Exploring self-identified needs of Setswana-speaking families living in a resource-constrained area in Ikageng, Potchefstroom
Families as a social institution have undergone a tremendous transformation over the past years – members of a family represent more than just a collection of individuals. As a social institution, families consist of members from different generations who share physical and emotional spaces in time. These different generations create and sustain emotional bonds with individual members that differ in closeness. South African families are exposed to numerous obstacles in their living environment that are translated into their interpersonal spaces. Poverty and unemployment are at the forefront in contemporary South Africa, where families suffer from numerous constraints. South Africa’s most constrained areas are secluded with no formal roads or transportation systems available where children have to walk long distances to attend school, and the most basic services are not delivered. Families who reside in these areas are exposed to unimaginable circumstances in their community with salient changes in their mental health and capacity to deal with daily challenges. Consequently, families in resource-constrained environments are vulnerable to environmental adversities, such as floods, fires, poor agricultural conditions and illnesses caused by the poor infrastructure and access to little resources. These adversities produce a closed system where families live in extreme poverty, with high levels of unemployment and in many cases, unable to adequately satisfy basic needs. Poverty itself does not cause families (or communities) in resource-constrained environments to be classified as disadvantaged but rather the stress associated with poverty that results in low levels of optimal functioning amongst family members. A vast body of empirical work exists that describes families – highlighting their dysfunction and deficits – but little insight is provided into the nature of the needs of already impoverished families who live in environments with ever-increasing constraints. The aim of this study was to explore the self-identified needs of families living in a resource-constrained environment in Ikageng, Potchefstroom. This study was approved by the Health Research Ethics Committee (HREC) of the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. The researcher utilised qualitative research methods by applying a qualitative descriptive design and collecting data by means of participation learning action techniques. Venn diagrams and free drawings from the researcher’s participation learning action toolbox were utilised. These methods allowed the researcher to obtain information to understand the viewpoint of individuals, irrespective of their basic education level. The participating families were able to transfer their knowledge by means of visual representations. The researcher was able to ask questions and probe to understand the nuances of the visual representations linked to the research question of the study. The visual data were used to stimulate conversations, and verbatim data were transcribed and analysed by means of thematic analyses. The overriding need of families living in a resource-constrained area in Ikageng, Potchefstroom, was found to be relational needs, followed by physical and environmental needs and the need to aspire. In addition, the themes were found to interrelate and some of the themes emerged almost simultaneously. These findings contribute to empirical knowledge of the structure of families in a South African context; their self-identified needs and more importantly, the nuanced nature of these needs against the backdrop of the current socioeconomic climate.
- Health Sciences