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An investigation into the environmental impacts of informal settlements on water: a case of Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

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The fast growth of urban areas has resulted in the continuous formation and growth of informal settlements. This increase of informal settlements has further resulted in the deterioration of the environment, especially water in rivers, lakes and streams due to the lack of infrastructural services such as tap water; sanitation; solid waste management and storm-water drainage systems. It is therefore vital to note how the absence of such services in informal settlements can be a negative factor towards achieving a good and sustainable livelihood. The aim of this research is to investigate the environmental impact of informal settlements on water and how they contribute to water pollution and environmental unsustainability in the Kennedy Road informal settlement. The modernisation and urbanisation school of thought were theories used as a knowledge base for the phenomenon researched. This study has argued and provided theoretical and practical evidence that the environmental impact of informal settlements on water is an issue that needs attendance in the study area. The study follows both the qualitative and quantitative research approach. A total of 100 households were interviewed, as well as interviews with municipal officials and the development committee of the area. The results obtained reveal that the lack of infrastructural services in Kennedy Road; such as sanitation facilities, solid-waste management and a storm-water drainage system have a negative impact on the environment such that, the environment in the area was degraded and is characterized by pollution. It was evident that these negative environmental impacts were spearheaded mostly by human waste emanating from the lack of the above mentioned infrastructural services which pollutes both surface and underground water. This paper has therefore tackled the issues faced by Kennedy Road informal dwellers which consequently affect the environment, specifically, the water in the stream that flows through the settlement. It has further provided empirical evidence as to how the environmental impact of informal settlements on water can create challenges; not only that which concerns the environment, but also other social factors such as health issues resulting from poor living environments. The study affirms the importance of both community and municipal participation as an initiative to tackle environmental issues in the area. The community needs to educated about the importance of a clean and sustainable environment as well as take initiative in taking care of the environment in which they reside; the municipality must provide adequate infrastructural services and/or facilities to minimise pollution.


Master of Town and Regional Planning. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


Water--Effect of human beings on--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal.., Squatter settlements., Water--Pollution--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal.