The project

Water and Fire is a collaborative, interdisciplinary project which aims to work with local knowledge to better understand community and individual responses to climate-change induced crises in the Cape Flats area of South Africa. Funded by the UKRI GCRF, it involves a partnership between the University of Stirling, the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape.


By engaging themes of water and fire, the project objectives, (which are indicative here and will be further negotiated with participating residents), are to work with and alongside disaster-affected residents:

  • To address 3 environmental hazards affecting 3 marginalised township communities on the CF, with the aim of enhancing local capacity to reduce disaster risks;
  • To improve the wellbeing, resilience and livelihoods of 3 severely disaster-affected communities;
  • To create alternative development pathways for sustainability by co-mobilising local knowledges and multi-literacies, and by engaging indigenous processes for democratic participation and dialogue in disaster risk reduction within marginalised communities;
  • To engage community-driven coproduced and creative processes to share information and build strategic resilience action on disaster risk reduction within risk-affected communities;
  • To build an equitable framework for policy development and practice based on democratic, mediating systems that foster trust and cooperation between state, civil society, and affected residents
  • Through sharing information and processes from research activities, to increase local capacity in other similarly affected urban communities on the CF and SA, and raise potential for scaled-up impact beyond the affected communities to provincial, national and international policy arenas that value decision-making by the communities most at risk to environmental hazards;
  • To support strategic partnership building between the University of Stirling (UoS) team, the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (SLF), Universities of Cape Town (UCT) and Western Cape (UWC), and participating residents of Delft SouthOvercome Heights, and Sweet Home Farm on CF, to codevelop disaster risk reduction solutions to water and fire hazards faced by their and other CF communities; and b) to capacity-build 3 PDRAs in sustainable development.

Through the systematic co-development of a set of resilience actions, this project will directly benefit risk-affected communities in their efforts to mitigate disaster risks and achieve sustainable livelihoods.


The project deploys themes of water and fire to bring disaster risk management to sustainable development by building local capacity in directing decisions for responses to environmental hazards that most affect the marginalised. In an age of government austerity and economic strain, township residents have been forced to become increasingly self-reliant and resourceful. Our research will supportively mobilise local knowledges to mitigate disaster by prioritising coproduced, cooperative strategies. These may include coactivation of practical community-driven programmes, but also bottom-up policy strategy development to effectively respond to environmental disasters. In effect, we will engage democratic and creative participatory methods to mobilise the lived experiences of affected residents as primary evidence to challenge current disaster management processes and promote community-based resilience actions.


  • Assemble local knowledge drawn from affected residents’ lived experiences and individual/collective actions to mitigate risks;
  • Engage indigenous democratic processes and creative interventions to mobilise local knowledge towards proactive responses to disaster risks;
  • Mobilise local knowledge to codevelop a set of agreed 15 “Best Bets” as shared, practical actions to help reduce disaster risks;
  • Develop these 15 “Best Bets” into a community-driven policy strategy for disaster risk reduction;
  • Create a democratic, ‘mediating system’ framework for codeveloping policy strategies and community resilience actions to reduce disaster risks in affected communities.

Comments are closed.