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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Social Work
Title Social support needs of single mothers in low-income urban communities
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
URL http://scholar.sun.ac.za/handle/10019.1/98061
Poverty in Botswana is a challenge for female headed households who have been identified as one of
the groups that has been highly affected. Whereas poverty is dominant in the rural areas there has
been an increasing record of urban poverty which has been attributed to urbanisation and the
subsequent rural to urban migration. The poor in urban areas tend to stay in low income urban areas
due to their limited choices brought about by lack of resources.
The quality of the environment one stays in has been linked to varying outcomes for different people.
Those who stay in disadvantaged environments may find themselves socially isolated from other
neighbourhoods, lacking social services and besieged with a number of challenges common with poor
neighbourhoods such as high crime rates and lack of job opportunities. Single mothers living in low
income urban communities are also confronted with these challenges as well as those associated with
parenting in poor communities. Social support has been identified as a stress buffer which can
intervene and prevent situations from being appraised as stressful or lessen the impact of stress on
The aim of this study was therefore, to gain a deeper understanding of the social support needs of
single mothers living in low income urban communities. A combination of quantitative and
qualitative research approaches were used in this study. Exploratory and descriptive research designs
were further utilised in this study in order to explore the subject in an in-depth manner and to provide
a detailed description of the phenomena being studied. A semi-structured interview guide was used
to collect data from single mothers staying in Old Naledi, a low income urban community in
Gaborone, Botswana. The development of the interview guide was informed by the literature review.
Individual interviews were conducted with the single mothers.
The main findings of the study indicate that single mothers in Old Naledi are faced with stressors
such as neighbourhood, parenthood, poverty, crime and criminal activities, illness and death. These
stressors had negative emotional and material effects on the single mothers.
The findings further reveal that single mothers had emotional, instrumental and informational and
appraisal needs. At the microsystem level these social support needs were provided for by their
families who were the biggest providers of social support to single mothers; their neighbours, friends
and their social groups. At the macrosystem level the single mothers got most of the social support
from government while non-governmental organisation provided the least social support to single
mothers in Old Naledi.
Stellenbosch University https://scholar.sun.ac.za
The conclusions of the study indicate that there is need to support families in their efforts to provide
social support to their needy family members. There is also a need to assess the social support needs
of single mothers in Botswana against the social support provided at the macrosystems level. Given
the socio-economic profile of these mothers there is a need to make bold investments in these mothers
and their families in order to help them break out of the circle of poverty they and their children could
be facing

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