Home Institution

Colgate University

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


The goal of this project is to understand the way in which community members in South Durban perceive the environmental threats that they face. I have contextualized the current environmental injustices present in the wake of the Apartheid legacy. I worked closely with the South Durban Environmental Conservation Alliance in preparing my questions and conducting my interviews. I conducted 24 interviews in three different communities in the South Durban Basin including Wentworth, Merebank, and Clairwood. Following the interviews in Merebank and Clairwood, I engaged the participants in a short participatory mapping exercise in which they highlighted where the pollution was coming from on a map.

Following my interviews, I transcribed and coded all of them while extracting pertinent themes. I found that all 24 participants perceived some form of pollution as the greatest environmental threat that their area faces. There was, however, variation among communities relating to the particular forms of pollution. Wentworth and Merebank community members primarily spoke about air pollution as a result of the refineries and other industries while Clairwood community members highlighted trucking pollution. All 24 participants also discussed negative health at a major consequence of the pollution. The participants expressed varying opinions regarding the changes they would like to see that would make the community healthier. These different attitudes depict the challenges inherent to the environmental justice movement.


African Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Environmental Health | Environmental Studies | Other Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health | Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health | Toxicology


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