Examining the disaster mitigation efforts in eThekwini Municipality: the case of Umlazi Township in South Africa.
Ndlovu, Cosmas Buhlebuyeza.
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Disaster mitigation in South Africa is characterised by poor implementation of policies, thus there are few interventions that prevent the disaster impact or the reoccurrence of damages. Previous studies (Van Niekerk, 2014; Paton and Johnston, 2017; CoGTA, 2018) have established that stakeholders react to a disaster after it happens and a few measures are then put in place for disaster mitigation. Previous studies, as mentioned above have tended to focus on lack of funds as an impediment to proper disaster mitigation coordination rather than focusing on how implementation of policies or how specific stakeholders can be a weak link in the mitigation process. Using a qualitative research design that employed in-depth interviews with key stakeholders (n = 7) and three focus group discussions (n = 18), this study sought to identify the nature and the degree of disasters and to find out what mitigation strategies were employed by the Municipality and their effectiveness, according to different role players in Umlazi Township eThekwini Municipality. Analysis of data revealed that floods and fire are the most common disasters in Umlazi and the disasters affect everyone in society. Better and stronger infrastructure was a common mitigation strategy recommended by participants. Effectiveness, however, was viewed as being limited. Emerging from the findings is the suggestion that a multi-pronged approach involving cooperation between the communities, ward committees and Municipal disaster management could be the effective means of curbing disasters. This study, which attempted to contribute to the growing corpus of literature and theory on disaster management, points to a need for political will among policymakers to ensure that issues of disaster management are prioritised in budgets and in decision-making.