Academic journal article Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Application of SWOT Analysis to Explore Impressions of Researchers Involved in an Integrative Multidisciplinary Health and Wellbeing Study

Academic journal article Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Application of SWOT Analysis to Explore Impressions of Researchers Involved in an Integrative Multidisciplinary Health and Wellbeing Study

Article excerpt

Authors' note: The National Research Foundation of South Africa made this research possible with funding awarded in 2013. The opinions that the authors express in the article are those of the authors and not those of the NRF. The research on Bekkersdal has been an NRFfunded Community Engagement Project since 2013.


As of January 2013, a team of researchers officially engaged in an Integrative Multidisciplinary (IMD) science communication research model in an NRF funded project on community engagement in health and wellbeing matters in Bekkersdal. This township, located in the Westonaria Local Municipality in the Gauteng Province, forms part of the West Rand District Municipality (IDP 2013/14:1). Bekkersdal, formally established in 1949 as a proclaimed township, mainly served as a settlement for migrant black mine workers that nearby goldmines employed (Pelser, 2013). From all over Southern Africa, people came to seek employment on the gold mines in the West Wits Gold Line. A growing flare of informal establishments around the original Bekkersdal gained momentum since the late 1960s and by the 1980s had extensively escalated to about 70,000 residents (Van Eeden, 2014). The population has since further increased to 94,000 as the 2011 census calculated (IRR, 2013; Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), 2011).

Bekkersdal not only has to face some unique historical complexities, but also has to address challenges similar to those that other local townships experience. These challenges include extensive urban development, complexities in asset management, soaring poverty rates, unemployment and concomitant escalating crime, and the culture of non-payment for services by the community (Stats SA, 2011; Van Eeden, 2014). A declining mining sector, geo-technological complexities, unavailability of scarce resources, electricity tariff escalation, inadequate resources to deal with increasing demands (IDP 2013, 2014), as well as social upheavals such as protests and boycotts (Matlala & Aboobaker, 2013; Poplak, 2014), also contributed to the difficulties that inhabitants of the township experienced (Van Eeden, 2014).

It was against the above-mentioned background that the team decided to conduct research with the following main objectives in mind:

* Is it possible to do Integrative Multidisciplinary research on the ecohealth and wellbeing status of communities - especially from a humanities and social sciences perspective?

* What is the broader ecohealth and wellbeing status of the Bekkersdal Community in Westonaria that the project team researched on the structural basis of the IMD research methodology?

The project team deemed the overall focus on the ecohealth and wellbeing of the inhabitants of the informal settlement of Bekkersdal necessary because the rapid, uncontrolled, and unplanned growth of the informal settlement resulted in intense pressure on existing services. The government and local municipality initially designed those services for the limited population of the former Bekkersdal formal settlement. These services currently have to attempt to meet the demands of the vastly expanding informal settlement (Van Eeden, 2014).

The IMD team members orally agreed in February 2013 to utilise the broad definition of ecohealth that the team adopted since the initial meeting to progress towards an IMD team. The project covered a broad understanding concerning ecohealth and wellbeing. It also included the standard issues that ecohealth experts accentuate and which are to determine the ecohealth (and wellbeing) status of people (Charron, 2012) in:

* their built environment (e.g., services, housing, service delivery, local management, security) ;

* their immediate or natural environment (e.g., environmental capacity, experiences, issues, concerns) ;

* their wellbeing environment (e.g., financial, physical, social, emotional, and psychological).

In this article, we share the experiences of researchers from various disciplines who are doing research together as a project team on ecohealth and wellbeing. …

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