Disaster risk due to fracking in the fragile ecosystems of the Nama Karoo : a disaster risk management perspective
Van der Merwe, Denise
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The South African Disaster Management Framework (SA NDMF) and South African Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 (DMA), serves as a guideline which all spheres of government in South Africa needs to integrate to enable coordinated disaster risk management at all levels of government. The focus of the SA NDMF and DMA is to prevent or reduce disaster risk and disaster severity in South Africa. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is considered to be a high risk mining process, which is proposed for South Africa. The Nama Karoo region in South Africa is set apart for fracking. The need to address the possibility that fracking could be coupled with an increase in disaster risks for the Nama Karoo area needs to be addressed. Further risks associated with fracking is coupled with the lack of information concerning the processes used during fracking, lack of knowledge concerning use of chemicals during the fracking process, and fracking companies disclosing selective hazardous chemicals used during the fracking process. This study focused on interviewing organised community groups and local disaster management government officials from selected towns in the Nama Karoo of South Africa. The towns selected for the purpose of this study include Beaufort West, Britstown, Carnarvon, Colesberg, Graaff Reinet and Victoria West. These towns were specifically chosen since they fall in the Nama Karoo area proposed for fracking. The interviews reflect on perspectives from both organised community groups and local government, concerning what fracking companies have communicated with communities in the designated fracking area. The interviews also indicate general fracking knowledge, local water and environment management knowledge, and knowledge concerning disaster management at a local level. The results of the study concluded that all communities interviewed for the purpose of this study, were not equally informed with regard to fracking and fracking practices. The organised community groups and local government responses to the research questions varied from ‘well informed’, to ‘no knowledge at all’ concerning fracking. The organised community groups, furthermore, indicated that they were not aware of any legislation in place to enable disaster management and various local governments also indicated that they were lacking in capacity to enforce the relevant legislation for their areas, even before fracking commences. Considering these vast differences in knowledge distribution and that fracking companies do not disclose all their processes and process requirements, which is in conflict with the aims and objectives of the SA NDMF and DMA, it stands to reason that recommendations need to be made to address these issues. This study recommends that DMAF structures and communication structures should be established, allowing even distribution of fracking related knowledge throughout the Nama Karoo
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