An extensive compulsory cattle dipping programme was introduced in Venda from 1915 to
counter rinderpest and East Coast Fever (ECF). This study approached the sustainability of
cattle dipping from environmental, economic, social and governance perspectives against the
backdrop of the country’s history and political ecology, focusing on the effects of dipping
strategies and operations in Vhembe district of Limpopo Province (the former Venda) in
response to ECF.
Dipping infrastructre continues to be used in Venda after the eradication of ECF in 1954 and
even to the present, albeit below capacity. Arsenic residues occur in soils around all sampled
dip sites, especially within 20 m from dip tanks and where red clays and organic-rich loamy
soils prevail. Ecologically, dipping practice has therefore not been sustainable, while
economically, farmers perceive dipping to enhance livestock health, and they gain benefit
from continued use of cattle in agriculture and transport.
Being close to watercourses and villages, most dip tank sites pose community safety and
health risks, with even fatalities occurring at untended and abandoned tank facilities. Yet the
social sustainability benefits of dipping practice, such as the creation of forums where cattle owners and veterinarians interact, the resultant formation of cattle owners’ associations, and
the occurrence of recreational opportunities on dip days are also evident.
Government has been the main role player in providing dipping services, resulting in limited
involvement of and cooperation between other role players; therefore the contribution of the
Limpopo Draft Policy on Cattle Dipping (2011) to efficient dipping governance was
evaluated. A Sustainable Community Cattle Dipping Model was consequently developed to
address the shortcomings in governance, as well as ecological, economic and social issues of
the sustainability of dipping practice.
This thesis contributes to an understanding that cattle dipping in communal areas are spatial
entities that reflect the dynamics of structure-agency. It underscores environmental injustices
like arsenic contamination occurring around dip tanks, and the effects of inequitable distribution of dip sites on human health and safety. The economic benefits and limitations of
existing dipping practice are also highlighted. It culminates in the development of a
Sustainable Community Cattle Dipping Model to enhance the sustainability of dipping