Households strategies in mitigating environmental risks in informal settlements : the case of Lacey Road, Sydenham in Durban.
Phetha, Lindiwe Londeka.
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This study is concerned with the manner in which households create strategies to mitigate environmental risks in informal settlements for example Lacey Road which is located in Sydenham in the eThekwini metropolitan area of KwaZulu‐Natal. Informal settlements result from migration and urbanisation trends whereby people from rural areas migrate to the city in search of job opportunities and a better life. Many fail to find the formal employment opportunities they seek and find themselves having to provide their own shelter. These circumstances culminate in the construction of informal settlements in and near the city. People settle on land that is often undesirable for development because of geological or environmental pressures e.g. it has unstable soils, the land is located within flood plains or on very steep slopes. The vulnerability approach and political ecology framework underpin this study. These two approaches have been used in order to understand the capabilities of informal settlers to cope with risks they are faced with. They have been also used to understand how human activities and political systems may be linked to the spread of environmental degradation and risks. Household survey and key informants interviews were used to conduct this study. The findings of the research show that Lacey Road informal settlement is exposed to various risks such as floods, fire, waste disposal, and indoor air pollution and other health risks. It is clear that residents from Lacey Road are regularly exposed to the harsh realities of spatial and environmental marginalisation. The main reason for their vulnerability is the lack of service delivery by the municipality. This is due to a unique set of power relations where the community does not have profile to force the municipality to provide access to basic services. It is within this context that the researcher sought to analyse and explore the interface between environmental risk management and coping strategies of residents within informal settlements. Whilst there are general risks that face all residents of informal settlements, the researcher also considered what is specific to the Lacey Road settlement in Sydenham. The intention of this research is to identify environmental risks being experienced in Lacey Road informal settlements. Furthermore, to understand household strategies employed to mitigate those environmental risks at Lacey Road.