Imizamo Yethu: a Case Study of Community Resilience to Fire Hazard in an Informal Settlement Cape Town, South Africa
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Imizamo Yethu, in Cape Town, is one of the many informal settlements in South Africa's post-Apartheid urban landscape. Residents live in abject poverty and are potentially vulnerable to a range of environmental hazards, of which fire hazard is one of the most common. A major fire, on the 8 February 2004, caused significant damage to housing and infrastructure, resulting in widespread homelessness and loss of personal possessions. Despite this, there was minimal loss of life and few major injuries. The community re-grouped after the fire and Imizamo Yethu has remained viable as a community to the present day. Contemporary geographical research on hazards emphasises aspects of community vulnerability and resilience. The present paper identifies and examines factors that enhance community resilience in the informal settlement of Imizamo Yethu, particularly in response and recovery to fire events. A survey completed in the aftermath of the 2004 fire found that social networks, some formal community institutions that foster community participation and the resourcefulness of individuals were the most important factors underpinning resilience.
Human Geography not elsewhere classified