make a living given the restrictions
on resource use. They appreciate the short -term job opportunities and food parcels as these
have been crucial given the constraints on other land use options in the area. Requests for
support have included more job-opportunities not just for youth, improvedroad access,RDP
houses anda library. There was also a request to lift the restrictions on Agriculture to allow
people to make a living from farming.
Job opportunities for the age groups of 35-59 years need to be given priority as this is
also the group most reliant on natural resources in the area to survive and the main
breadwinners in these households.
Focus on improved agricultural practices for intensification of household food
production is important.
Diversification of agricultural activities to improve synergy between soil, water, plants
and animals in this system, to improve production and productivity
Significant support with rainwater harvesting is crucial, especially for those households
which do not already have JoJo tanks.
Systems for improved water management and grey water management can relieve some
of water shortages at household level.
iSimangaliso to engage more constructively with the community in terms of information
provision, outlining rules and regulations and appreciation for the livelihoods
constraints of the community members.