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The role of capacity building in the public participation process: the case of landfill siting in the north of the Durban Metropolitan Area.

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Since 1994, South African governance has been in transition from bureaucracy to democracy. In tenns of democracy, local government is specifically tasked with providing goods and services equitably and sustainably not only to it's citizens, but along with them. In South Africa, the provision of refuse removal services and landfill sites for waste disposal are under local government control. Recently, Durban Solid Waste, a municipal waste management contractor in the Durban Metropolitan Area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa embarked on a comprehensive exercise, the first of it's kind in the country. to locate, plan, develop and operate new generation landfill sites with the aid of a public participation process involving capacity building which is a requirement of legislation. It is in the North Zone of this area that the existing landfill is to close by December 2000, and so there is an urgent need to locate and develop a new landfill site for the region. It is the capacity building and public participation process of the North Zone landfill site selection process which is the subject of this study. A case study format provides an intensive examination of the public participation and capacity building process. Qualitative research methodology was employed to compliment the interp retive approach undertaken in the research process, which used conceptual frameworks drawn from literature for the data interpretation. Data were collected via participant observation at meetings and workshops, and semi-strucrured interviews with stakeholders of the North Zone process. The research findings revealed that while a variety of capacity building and public participation means suggested by government policy have been utilised., none of the statutory principles of public participation for landfill siting have been implemented satisfactorily by participants in the North Zone public participation process. The findings also indicate that the predominant type of public participation being followed in the North Zone is instrumental in nature. and thus in the main does not exhibit outcome measures of empowerment which are associated with transformative participation. Furthermore. the findings demonstrate that while capacity building made the North Zone public participation process more democratic than previous landfill site selection exercises, principles of equity were only satisfied to the extent that the statutory requirements, the will of the developer, a shortage of time and adequate funding pennitted. The recommendations suggest: lobbying for changes to the statutory requirements. ways of building trust between stakeholders. activities to promote equity and democracy, and the use of more suitable means of capacity building and public participation for landfill site selection public participation processes in South Africa


Thesis (M.Sc.)-University of Natal, Durban, 2000.


Waste disposal sites--Durban Metropolitan Area--Location., Sanitary landfills--Durban Metropolitan Area., Waste disposal in the ground--Durban Metropolitan Area., Sanitary landfills--Planning--Citizen participation., Theses--Environmental science.