Climate Change in Durban, South Africa

Durban is a city located in the developing country of South Africa. The city has serious challenges coming with the climate change, and it is considered vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts, creating a problem with food supply. As a consequence of the extreme weather, Durban risks its infrastructure and sanitation. The city is currently taking local actions to minimize the potential risks and damages coming from environmental inequalities. Nevertheless, Durban is also expected to be the most livable city of South Africa by 2020.

Durban has a weak capacity of recovery in an emergency situation, such as floods and droughts. This weak recovery creates a cycle of deeper poverty in the low income communities of the city (Carmin & Agyeman, 2011, p. 24). Farmers, for instance, having contact with soil activities are highly affected with extreme weather conditions. However, agriculturalists cannot easily change ways of life or activities (Carmin & Agyeman, 2011; as cited in Carmin, Roberts, and Anguelovski, 2009). With farmers harmed by natural disasters, the food supply will also be damaged, and the population of Durban will have a scarce access to food. Under these circumstances, Durban is encouraging changes in the behaviour and structure of the city, rather than mitigation only.

When a natural disaster happens in Durban, there will be a domino effect in the city. The infrastructure, buildings, housings, especially from poor families, can be impacted or even destroyed (Carmin & Agyeman, 2011). The destruction of properties in Durban brings issues with sanitation. As an example, the water distribution will be harmed, creating problems with health care services. The expectation is that the natural impacts suffered by the city of Durban will increase even more the risk of possible contagious diseases. It all means that any improvement made in Durban by the years, will be completely or partially lost.

Local actions have been taken by Durban along the years to improve the life quality of the population. Community projects were made to address needs of poor and fragile groups in the city. The projects take into consideration the development of adaptation for high-risk sectors such as “water, health and disaster management” (Carmin & Agyeman, 2011, p. 39). Besides this project, the municipality of Durban is working with the Wildlands Conservation and Trust NGO, in a project for the reforestation of the north of the city. By using “local knowledge and capacity” (Carmin & Agyeman, 2011, p. 39), Durban is deciding on its priorities to minimize hazards made by the climate injustice.

To sum up, Durban is developing strategies to reduce potential risks from climatic impacts. Yet, dangers of structure, food supply and diseases are still a problem that need attention and solution. Environmental disasters and its consequences are already being discussed and slowly repaired by Durban’s population, municipality and Non-governmental Organizations. Only by addressing issues derived from the climate change, will be possible for Durban to become the most livable city in South Africa.


Carmin, J., & Agyeman, J. (2011). Environmental inequalities beyond borders: Local perspectives on global injustices. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

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