The Living World
21 Topics | 21 Quizzes

Case Studies: Different Approaches to Resource Management

Africa – Food Supply

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa, classified as a Middle-Income Country. While major cities such as Cape Town, Pretoria, and Johannesburg have good access to food, the townships are less fortunate.

Townships are located on the outskirts of major cities. They are underdeveloped settlements that were historically designated for non-white residents, primarily black South Africans, during the apartheid era.

These areas have fewer resources and wealth, with living conditions far less comfortable than in major cities. Approximately 35% of households in Cape Town’s townships live in hunger, making food security a major concern.

Since the 1980s, urban farming has been promoted in townships through initiatives like Farmers of Home (1982), which has helped thousands to establish homes and small-scale farms. This approach is manageable for locals, generates economic growth, and is environmentally sustainable.

Improved health for township residents due to more accessible nutritious, healthy food.Use of domestic wastewater for irrigation can spread diseases.
Reduced food miles, which is much better for the environment.Urban farmers often lack training, leading to overuse of harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Increased income for unemployed residents.Although urban farming contributes to food security, it does not solve the broader problem of hunger.


Located on the East coast of Africa, Tanzania is one of the continent’s largest countries. It hovers on the boundary between being a lower-income and a middle-income country, just barely meeting the criteria to be considered a middle-income country.

Despite steady economic growth, over 27% of the population lives in poverty, with around 20% of families lacking access to a sufficient, healthy diet. This contributes to 34% of children under five experiencing stunted growth.

Agriculture employs about 70% of Tanzania’s workforce. An example is Kilombero Plantations Limited (KPL), operating a 5,818-hectare farm in the Kilombero Valley in the south of the country.

KPL primarily grows rice. With the capability to process and store the product on-site, it produces over 35,000 tonnes annually, significantly more than any other operation in East Africa. The company also cultivates fruits and vegetables, which improves food availability for Tanzanians.

Annually produces 3.5 million tons of fruit and vegetables.Generates 35,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually from greenhouses, which is harmful to the environment.
Boosts the local and national economy, with KPL’s greenhouse produce valued between €1.2bn and €3bn.It consumes more water than is provided by rainfall, therefore requiring the tapping into underground supplies or the transportation of water from mountains.
Provides employment for tens of thousands of people.There are reports of underpaid workers, exposure to pesticides, and lack of contracts for job security.

Kielder – Water Transfer

The reservoir at Kielder operates as a water transfer scheme, transferring water from an area of surplus to an area of deficit.

Located in Northumberland within the Pennines, Kielder benefits from high levels of rainfall, more than any other area in the East of England, due to its position in the rain shadow. The reservoir opened in 1982 and spans 285 acres, collecting water that is then transported to rivers flowing towards cities such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Durham, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Sunderland.

Generates hydroelectric power, which is a clean and renewable energy source.Breeding patterns of local fish have been disrupted as the dam blocks the river, which reduces fish populations.
Reduces water insecurity in the northeast by increasing river water levels.To make way for the dam and reservoir construction, many people had to relocate.
Boosts tourism, creating jobs and income. Water sports and the scenic environment are particularly popular attractions.Led to the flooding of Plashetts village in 1983 during the reservoir’s opening, resulting in the loss of farmland and local habitats.

Key Terms

LegislativePossessing the power to make laws.
ApartheidThe system of racial segregation formerly practiced in South Africa.
Food SecurityThe state of having reliable access to sufficient, affordable and nutritious food.
Urban FarmingThe practice of growing, cultivating and distributing food in urban environments.
Food milesThe distance food items travel from production to consumer.
Rain ShadowAn area receiving reduced rainfall due to being sheltered from prevailing rain-bearing winds by a range of hills.
Hydroelectric PowerElectricity generated by the movement of water.

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