Sinazo Ntsonge

Background

I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in economics and environmental science in 2014. In 2015, I did a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Economics. In 2016 and 2017 I undertook studies to do a Master of Science degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, which I graduated with the following year in 2018. For my Masters research I investigated the market value of the informal market value chain for Opuntia ficus-indica (prickly pear), which is an invasive alien plant species, in the Nelson Mandela Bay. While doing my Masters research, I developed an interest in research that tackles socio-economic problems such as poverty and unemployment and how research can help shine a light on them at the micro scale, while also providing workable solutions. With this in mind, the policy recommendation I made in my Masters thesis was for the relevant government department to look into agro-processing of the species at an industry scale, as the value-added processes involved would generate employment. I am now currently doing my second year PhD in economics. All of my tertiary qualifications were obtained from Rhodes University.

Current research

My PhD research focus is on developing a framework that will be used to assess the sustainability of government-funded public works programmes. For my research, I will be using the Working for Water programme as a case study. The programme was launched in 1995 as a government initiative to champion the fight against invasive alien plants. In addition to its focus on environmental conservation, the programme also seeks to create employment for those who are chronically unemployed in local communities as well as provide them training which will allow them to access better employment opportunities in the labour market. In my research, I will assess how the programme has fared over the year in fulfilling its mandate. The criteria that I will be using as part of the framework I am developing will be based on the impact that the programme has had on household income of participants, on how it has improved their employment prospects, the type of training provided (are the skills transferable to other industries?), and others that speak to the poverty-eradicating aspects of the programme.