Original Research

The role of public participation in disaster risk reduction initiatives: The case of Katlehong township

Ziyanda Nkombi, Gideon J. Wentink
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 14, No 1 | a1203 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v14i1.1203 | © 2022 Ziyanda Nkombi, Gideon J. Wentink | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 August 2021 | Published: 28 February 2022

About the author(s)

Ziyanda Nkombi, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, African Centre for Disaster Studies, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Gideon J. Wentink, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, African Centre for Disaster Studies, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) has become a policy priority worldwide and in line with this trend, the South African Disaster Management Act and National Disaster Management Framework prioritise DRR in efforts to build resilient communities with local municipalities being required to develop their own Disaster Management Frameworks. The problem is that public participation is treated as of secondary importance yet international agreements such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) actively promote public participation in DRR. A bottom-up approach is the most effective in ensuring successful DRR initiatives at the local level because communities take ownership of these initiatives and gain a better understanding of their risks. Community-based disaster risk reduction originated in the paradigm shift away from the traditional disaster management approach, moving away from reactive responses in the top-down approach in disaster risk management to more proactive responses. This research study explored approaches used for public participation to ensure successful DRR initiatives in Katlehong township. The study is exploratory and descriptive, having used qualitative and quantitative research approaches, which included questionnaires and interviews. The results gleaned from the data suggested that the role of public participation in DRR initiatives is ineffective in Katlehong township because of the reluctance of stakeholders to participate in DRR. Accordingly, it was recommended that the municipality host stakeholder sessions where stakeholders are informed about the role of the centre and about their own role in DRR. Such stakeholder sessions should assist in resolving issues such as confusion about the stakeholders’ roles in DRR and help to obtain buy-in from all the stakeholders.

Keywords

disaster; disaster risk management; disaster risk reduction; hazard; Katlehong; public participation; risk

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