History of ISL
Institute of Sustainable Livelihoods
The first research activities began in 1999, when the first research niche area (RNA) was submitted and approved by the National Research Foundation (NRF). This was the beginning of research in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism, with three staff members participating in research. The research in the department grew in five years to include nine staff members, two postdoctoral fellowships, four DTech and 18 MTech students in 2006. The research outputs for the period 2000-2006 in the department were 50 national and 56 international conference papers, 35 abstracts published as part of conference proceedings, 9 and 6 articles published in accredited and other journals respectively, 2 chapters in books, 5 staff members obtained Masters and one PhD qualification. As a result of these research outputs, the Food and Nutrition Research Centre (FNRC) was approved by the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in March 2005. The Centre further boasts partnerships with five international institutions, the University of Greenwich (UoG) in Chatham, United Kingdom (UK), University of Westminster (UoW) in London, UK, Institute of Home Economics (IHE) at the University of Delhi in India, the Aga-Khan Health Services in Mombassa, Kenya, and the University of Benin in Nigeria.
During 2002 a meeting was held with the research stakeholders and various local government departments to discuss research projects that would be beneficial to the Vaal Triangle community. The Eatonside community was recommended as a pilot area to undertake food and nutrition research. A baseline study was undertaken and the results proved that poverty and household food insecurity and its resultant effects of malnutrition and poor health were present in this community, residing in the informal settlement. The results of this study formed the basis for planning and implementing sustainable community-based intervention projects as follows:
Increased agricultural productivity through home gardening projects that were implemented in 2004. This addresses the underlying causes of household food insecurity.
Dietary diversification by means of food multimix (FMM) product development to address specific nutritional needs. This will address the obvious malnutrition as a result of household food insecurity.
Nutrition education as an umbrella for both these strategies.
The FMM project is undertaken in collaboration with Drs Paul Amuna and Francis Zotor, researchers from the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom. This is a unique concept where staples are used as a basis and ingredients commonly available in the household are added to result in a nutrient-dense, culturally acceptable and cost-effective food product to address various forms of malnutrition or disease conditions, for example diabetes mellitus. During 2005, a variety of FMMs were developed, biochemically analysed for nutrient content, microbiologically tested for shelf life determination, and used in recipes that were sensory approved. The impact of the FMMs were tested in clinical intervention trials during 2006. This is a multi-disciplinary project involving researchers and postgraduate students from the departments of hospitality and tourism, biomedical sciences, biological sciences and biochemistry.
Establishment of the Institute of Sustainable Livelihoods (ISL)
The success and the increase of research products of then the Food and Nutrition Research Centre (FNRC) in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism in the Faculty of Human Sciences led to the establishment of Institute of Sustainable Livelihoods, which coordinates various research-oriented institutions in different disciplines. The ISL became operational in January 2006.