Four new postdoctoral fellows have joined a research project partnership supporting marginalised communities in South Africa suffering from climate-change induced crises.

The transdisciplinary research, which is led by Dr Dalene Swanson of the University of Stirling, is aiming to address the socio-environmental hazards affecting residents of township communities in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, and support their efforts to reduce disaster risks.

Officially launched in November 2019, the collaborative project has now welcomed Drs Skhue Ncube, Allan Gillies and Lesley Gibson, who will be based at Stirling, and Dr Tsitsi Mpofu-Mketwa, who is based at the University of Cape Town.

The project: Water and Fire: Enhancing Capacity and Reducing Risk through 15 ‘Best Bets’ for Transformative Adaptation with Vulnerable Residents on the Cape Flatsis funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) – a prestigious initiative announced by the UK Government in 2015 to support cutting-edge research partnerships to address significant global challenges.

Dr Dalene Swanson said: “We are delighted to welcome our four new postdoctoral research fellows who will support this global challenge-led project.

“Recurrent fires, drought and water shortages, and large-scale flooding, are escalating socio-environmental hazards exacerbated by climate change, which disproportionately impact on excluded communities in South Africa.

“In an age of government austerity and economic strain, township residents have been forced to become increasingly self-reliant and resourceful. By working alongside and understanding community and individual responses to climate-change induced crises, this project aims to co-develop a set of resilience actions aimed at mitigating socio-environmental disaster risks, especially those relating to drought, floods, and fire, and for which poverty, inequality, crime and violence exacerbate disaster risks.”

The 3-year research project is a partnership between the University of Stirling, the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town, the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (NPC), and risk-affected residents of the Cape Flats of South Africa. 

Dr Swanson added: “The research also has implications for other contexts where residents are vulnerable to the deleterious effects of socio-environmental disaster risks induced or exacerbated by climate change. Through the co-development of a set of resilience actions, this project aims to directly benefit risk-affected residents of the Cape Flats in their efforts to mitigate disaster risks and achieve sustainable livelihoods.”

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