Inadequate stakeholder management and its effect on a coherent sinkhole risk management strategy: the case of the Merafong Local Municipality, South Africa
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The Merafong Local Municipality (MLM) has historically suffered financial and human losses because of the presence of dolomite and the consequent formation of sinkholes. There is a great need for the MLM to address the risk posed by sinkholes to ensure the continued safety of communities. However, as the risk is so pervasive, the MLM needs to coordinate their risk reduction strategies with a wide array of stakeholders in the municipality. Efficient stakeholder management is thus crucial if the sinkhole risk is to be addressed appropriately. This article reviews the current status of stakeholder management in the MLM as it pertains to the formulation of a holistic sinkhole risk reduction strategy. Findings indicate that there are serious deficiencies in the MLM’s stakeholder management relating to key risk management processes such as community involvement in risk management structures, disaster risk assessment, training and awareness, and early warning and response. Improved stakeholder management could be characterised by the following factors: improved two-way communication between the municipality and community stakeholders, fostering a relationship based upon trust and equality amongst stakeholders, participation by a wide array of stakeholder groups affected by the sinkhole risk and a mutual commitment by all stakeholders to address the risk. These factors could contribute to enhancing current and future sinkhole risk reduction strategies.