Original Research

Adaptive capacity to reduce disaster risks in informal settlements

Khulekani E. Ndabezitha, Betty C. Mubangizi, Sokfa F. John
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 16, No 1 | a1488 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v16i1.1488 | © 2024 Khulekani E. Ndabezitha, Betty C. Mubangizi, Sokfa F. John | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 February 2023 | Published: 07 June 2024

About the author(s)

Khulekani E. Ndabezitha, NRF/SARChI Chair in Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, School of Management, IT and Governance, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Betty C. Mubangizi, NRF/SARChI Chair in Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, School of Management, IT and Governance, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Sokfa F. John, Centre for Mediation in Africa, Political Sciences Department, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

The eMalahleni Local Municipality (eLM) in Mpumalanga province, South Africa, has a number of informal settlements because of the influx of people seeking employment in the municipal area. These informal settlements are exposed to a number of hazards, including underground fires, air and water pollution, sinkholes, abandoned mining areas and acid mining drainage. South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) incorporates the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which are intended to upgrade informal settlements on suitable land. The Department of Human Settlement recognised the gap in the policy because upgrading only included physical structures and did not include adaptive capacity for communities to create resilience to withstand disasters. The researcher used a case study research design for the inquiry intended to recommend adaptive capacity and reduce disaster risks in informal settlements in the eLM. Purposive sampling was used to select 25 participants from eLM, provincial government departments and informal settlements. The data were analysed using thematic analysis based on the study’s conceptual framework. The research findings revealed that the government has not done much to involve vulnerable communities during the development of policies to reduce disaster risks within informal settlements. In particular, the failure of the government to promote and reinforce public participation in disaster risk reduction programmes leaves the vulnerable communities defenceless.

Contribution: This study strengthens the intergovernmental structures and public participation to reduce disaster risks in communities. This study discourages a silos mentality and encourages coordination between government departments to identify root causes by applying the pressure and release model for effective disaster risk reduction.


Keywords

adaptive capacity; disaster risk; eMalahleni Local Municipality; informal settlements; resilience

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