Community politics: A factor eroding hazard resilience in a disadvantaged community, Imizamo Yethu, South Africa

Harte, Wendy, Hastings, Peter A., & Childs, Iraphne R. (2006) Community politics: A factor eroding hazard resilience in a disadvantaged community, Imizamo Yethu, South Africa. In Social Change in the 21st Century Conference 2006, 27 October 2006, Carseldine, Brisbane.


Imizamo Yethu is an informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa, characterised by abject poverty and high vulnerability to environmental hazards. On February 8, 2004, a major fire caused significant damage to the settlement’s housing and infrastructure, resulting in widespread homelessness and loss of personal possessions. Despite the intensity of the event, there were minimal casualties and the community re-grouped after the fire despite overwhelming odds. What was the source of this resilience amidst such disadvantage? A survey focusing on this question was conducted in 2004 with Imizamo Yethu residents. Results identified social networks and some formal community institutions as the most significant factors enhancing respondents’ resilience during and after the fire. However, the survey also disturbingly revealed that political divisions centering on a land rights dispute within the community, and on-going housing issues, were undermining community resilience. Disrupted social networks and eroded community cohesion caused by political factors have the potential to further diminish resilience against hazards in the future.

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ID Code: 6132
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: environmental hazards, community resilience, Imizamo Yethu, South Africa
ISBN: 1741071291
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 (The authors)
Deposited On: 15 Feb 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:24

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