The role of public participation in DRR initiatives: the case of Katlehong Township
Following the realisation of the need to shift from disaster response to disaster risk reduction (DRR) due to the losses experienced globally as a result of an increase in the number of disaster occurrences, DRR has become a policy priority worldwide (IDNDR, 1994; Reddy, 2010:22). In line with this trend, both the Disaster Management Act of South Africa (2002) and the National Disaster Management Framework of South Africa (2005) prioritise DRR in efforts to build resilient communities with local municipalities being required to develop their own disaster management Frameworks. The use of a bottom-up approach is deemed to be the most effective in ensuring successful DRR initiatives at the local level (Ryscavage & Twigg, as cited by Reddy, 2010:43). The main reason for this is that communities then take ownership of these initiatives and gain a better understanding of the risks with which they are faced. Accordingly, this research study was aimed primarily at exploring the various approaches used for public participation to ensure successful DRR initiatives in Katlehong Township. A mixed-method research design was used comprising a combination of the quantitative and qualitative designs. Thus, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used as data collection instruments to explore the role of public participation in DRR initiatives in Katlehong Township. The results gleaned from the data gathered suggested that the role of public participation in DRR initiatives is ineffective in Katlehong Township. This was attributed to the reluctance of stakeholders to participate in disaster risk management. Accordingly, it was recommended that the Municipal Disaster Management Centre host stakeholder sessions during which stakeholders are informed about the role of the centre as well as about their own role in disaster risk management. Such stakeholder sessions should assist in resolving issues such as confusion about the stakeholders’ roles in disaster risk management and, thus, help to obtain buy-in from all the stakeholders.