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Enhancing disaster risk reduction processes through the nexus of indigenous knowledge and community participation: a case study of uMshwathi Local Municipality.

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Indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) are recognised by such global organisations as the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank (WB) and nationally by governments including South Africa. However, African indigenous knowledge systems (AIKS) for disaster risk reduction (DRR) have received insufficient research attention in South Africa. This study investigated how DRR processes could be enhanced through the nexus between AIKS and com-munity participation. The focus was upon pinpointing principles, strategies, procedures and best practices to include AIKS in DRR practices. The study sought to document the AIKS that seem well suited for DRR public use. This qualitative research design was executed through a case study strategy and driven by a con-ceptual framework that intersected DRR, AIKS and public participation. The study sites were the two indigenous communities of uMshwathi (Ward 2) and Swayimane (Ward 6) in uMshwathi Local Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal. Data were collected through interviews, focus groups, ob-servation and documentary evidence. Respondents included municipal officials, traditional lead-ers, community elders and other community members. Data were analysed through a combination of content, matrix and thematic analysis. The findings show that the uMshwathi Disaster Management Unit (DMU) recognises and sup-ports the use of community participation systems to engage indigenous people in DRR. AIKS for DRR strategies is documented, largely through the participation of the ageing population, as key knowledge holders seek to transfer knowledge before they pass on. The study concluded that there is indeed a nexus between DRR, AIKS and community participation, yet one of the themes at the heart of that nexus is conflict, as stakeholder segments disagree as to who should take responsi-bility for DRR. UMshwati municipality could make better use of the AIKS at its disposal; in comparison to other relevant DRR stakeholders, traditional leaders seem less involved in DRR, which detracts from heightened participation of communities under traditional leadership. Recommendations are made regarding conflict management, DRR/AIKS strategy implementa-tion and enhanced cooperation among and between the stakeholder segments. Suggestions for future research are likewise presented.


Master of Administration in Management Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban, 2017.


Theses - Public Administration.