A concise view on the research focus

The Far West Rand region in the far western side of the Gauteng province can be regarded as one of South Africa’s most dense gold and uranium mining regions.  The region currently resides under the Far West Rand District’s Municipality and four district’s municipalities operates in the region (see maps below – though Westonaria and Randfontein are preparing to merge by August 2016). The population is close to 850 000 on a space of 4 095km² and approximately 22 mines (active and decommissioned) have operated or still operate in the region. The WRDM host’s some of the world’s richest archaeological and anthropology sites and also has the world’s deepest mining shaft of close to 4km into the earth. If reviewed from a disciplinary angle the Far West rand Region has also received the most extensive research attention from several expertise in a variety of research fields. The extensive gold mining deposits retrieved during approximately 80 years of economic activity has contributed to immense population, local and economic growth in all these municipal regions.  Townships were founded as a result. Equally so did gold exploration encourage destructed environments as a result of dewatering the area for gold mine excavations. In especially the past a process of underground cementation formed part of the process to ensure stable gold mining activity. History serves as evidence of the unfortunate reality that these activities created other destabilising economic and environmental factors.   It is against this background that research on the ecohealth and wellbeing of mining communities had been undertaken in the FWRD-region. The research methodology for regional history in this area departed with the Skipp model, and initially only covering a part of the region (namely the Merafong Municipal area).  Historically reviewed this has been done successfully, though some communities and townships could still be researched more broadly for their developments on all levels and broader impact in general.   Currently the research focus is on the Westonaria Districts Municipal region with as emphasis on three combined but related aspects to do research in the region, namely the ecohealth and wellbeing status of mining communities.  The Westonaria community of Bekkersdal has been selected for the research done for, and with the financial support of the National Research Foundation (NRF).  The research covers two angles,  namely i) research by means of applying a regional history research approach and ii) research done on the theme in the research area in an integrative multidisciplinary (IMD) way. An emphasis on environment, health and wellbeing in the region, necessarily requires more insight from expertise in all three these fields and therefore it was required to develop a research model in which this can be made possible and that benefit all disciplines but also could make a positive and informative impact on the research outcomes for the benefit of searching and contributing to a sustainable society and compliment science in regional studies in general. The IMD model covers Disciplinary initiatives, Interdisciplinary cooperation and transdisciplinary efforts to ensure that the research done also is inclusive (and in conjunction with) communities. Once the research on Westonaria (and in particular Bekkersdal) within the broader region will be completed, the model and broader developed research methodology for regional history will be further explored in the mining areas of Randfontein as well as Mogale City. It is envisioned that the IMD model will eventually be utilised in other mining areas of South Africa. Comparative studies will then be possible. In the past years though, occasional assistance in projects covering local risk and management (with a personal contribution on the regional history and reference to ecohealth matters), had been rendered in areas like the Southern Cape and Delmas.

Source: http://www.localgovernment.co.za/locals/view/63/Merafong-City-Local-Municipality

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