A study of the negative impacts of informal settlement on the environment : a case study of Jika Joe, Pietermaritzburg.
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There are a number of reasons why informal settlements exist and why people decide to establish and develop them. The main concept is that informal settlements have become a perpetual challenge and adversely imposing negative impacts to the environment. Living in informal settlements leads to the exposure and vulnerability to environmental hazards to people and the land which they occupy. Informal settlements are characterized by a lack of basic services, pollution, overcrowding and poor waste management. These characteristics impact negatively on the environment posing risk and susceptibility to health problems associated with informal settlements. Apart from the living conditions which are found in informal settlements, the notion of informal settlements being self-built by families and using temporary materials has its own negative impact on the environment. People residing in informal settlements face challenges of service delivery. This is mainly due to the fact that land was occupied illegally, thus impacting negatively on the environment. A lack of basic needs and services leads to informal settlements having impacts on the environment. This includes inadequate sanitation which leads occupants to pollution, the use of coal and biomass fuel for lighting, causing air pollution and in turn contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases. Waste removal is an issue with which informal settlers’ struggle and which causes land pollution and emerging and re-emerging infectious disease hazards. Thus, waste removal is a problem which the study is to discuss and to examine possible solutions thereof. The main aim of the study was to investigate the impacts which informal settlements have on the environment and raise environmental awareness by illustrating how extreme the impacts of informal settlements are in impacting the environment. The main aim was to be achieved by using the following objectives: identifying environmental challenges which are caused by informal settlements, examining the sources of environmental challenges experienced in informal settlements, investigating solutions to reduce the negative impacts which informal settlements have on the environment, identifying health risks associated with the environmental impacts present in informal settlements and examining how waste is disposed of in informal settlements. The research method used for the study was qualitative research. This type of scientific research method seeks answers to a question, systematically using a predefined set of procedures to answer the question, collects evidence and provides findings that were not determined in advance. This method was used in conjunction with interviews with municipal officials and questionnaires handed to 40 of Jika Joe informal settlement residents who were selected using random sampling. The study was conducted on Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg, which is associated with a number of environmental challenges. Themes were used which focussed around sources of energy that were used for cooking in the informal settlement, possible solutions to the issue of informal settlements and their impacts on the environment, health risks associated with these settlements and the disposal of waste in informal settlements. These study areas were of great assistance in answering the research question. In conclusion, research findings concluded that the research hypothesis is true, as it was found that informal settlements do pose negative impacts on the environment which desperately needed the development of recommendations for change. Such recommendations included the resolving and eradication of informal settlements, composting, the implementation of relocations and the creation of boundaries to name a few.